Sunday, September 21, 2014

DVD Review of Bigfoot Film 'Willow Creek' by Bobcat Goldthwait

A few days back I was begrudgingly shopping at the monopoly known as Wal Mart, when I spotted a DVD copy of Willlow Creek (released on disc September 9th) and snatched it up. Speaking as a 33 year old who has studied Bigfoot since I first found a book on the topic in the school library back in second grade, I must say I'm very pleased with the purchase. There is funny skeptic vs. believer banter between the two main characters who visit many real Bigfoot tourist destinations in the film. These include Bigfoot roadside statues, as well as a Bigfoot themed restaurant, gas station, hotel, and book store. Odd Bigfoot paintings seen at these locations inspire more hilarious light hearted dialogue. The destinations and beautiful lush California country side are shot in very high quality by the fictional couple as they film scenes for their documentary, but it has a very natural feel due to good acting and the impromptu nature of the film making coupled with very real interviews they conduct about Bigfoot at the real locations visited. This really made me feel as though I got to go on a Bigfoot road trip for the $10 price of the DVD.

As to the horror movie aspect of the film, I wasn't as pleased. There is one particular scene where the couple is camped out near the famous Pastterson-Gimlin film site and starts hearing Bigfoot vocalizations and wood knocks that while accurate in its depiction, I thought dragged on for far too long. That being said, I think people less familiar with the subject matter, are far more likely to find this scene suspenseful as was intended. THAT being said, I defer to the top review of the film written by a individual who doesn't consider themselves a member of the Bigfoot community.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent directorial job from Bobcat Goldthwait, June 6, 2014
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This review is from: Willow Creek (Amazon Instant Video)
This is a found footage horror film directed by Bobcat Goldthwait. Bobcat has a reputation as a mediocre to bad actor, but a pretty good standup comic. He's also a top notch indy film director. His first picture was the classic, Shakes the Clown--called "the Citizen Kane of alcoholic clown movies." He followed that up with Sleeping Dogs Lie, World's Greatest Dad, God Bless America, all of which are strange, thought provoking films. He also spent time as a television director (The Man Show, Jimmy Kimmel: Live, Penn & Teller's Sin City Spectacular, others). This one is his first horror movie, which is about Bigfoot.

According to Bobcat, most of the interviews in the first half of the picture are real interviews with residents of Willow Creek, the Bigfoot Capital of the World. The main characters are a couple heading out into Six Rivers National Forest, to trace the Patterson-Gimlin footage of 1967. While out in the woods they hear lots of bizarre sounds, and aren't sure if it is a creature in the forest, or locals messing with the outsiders, but it is very certain that they aren't welcome. It's a shame they're also lost. 
Found footage is an irritating, not-yet-dead medium, but it works well with this type of story. Bobcat manages to instill real tension and scares into what should be a goofy premise. I recommend this one whole-heartedly. It has great reviews from critics, and the Bigfoot community seem to appreciate that he wasn't making fun of them.
Goldthwait is in fact a bonafide member of the Bigfoot community.

Bobcat Goldthwait became obsessed while filming Big Foot film
Jul 24, 2014 | 12:26pm EDT
Police Academy star Bobcat Goldthwait has married his love of directing with his passion for Big Foot by making a new movie about a search for Sasquatch. The funnyman-turned-filmmaker shot Willow Creek in the remote Six Rivers National Forest in Northern California, where Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin shot footage of what appeared to be Big Foot in 1967, and he admits he has become a big part of the community surrounding the myth. But he confesses the chance he might stumble across the real thing while making Willow Creek turned him into an obsessive. He says, "I shot the movie where the Patterson and Gimlin footage was originally shot, that footage where Big Foot's walking through and looks back. It's 17 miles down a dirt road; it takes two and a half hours to get there. There's no cell phones, there's no planes going over. "You're in the middle of nowhere and when we were filming, we actually did see two mountain lions.... I'm out there and the idea of getting mauled to death wasn't lost on me - 'Bobcat killed by bobcat'... I was kind of insane when I made this movie... I was really obsessed." Goldthwait admits he takes his love of Big Foot seriously, adding, "People bust my chops on this because I'm an atheist who believes in Big Foot, but I've met people who have heard and seen Big Foot... I'm accepted in the community; I've gone out looking for Big Foot with these guys on a number of occasions. "I've been to Big Foot conventions and it's fascinating because most people in the Big Foot community believe Big Foot has a flat head, not a pointy head... This guy had a cardboard cut-out of a pointy headed Big Foot and the other guy comes over to him and he goes, 'You disgust me, look at his head!' And he goes, 'Really? I've seen Big Foot three times and you're never gonna see him 'cause you smoke!'"
Furthermore, Goldthwait has brought positive attention to the topic during promotional interviews for the film like the two below where he engages in level-headed discussion of the matter. I don't recall for certain, but believe he makes it clear that in reality Sasquatch is not a horror movie monster, but as Dr. Jeff Meldrum, author of Sasquatch Legend Meets Science, notes in his Sasquatch Field Guide, "While there have been no credible reports of unprovoked attacks on humans sasquatch are nevertheless large and very powerful creatures demonstrating feats of considerable strength and should be accorded the same caution as a bear or any other potentially dangerous wild animal."

So please consider supporting his work with a DVD or Blu-ray purchase. It can be rented digitally from Amazon and Youtube, but if you purchase a hard copy you will get the extra features, which includes a deleted interview with Finding Bigfoot's Cliff Barackman, great and again laugh filled audio commentary, and a humorous clip that unintentionally proves faking Bigfoot tracks is not nearly as easy as one might think. The difference in depth between the faked tracks made in obviously soft soil and those taken from the PG film site are quite clear.

Bobcat Goldthwait struggling to fake Bigfoot Tracks

Also included in the extras is a very good and again laugh filled audio commentary. 

Incidentally, during a scene in the film at the Bigfoot book store, an advertisement for the Bigfoot Times newsletter can be seen, which featured a mention of this site in the July edition.

Scene from Willow Creek at Bigfoot Book Store - Bigfoot Times Ad Seem Bottom-Right

Bobcat & Bigfoot

Date: 06-16-13
Host: George Knapp
Guests: Bobcat Goldthwait, Don Ecker 

In the first half, George Knapp was joined by comedian, actor, writer, and filmmaker, Bobcat Goldthwait, for a discussion of his new film which delves into the world of Bigfoot. The film, called Willow Creek, follows a couple (a documentary maker and his girlfriend), who are trying to find the location where Patterson & Gimlin shot their famous Bigfoot film in 1967. Using a found footage technique, the film portrays a lot of the elements and evidence that have been cited in Bigfoot cases, and mixes a 'mockumentary' style using both real people and actors, with some genuine scares, and suspense.

Shooting in the Trinity National Forest in Northern California, Goldthwait was amazed at how large and dense the area was. "You really get this idea of how many millions of acres are completely unexplored-- we lose planes in these areas-- and they don't find the planes," he remarked. The film employs chilling Bigfoot vocalizations similar to what actual witnesses have reported. Goldthwait also talked about some of the other films he directed, including the dark satire God Bless America, World's Greatest Dad, and Shakes the Clown, which Martin Scorsese called "the Citizen Kane of alcoholic clown movies."