“Our Big Foot’s Not Playing Games Anymore.”

Let me begin by telling you that Tom is a terrible person.

You may remember Tom, or you may not. I’ve mentioned him once or twice before on this blog. I used to think he was an okay sort of guy, maybe even a friend, despite the fact that he has all the absolute worst movie opinions. Recently, however, I’ve had to amend that statement. For Tom, you see, is the enemy, and I’ll tell you why: in a sudden, uncharacteristic, and unwanted fit of goodnatured-ness, I told Tom that I’d watch and review a movie for him, even that terrible Big Foot movie he was always talking about. He didn’t have to actually pick the Big Foot movie, mind you. He could have seen this as the charitable act of a co-worker and taken some small measure of mercy on me by picking literally anything else.

But of course, he did not do this. Instead, Tom bought Night of the Demon, had it gift-wrapped, and then sent it to my house. And last Friday, armed with neither nearly enough alcohol or sugar, Mekaela and I sat down and watched our early 80’s Big-Foot-Demon movie.

Damn you, Tom. Damn you to Hell.

DISCLAIMER:

There will be SPOILERS. Because seriously.

SUMMARY:

Professor Nugent (Michael Cutt) and his five students try and get proof of Big Foot’s existence. It goes badly for everyone involved, but especially us watching.

NOTES:

1. I will start this review with something positive, and it is virtually the only positive thing I can say about this movie: considering the likely budget, the deaths in Night of the Demon were actually a bit gorier than I was expecting. Also, creative. When–well, if–you think of Big Foot killing people, you’re probably thinking it happens one of three ways: a) stomping people to death, b) mauling the hell out of them, or c) just straight up eating them, right?

Well, not in this movie, my friends. Big Foot uses motherfucking tools. He murders one dude with an axe. He kills a couple of Girl Scouts with their own knives. (Well, maybe. They’re dressed like Girl Scouts, but they’re also way too old to be kids, so maybe it’s just bad casting, or maybe they’re supposed to be troop leaders? And I think the knives are their own, but if the Girl Scouts got to carry big ass knives like this in 1980, then I’m even more disappointed by my short-lived experience as a Brownie in the early 90’s. Anyway, it’s equally possible that Big Foot was just walking around the forest with twin pairs of kitchen knives. As you do.)

Still, Big Foot’s most notable kills are with his bare hands. The one that everyone would likely talk about–if anyone were actually talking about this movie–is when some dude goes to take a piss, and Big Foot rips off his dick. Yeah. That happens, and we see way, way more of it than I personally ever needed to. But honestly, the best death by far is when Big Foot finds some hiker in a sleeping bag, picks up said sleeping bag, and whips it around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around, before finally letting go. (Yeah, I’m pretty sure it was actually eleven times.) The hiker then goes flying into a tree and is impaled on a bunch of tree branches.

This. This was amazing. This predates the sleeping bag death in Friday the 13th: Part VII: The New Blood by eight years, and it might be one of the funniest horror movie deaths ever. That is literally the only nice thing I’m going to say about this movie. Everything else is pure scorn from here on out.

2. The acting, for instance, is just as bad as you’d expect it to be, or maybe slightly worse. Take Professor Nugent, for example

We begin this movie with Nugent, badly injured, in the hospital. A doctor with a goatee asks if Nugent would be willing to talk to this cop. “Oh yes,” Nugent says, in a tone that’s somewhere between an actor reading his lines for the first time and a serial killer explaining how he loves children, just loves them. “I want to tell him. I want to tell everyone what’s going on in that forest. Inspector, those stories, those horror stories you heard about in the forest. They’re true. They’re all true. There is a demon, a creature.”

A different doctor–this one with dark eyebrows that aren’t playing around–says skeptically, if not unreasonably, “Perhaps it would be in everyone’s best interest, Professor, if you begin at the beginning of your story.”

Nugent: “Oh yes.”

Seriously. No one says “oh yes” like this. There’s really no way to describe just how terrible this silly little scene really is. Nugent is creepy in all the wrong ways, and his lines come out just pancake flat. The whole movie’s like that. People don’t even manage to scream right. It’s awful.

3. It’s also just really hard to understand most of what happens in this movie. There are multiple reasons for this:

3A. Obviously, the backstory doesn’t make much sense. Not like I was expecting much in the way of logic from my Big Foot movie, but . . . yeah. There’s so much unnecessary, yucky shit in this movie, people. Not the good kind of yuck. But we’ll get to that shortly.

3B. Even if the story did make sense, I’d never be able to tell you because the sound quality is atrocious. It’s entirely possible that I missed important exposition because watching this movie is like trying to eavesdrop on a private conversation through a brick wall. (To be fair, I’ve since realized that it’s not quite as bad if you’re watching it on a computer with headphones, but I refuse to re-watch this whole film just to catch up.) I have absolutely no shame in admitting that I’m heavily relying on the Wikipedia summary to describe what happened here. I’m also pretty shocked that Wikipedia even has a summary of this movie to cheat from.

3C. The editing helps, like, not even a little. The movie has an irritating tendency to abruptly cut away to flashbacks of Big Foot killing random people you’ve never seen before. It also seldom bothers to set up these flashbacks, so we usually only figure out what’s going on five minutes after the fact, when Nugent says something like “and they never saw him again.” And nothing is more confusing than the first five minutes of the movie, when this happens:

A horrified man is pulled offscreen by one arm.
We see a bunch of completely random images that have absolutely nothing to do with this movie.
The man, whose arm has been ripped off, collapses and dies.

Some of the random images include a man on fire, a woman hitting some dude with what I think is a lunch tray, a few kids putting up posters, a black and white city, and a man–possibly a cop–holding something–possibly a gun–next to a dude in a yellow hard hat.

I am Jack’s unending confusion.

3D. Honestly, it’s hard to keep track of the main characters, too. The students, for example: I know there are five of them: three guys, two girls. One of the girls is a brunette; the other is a blonde. I cannot tell you their names or in fact if they even have names; IMDb doesn’t seem to think so, anyway, since none are listed. The only characters I could both recognize and name in this movie are Professor Nugent (whose mustache helps significantly, as far as recognition is concerned) and “Crazy Wanda.”

4. Unfortunately, we now have to talk about Crazy Wanda.

So, just to warn you: this is where things get skeevy and awful and gross.

When we first meet Wanda, she’s just been abducted by a cult living in the forest. It’s rumored that the cult engages in cannibalism and, possibly, human sacrifice; I can’t actually tell you if those rumors are true or not because I don’t believe the movie says either way. I do know that they engage in rape, or at least attempted rape, because that’s what their poorly defined ceremony is leading up to. Thankfully, Nugent and one of the students stumble upon said ceremony and intervene, which is great, although they’re weirdly casual when talking about it later, like, I’m sure there are a myriad of reactions one might have if they saw someone getting assaulted, but blasé really doesn’t feel like it should be one of those reactions. Seriously, look at this dialogue:

Male Student A: “Where have you been? We were ready to tear this place apart! What the hell’s going on?”
Nugent: “Just a little country entertainment.”
Female Student: “For example?”
Male Student B: “It looked like a woman was getting raped, so we fired a few rounds to scare them off.
Female Student: “Them? How many were there?”
Nugent: “Uh, just the basic {word I can’t hear despite how many times I try}. It was some kind of ceremony. But what’s really interesting as far as we’re concerned is the whole thing was centered around a huge anthropoid looking effigy.”

What the holy fuck, Nugent?

Meanwhile, the cult scatters from whence they came, and I don’t believe we see them again for the rest of the movie. Moreover, I can’t actually tell you what they hoped to achieve with this ceremony. Did they hope Wanda would get pregnant so they could use her baby as some kind of human sacrifice to ward off Big Foot? Perhaps they wanted to raise her baby as the new messiah to kill Big Foot once and for all? Or maybe they wanted to give the baby to Big Foot in exchange for the child he lost all those years ago? (We’re getting to that.) Who can say?

Writer Susan: Gosh. Well. Well, um. Well.

Writer Joe: It’s okay, Writer Susan. I know it’s not my best work.

Writer Susan: . . . well . . .

Writer Joe: You can be honest with me.

Writer Susan: . . . I’m sorry, Writer Joe, I’m sure I just must have missed something, but . . . why did the cult try to rape Wanda again? Because, you know. We could be here all week debating how and if rape scenes should be depicted in film, but at the very least, we can all agree that a scene in which a bunch of weird cultists try to sexually assault someone during a bizarre, woodland ceremony ought to be in some manner plot relevant, right? Right.  So, I’m sure a swell guy like you must have a reason for writing this . . . I’m sure?

Writer Joe . . . You haven’t gotten to page 65 yet, have you?

Writer Susan: Oh no, Writer Joe. What happens on page 65?

Well, friends, let me tell you what happens on page 65. Professor Nugent, who’s apparently a hypnotist in his off hours (like any doctor worth his salt in a 70’s or 80’s horror film), uncovers Wanda’s repressed memories of that unfortunate time Big Foot raped her. Yes. There’s a scene in this movie where Big Foot rapes a woman. A fifteen-year-old girl, at that.

Writer Susan: . . .

Writer Joe: Okay, I see how this all might sound bad, but you really have to consider how low-budget horror is really about pushing the boundaries of taste and making audiences feel visceral reactions and even question their own comfort zones. You know?

Writer Susan: . . . No.

Meanwhile, Wanda’s Abusive Scary Christian Preacher Daddy pretty much just watches this happen, like, I think he’s supposed to be too horrified to move or something–which, right there with you, buddy–but still, he stands around for, like, way, way too long. It should probably be noted that WASCPD is, like everyone and everything else in this movie, pretty damn confusing. For instance, Wikipedia says that the cultists in the woods are actually his followers, and I’m more than willing to believe that they’re correct. But unless I missed another piece of crucial dialogue (which, admittedly, is possible), I’m having a whole lot of trouble connecting our possibly Satanic, possibly cannibalistic, possibly human sacrifice-y cult to a pretty formulaic Abusive Scary Christian Preacher dude.

Anyway, Wanda gets pregnant with Big Foot’s rape baby because of course she does. WASCPD prays for a miscarriage, even if it kills his daughter, who he seems to blame for the rape, because of course he does. Wanda, surrounded by a ton of dimly lit religious iconography, has the child, who is only vaguely baby shaped and is covered in so much blood-goo that it’s really hard to make out, despite the fact that WASCPD raises him up to the ceiling in a holy offering and/or despair. To no one’s surprise, he decides that the baby is an abomination and murders it. In retaliation, Wanda burns her father alive. So, this is basically like the worst soap opera ever, but with hillbillies, cryptids, and dongs that get torn off, occasionally.

Writer Susan: Okay. Okay. Okay. Well. I’m not going to lie, Writer Joe. We have a lot to work on here. But I’m a positive person. I believe in the power of positivity, and by golly, we are going to make this total disaster work. Now, why don’t you explain how this confusing mess of a Southern-Gothic-wannabe backstory fits into the main narrative?

Writer Joe: Gosh, Writer Susan. What do you mean?

Writer Susan: I mean, how is the rape scene and the baby murder and the patricide-by-fire relevant to Professor Nugent and his Group of Anonymous Students? Do they uncover a way to kill Big Foot, or . . . oh, Writer Joe, the backstory is relevant, isn’t it?

Writer Joe: Of course it is!

Writer Susan: Thank Christ.

Writer Joe: Yeah, because see, it totally explains why Big Foot leaves Wanda alone when he kills everyone else in the cabin. Cause Big Foot loves her! In a way, if you think about, it’s really all a love story.

Writer Susan: . . . Writer Joe, what the fuck is wrong with you?

5. Once this gross and not particularly relevant backstory is revealed, Big Foot swiftly appears and kills all of Nugent’s students in rapid succession. He also burns the shit of Nugent’s face by holding it to a stove.

We then jump forward to Nugent in the hospital, finishing up his story. Everyone, of course, is convinced he’s crazy, and it’s agreed upon that he’ll have to be committed to a mental institution for the criminally insane. (The criminal part of that is sort of interesting, because presumably everyone thinks he killed the students, although the bodies themselves are missing. Because, I don’t know, Big Foot ate them? Tore them up and used their limbs to liven up his man cave?) Meanwhile, no one seems to have considered the radical possibility of doing even a basic investigation, like I’m not saying anyone’s going to believe Wanda, necessarily, but she is still around to answer some questions, right? Or did Wanda and the possibly Satanic cult disappear too?

This is where the movie ends, and I should think it’d be obvious by now that any ending to this movie is a good ending. But as a general rule, stories that conclude with no one believing our main protagonist and/or the protagonist getting accused of the crimes he’d tried to stop in the first place are not really my can of caffeinated beverage. I’m sure there are exceptions that I’m currently too tired to think of right now, but this absolutely isn’t one of them. I always get the sense that the writers are patting themselves on the back for being all dark and grim and clever, but really, it’s not actually a particularly original twist and has a tendency to just make me feel like I wasted my time watching the story in the first place. Obviously, that particular ship had already sailed where this movie is concerned.

6. Finally, a few more random notes before we wrap up.

6A. It should be noted for the record that Big Foot’s foot is apparently not very big.

It’s pretty much just an average sized footprint. Maybe a little wide, sure, but not, like, monstrously wide. In fact, Mek and I didn’t initially understand why everyone was so excited by some random footprint because honestly, I’m pretty sure could have left that print, and I’m a size 8. How can you even fail this badly, movie? It’s like making a film about the Loch Ness Monster where the monster doesn’t live in a goddamned loch.

6B. One couple seems to have sex for, like, eight years. Okay, it’s not that long, but it’s certainly long enough that Mek and I decided we could easily fast-forward to the lovers’ inevitable bloody demises, only to discover that the fast-forward button on our remote wasn’t working. Foiled again! Curse you, ancient remote!

Also, if you were wondering, the sex scene itself is exactly what you’d expect from a low-budget horror film from 1980: tits, tits everywhere. Even when the woman tries to cover herself up while cowering in fear, I’m pretty sure she only manages to cover one boob. Also, the bad porny sounds, just, ugh. Because when does the sound actually work in this movie? That’s right, the never-ending sex scene.

The sex scene of forever finally ends when Big Foot murders the man, and the woman . . . dies of shock? According to Wikipedia, the woman lives to tell the tale, but honestly, that’s not how the scene came across to me.

6C. Wanda’s terrible father seems to think that Big Foot is a literal demon. It’s completely unclear to me if he’s correct. Though if he is correct, here’s another possibility about those cultists: perhaps they actually worship Big Foot and know Wanda is his chosen bride or whatever? So their whole rape ceremony is, ugh, some kind of mimicry of the first rape, or maybe the devout just get to share? Gah, the whole thing is so gross.

Meanwhile, if Big Foot isn’t a demon, I have absolutely no idea where he came from. Not that he really needs to come from anywhere, just, with this much convoluted backstory, you’d think at least some of it would detail his origin story, right?

6D. Some of the music choices are very strange. Like when Big Foot kills all the students, it’s to the sounds of soft jazz? I honestly don’t even know what to do with that.

6E. We should probably also note that some of the students absolutely deserved to die. Specifically, one of the guys is a supreme tool. I don’t know which one because they all basically look the same, but Mr. Supremo Tool tells one of the girls that the only reason they let her come on this trip was if she did all the cooking and cleaning. For fuck’s sake. It’s like she’s Wendy in a Big Foot version of Peter Pan.

There’s a story idea in that, I swear to God.

6F. Nugent’s wife, who did not go on the trip, has a gory nightmare about Big Foot murdering her husband. We never go back to this, nor do we see Nugent’s wife again for the rest of the film.

6F. Finally, I lied at the beginning of this review. Not about the “Tom being evil” part. He’s obviously still a fiendish, fiendish man. No, much as it pains me to say it, there is one other redeeming feature of Night of the Demon, something that’s gloriously, perfectly ridiculous: Big Foot Vision!

Yup. Big Foot Vision is pretty much just a big, bright red circle around whatever or whoever he’s looking at, and it’s pretty hysterical. If I were God, I would decree that all movies must come with either Big Foot Vision or Werewolf Breaks. Preferably both.

CONCLUSIONS:

Oh, God. It’s so bad. It’s so, so bad.

MVP:

No one. No one at all.

TENTATIVE GRADE:

F+. And the only reason it’s getting that “plus” is because the sleeping bag death really is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. Otherwise, yeah, no. This is awful. Do not watch.

MORAL:

Never do favors for friends. YOUR EYES CANNOT UNSEE THE HORROR.

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2 Responses to “Our Big Foot’s Not Playing Games Anymore.”

  1. Bryan says:

    Was the professor’s name “Ted?” Because that would make things make SO much more sense to me.

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