Despite its prominence in American folklore, the Sasquatch hasn’t appeared much in film. 1987’s Harry and the Hendersons brought a friendly PG version of the creature to mass audiences, but sightings on celluloid have been few and far between just like Bigfoot. Its cousin, the Yeti, has popped up more often, taking the spotlight in 1957’s The Abominable Snowman, Paul Naschy’s 1975 Waldemar entry The Werewolf and the Yeti, the corny made-for-TV Snowbeast (1977) and even 1974’s oddball exploitation schlock Shriek of the Mutilated to name a few, leaving his Pacific Northwestern counterpart in the shadows. Recently, numerous reality TV shows have cropped up, claiming to search for the legendary creature alongside films like Eduardo Sánchez’s superbly intense Exists (2014) and Bobcat Goldthwait’s sadly misguided Willow Creek (2013). That’s about to change, however, with Justin Lee’s awesome, fun Big Legend.
Kevin Makely plays Tyler, a former Army Ranger who proposes to his longtime girlfriend Natalie (Summer Spiro) on a camping trip. They set up camp and things are going well until he’s drawn outside and she gets kidnapped by a large, running humanoid. One year later, Tyler leaves a psychiatric hospital and stays with his mother (Adrienne Barbeau), who encourages him to find the answer he’s been seeking. He returns to the forest and soon teams up with Eli (Todd A. Robinson), a local poacher with similar interests. Ultimately, they find their game with dire consequences.
“…Army Ranger who proposes to his longtime girlfriend…until she gets kidnapped by a large, running humanoid…”
For a film with an extremely limited cast and virtually no budget, it’s one hell of a ride. Makely nearly carries the film on his own, his character a lot like Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes on The Walking Dead without the corny speeches and poor decisions. As Eli, Robinson plays the perfect sidekick – a little off, but loyal and trusting to the end. Barbeau is excellent as always and there’s even a compelling performance from Lance Henriksen at the end, who sets up a sequel through his portrayal of a comic book-style kingpin determined to uncover the truth about what’s in the forest.
As for the monster, Big Legend delivers where most low-budget movies hide as much as they can to save money. You want Bigfoot? You got him in all his hairy, toothy glory. Additionally, director Lee does an excellent job of depicting action through a claustrophobic handheld camera, juxtaposing the great expanse of forest with the encapsulated experience of the main character.
Big Legend isn’t here to change your mind about politics or make you feel some deep emotion. This is pure mindless entertainment of the highest drive-in quality. Roger Corman should be proud.
Big Legend Directed by Justin Lee. Written by Justin Lee. Starring Kevin Makely, Todd A. Robinson, Summer Spiro, Adrienne Barbeau, Lance Henriksen, Amanday Wyss and Ashley Platz.
8 out of 10 stars