“Bigfoot’s Bride”, a micro-budget love letter to 70’s grindhouse cinema, is the brain child of Writer/Director, Erick Wofford and comes courtesy of independent distributors, Wild Eye Releasing. Part, B-movie creature feature (and that’s being generous) and part grindhouse throwback, Bigfoot’s Bride is set in Georgia and focuses on the daily happenings of the wooly mammoth himself – Bigfoot (Daniel Wofford), as he encounters a pair of hunters, a fisherman, and a lonely young camper (played by Jessica Megan Rivera) who he finds himself attracted to and who will stop at nothing to claim her. The film also stars Meghan Marie Otis, Chris Ferrell, Devin Marcus Miller, Jordan Phipps, and Joel Rogers.
Those of you who’ve frequented here over the years would be well aware by now that I’ve long had a soft spot for the micro-budget, DIY approach to filmmaking (call it an understanding of the trials and tribulations of getting something from script to screen). I show my fondness for said gumption by shelling out a few dollars from time to time in support of amateur filmmakers who are looking to make a go of it. Like countless other low-budget films, BB wasn’t something I’d heard of but I happened upon the artwork and thought it looked quite good – that was probably my first mistake. This isn’t the first time that I’ve been misled by some eye catching cover art, but perhaps more disappointing than that, it isn’t the first time that it’s promised something that the movie itself doesn’t actually contain. Anyways… more on that later. Let’s get to some of what lies in wait for you if like me, you stumble upon Bigfoot’s Bride.
Erick, himself, is credited in a number of different departments on this his first feature length film. Credit where it’s due when there’s a willingness for individuals to try their hand at different aspects in order to save time and money. One of those things Wofford appears to have done is the sound design, which comes across decent enough. The films only other real semi-technical highlight is its music. It’s a mostly synthesizer based score with some retro and catchy themes throughout, and although the changes in mood are quite inconsistent, the good is good. The cast is made up of some pretty green actors, but if you’re like me and you’ve lowered your expectations, the performances as a whole really aren’t all that bad. Jordan Phipps (who some may know from another indie film “Close Calls”) has a very brief cameo toward the end of the film, but other than her I didn’t recognize anyone else. The film’s location makes for a nice setting and I applaud Wofford’s approach to practical creature makeup fx, even in the confines of what is unapologetically a B-movie. With a budget of less than $5,000, Vanessa Smith and Adrienne Silberman assembled a minimalistic wardrobe, grotesquely detailed facial makeup (or if it was a mask, all the more impressive), and prosthetic arms with hands and claws, and whilst they have their limit, the end result is still a lot more professional than anything else Erick or his team could’ve conceived.
Okay, so let’s go back to what I was talking about before and what on earth the marketing team were thinking when they designed this particular DVD artwork (talk about misleading). For starters, Jordan Phipps is credited as Jordan Phillips (clearly a typo but certainly not very professional). Then on Wild Eye’s print is a giant Yeti, holding what appears to be a giant boulder whilst towering over two young girls and guy in the midst of showcasing his musical ability around a campfire. Now, let me be the first to tell you that none of the aforementioned bare any resemblance to what is present throughout Bigfoot’s Bride. Sure, there’s a Bigfoot, but he’s much less of a mysterious and hairy creature and more a deformed person (think Elephant Man). There are a couple of female characters, that much is true – although they don’t at all resemble the figures on the cover art. I suppose you could say there’s a campfire of sorts (for all of about 30 seconds) but no hipster-type wielding a guitar or carrying any kind of tune. If only the deceptive cover was all that was problematic with Wofford’s film.
For all the enthusiasm shown, the film is frustratingly non committal when it comes to settling on both its format and its respective aesthetics. Methods of presentation change on a dime, and ultimately become a needless distraction. A sizeable chunk of the scenes attempt to depict both 8mm and 16mm footage (I think), then there’s other sections that homage the shot on video era where tape lines and static blemishes have been dispersed throughout, as well as other moments where you can tell modern equipment was used. It’s a hodgepodge that makes the technical element a real chore to sit through. Now, in terms of story, I don’t need a whole hell of a lot from a film of this nature, but I can’t help thinking that with such a paper thin outline, Bigfoot’s Bride would’ve been better suited to the short format. At just 78 minutes, you’d expect quite rapid development, right? Such is not the case with Wofford’s script, nor its pacing. There are multiple ten minute scenes (or at least what felt like ten minutes) wherein which a singular camera captures characters carrying out mundane tasks. For example, we watch a nameless fisherman cast his rod, wade around multiple times in knee deep water, reel in a fish, gut it, clean it, and bag it. Why? This is not the fishing channel, people! At least the scene with Bigfoot eating the carcass of the fish has merit through showing the audience how he forages and survives out in the wilderness. But even the creature itself spends the bulk of its screen time people watching, at least when he’s not sniffing clothing or catching female urine in his palm… yes that happens… At any rate, hunters hunt, campers camp, and we’re just along for the worst possible ride at the local country fair.
I say it again, if only the deadweight exposition (or menial existing on-screen) were solely what made Bigfoot’s Bride a perfect candidate for the bottom of the bargain bin. If for one reason or another a micro-budget film struggles in the professionalism department, it can still somewhat save face if it delivers on the promise of entertainment value. Unfortunately, this particular creature feature doesn’t can’t manage that. When the film does finally roll around to presenting us with some on-screen action, it’s either over before it begins (which may not have been a bad thing in hindsight), or lingers until its inevitably picked to pieces by the viewer, much like Bigfoot does with the fish remains in that first act. Despite Wofford’s extremely limited funds, there were a couple of basic prosthetic pieces used for wounds and a flash of practical blood spray here and there. In the world of independent filmmaking though, there’s a blanket rule for filmmakers to do things practically wherever and whenever possible and only resort to the likes of CG when you have no other choice. Let Bigfoot’s Bride be a lesson to those who go the other way. The additional blood VFX on display here can only be described as some of the worst that I’ve ever layed eyes on. As I say this, keep in mind that Wofford clearly allocated a portion of his budget to practical fx (notably some of the blood was sprayed whilst filming). Not to mention he clearly saw fit to design a practical look for the bigfoot, including molded arms and feet. So with ingredients for blood being the cheapest of the fx accessories, who thought it was a good idea to render layers of CG blood spray over every kill scene? The result is nothing short of embarrassing and it pains me to have to say that about someone’s hard work. There’s simply no other way I can describe it. And what I suppose analyzing a process like this does, is just reaffirm how vigilant you need to be in your approach and to not rush the planning. If you simply don’t have the money for the required components, wait until you do.
By and large, when I come across a film this lacking in quality I usually avoid a detailed critique, or sometimes even any real deconstruction at all for fear of discouraging those individuals involved. Having made a few short films myself, I do understand the challenges and trappings of self-funded filmmaking and therefore I want to do my part to help those around me grow and learn. Bigfoot’s Bride did have a couple of things going for it, such as the irregular but cool score, the location, and the dedicated effort to making the Bigfoot look prominent while on-screen. Sadly, just about everything else in Bigfoot’s Bride is forgettable in a big way. It even seems those behind the marketing forgot that their own titular character actually finds himself falling in love with a seemingly suicidal Heather and not Jody (despite her being the one listed on the artwork and the official IMDb page). The presentation here is so sporadic, the vast majority of the footage only ends up serving as filler, and the copious layers of CG which look as though they were constructed in “Paint” on an old Windows 95, are about as bad as you’re likely to see for a long while. I’ll leave you to make the call on whether this is something you want to dedicate 75 minutes of your time to. You can check out the official trailer below if you’re interested.
Bigfoot’s Bride – 2/10