by Jason Coffman
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After a boom in Bigfoot-related horror films in the 1970s, the enduring urban legend has mostly kept to himself, popping up in the occasional horror movie. And, of course, Harry and the Hendersons. There have been a number of new Sasquatch-related independent horror films in the past few years (including a new entry in the long-dormant Boggy Creek series), and now they are making their way to home video. Will they be any better than their 70s counterparts? Probably not, if Savage is any indication of the general quality of the New Wave of Bigfoot Movies.
A forest fire is threatening the tourist season at Bear Mountain National Park, the site of some famous Bigfoot sightings in the 60s and 70s. A team of firefighters have the blaze mostly under control when they get a surprise visit from something that kills them all. Meanwhile, a couple of criminals on the run (Anna Enger and Quint Von Canon) come to the park to hide out while a young scientist (Dale Davis) who believes Bigfoot exists hires local hunter Jack Lund (Martin Kove) to help him track the beast. All this adds up to a pretty busy day for park ranger Owen (Tony Fremont), whose pregnant wife Ellen (Lisa Wilcox) is at their home in the woods, where the forest fire is heading now that there’s no one to manage it.
If that sounds like a lot going on in one movie, that’s because it is. Clocking in at 85 minutes with fades to black every 10-15 minutes, Savage has the look and feel of a SyFy Original, although it’s not quite as fun as that would suggest. The tone is set in the pre-credits sequence when one of the firefighters is interrupted before he can say a four-letter word, and the level of gore is pretty low. The one scene with a lot of blood looks like the filmmakers borrowed a bucket of Kensington Gore from an old Hammer production and dumped it in a creek, but then had to replace it with some comically unconvincing CGI for the wider shot. Dealing with all the characters’ interactions with each other makes up the bulk of the film, with Bigfoot himself rating barely more than a cameo.
There’s not much to recommend Savage unless you’re a die-hard Martin Kove fan. He looks like he’s having a good time as the psychotic tour guide, chomping cigars and reminiscing about how he first met Bigfoot as a child. Nobody else seems to be too excited to be here, although Tony Fremont is pretty good as the park ranger who came to the forest to get away from the noise and crime in the city. Savage is too competent to be enjoyed as a “bad movie,” and instead barely registers as a weirdly tame effort that fails to deliver the thrills any horror audience would want.
MTI Home Video releases Savage on DVD on 20 September 2011.
Jason Coffman is a film writer living in Chicago. He writes reviews for Film Monthly and “The Crown International Files” for Criticplanet.org as well as contributing to Fine Print Magazine (www.fineprintmag.net).
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