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Eric D. Snider

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Eric has been a film critic since 1999, and a beard wearer since 2008. He holds a degree in journalism and used to work in "the newspaper industry," back when that was a thing.

Eric’s Bad Movies: ‘Sasquatch’ (2002)

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“Sasquatch” is the less imaginative but more descriptive title given to a schlocky horror film originally called “The Untold,” in which Lance Henriksen and some people who are less famous but more cheerful than him go Canada to be murdered by Bigfoot. The movie acts like it’s based on a true story, but that is only accurate in the sense that Canada is a real place and Lance Henriksen has been there.

You start out thinking it’s going to be a “found footage” movie, with researchers on a small plane documenting their excursion into the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest, and you despair, because, UGH, this again. Fortunately, the plane soon crashes and we switch out of “found footage” mode into “regular crappy movie” mode. Seems one of the passengers was the daughter of Harlan Knowles (Henriksen), president and CEO of the biotech company that sponsored the trip. Now Harlan — or Mr. H, as everyone calls him, as though he were a cool woodshop teacher instead of a dour millionaire with the facial expression of a two-weeks-sober alcoholic who’s barely keeping it together — wants to go looking for his daughter and any other potential survivors where the plane went down.

Inconveniently, the plane went down way the hell out in the forest. The movie doesn’t say whether it’s Washington or British Columbia, but since it was filmed in B.C. and most of the cast members are Canadian (or at least their speaking voices are), we assume it’s Canada. Besides, if the Sasquatch were American, he would be a lot fatter. Mr. H’s rescue mission is led by local guide Clayton Tyne (Russell Ferrier), a jovial outdoorsman filling the role of “indigenous person who takes the outsiders on their dangerous journey and warns them about all the dangerous things but they don’t listen because of hubris.”

Also on the trek:

- Winston Burg (Phil Granger), the writer of many bestselling “true adventure” books who for some reason is dressed and groomed like an Englishman on safari circa 1900. He’s prissy and fussy and probably made up the stories in his books.

- Plazz (Jeremy Radick), a computer geek who handles the expedition’s technological needs. He’s also a “cryptozoologist,” which is a person who studies mythical creatures like Sasquatch, chupacabra, Snooki, etc. Plazz, a dough-faced perv with a doofy chin-beard, never stops leering at and hitting on…

- Marla (Andrea Roth), an attractive blonde who represents Mr. H’s biotech corporation’s insurance company.

- Nikki (Mary Mancini), another lady from the insurance company who isn’t pretty enough for Plazz to harass her, so I guess yay for her?

They take Tyne’s boat up a river for a while, then get out and walk deep into the forest. Lots of walking in this movie, accompanied by mundane expository dialogue and Plazz sexually harassing Marla. Along the way, Lance Henriksen grimaces at some things, gazes with haunted eyes at others.

That night, the group has the requisite scene where everyone sits around a campfire and someone brings up the local legend about the terrifying creature that they will all scoff at and then be killed by. Marla the blonde retires for the evening before the others do, and positions her tent far away from them so that she is alone in the woods, the better to be terrorized by the Sasquatch. And then the Sasquatch shows up! I mean, we don’t know it’s the Sasquatch yet, but duh. We even switch to Sasquatch-cam® for a few shots, so we can see the world through his eyes. He has thermal vision like the title character in “Predator.” He bites Marla’s leg through the tent, causing her to scream, causing the others to come running, causing the Sasquatch to scamper back into the darkness like a COWARD.

Marla is not badly injured by the Sasquatch bite. Plazz the perv ogles the wound and says, “Scars are sexy.” Tyne the guide says it was probably a bear, and asks Marla if she happens to be having her lady times right now, as this can attract bears, which we know because we have seen “Anchorman.” Marla says yep, that was probably it. Sorry, fellas! I was out here in my tent having my period, and that’s why a bear bit me. Silly ol’ me and my menses!

The next day, the expedition goes farther into the woods and finds a cave with fresh footprints. Animal blood has been used to draw pictures on the walls, too, although they’re not very good and the perspective is off. The group’s hypothesis is that someone survived the plane crash and has gone insane living in this cave. Mr. H finds a trinket that belonged to his daughter. He has fresh hope! Fresh hope that his daughter is alive and insane! This fresh hope is balanced by his ongoing flashbacks/visions/hallucinations of his daughter being scared and in trouble. This is the film’s way of conveying that Mr. H feels guilty about being a neglectful father, and also a hilarious excuse to watch Lance Henriksen’s craggy, shell-shocked face while snippets of his daughter’s voice echo in his head. The director said, “Lance, for these scenes, I want your ‘haunted’ face,” and Henriksen said, “You mean my face?”

When the group arrives at the wreckage of the plane, we learn that Mr. H would probably be glad to find his daughter but what he really came up here for was to find an important piece of research equipment that was onboard. This device, designed by a genius scientist named Huxley, could instantly analyze the DNA of any living thing and give you its entire genetic history. The device is in the plane, but Huxley, Mr. H’s daughter, and the others are gone. Before they disappeared, they sampled an animal that came up on the Huxley device as “UNKNOWN.” WHAT IF THIS IS THE SASQUATCH?? (It is the Sasquatch.)

From there the movie follows the usual pattern of different group members almost — but not quite — being attacked by the Sasquatch, before the fussy adventure writer FINALLY gets it. Marla runs off with the Huxley device, because it turns out she’s a corporate spy or something, and the Sasquatch kills her. The others commence to flee this infernal forest and its murderous ape-men, and Tyne tells Mr. H that they should leave the device behind. He figures Sasquatch is upset because he understands somehow that the device “knows” about him, and he doesn’t want to be discovered by man. The Sasquatch likes to be left alone. That’s why he lives in the forests of Canada. Or anywhere in Canada, really. Sure enough, when Mr. H comes face to face with the beast and has the opportunity to shoot him, he instead shoots the Huxley device, and the Sasquatch permits him to depart in peace, an understanding having passed between them. It’s like the scene with Baxter and the bear at the end of “Anchorman.”

Hmm. I would not have thought that “Sasquatch” would remind me of “Anchorman” so much. At any rate, the movie was already tediously generic before it took on the goofy angle of the Sasquatch resenting the invasion of his genetic privacy, and it’s downhill from there. There’s a limit to what filmmakers can do when they only have half an idea, Lance Henriksen, and a Yeti costume. Though I admit that’s a good place to start.

Read the previous installment of Eric’s Bad Movies: “Misbegotten”


Categories: Columns

Tags: Column, Eric d. snider, Eric's bad movies, Lance henriksen, Sasquatch, The Untold

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