A movie within another movie, Bigfoot Unleashed Part VII is the story of a construction company that attempts to develop the legendary creature’s natural habitat deep within the woods of Appalachia.
The cinematic trope of having films within films has been a gimmick used since the beginning of cinema itself. These films are often used to explore the differences between reality and fiction, to add depth and complexity to the story by providing a unique perspective, to create self-referential humor by poking fun at the film’s own production and conventions, or to simply entertain an audience.
What director Don Swanson and screenwriter Joe Fishel have managed to do with Bigfoot Unleashed Part VII is create a mixture of the last two examples. It’s a spoof made with the sole purpose of parodying a genre using sight gags, slapstick, and irony to entertain an audience. Thanks to a witty script, this short 6-minute film can be seen as a direct descendant of Scary Movie, itself based on the 1996 film Scream (along with a whole manner of other mid-90s horror movies). Scream features an iconic scene where the characters watch a horror film (Stab) that is eerily similar to the film they are in. In Wes Craven’s 90s classic, this scene allows the film to comment on the conventions of the horror genre and to create a sense of metafictional humor. Without knowing what the film this parody appears in is about, it’s difficult to say what Bigfoot Unleashed Part VII is supposed to symbolize, but as a standalone short, it’s safe to say it really doesn’t comment on anything; it’s just a straight-up spoof. That isn’t a problem, though, as very few films are as good or as clever as Scream.
Bigfoot Unleashed Part VII does have some amusing moments of its own, including a funny opening gag concerning a screaming girl and its previous franchise entries. From the off, it isn’t shy in letting us know that the film is basically a cheap affair and it pokes fun at its own shortcomings. Bigfoot is clearly a man in a costume, with a roar that is basically a wild animal sound effect from the public domain, but that’s the point. The girl is stuck behind a fence that she could just walk around if she moved slightly to the left, but again, that’s the point. The dialogue is sparse and corny, including the cheesy line “Someday but not today.” All of this is written and created by director Swanson and writer Fishel to give the audience a sense of fun and a smile when they recognize all of the horror clichés packed into the short.
With regards to the technical aspects, it’s difficult to judge, mainly because it’s all done terribly on purpose. Swanson cuts to CCTV footage and “eyewitness” accounts, and then the rest of the 6 minutes is taken up by our heroine screaming and running through the woods before she is picked up by some truly spectacular B-movie police officers. The coloring of the film is suitably cheap and grainy, while the director uses a lot of Evil Dead-type shaky cam shots and movements as we follow the girl running through the forest. Quick cuts of a hairy hand here or the sound of a roar there keep Bigfoot in the picture, and in the end, it’s all left without a conclusion.
Bigfoot Unleashed Part VII is a silly yet enjoyable short film that is smartly written and directed by two people who clearly have a love for cheap low-budget horror movies. It doesn’t take up too much time and won’t stay long in your memory, but in the end, it is a harmless bit of fun.