In 1967 Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin went down to the woods and got a very shaky, hairy surprise. They allegedly caught on camera a Bigfoot, or Sasquatch, or Yeti, or what have you. The authenticity of this footage has been debated for many years (and yes, it is quite suspect that the pair of them were in the process of making a documentary on Bigfoot at the time). Many scientists believe the creature to be a mix of folklore, hoax and misidentification. But that’s because they’re boring killjoys. Not really. However, Bigfoot, like the Loch Ness Monster, is one of those creatures where it would be absolutely brilliant if it did exist. Unless you happen to be in a horror film o’course. There have been many Bigfoot based horror films over the years, from Night of the Demon (Not the 1957 classic, but the 1980 Video Nasty, which features the memorable scene of a biker having his dick pulled off by the monster) to this year’s found footage film The Lost Coast Tape (on the under side of whelming, bizarre ending). In fact, far from being the docile creature he was in Harry and the Henderson’s, Bigfoot is mostly portrayed as a vicious, bloodthirsty (and with a penchant for separating people from their most intimate of body parts) monster in films. And none of these Bigfoot horror films have been particularly good. Surely such a colossus of mythology deserves more? No wonder he’s always angry in these films. Will today’s film, Clawed: The Legend of Sasquatch be any different? Short answer: No. For longer answer, read on. Spoilers to follow.
If This Is The Missing Link It Would Be Great If It Could Get Lost Again, Thanks.
I almost give myself a heart condition at the very beginning of the film when I think I see Billy Bragg’s name in the credits, turns out it was Bill Bragg. Don’t think the film is going to top that little shock I gave myself but I shall solider on regardless. A Native American voice-over kicks it, against the backdrop of beautiful scenery a la David Attenborough, intoning about a man like beast called the ‘takuhe’. It is a peaceful creature that was run out of its habitat by the evil white man. Takuhe claimed his revenge on the white man, who in turn claimed revenge on the Native Americans. Circle of life in action folks. That’s for sure what Elton John was crooning about. Apparently white men still hate the Native Americans though, and blame them for, I don’t know, having the temerity to live there first or something. Frankly I would be a bit worried if anyone really held these opinions any more.
Oh, they’re Stereotypical Movie Rednecks, that explains everything. They are bear hunting. And being stalked by a sepia light filter. Look out guys! One of them spots the remnants of last year’s Halloween costume in some bushes and as he readies to fire at it, he is attacked from behind and knocked out. When he comes to it’s getting dark. He goes to look for his buddies and finds them all in various states of clawed to death using various stages of bad special effects. Remaining guy seems utterly unfazed by all of this. He comes across a park ranger type guy, who he considers shooting, then changes his mind, as if he just remembered that murder is illegal, and he would go to jail.
We cut to a young guy, Richard, getting ready for school. Some sub Danny Elfman music accompanies him on his way. Next week is Spring Break (Woo! Alright! Party! Repeat until thoroughly annoyed). The teacher, Mr Vancamp, reminds the class their reports on endangered species are due in after they return. What a buzz kill. Class jock and pervert Jay and geek and Sasquatch believer Richard are both in danger of failing the class, so Mr Vancamp makes them team up to do the report together. I’m sure many hijinks are about to ensue. Random student interrupts to tell the class about the deaths of the poachers in the woods of Echo Mountain in a massive clunk of poor script writing.
Back at the woods, Sheriff Kassel and the town’s Mayor inspect the scene of the bear attack. As is usual in these sorts of films, tourist season is coming up and the Mayor wants to hush it up and let no word get out. The ranger that the poacher almost shot, John Eagleheart (he’s Native American, in case the delicious subtlety of his name escaped you), picks a mysterious piece of fur from the tree and hides it in his pocket. ‘What’s that?’ asks the Sheriff. ‘Nothing’, he replies. Nice detecting there Sheriff. Federal Animal Control are on the way to trap and kill the bear. Once the Mayor leaves Sheriff Kassel asks John if he really believes that a bear attacked and killed three armed men. John clearly doesn’t, but isn’t going to say that he really thinks it was. He’s going up further into the mountains to investigate.
“Holy Shit! It’s A Giant Knee! Ruuuun!”
At the high school, Jay and Richard stare each other down in the most pathetic way possible. They actually utter the following lines; ‘I don’t like you and you don’t like me’. ‘But we’ve got to work together’. You could run a cliché master-class analysing those two lines. Sub Top Gun music plays over the scene. Obviously writing their own score was not on the film makers list of things to do. At the town meeting that night, Jay begrudgingly introduces Richard to his cousin Jenny, who fancies him. Jenny wants to join them in their trip to the woods, but neither boy is keen on that idea. The Sheriff calls the meeting to order. The plaid shirt brigade is out in full force. The Federal Animal folk are stuck in Montana and can’t get there for a few days with their super special bear killing dogs. The townsfolk are more concerned about the tourism situation and keeping it out of the press. Seems to me more people would want to visit their piddly little town if they thought they might see a man killing bear, and get a hilarious video of their mates getting munched to put on YouTube. People are funny like that.
At a bar, Ed, the survivor of the attack, is pissed that all his buddies want to do is drink beer and play pool when there’s revenge to be gotten on the bear. He’s obviously never read Moby Dick. He blames the whole thing on the John the ranger anyway. When one of his buddies points out that the ranger saved his life and they’ll get arrested if they go back to the mountain he just gets more annoyed, a little bit racist, and a fight breaks out. As Ed is leaving the bar, the Sheriff appears and warns him away from the mountain also. Which I’m sure will absolutely work. Ed definitely seems like the type to listen to and follow orders.
Richard has a book devoted to the Takuhe, and lots of newspaper cut outs detailing the various disappearances that have happened on Echo Mountain over the years. Which I guess all happened far enough apart as to not start a massive investigation into the area. Can’t really see the Mayor hushing all these up. There would be some upset family members to contend with for one.
The next day the two groups prepare to head for the mountains. Jay sneaks away some beer and deflects his mother’s questions on girls and concerns about the bear. The poachers are way ahead of him and are already drinking (no word on what their mothers thought about it) and all that beer is sure to improve their aim and concentration when hunting right? ‘Are you really going to kill Eagleheart if we see him?’ asks one. Ed just smirks. His buddies think this is hilarious. Hmm, don’t think I’m going to feel much sympathy when these fuckwits get mauled, sorry, Clawed by the Sasquatch.
Cap Guy Definitely Has The Look Of Someone Who’s Just Realised He’s Left The Iron On At Home.
The Sheriff tries to get permission from the Federal Animal lot to go up to the mountains with some of his men to find the bear themselves. They’ll need a court order signed by a judge he’s told. The Mayor turns up, eating a Twinkie (RIP) and once again blathers on about tourists and the last thing the town needing being another Echo Mountain legend. Once again, tourists would love that shit. Embrace it dude. Start selling Sasquatch t-shirts, pencil cases and milkshakes . Hell, just rename the town Takuhe Town and be done with it.
Bet He Wishes He Was Still Playing The Werewolf Hunter From Buffy The Vampire Slayer. His Face Suggests Yes.
The teens and the poachers continue to make their way to the mountains (they really missed an opportunity to turn it into some sort of Wacky Races type affair). The poachers are all drunk at this point, and run out of the gas for their jeep. They are all, to a man, obnoxious morons. Even Ed, who actively wants to kill a man, shakes his head in derision at the rest of them. The teens arrive. They have no guns, but Shay, Jay’s girlfriend, did bring bear repellent, whatever the fuck that might be. Jay also bought a video camera, so all of his obnoxious frat boy comments are immortalised on film forever. They make their way up the trail towards the falls, where the attack took place. Rich tells the group the old adage about bears being more scared of us than we are of them. He doesn’t mention the Takuhe yet, but I bet he’s saving that until they are all gathered around a camp fire at night. Jenny stops to tie her shoe and we get the first glimpse of the monster, watching her. Holy shit, it looks awful. They kind of thing Jim Henson would come up with if he were only given 5 minutes to whip something up as a challenge on the Krypton Factor.
Not Exactly Threatening, Especially With The ‘Swimming Trunks’ Catalogue Pose.
They find a place to set up camp and Rich goes to look for firewood as the others put the tents up. As Rich gathers wood, a bear ambles up to him. Rich stays very still, takes a photo, and the bear leaves. He returns to the group and tells them. Jay laughs it off, but the two girls believe him. Rich tells them you should never run from a bear; that makes you a moving target, you should stand your ground, and hopefully the bear will get bored and leave. Shea goes to get changed, conveniently forgetting she has a twat for a boyfriend who of course is going to try and film her getting undressed. Jay seems constantly surprised when people tell him to shut/grow up. He’s obviously blissfully unaware how annoying everyone, including his own girlfriend, thinks he is.
The Group Of Camping Teenagers ALL Survive. What Kind Of Bullshit Is That?!
The poachers have a camp fire going and Ed continues to be a dick and prove himself useless in the wilds. When one of his mates gets freaked by some rustling in the forest, he retorts; ‘It’s the woods, stuff moves’. Yes, but aren’t you meant to be on the look-out for a killer bear?
At the teens’ camp, they finish their mac and cheese feast and Jenny demand that Rich tell them a story. He begins to tell them the legend of Echo Mountain. It was once sacred land to the Native Americans who lived there. They didn’t hunt or fish on it. One day, in 1891, some miners found gold there and started mining. They sent word to their families to come and join them, when they got there they found the entire colony slaughtered. Thinking it was the Native Americans, they in turn massacred them. The actual killer of the miners was the Takuhe, or Sasquatch, Big Foot etc., Richard tells them, much to Jay’s disbelief. Some believe the creature still roams the woods. The girls, freaked out, demand a change of topic. Richard, smooth ladies’ man that he is, starts talking about their menstrual cycles. Nice. Jay pranks the group with the help of some ketchup and a natural inbuilt ability to be really irritating.
Meanwhile, the Sheriff is dealing with a drunk who wants to drive home. The drunk tells him that Ed and his mates have gone back to the mountain to kill the bear, and possibly Eagleheart. The poachers, meanwhile, are still drinking and lighting their farts on fire. Truly the world is going to miss them when they are gone. They send one of their number, the hapless Leo who everyone seems to pick on, back to get another bottle of booze from the jeep. He reluctantly goes, being followed by the creature all the way. He has a gun, but Ed removed the bullets for a prank. What japes, especially when, once again, there is a killer bear on the loose. Leo gets to the jeep and finds the booze. He sees someone watching him and calls them out, thinking it’s one of his mates, messing around. He turns on the car headlights, angering the creature. Leo hides under the jeep, but the monster isn’t an idiot so he just pulls him out and kills him. The others hear his screams and decide, grudgingly, to go investigate.
Back at the teen camp, Richard attempts some flirting with Jenny. Here’s a tip, don’t talk about her period. They kiss, and it’s all lovely until Jay interrupts them. They go all go back to their tents for the night. Shea seems to think that Jay could protect her if anything happened. Best sticking with the bear repellent love. Unless the plan would be for him to wedgie the Sasquatch to death. The next morning, Jay seems intent on continuing to interrupt, and film, his cousin’s sexy time, which is a little messed up. He also keeps saying ‘Wassup’. Ugh. This film was made in 2005, were people still saying that then? It’s singularly one of the most loathsome catchphrases ever conceived. Shea wants to leave, as she had a nightmare in which the Sasquatch watched her ‘commune with nature’ and then appeared in Jay’s sleeping bag and mauled her. If Freud were to analyse that dream I’m sure he would say something about dumping your Neanderthal boyfriend.
She Wasn’t Sure What ‘Doing It Bigfoot Style’ Meant, But Decided To Turn Him Down Anyway.
Sheriff Kassel talks to Ranger John, who informs him of the poachers and teens being in the woods, but he has found little else. He entreats the Sheriff to give him one more day. Kassel agrees, as long as he stays away from Ed and his group. They don’t need another…radio cuts off. What was the Sheriff going to say? ‘Massacre?’ Because you can’t have one of those with only one person. John finds a bear with its face half ripped off impaled on a tree branch. The poachers are not doing much mourning for Leo, and decide to keep hunting. It’s what he would have wanted. The teens pack up and make their way back down the trail. They run into Ranger John, who tells them to get out of the forest, as the poachers are firing off at everything. He wants them to make their way down to the road, get to town and find the Sheriff.
The poachers run into Ranger John, back at their now destroyed camp. They chat back and forth and despite at least one of them coming round to the idea that a bear couldn’t have done any of this because they always cover their kill (and don’t impale other bears on trees, I would imagine), Ed has no truck with any of that pesky logic nonsense and orders his men to tie John up. They bind him to a tree and plan to use him as bait. The creature continues to watch as the teens make their way through the woods. They consult their map, and keep going. Good scene. Pivotal. Man alive, this film is boring.
Look Out Ranger! The Bald Psycho From The Hills Have Eyes Is Right Behind You!
As the sun sets the teens are still in the woods, and they have to stay another night. A bad stench leads them to the same clump of bushes that Ed saw the Sasquatch arm in at the beginning. They peer inside and see the arm move. The creature sneaks up on them and terrified, they scatter. The poachers awake, finding John gone. Why they were asleep in the first place God only knows. They hear noises in the woods. They shoot at it. One of them rushes into the woods, only to return all clawed up and that. The remaining two turn on each other, Ed kills his mate, because…I don’t really care. He’s a fucking loon I guess.
Jay is still alive, sad to say, and still talking into his camera. The girls have huddled down together behind a fallen tree. They hear movement behind them. Shea freaks out and runs. The creature passes behind the log the girls are hiding behind and disappears, so they have magical powers too? Richard, meanwhile, has made his way to the road and finds Leo’s blood stained jeep, and his useless gun. The various groups wander around aimlessly. John finds a footprint. Ed finds Jenny and immediately points a gun in her face, planning to use her as bait. He shouts for…’Ebore’? What the fuck is an ‘Ebore?’ Ooh, Eagleheart, that’s what he was saying. John shows up. Ed points his gun at him. ‘I’ll kill for what I believe in!’ he shouts at John. Which is what exactly? Being crazy bigot with ready access to firearms? Ed shoots John; Jenny elbows Ed in the testicles. Rich shows up with the gun. Recognising it as Leo’s gun. Ed isn’t worried. He ends up getting shot anyway. The Sheriff runs into Jay and Shea, he orders her to wait in the car and for Jay to come with him to find the others. As Jenny and Richard, tend to John, Jay shows up. The creature obligingly shows up to be caught on camera. Then it vanishes. The Sheriff does fucking nothing.
Psst, You Have A Much More Impressive Looking Gun On Your Back. Nice Gurn Though.
They show their presentation to the class, but the video footage doesn’t work. Mr Vancamp bitches at them for their boring report on grizzly bears. They retort with the real evidence is on his desk. He sees the footage, is amazed, and we segue into a news report where the footage is dismissed as a hoax by ‘local experts’ and that Mr Vancamp has been scapegoated as the culprit behind the whole thing. Eh? Jenny and Richard watch the report, smirk, and then kiss. The cheesy Native American voice over plays us out.
I’m starting to suspect that this review was really boring to read. But the film was just so dull; it really gave me nothing to work with. It wasn’t so bad it was funny. It wasn’t scary in the slightest. Despite things happening in the films, nothing seemed to happen. I mean there was a clear series of events, but there was nothing to make me muster even the very basic elements of enthusiasm for them. We just zipped between the two groups, with occasional forays into the inane goings on of the Sheriff, most of the scenes were too short get involved in them at all. The Sasquatch costume was incredibly poor. All the effects, in fact, were bad. At one point Ed states that he’s never seen so much blood. Where? I hardly saw any, all the ‘Clawing’ of the title happened off screen. That reminds me, Sasquatches are supposedly a type of primate. Primates don’t have claws. So, the title is inaccurate, what else? Oh yeah, the back of the DVD box. I quote ‘A posse of local hunters sets off to hunt down the creature while a group of high school students covertly follow them to record the bloodshed. What they discover is more monstrous than any rumour or legend could possibly lead them to believe. The lucky ones will escape with their lives but lose their sanity. The others…will be clawed!’ Hahahaha. Non. First of all, the students didn’t follow the hunters; they went there independently of them. And how exactly is what they discovered more monstrous than legend? Richard already thought it was the Sasquatch. And it was. The end. As for the ‘lucky ones’? They all survived with their mental abilities (such as they are) still intact. Jay and Richard one upped their teacher, and Richard got the girl. Not exactly gibbering wrecks are they? Oh dear, you know the film was distinctly mediocre when I’m spending time analysing the DVD box cover. So, the cannon of Bigfoot film gets another dismal entry. Hopefully one day someone will do it right. It’s a cracking legend after all. All the base elements are already in place, just needs a decent script, story, effects, actors, direction and some passion in the project. Penis extraction optional.