CHILLING CLASSICS MONTH: The Legend of Bigfoot (1976)

Thanks to Jennifer Upton for contributing this review. An American living in London, she is a freelance writer for International publishers Story Terrace and others. In addition, she has a blog where she frequently writes about horror and sci-fi called Womanycom.

The 1970s were the pinnacle decade for Bigfoot films.

The film that kicked off the craze was Charles B. Pierce’s classic Legend of Boggy Creek, which was a huge hit on the Drive-In circuit in 1972. Derivative in style to this far superior predecessor, The Legend of Bigfoot is a 1976 docudrama that follows researcher/tracker/nature photographer Ivan Marx on an expedition to find the elusive creature. Through narration of footage shot by Marx himself, he guides the
audience through a series of events that may or may not prove the existence of the elusive North American ape. Where Boggy Creek succeeds in re-creating some supposedly true stories to great (and creepy) impact, Legend wastes a lot of time on lengthy digressions that focus on the other animals that live in the creature’s habitat.

In his search, Marx travels from his home in Northern California to Alaska, Oregon, Arizona and even the Arctic Circle. Along the way, we see Musk Oxen, Moose, deer and many other animals. We see them chilling out, defending their territories, eating and basically doing what animals do. Unfortunately, we are also subjected to several scenes of what today, would be considered animal cruelty. These include footage of a cougar being forcibly removed from its den and a mortally wounded ground squirrel dragging itself to its nest to die. Animal lovers beware.

The nature footage and gorgeous landscapes probably looked great in their time, but Mill Creek’s extremely poor transfer is almost unwatchable on a modern high-resolution Television. Even a basic color correction on a home editing system would go a long way towards improving the source material. At times, it’s hard to even make out what’s happening in the darker shots.

True to the Bigfoot subgenre, Legend includes a lot of close-ups of footprints and incorporates many theories of the creature’s potential lifestyle and habits. What the film is probably most famous for is the conclusion, which features what Marx claimed was actual footage of a real Sasquatch. Spoiler Alert: It’s a guy in a gorilla suit. It was just one of many hoaxes perpetrated by Mr. Marx over the years, leaving his reputation maligned within the Cryptozoology community. Nevertheless, he released two sequels. In the Shadow of Bigfoot (1977) and Alive and Well (1982) and maintained his footage was real up until his death in 1999. All but the biggest Bigfoot aficionados would do well to avoid The Legend of Bigfoot.

It’s duller than many other films of its type and at a running time of 1 hour and 16 minutes, it feels a lot longer. In the beginning Marx opines, “You’ll never know what it is to wait…until you become a tracker.” Yes, Mr. Marx, we do know what it is to wait…for something to happen in this movie.

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