Archive for January 9th, 2010

The Thinker

Review: Suburban Sasquatch (2004)

How bad can a movie be in the 21st century? It can be so bad that you, who probably never tried to write or direct anything, can make something better than the 2004 direct to video “movie” Suburban Sasquatch.

With a movie this bad it is hard to know if it was made intentionally bad or whether the auteur behind the film Dave Wascavage may have honestly thought he had a gift for writing and directing horror movies. I think I can safely say that Hollywood will not be calling Dave Wascavage. One thing is for sure: the movie has Dave’s fingerprints all over it. It is full of various friends of Dave, none of whom are actors. It is also full of Dave’s relatives, including his grandmother. Dave is also in his own movie in at least two roles, one as a fisherman who ends up on his backside in a creek and later on wearing a ridiculous blond wig that I suspect he borrowed from grandma. It is written, produced, directed and has very “special” effects by Dave Wascavage. Seriously the scroll at the end has Dave’s name in most of the credits. Suburban Sasquatch is something bordering on genius on how to create a myopic, intensely bad “film”. In short, if you are a bad movie buff, you had better try to get it. And yes, you can rent it from Netflix.

Wascavage is apparently vying to be the Edward D. Wood of 21st century auteur cinema. Wood, as dreadful as his films like Plan 9 from Outer Space and Glen or Glenda were, at least had some general sense of direction. For example, in any scene the director draws an imaginary line across the scene. The camera stays on one side of the line. This is to prevent the viewer from getting confused, for example, having person A on the left side of the frame in one shot and on the right side in another. Wascavage obviously never studied cinema, so he feels free to confuse the viewer. Naturally, Wascavage was also the cinematographer. So you end up with very unusual camera framings. For example, if a person were looking stage right, most cinematographers would frame the actor on the left. Wascavage though throws convention out the window and feels free to put the person on the right side of the frame looking right while leaving a whole lot of nothing on the left of the frame.

Perhaps Wascavage was channeling director Phil Tucker who in 1953 released the turgid dreck Robot Monster on unsuspecting cinemagoers. In Robot Monster, we had a guy wearing a gorilla suit who was supposed to be an alien from outer space. You could tell from the space helmet on his head. In Suburban Sasquatch we have Sasquatch as a guy in a gorilla suit as well, except his mouth never moves. Sasquatch only says one thing, which sounds sort of like “roar” kind of garbled in a couple of changing pitches.

Wascavage did all of his own special effects so we get really crappy effects, such as of a car window being digitally shattered. His tightly edited sequences, such as you can see in the video insert, demonstrate that even the most basic aspects of directing are blithely ignored. As Sasquatch unexpectedly assaults a car, we see sequences of the car both moving and the car standing still.

The blood and guts effects in the movie are hilariously awful. They are so fake that not even a preschooler would be fooled. Sasquatch is really good at ripping off people’s limbs. When he rips off a guy’s arm, it is painfully obvious the real arm is stuffed under the guy’s coat. The limbs clearly come off a mannequin. You can tell from the pins in the socket joints.

As for the acting, there is none, of course. Sue Lynn Sanchez as the Indian Talla at least sounds sincere and speaks coherently. Dialog is rambling, frequently improvised and rarely makes much sense. There are times when the actors seem to be reading from an off camera script. As for plot, well, apparently Sasquatch decides to terrorize areas in suburban Pennsylvania where Wascavage lives because that’s what he does, except it is not the least bit terrorizing. Moreover, this Sasquatch can fade between visible and invisible. Bullets seem to have no effect on him. It takes the brave Indian woman Talla, wearing a short skirt and living, not in a teepee, but in a cheap tent from Wal-Mart in someone’s back yard, to hunt down Sasquatch with her spear and magic helmet, er, sorry, wrong cartoon, her bow and arrow, that looks like it was bought from Toys R Us.

The plot comes with an intrepid reporter who is constantly berated by his editor. It also includes a sheriff who moved to Pennsylvania to escape a Sasquatch that had been terrorizing his old neighborhood. Who could make this up? It makes absolutely no sense, but nothing about this movie makes any sense. It is laughingly bad in every respect, but perhaps it reaches its nadir with the dialog, which is rambling and rarely makes much in the way of sense.

This is essentially a movie made by a guy using any relative, friend and casual acquaintance he can con into “acting” for the price of a few beers. To call it amateur is to praise it. I have seen amateur movies and amateur theater and sometimes amateur can be good, or at least have good spots. (The Blair Witch Project comes to mind.) Nothing about this movie is commendable.

Like Craigslist Casual Encounters, it is a complete waste of time. However, it is instructive into just how badly some piece of crap like this can be made. It fails spectacularly on every single level.

I am really hoping this was made to be a bad movie. If so, Wascavage is a genius, but it feels too authentic to be a deliberately made “bad” movie. Watch the extras on the DVD and see Dave’s grandmother explain her role. It sure sounds like it was done with some pretense that it might ascend from the gutter. If only it were good enough for the gutter. This “movie” really rests in the sewer.

If you are a fan of bad movies like we are, you should definitely see it. If you are looking for an excuse to get drunk and laugh, Suburban Sasquatch will do the trick. Otherwise, anything you can do will be a better use of your time, and this includes picking your nose.

My thanks to my nephew Ryan for introducing me to Suburban Sasquatch. It appears that there is a genetic predisposition for bad movies in my family that has been passed down to the latest generation.

 

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