Sasquatch, the Legend of Bigfoot
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|Sasquatch, the Legend of Bigfoot|
Promotional Movie Poster
|Directed by||Ed Ragozzino|
|Produced by||Ronald D. Olson
|Written by||Ed Hawkins
Ronald D. Olson
|Music by||Al Capps
|Edited by||John Fabian
|Distributed by||North American Film Enterprises Inc.|
|Release dates||March 9, 1977|
|Running time||102 min|
Sasquatch, aka Sasquatch, the Legend of Bigfoot is a docudrama filmed in 1975 by North American Film Productions, Oregon Ltd., at the height of public fascination with accounts and tales of Bigfoot sightings.
The film follows a group of explorers on a summer-long search for the mythical Bigfoot creature. The audience is informed that the search takes place in Northwest Canada (British Columbia) along the 'Peckatoe River Valley' but in reality the movie was filmed further south in the Three Sisters Wilderness area of the Cascade Mountain Range near Bend, Oregon.
While sometimes compared to other Bigfoot documentary films of the era such as (The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972) and Creature From Black Lake (1976), this film does not feature on-camera interviews with possible eyewitnesses. The producers strived for a sense of believability and used taglines like "The most complete and only true story of Bigfoot ever filmed" in promotional material. The film features a number of animal stunts, including cougar and bear attacks. To simulate the grizzly attack, Tootsie Rolls were placed on actor Lou Salerni's shoulder, where they were eaten by the trained bear. Animals were supplied by Dick Robinson who, along with "Sasquatch" co-producer and editor John Fabian, went on to make a Grizzly Adams-type film "The Life and Legend of Buffalo Jones". That film was also co-directed by "Sasquatch" cast member / narrator George Lauris and its soundtrack contains music by "Sasquatch" contributors Al Capps & Lane Caudell. The "Life and Legend of Buffalo Jones" film ultimately became known as "Buffalo Rider".
The film begins in the forest with shots of local wildlife, agitated and on alert, but the source is not seen on screen. The camera then switches to a first person view, hinting at an unseen presence and the scene culminates with the view of a large human-like creature's reflection at water's edge while a haunting wail echos through the forest. Opening credits are next, followed by a review of recent Bigfoot stories via newspaper clippings and narration. Next up is the well-known Patterson-Gimlin Film, shot by Roger Patterson on October 20, 1967, in Bluff Creek, CA which shows an ape-like creature walking along a dry creek bed. The narrator goes on to explain that by running statistical data through modern computers, a site in British Columbia has been determined as the most likely spot for a population of Sasquatch to live undisturbed. An expedition is mounted, hoping to verify the creature's existence and secure funding for future research into the phenomenon.
The seven man team is composed of Native American guide Techka Blackhawk, seasoned wilderness explorer Josh Bigsby, wise-cracking reporter Bob Vernon, anthropologist Dr. Paul Markham, cook Barney Snipe, animal handler Hank Parshall and team leader Chuck Evans who also narrates the film. The team is on horseback and brings tracking dogs to aid in the hunt.
As the film progresses, tales of Sasquatch encounters by earlier explorers are interwoven with the current expedition's adventure and told as campfire stories. These scenes are recreated by uncredited cast members and include the Ape Canyon incident in which miners are attacked while sleeping in their cabin and an encounter by early pioneer explorers Bauman and Jessup. Initially the expedition takes on the feel of a nature trek, but as we reach a scene where the team is traversing a hillside it takes on a more ominous feel. As rocks begin tumbling down towards them from above, Techka stops the caravan in time to avoid injuries but the cause of the rockslide is unknown. From this point on the film becomes more focused on its intended subject, the search for Bigfoot. After this incident the team feels they're being watched by 'someone or something' and everyone takes turns guarding the camp at night. One evening a bear attacks while they sleep and everyone is shaken up but none are seriously injured. On a subsequent evening the camp is once again attacked, but this time the lookout was able to scare off the attacker(s) with gunshots. The following day they find large footprints in the areas surrounding the camp and employ the tracking dogs. While some team members take plaster molds of the tracks, Hank and his dogs follow a scent to the base of a sheer rock wall but cannot continue due to the difficult terrain.
As the expedition nears their intended destination, they discover tall trees snapped in half well above human reach. Techka tells them it is a sign the Sasquatch use to mark their territory and upon entering the valley, the team finds more footprints and sets up camp. They install a tripwire system around the perimeter and post lookouts. The team notes that the forest is eerily quiet that evening and well after dark, the inevitable happens. Multiple sensors begin to light up, the camp is attacked and we hear the same haunting wail as earlier. As the lookouts scramble for a clear shot with their tranquilizer guns, large boulders and branches are thrown in from multiple directions. Paul Markham is injured by one of the rocks and one of the shadowy creatures actually invades the camp and destroys most of the surveillance equipment. The attackers are eventually scared off and when daylight comes the team gets a good look at the devastation. There are many footprints around the camp but no signs of a dead or wounded Sasquatch. By now summer is almost over and winter storms are looming so the team packs up and begins their long trek back to civilization. In the final scene the camera pans out to a wide shot of the team departing, showcasing a picturesque view of the valley and its surrounding mountains. During the closing credits we see a large human-like silhouette, the same one seen in promotional movie posters, looking down at the camera from a hilltop as it slowly turns and walks away.
- George Lauris as Chuck Evans
- Steve Boergadine as Hank Parshall
- Jim Bradford as Barney Snipe
- Ken Kenzle as Josh Bigsby
- William Emmons as Dr. Paul Markham
- Joel Morello as Techka Blackhawk
- Lou Salerni as Bob Vernon
The film's soundtrack is a combination of serene '70s style folk / country (title track 'High in the Mountains') and summer blockbuster style orchestral music. Both are well suited to the scenes they accompany and when combined with the 'authentic' Sasquatch wail used, lend a great deal of atmosphere to the film. The title track, written and performed by Al Capps & Lane Caudell, was available on vinyl 45's for a limited time but has long since gone out of production.
The film was originally released by North American Film Enterprises Inc. and was shown in theaters nationwide in the mid to late '70s. Distributors such as RetroMedia, RetroFlix, Image Entertainment and VCI Home Video have re-released it on DVD.
In the closing moments of the film, the narrator hints at a possible sequel if funding could be secured as a result of this expedition. None was released.
- Taylor, Brett (Fall 2010). "George Lauris: On the Trail of Bigfoot...Sasquatch--A True Story". Filmfax (125): 101–106.