- Straight to Video
- Director: Jon Olsen
- Written by: Jon Olsen, Frannie Flounder
- Running Time: 84 minutes
- Language: English
- MPAA Rating: UNRATED
- Cast: Clover Lutter, Chris Henry, Miranda Eckert, Jon Fisher, Trevor Guthrie, Ryan Burns, Doug Mitchell, Zack Levine, Anna McGriff, Tory St. Peters, Jon Olsen, Melissa Hannum, Gabrielle Bell
With a tagline like "The story of Bigfoot: North America's greatest lover!" how could "Ape Canyon" go wrong? Ug! "Ape Canyon" represents the bottom of the barrel with regards to low-budget backyard movies. As an entry into the Bigfoot movie sub-genre, it's a new low. And considering some of the utter dreck that has been created in the name of that big hairy primate over the years, that's really really low.
While the cinematography is fine (if not, impressive), the film seems to falter on every other conceivable level including, and especially, in its very conception. Apparently inspired by Jim Goad's Simon & Schuster published novel 'The Redneck Manifesto'; a book which featured detailed accounts of Bigfoot/human rape scenarios, and working off a short story by his friend, Frannie Flounder, first time director/writer Jon Olsen set out to create what might very well be the most offensive bigfoot movie ever made. If it's not the most offensive, then it's definitely in the running.
In an effort to get away from her naggy, buck-toothed boyfriend, a Hooters waitress Darcy (Clover Lutter), scampers off into the woods for a weekend camping trip by herself. It isn't long after setting up camp that she is happened upon by the large hairy primate, commonly known as Bigfoot, who chases her through the woods and proceeds to rape her. Back at her Christmas-tree lit home, Darcy's a changed gal; her initial trauma has suddenly developed into something burgeoning on love/lust, and she desperately longs to get back with the hairy beastie who treated her so... well? Her boyfriend, Bill (Chris Henry), immediately senses something wrong with his suddenly non-obedient woman. "When I tell her to get in the kitchen and fix me supper, she doesn't," he tells a friend. With the discovery of some funky smelling panties and some poorly written poetry, Bill, during one of his many sojourns to the toilet, begins to surmise that his girl might be making time with bigfoot and aims to do something about it. With a gun in one hand, a bottle of vodka in the other, and a friend with questionably better dentition but lesser brain functionality, tagging along, Bill sets off to win back his woman and make mincemeat of the hairy guy who took her from him. While this barely-there plot plays out in spits and starts, the film's central running time is eaten up showing endless footage of our hairy hominid traipsing through the forest performing multiple hit and run rapes on various unsuspecting female hikers and environmentalists (who seemingly always come back for more "loving"), dancing, defecating (so much defecation) and basically being a pest, especially to one young guy who just wants to be left alone with his Britney Spears magazines.
A one-joke premise repeated over and over, that's essentially the fundamental mechanics of "Ape Canyon". The big problem here, however, is that the joke being advanced, in this case an unsuspecting female being savagely raped by a large imposing hairy brute, isn't the least bit funny. Not on any level. And the notion that the person being raped is suddenly turned-around to the beauty of such an experience is probably the film's most ugly and offensive element. When is rape funny? Uhm... the answer is N-E-V-E-R! No matter what sight gags the director throws at the screen, there's simply no way to get your head around the fact that, at its core, we're being asked to laugh at people who are being raped. Then we're made to laugh further at how they ultimately deal with that trauma. On a basic conception level, the film is imbecilic -- at least the notion that rape (and its after effects) 'could' be something to snicker at. Sorry Jon, rape isn't a laughing matter, and for society's sake, I hope it never becomes one. The fact that somebody would actually take that idea and want to develop into a tragicomedy that features it as a theme, is beyond me..
Not often but at times the script proves itself to be, at the very least, somewhat witty; the notion of Bigfoot forever cock-blocking a young guy who just wants to make some alone time with his Britney Spears pictures (hey, what guy hasn't wanted to make some alone time with some Britney Spears pictures?), is humorous, and speaks to the lesser innocent (albeit, puerile) comedy at work here. The two drunken dolts roaming the woods looking for "Saskootch", belting out song lyrics in keeping with their quest, had me laughing out loud, I have to admit, as did an innocuous little scene involving a pair of hippy tree huggers (the gorgeous Miranda Eckert and the comedically-gifted pal, Jon Fisher) experiencing 'the spirit of the forest' firsthand. The Bigfoot's apparently spontaneous 'call-me' gesture afterwards left even crew members laughing, as evidenced by some ill-timed editing. Lampooning the more extreme elements within the Christian redneck culture can always be good for a laugh, especially given the racist, homophobic, conspiracy-theory-driven naivety they typically display. God and guns, folks. God and guns. In all of it's wretched inanity, their idiocy is paraded around for us as the characters make one ill-thought decision after another, culminating in heartbreak and tragedy more befitting a Shakespearean sonnet, rather than a redneck satire.
Best exemplifying the film's limited (or non-existent) budget, all the actors here play multiple roles on and off camera, and none of them, minus Olsen, went on to anything else. In fact, just about every person in the cast (which includes some very attractive females, I might add) takes a turn in the bigfoot costume. Oh, and what a costume it is. Cheap, raggedy, and with an obvious zipper running up the spine which never wants to stay closed, this is easily one of the worst Squatch-suits I've ever seen in a Bigfoot movie. Granted, that could very well be the intent of the filmmakers, maybe to lessen the overall impact of the various rape segments. It's a means for which the filmmakers are able to suggest that the rapee and rapist are both in on the joke. "How could one be horrified by the rape playing out, especially considering that the so-obvious costume is ratty and falling apart. See, it's funny." I can practically hear Jon telling this to his dough-eyed crew. No. No it's not, Jon.
All is not a total waste, it seems. For California-based director Jon Olsen, "Ape Canyon" seemed to be his launch pad/film school to his desired vocation as a filmmaker. He's made two more films. And if the far superior "Zombies of Eureka", Olsen's latest film experiment (a zombie story told entirely using music), is any indication -- this guy has quite a future ahead of him as a movie-maker. "Ape Canyon", with any luck, will just be one of those missteps in his career - a youthful indiscretion, if you will. Ironically, the man that inspired "Ape Canyon", Jim Goad, has gone on to become one of the film's loudest champions. I guess that's something.