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Bigfoot (1970)

Among the first of the many, many bigfootsploitation movies, this 1970 drive-in hit boasts in its end credits that it was filmed in mountainous locales where bigfoot has been seen by several individuals - though it cuts between familiar walking-about-aimlessly-in-the-woods footage and a cramped studio forest set where only dayglo outfits and the twangy guitar score distinguish it from some 1940s programmer. The creatures, who are theorised to be missing links, even seem to be wearing modified gorilla suits that could have been handed down by Charles Gemora, Crash Corrigan or Emil Sitka. It opens with a long, slow preamble as pilot 'Joi Landis' (blonde Joi Lansing) parachutes out of her stricken plane into the wilderness, strips out of her tight blue jump suit to reveal a low-cut minidress and is leaped upon by something hairy and scream-inducing. The rest of the plot has the Bigfoot family stalked by various factions: travelling salesmen/folksy carny hustlers John Carradine (lots of dialogue, delivered with enthusiasm) and Jim Mitchum (porky comedy cousin with a fringe beard), a bike gang led by Chris Mitchum (bandana) out to get back an abducted momma (Judy Jordan) and a posse commanded by the Sheriff (James Craig, of All That Money Can Buy).

The plot offers the stealing-women-to-breed gambit, with Lansing and Jordan tied decorously to posts serial-style for much of the film, but Carradine's desire to capture Bigfoot alive so it can be exhibited in a carnival prods it towards another familiar story (free paraphrasing of Robert Armstrong dialogue from King Kong extends to 'It wasn't you, mister - It was beauty did him in'). It's lackadaisically told, with the biggest sasquatch – a tall guy shot from below – killed offscreen by dynamite without even a shot of the body, suggesting either that a sequel might have been planned or director Robert F. Slatzer didn't bother to come up with a proper climax. With former cowboy star Ken Maynard as the store-keeper, Haji as an Indian maid, pin-up Jennifer Bishop, former Munchkin Jerry Maren (as Child Bigfoot), Lindsay Crosby (another biker), Mephis mafiosa Red West and Spike Jones regular Doodles Weaver.

First published in this form here.

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