BIGFOOT WEEK: Creature from Black Lake (1976)

If I’ve learned anything from my week of watching Bigfoot movies, it’s that Yankees aren’t wanted in the places where Bigfoot resides. You can also rewrite that sentence to cover city folks aren’t wanted when Bigfoot decides to walk on through Western Pennsylvania or Southeastern Ohio.

This one is all about two dudes: Rives (John David Carson, Empire of the Ants) and Pahoo (Dennis Fimple, House of 1000 Corpses). That’s right, Pahoo. Dennis Fimple was 36 when he played this young twenty-something just back from ‘Nam and looking for something, anything, maybe even Bigfoot. Rives is more concerned with hamburgers, fries and Cokes. And oh yeah, redhead goddesses. Well, everyone gets what they want in Black Lake.

You get a lot of character actors in here, like Western star Dub Taylor as Grandpa Bridges, Bill Thurman whose career stretches from The Last Picture Show to Mountaintop Motel Massacre, and Jack Elam, who is the best part of this film as the tracker Joe Canton.

Elam lost an eye to a sharpened pencil at a Boy Scout meeting as a child (he also literally grew up picking cotton) before serving in WW II, becoming a studio accountant and even managing the Bel Air Hotel in Los Angeles. A character actor in numerous gangster and Western films, as well as TV, Elam came up with a quote that many have stolen over the years in relation to how Hollywood sees people. He said that casting directors would say this about him:

  • Stage 1: “Who is Jack Elam?”
  • Stage 2: “Get me Jack Elam.”
  • Stage 3: “I want a Jack Elam type.”
  • Stage 4: “I want a younger Jack Elam.”
  • Stage 5: “Who is Jack Elam?”

He shows up in some crazy roles, such as Doctor Nikolas Van Helsing in the Cannonball Run films and in The Norseman, Charles B. Pierce’s bonkers ode to Vikings that stars Lee Majors (we really need to get to this movie).

This was re-released theatrically in 1982 as part of a multi-film package called “5 Deranged Features”. Also on the bill were Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971) (under the title They’re Coming to Get You so perhaps people went thinking they were about to see the American cut of All the Colors of the Dark), The Wizard of Gore under the name House of Torture, Shriek of the Mutilated and The Corpse Grinders, but called Night of the Howling Beast.

If you’re up for seeing college students try and get laid while eating burgers and hunting Bigfoot, then this is probably the exact movie you’re looking for.

If there’s one nice thing I can say, it’s that the cinematographer of the film is Dean Cundey (HalloweenThe FogWho Framed Roger Rabbit?, Rock ‘n Roll High School and many, many more great movies). There are some interesting shots and it’s not your typical dark swampy seventies affair.

If you want to check it out for yourself, it’s on Amazon Prime.

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