|Index||8 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What would you expect from one of the producers of the original Texas
Chainsaw Massacre? More of the same realistic butcherings? A movie
based on a true story? It would take place in backwoods Texas? It would
have extremely hickish and super rednecks that are whacked out and just
plain crazy? If you answered yes to all of the above, then you know
what to expect from this interesting character-driven tale.
Kim Henkel produced this indie flick with director Duane Graves at the helm. Graves most definitely is a student of the Chainsaw films and faux-documentary style the first film was shot in. He puts it to good use here, making you feel like you are right there on location. Now, I'm not talking faux-documentary like The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, or District 9. It doesn't make you feel like you need an airplane barf bag to watch it. It's like a documentarian shot it that has actually had some experience shooting film or video before.
The film looks absolutely genuine. There's no reason why it shouldn't. It seems that most of it is shot on location in and around the rural areas of Austin, TX. Every single whacked out and tobacco-spitting character and person in this film sounds and comes across as completely real. Like Graves walked into a town hall meeting and asked regular townspeople to star in his movie.
Wild Man is a truly great flick for those of us who love the great horror films of the 1970s that often tried to add a nice hunk of realism and earthiness to their bloodshed. In a day where the movie theaters are flooded with remakes and attempts at creating a nostalgic older quality while flooding us with Mickey Mouse Club rejects, this movie is a fresh breath of air. I watched it, and I kept thinking, Wow, I know a lot of people like this. Some, definitely not all, of Texas definitely has characters like it throughout..and the region of Sublime as portrayed in the film is spot-on for this group of folks. Dale is a very realistic character as well, as actor and director Meeks carefully treads the line of guilt and despair Dale feels without being too in-your-face about it. The music, close shots and the setting add to the sense of doom that pervades the film. Definitely worth seeing!
After a series of strange attacks and incidents in a small town, a
group of friends get together to hunt down the malicious beast stalking
the residents and put an end to it's reign of terror.
This turned out to be a pretty disappointing Bigfoot entry, as this one really could've been quite good had it managed to keep attention and focus on the strange attacks afflicting the towns-members instead of the ungodly amount of time with the residents and their problems. Not that a little info isn't bad on them, but they come at the expense of the creature attacks as it's mostly getting a complete history of the locals before stuff starts to happen, and the creature doesn't start getting in on things until just under the hour mark. Those are really good, with some pretty brutal attacks getting in some pretty decent gore shots and the day-time setting for the whole film is rather pleasant, if only the creature's costume would've looked better. Still, the lowered amount of time spent here on these sections of the film means it's quite a while before we get to the good stuff, flawed as it is by's low-budget nature that somewhat hurts it, but overall this is a throwback to the Grindhouse style of shockers so those who enjoy them will find a lot more here instead of more traditional creature-feature fans.
Rated R: Graphic Language and Graphic Violence.
The Wild Man of the Navidad is as authentic as a retro horror film can
get. Every detail from the garish 'Tenocolour' opening credits, down to
the local yokels delivering their stilted dialogue, seems to have been
deliberately crafted to give the impression that one is watching an old
school slasher film/public television documentary from the early 80s.
The only reminder that one was watching a modern film was a hunter's
wife wearing a noughties-style outfit halfway through the film. If it
weren't for that detail, I would have doubted that I was watching a
film from the 21st century.
Other reviewers critiqued the films flaws but to me it was obvious that these flaws are intentionally left in, because they add so much to the retro B-movie vibe. That the film isn't technically perfect just shows the film makers expertise in making retro films. I found the characters amusingly whacked-out and the Wild Man scenario a funny, bizarre variation on the Texan massacre theme. It wasn't the scariest film ever but the wild man attacks kept the action moving along at a fast pace.
So if you are in the mood for an twisted but fun little horror flick then The Wild Man of the Navidad is the movie for you.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
You have to love this for the characters. The majority of the town
where this event is supposed take place are drunks sipping moonshine
all day. They are more believable drunks then say the characters in the
HBO series Deadwood. I.E. they don't drink and seem sober they drink
and look and act drunk.
The man who owns the property where the wild man lives is not only believable but sympathetic. His wife is barely able to move and lives in a wheelchair. They have a loyal(?) male Mexican servant. Who pulls his pants off and fondles the wife's underwear when the husband isn't home. This servant even fondles the wife, who can't speak, by covering her mouth while he does whatever. The husband must suspect something. When the wild man carries the servant off the husband hides the wife rather than try to save the servant.
There are some good people in the story. Two of the best, a man and his son go hunting in the river bottom which has been closed for years. This is the place where the wild man dwells. He has been kept at bay for years with a diet of skinned rabbit provided by the property owner. But because the owner lost his job and the wife needs her medications, the property owner has opened the bottom land to hunters.
This pisses the wild man off and he kills both father and son. In fact he kills a bunch of people by gutting them with antlers.
When a couple is attacked, the husband, stabbed through the ribs with an antler, runs, hitches a ride and goes not to the hospital but the bar where he tells everyone what happened.
A posse is formed. This is a posse of drunks. Why any sheriff would recruit these people is one of the least believable things in the movie. The other is that these heavily armed drunks don't shoot each other. But at least one of the posse (a drunk's son I think) gets killed. But then the property owner finally uses the big shinny shotgun he has been polishing throughout the movie. And only a bunch of drunks would string up a dead man who was just shot like he was a prize elk with razor-back tusks.
But there suspense is here. The movie is engaging. The acting so good these people seem like they are drunks in a documentary. I highly recommend this, especially to independent filmmakers.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm one of those kind of horror fans who supports the efforts of
dye-in-the-wool buffs living the dream, putting together whatever
monetary funds they can scrape up in order to make a little homage to
movies that inspired them. That's not to say there hasn't been a fair
share of rotten apples along the way, particularly within the slasher
genre. But in the past few years I've come across a number of flicks
made by horror buffs on peanuts which have more enthusiasm, energy, and
verve, while also containing elements hardcore horror fans can enjoy
such as Gutterballs, Hatchet, Behind the Mask:The Rise of Leslie
Vernon, among others, than most high-budget fare without a soul churned
off the Hollywood machine these days. I think The Wild Man of Navidad
is such a film, and it pays loving homage to films like The Legend of
Boggy Creek, with nods to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre(..in particular,
the "room of bones" scene, except this time we see the remnants of the
wilderness man-beast's meals over the past few days, the camera lens
closing in tight showing buzzing flies entering gaping wounds in rotted
The movie focuses on the oddball trio of Dale S Rogers(Justin Meeks who also co-wrote / co-directed), his paraplegic wife(played by his relative, Stacy Meeks), confined to a wheel-chair after a devastating car crash, and pot-bellied Mexican hand, Mario(Alex Garcia)who keep the hostility of a carnivorous half-human / half-animal at bay through skinned rabbit meat each night at 9:00, while also containing 600 acres of prime hunting land off-limits to those who desire to use it for their leisure as deer season starts up. Through mounting medical bills, Dale sees few alternatives to make some necessary quick-cash, opening the land for local hunters, resulting in one of them firing off a shot directed at the wild man of the woods, sparking a violent, bloody rampage resulting in humans being ripped apart and eaten.
I think what made this work for me was using real areas in Texas and locals from nearby small towns who would act for little to nothing while tolerating demanding conditions. Directors Duane Graves and Justin Meeks studied under the tutelage of Kim Henkel(who wrote the screenplay for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and directed The Texas Chainsaw Massacre:The New Generation)who was teaching at a Texas college they attended. There's a good use of the rural setting and people who live there. The southern "hick" accents are thick and unrestrained and these people actually look like those who would live in a small rural area where everyone knows each other. The acting itself is often suspect because you are dealing with a great many non-actors who have never been in a film before. Graves and Meeks accentuate a variety of stylistic shots, using any number of make-shift apparatus which could compliment the scenes and characters, giving them an extra boost due to their limitations in budget. I believe an actor discusses a little buggy the duo rigged up as a rolling vehicle substituting for a dolly they couldn't afford..this is the same kind of motivation and ingenuity often elicited on Hooper's TCM.
The gore scenes are shot in a way to obviously avoid confronting the fact that they had little in regards to effective make-up effects. We see screaming victims, blood all over the place, the girth of the wild man(..always covered by skins)nearly engulfing the frame with animal guts tossed throughout from off screen. Not every filmmaker has access to a Tom Savini or Greg Nicotero, so these young guys combat their restrictions any way they possibly can. I think something has happened as the opportunities for obtaining cameras during the digital age have evolved..it seems that the attempt at developing and maintaining atmosphere and dread has dwindled. I'm not sure what it was about low-budget film-making in the 70's that gave it an edge and power that seems hard / difficult to duplicate in this day and age where anyone can make a movie with the right kind of support in place. I think Graves and Meeks give it everything they have in their being to establish dread and atmosphere, attempting to evoke that spirit the 70's had..but, again, it remains untouched. This is 2009, not 1974, but filmmakers continue to strive for tapping into the "grindhouse wellspring". Charlie Hurtin, as local back-stabbing moonshiner Karl Crabtree(..he practically took Rogers' steel welding job from him), also provided the very restrained, quietly moody score. Seems the film is a sort of tribute to Charles B Pierce, the director of The Legend of Boggy Creek and The Town That Dreaded Sundown and The Wild Man of the Navidad almost succeeds. It does have the eccentric, colorful sort of Texas citizenry one might find in a film made by Pierce or others during the 70's, lacking only that needed atmosphere that seemed to be in abundance during that decade.
Dale (Co-Director Justin Meeks) doesn't want to open his ranch to
hunters, but has to because he needs the money. Too bad for him (and
them) that a bloodthirsty creature is not keen on trespassers.
Produced by "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" writer Kim Henkel, "The Wild Man of the Navidad" doesn't owe a lot to that seminal classic. Instead, this is more inspired by other 70's Horror/Exploitation fair such as "The Legend of Boggy Creek", "Creature From Black Lake" and "The Town That Dreaded Sundown", with a bit of slasher movie inspiration to match. If the film has one thing going for it, it's that it genuinely feels like a Southern Drive-In Horror Flick from the 70's-the weird, off-kilter score, the bad acting from a cast mostly made up of locals and non-actors, the cheap monster costume, the grainy look, the ultra low budget, almost documentary like feel, the unconvincing gore(who knew intestines looked like cooked steak?)-I could go on and on.
And it's watchable, decent stuff, but not without it's flaws. While bad acting and long stretches of dialog are to be expected out of a movie like this, it really starts to get annoying. The directors also reveal too much of the creature too soon, though it's cheap look has it's charm. The conclusion is also something that needs some work-it just kind of ends, without any real sense of wrap up. Finally, the slow burn style doesn't hurt for the large part, but it even tested my patience eventually, and I tend to be a patient man.
Can I recommend "The Wild Man of the Navidad?" Well, it depends. As a movie, it's decent but too flawed to be enjoyed by some, and those expecting a really fun movie will feel bored. As I said though, the fact that it genuinely feels like an old Southern Grindhouse flick will certainly appeal to those who love such movies, and is worth a look to any curious horror fan.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
3 stars for this turgid little poop of a movie because it is competently photographed and edited. Really, I'd like to rate it higher but it's hard for me to recommend a horror film where the people are more terrifying than the creature. The setting for this exercise in revulsion is a little redneck town in Texas. The director quickly makes you aware of the fact that all the crackers in the town are drunken bums and louts and it's all downhill from there because the drunken bums are going to be the focus of the flick. The creature actually gets very little screen time. Instead we're treated to a redneck daddy who takes his young 8 year old hunting. As he's making the kid drag out the carcass of a boar they had just shot he stops and slices a cactus in two with his hunting knife. He then has his son stick his little finger in the slit between the cactus pulp and tells him "That's what pu**y feels like"! What a charmer! There's also the sheriff who's in cahoots with the local moonshiner and the main character who knowingly sends the cracker men and gals to their deaths by allowing them to hunt on his bottom lands, the very place where the horrible creature lurks! But topping all of the disgusting excuses for humanity that populate this cinematic dung heap is our hero's Hispanic ranch hand. When we first meet this boil he is in the owner's bedroom with his pants around his ankles sniffing the wife's panties! The wife is paraplegic, confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak so, naturally, the farm hand molests her when the boss man isn't looking. As you might expect by now the director doesn't choose to simply imply that something disgusting is going on between them. No, he's gonna show us some of the sick action, probably because that's all he's really got. The monster isn't much when you finally see it and the quickness and ease with which the townspeople dispatch it once they set their minds to it simply makes you wonder why they didn't decide to do it decades ago and spare them all the loss of a few good drinking buddies and us this movie. There's zero suspense to be had because all of the townsfolk are so completely unlikeable that you're glad when they get killed. Minus any suspense the only possible use you could have for this movie is as a way to make yourself feel better about your life! You might have problems but at least you're not an ignorant drunken inbred loser like the folks in this flick. If this sounds like your kind of fare then Bon Appetit! Everyone else should just avoid.
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