Posts Tagged ‘Dave Wascavage’

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I fucking hate the suburbs. Seriously. Could never live there.

Country living I get — it’s nice to see the stars at night, you’ve generally got plenty of land, no one else’s house comes right up next to your property line, and the neighbors are salt of the Earth folks who generally treat you nice (as long as you’re white, and straight, and Christian).

City living is more my speed, though — it’s what I grew up with, it’s where I live now, it’s what I know. Bitch all you want about the crime, smog, traffic, and high property taxes, at least an urban environment offers a wide variety of people and shit to do. It ain’t perfect, but I’ll take take it.

The ‘burbs, though — fuck ’em and the horse they rode in on. Cookie-cutter houses next to dull Republican families with too many kids who all have too much privilege. Hour-long commutes to work every day punctuated by mid-week PTA meetings and Sunday mornings at the evangelical “free” church. Hushed-up alcoholism and domestic violence. Everybody playing out the dreary charade that is the “American dream” on cul-de-sacs that are as dead an end metaphorically as they are literally. Soul- death on the long, slow installment plan.

But you know who hates the suburbs even more than I do? Bigfoot.

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Somewhere in formerly-rural Pennsylvania (West Chester, to be precise, if the IMDB’s filling location info is anything to go by), us greedy, land-hogging humans have encroached a bit too closely into huge n’ hairy’s home turf, and he’s decided to do something about it. The result, dear reader, is visionary Z-grade auteur Dave Wascavage’s 2004 shot-on-video piece of monster madness, Suburban Sasquatch, released under the auspices of the director/producer’s own backyard (or maybe it’s basement) distro outfit, Troubled Moon Films. And, as you’d expect, it’s all kinds of awesome.

Wascavage got this baby in the can for a grand total of, by his own accounting, $550, and it shows : an amazingly low-rent gorilla suit with prominent man-boobs. Even more amazingly low-rent CGI that makes the shit in Birdemic look Oscar-worthy. And lowest-rent-of-all acting that would be enough to make everybody in the cast blush at least, cringe at worst, if they were actually taking any of what they were doing seriously — which, fortunately for us all, they aren’t.

Yup, the whole thing’s just about perfect.

Anyway, here’s the rundown : Bigfoot’s killing people and the cops aren’t talking. Which is kinda funny given that the head officer investigating the case, one John Rush (Dave Bonavita — one of three actors, along with Juan Fernandez and Wes Miller, to don the endowed ape costume, as well — hey, ya go with whoever’s handy that day, I guess) has a rather personal stake in the matter seeing as how his wife was killed by this same (or it might be another, it’s never really made clear and doesn’t much matter, anyway) Sasquatch some years back. Fortunately for us, intrepid community-newspaper beat reporter Rick Harlan (Bill Ushler) is hot on the case, and no amount of stonewalling from the bullies in blue is gonna stop him.

Oh, and there’s a reasonably attractive young(-ish) Native American gal named Talla (Sue Lynn Sanchez — what tribe, exactly, does that last name hail from?) who’s taken on the powers of some ancient warrior goddess or something and has magical weapons (specifically arrows and a Tomahawk-style hand axe) with which to track down and defeat the run-amok creature. Which makes no freaking sense given that the white man’s insinuation of himself onto Native lands resulted in nothin’ but well-documented problems for her and, more specifically, her ancestors, so you’d think it might be more logical for her to be on Bigfoot’s side in this while conflict, but there you have it. There’s some “plot” “point” about her having to lay waste to the creature before the life force it”s absorbing from its victims makes it too mystically super-powered to ever kill, but whatever — it makes about as much sense on film — err, video , sorry — as it does on paper, so don’t sweat it too much.

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As a matter of fact, don’t sweat any  of the proceedings here too much — that’s kinda the whole point of flicks like Suburban Sasquatch, isn’t it? It’s all about cheesy stories, cheesier costumes, still cheesier gore effects, and even cheesier than that performances. Sure, the movie grinds to an absolute standstill on numerous occasions (reporter guy’s arguments with the police and his editor get pretty tedious pretty quickly, for instance, and the love story between him and mystical Native girl is about as flat as they come), but shit pacing and lifeless “romance”  are all just part of the charm here, as well.

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Obviously, this is a film you need to hunt down immediately if you haven’t seen it already, and fortune has seen fit to offer Suburban Sasquatch in a few different options for your viewing pleasure : it’s available as part of two  multi-disc DVD  packages from Mill Creek’s Pendulum Pictures sub-label (you can find it on the two-disc, six-movie Depraved Degenerates set or, better yet, as part of the 50-movie, 12-disc Decrepit Crypt Of Nightmares bargain pack), or it’s available as a stand-alone release from Troubled Moon directly. The Pendulum sets features a suitably crummy-looking full-frame transfer and competent, two-channel stereo sound (technical specs which, I’m assuming, apply to the stand-alone release as well) and offer no extras to speak of (which I’m assuming doesn’t apply to the Troubled Moon disc, although not having seen it I couldn’t say for certain), and for a cheap bumper-package release that’s pretty much what you’d expect, so no complaints here on that score.

Nor, really, do I have any about the film. Much as I love Bigfoot flicks like The Legend Of Boggy Creek  and Night Of The Demon, on some level they’re asking you to take the premise of a guy in a big hairy suit somewhat seriously for at least for a minute or two. Suburban Sasquatch doesn’t even waste your valuable time with that, and just gets right down to its campy-as-shit arm-and-leg-tearin’ business. There’s no pretense here — Wascavage and his buddies just wanted to make a cheap, fun, stupid movie because they had the cash, the equipment, and the ability.

You can’t ask for a more honest approach to movie-making than that. And yeah, it’s fun to see all these entitled suburban assholes get their come-uppance, as well. I don’t know about you, but I think every suburban community could use a Sasquatch of its own.

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As is fairly obvious to regular and/or unusually observant readers of this site, your host has been on quite a tear as far as these Mill Creek/Pendulum Pictures DVD bargain boxes go lately. And it occurs to me, perusing through my more recent postings, that I’ve only bothered to write reviews of “product” I found on these sets that I was, shall we say, less than fond of. In the spirit of absolute fairness, then, I think it’s only right that I scribble down some musings about at least one of these microbudget backyard horror “epics” that I actually like, wouldn’t you agree?

And so it’s my distinct pleasure to introduce you, my dear readers, to the $12,000 slice of sublime joy that is writer/producer/director Dave Wascavage’s Fungicide. One of two SOV flicks that he made in 2005 hot on the heels of the “success” of the previous year’s Suburban Sasquatch (the other being a rather blase affair entitled Tartarus), this straight-outta-redneck-country-Pennsylvania 80-or-so-minuter tells a pretty simple tale about a mad scientist who’s holed up in what’s supposedly a “bed and breakfast” (it actually looks — okay, fuck it, is — a conventional home that hasn’t been B & B’ed-up in the least) and ends up testing out his latest super-serum concoction on the local wild mushroom supply. Soon the other guests at the “inn” — a  motley collection of hilariously predictable stereotypes on legs — are under attack from fungi that have transformed into intelligent, ruthless killing machines!

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Wascavage is lot more ambitious in terms of his CGI usage here than he was in Suburban Sasquatch, and the reults are, if anything, even worse. I mean, seriously — the effects “wizardry” on display here makes Birdemic look like a master’s thesis at the ILM training school (if such a place actually existed an’ all). It’s a damn good thing that the weirdly-boxed full-frame image on this film is so washed-out and hideous-looking, because if we could actually see these killer digital ‘shrooms in crystal clear, high quality resolution they’d certainly look even more hysterically shitty than they already do. in other words, don’t expect a Blu-Ray release for this flick anytime soon.

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Still, ya know what? As lousy-in-a-fun-way as the computerized fungi are, the film really kicks into a whole ‘nother gear when they become so giant, so deadly, and so bloodthirsty that Atari 2600-style graphics just won’t do the job and Wascavage has to resort to people wearing beige(-ish) bedsheets and cardboard (I think) muffin-top hats in order to “convincingly” portray the full fury of his homicidal mushrooms gone wild. You need more proof than my mere say-so on this? Here ya go —

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And that, right there, is pretty much what Fungicide is all about. Its raison d’etre, if you will. Get a bunch of friends together, go out to the woods,  throw some grade-school-play costumes on , cut loose, and have a good time.  If anybody out there in the entire universe is stupid enough to want to watch the thing apart from friends and immediate family members, so much the better. This is the pioneering DIY spirit of a Nathan Schiff (minus his sociopolitical commentary) back from the dead, and it’s good to see that some people with no actual talent, certainly no actual budget (IMDB lists Fungicide‘s total  expenditures as being $12,000, but that seems pretty generous) and, at the end of the day. nothing much to really even say are still more than willing to just go outside with a video camera and shoot something for no other reasons than that they’re bored, and they can.

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As for which Pendulum box I found this  hiding it, it’s the 12-disc, 50-film Catacomb Of Creepshows collection. As already mentioned, the picture quality is positively atrocious and the stereo(-ish) sound is just as lousy — at least! — to boot. It’s also available as a stand-alone release from Wascavage’s own production “company,” Troubled Moon Films, and their release is supposedly a two-disc set loaded with extras — although, according a friend and fellow bad movie buff on facebook, his two-disc “special edition” arrived with only one disc in the case and it was strictly a bare-bones affair. He doesn’t mind in the least, and I can’t say as I blame him since that’s pretty much Fungicide  in a nutshell : a cheap, bad,  sub-sub-substandard, waste of time rip-off — that you love to pieces anyway.