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One of the better Bigfoot films, despite the critical reviews
RELEASED TO VIDEO IN 2005 and directed by Fred Tepper,"Sasquatch Hunters" chronicles events when an expedition of scientists & rangers investigate the possibility of some strange primate bones deep in the wilderness. They hike for days and discover a burial ground of gorilla bones. Unfortunately for them, the creatures still exist and don't like people messing with their grave site.
This is a low-budget Bigfoot movie. You have to realize this going in to appreciate it. I mention this because of the heavy criticism of other reviewers. C'mon, it's a freakin' Grade-B creature feature. What did these grumblers expect - "Apocalypse Now"?
In any case, this is a serious Sasquatch film. There's no comedy, goofiness or camp to be found. The characters are likable, which is something another reviewer noted. This is important because if you like the characters you're more likely to care what happens to them. Some criticize the acting, but I feel it smacks of realism. Bear in mind that many in the expedition are meeting for the first time. The characters act like a group of people awkwardly getting to know one another. The F-word is thrown around a few times but no more than in real life; besides, when the situation becomes a matter of life or death it's to be expected.
The cast features three quality women. Amy Shelton-White plays the scientist Dr. Helen, essentially the heroine of the tale. She may look like the girl next door but she's actually quite attractive. Then there's Lou, the sexy petite dirt blonde college gal who's documenting the expedition, played by the stunning Juliana Dever. She has a brief shower scene at the creek, albeit in a bikini, so don't expect nudity. Lastly there's the naive, meek and kinda-cute young ranger, Janet, played by Stacey Branscombe. Janet is sweet, but doesn't seem like she even belongs in the forest like a real ranger.
Another positive is the location. The film was shot entirely at Topanga State Park in the Santa Monica Mountains in western Los Angeles, which is notable as the biggest wilderness area of any major city in the entire world. The forest foliage is just dense enough to give the proper wilderness impression while sparse enough for the viewer to see what's going on. I'm sure it made filming easier as well.
Some criticize that the score is too epic, melodramatic and LOUD. It's true that the "epic" part is too loud in the first half hour (as they're trekking through the forest), but overall I appreciate it. Some parts are reminiscent of the original "Planet of the Apes" (1968), which is a good thing as far as I'm concerned. The best part is played over the end credits, a pleasant quasi-classical piece. This gives the film a touch of class, as if the filmmakers were at least aiming for something greater than the limitations of a direct-to-video monster flick.
Some criticize the appearance of the creature(s). The film deviates from (supposed) real-life accounts and other film depictions of Sasquatch in that the creature here is just a big shaggy black gorilla, albeit really fast, almost like a super gorilla, like the super wolves in "Wolfen" (1981). Some shots are obviously total CGI and you can tell, but other shots are of actors in gorilla suits with CGI faces. In any event, the creature looks fine for a straight-to-video flick. What were these complainers expecting, blockbuster quality? I like what they came up with.
On the downside, there's an overlong and meandering night sequence that starts near the 45-minute mark and lasts a full half hour, which is about 1/3 of the runtime (88 minutes). The problem with night sequences like this is that it's too hard to see what's going on, but they did a pretty good job with the lighting and this sequence adds an air of horrific mystery.
FINAL WORD: The film is called "Sasquatch Hunters" not because the people are hunting Sasquatch but rather because Sasquatch is hunting THEM. Bigfoot here is not a gentle giant; he's an angry monster killing machine. This is actually one of the better low-budget Bigfoot flicks. The material is taken seriously, the cast is likable and believable, the women are attractive, the locations are great, the score is surprisingly classy (albeit too loud/epic in a couple spots early on) and the adventure is fairly engaging.
"Sasquatch Hunters" is a picture filmed on spit, chewing gum and home-movie enthusiasm. Some would call it a guilty pleasure, others a piece of crap; I respect it.
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