These people forget that when you go out to shoot a zombie movie, you don’t just up and hunt for the region’s resident hairy howling monster
We’re wrapping up our autumnal excursion into five, count em, five Bigfoot flicks with Taku-He, which regionalizes the legend of the gigantic hairy creature for folks in Tennessee, but if you Google the f-er, it seems like Taku-He hangs out in South Dakota, wears a top hat, and might be out there inciting teenagers to commit suicide.
Geographic dissonance aside, what we get here in this flick is some box-of-rocks filmmakers who are scouting a location for a zombie movie (Anubis, Lord of the Dead — a nice Night of the Living Dead reference by Taku-He’s writer/director/producer George Demick) out on a farm on the outskirts of a town called Riverside, Tenn. The farmer, Jim Owens, who owns the site they’re scouting, shows them a footprint and that gets them all obsessed with local lore of a tall, long-armed hairy howling creature roaming the woods and countryside, killing livestock and attacking people.
Rule No. 1 for any filmmaker: You don’t go off and change genres in the middle of a project, especially if you’re shooting what’s going to be a special feature for the zombie flick’s physical release. If you’re going to make an Egyptian zombie movie out in the sticks of Tennessee, then don’t get sidetracked, no matter how impressed you are by the tales of the local Bigfoot-type creature.
The two-headed monster leading the production consists of the bespectacled duo of Chuck (Ryan Williams) and Dallas (David Polk) who specialize in genre films and have a long history together with their crew of four. So OF COURSE they don’t follow that rule, though. Rather, they’re so impressed by this footprint they saw on Owens’ property that they secure additional funding from their producers, flip directions, and start interviewing a cross-section of the town who have varying levels of skepticism about the existence of the creature, including a guy named “Han Solo” who thinks it’s actually a robot used to control the weather.
After being told by the mayor and the local sheriff that there’s no monster in the area, a mysterious town resident claims otherwise, leading the filmmakers to pitch some tents and go on their own quest for Riverdale’s resident Bigfoot. Do they find it? Well, if they didn’t, we wouldn’t have …
• Best Know Your Surroundings: Lois (Elizabeth Hayes) didn’t get the memo about what not to do in the woods when nature calls and a Bigfoot may be, um, afoot. Taku-He exacts vengeance when she answers that call by eating off her face and clawing the heck out of her back.
• Best Policy for Living in Taku-He country: Farmer Owens (played by Wulff – indeed, he goes by one name — Wulff) has a closed-door policy. When the sun goes down, his house is locked because he doesn’t want the creature to get in his house. Guess what happens when he breaks the policy?
• Best Exposition: Local creature expert Jimmy (Patrick Purser) knows more about the Taku-He than anyone else in the area, which is why he entices the camera crew to follow him to his place and shows off his historical records that indicate 15 recorded attacks by the monster and a feature a bunch of artistic renderings. Still mourning the loss of his childhood pet to the Taku-He back in the day, Jimmy also offers the most sage advice about the monster to the movie crew that, of course, is ignored: “You don’t want to be around it when it’s pissed.”
• Best Equipped for the Situation: Tracker Roger Mason (Joe Noe) brings a high-powered rifle to track the creature. He also busts out with a bunch of those surveyor flags you can get in bulk at Home Depot and is really good at throwing them in the ground so that they stick first time, every time.
• Best to Quit While You’re Ahead: Dallas and Chuck got footage of the creature as it shook their tents during the night courtesy of cameraman Wes (Thom Booton), but since Wes is a perfectionist and said that the footage is too blurry, they go after the creature, leading to the body count that follows.
Going two and a half stars here. A lot of talking, some static scenes and there are obligatory deductions because no garbonzas appear in this flick and because the Bigfoot (OK, technically Taku-He) did not flip over a vehicle, even though he had the perfect opportunity to do so when one of the filmmakers crawled under an SUV to hide. Still, once the monster gets provoked and starts going on a Grade A rampage through the film crew, the claws start flying and the red stuff starts flowing. It just takes some time to get to that point, so be patient.
The producers of Taku-He have shown this one at a couple of festivals and are still in search of a wider distribution deal. If you want to be among the first to check this one out, visit Flickering Candle Productions’ website and tell them who sent you.
Next review: Even though we’re giving Bigfoot a rest, we’re not quite out of the woods yet, as we check out a new release.