This faux-documentary about seven men who travel deep into the Pacific Northwest to find Bigfoot was one of the first movies I ever saw. So nostalgia no doubt colors my opinion of it. But re-watching it recently, I can honestly say it’s not without its merits — especially as a product of its time. Unlike the later Blair Witch Project, Sasquatch The Legend of Bigfoot doesn’t try very hard to disguise the fact it’s really a scripted adventure. Some of the goofier moments involve the expedition’s cook having run-ins with various forest creatures — staged comedy bits that might have gone over well with younger audience members (the film is rated G) at the time. The film also plays loose with science and the capabilities of computers, and features a folksy soundtrack that, while endearing in its own way, hasn’t aged well.
Sasquatch also does some things right. It contains a lot of good nature and wildlife footage. It’s one of the only Bigfoot movies I know of that was actually shot in the Pacific Northwest, and the atmosphere (even in day-for-night trick photography) is palpable. The movie also captures the essence of an old fashioned ghost story. A few times throughout the movie, the men sit around the campfire and tell stories about Bigfoot that are re-enacted through flashbacks, including a Sasquatch attack on a cabin full of miners that really scared me as a kid. Viewers looking for thrills and kills may be disappointed with the film’s leisurely pacing, but the payoff is a fairly tense one for ’70s G-rated fare, featuring multiple Sasquatches setting off electronic trip wires as they surround and attack the camp.
This movie also contains my favorite visual and aural depictions of the creature. We don’t see Bigfoot a lot, and when we do it’s usually in silhouette or very briefly — but the impression left in our minds is so much more satisfying than just about every other, more graphic, representation put to film (2014’s Exists is a notable exception). And the monster doesn’t just growl and snarl. No, it let’s out an otherworldly, high-pitched howl — like the loud wailing of a female ghost through a megaphone — that descends into a low grumble before it ends. That haunting sound will always herald Bigfoot for me, and this will always be the movie that introduced me to the monster — my lifelong boogeyman of choice.