It’s been kind of a ’70s flashback week here at Channel Guide. One of my compatriots, Lori, got to finally interview her teenage crush Leif Garrett, while I got to screen Syfy’s latest original movie, Bigfoot, which casts Barry Williams of The Brady Bunch and Danny Bonaduce of The Partridge Family. And in a way, the film somewhat resembles, in plot, anyway, one of those ’70s “nature strikes back” movies that had an environmental message. Of course, it’s filled with the usual Syfy cheese, too.
Bigfoot takes place in Deadwood, South Dakota, where Bonaduce plays an obnoxious radio host (not much of a stretch) named Harley Henderson whose plans for an outdoor ’80s retro concert include cutting down a swath of forest to make room for the stage. Enter Barry Williams, playing tree-hugger Simon Quinn (whose home, with beads dangling around, looks more than a little like Greg Brady’s attic bedroom). Simon and Harley were once bandmates in the ’80s (we’re supposed to believe they were part of a hot New Wave group back in the day) but had a falling out, and now find themselves on opposite sides of this environmental issue.
Also taking a decided stand in this case is a gigantic forest creature — the Bigfoot of the title. Created entirely through CGI (which doesn’t look too bad, for a Syfy movie), this Bigfoot comes across more as a King Kong-type of ape monster rampaging through the woods, and biting the heads off many people who dare to disrupt its habitat. The film is directed by Bruce Davison, who also stars as a cop, and he does an admirable job of keeping the flow of the story fun. Most of the jokes come at the expense of the decades-old, tongue-in-cheek “rivalry” between Williams and Bonaduce, as transferred onto their characters, and through references to their old TV projects (“play ball in the house” makes an appearance as an innuendo, Brady Bunch fans, so keep your ears open; and Williams goes Johnny Bravo on us with a lame, ’70s-ish musical interlude). Williams and Bonaduce even get to relive their infamous Celebrity Boxing appearance with some fisticuffs. The two actors seem to have had fun making this and poking fun at themselves and their pop-culture legacies. They manage to keep audiences engaged even as the plot reaches the height of ridiculousness with Bigfoot throwing around cars like The Hulk and leading everyone to a final confrontation on top of Mount Rushmore (not quite as memorable as North By Northwest, but hey).
Along with Williams, Bonaduce and Davison, Howard Hesseman is on hand as the mayor of the town; Sherilynn Fenn is a deputy sheriff; Andre Royo is a big-game hunter trying to kill Bigfoot; and even Alice Cooper pops up in a funny cameo.
Bigfoot closes out Syfy’s June run of original movies, which saw four premieres, all of which were among the more entertaining of these sorts I’ve seen from them in a while. In terms of future Syfy movies that may want to adopt this film’s template — started last year with Tiffany and Debbie Gibson squaring off in Mega Python vs. Gatoroid – of two pop-culture “rivals” clashing, amusing cameos and enough thrills to keep monster-lovers satisfied, Bigfoot should leave some big shoes for them to fill.
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Credit: Lara Solanki/Syfy