The latest Bigfoot movie to come our way is from Ed Sanchez, co-director of The Blair Witch Project, and let me tell you the flick delivers. Most Sasquatchploitation films have this nagging habit of never showing the creature, and believe you me, Exists shows it off tenfold.
If anyone can make a movie about spooky shit happening in the woods, it’s definitely Sanchez. So the question beckoned… Why Bigfoot?
“I’ve been obsessed with Bigfoot since I was a little kid. I grew up in the Seventies, and Bigfoot was THE creature. Growing up in that time there was Star Wars, Smokey and the Bandit, and Bigfoot, you know what I mean? *laughs* It’s part of my DNA. After Blair Witch I immediately started thinking about Bigfoot flicks. I started off with really huge budgets and then worked my way down to a more manageable scale. Finally we got Exists financed so it was always just a matter of time.
Given this was so engrained upon Sanchez, we asked about his approach to bringing the creature to life.
“Personally, I had never seen Bigfoot done the way I always wanted to see him. A lot of Bigfoot movies… they have to make the creature from outer space, or some other kind of hook is always added. For me Bigfoot is the hook. I wanted to bring him to life the way I would have responded to as a kid and now as an adult.”
As for how much screen time the creature gets…
“This is a monster movie, and for a monster movie to work, you need to show the monster. Even Jaws, which I think is one of the best monster movies ever made… everybody always talks about how you slowly reveal the shark, but by the end of Jaws, Spielberg showed the shark, man. I came out of that theater thinking to myself, ‘Man, I just saw a great white battle these guys!’ That’s what I wanted to do with Bigfoot. There have been a lot of Bigfoot movies before mine, but few of them have really convincing creatures. In fact, some of them don’t really show the creature at all. When you don’t show the creature, you’re kind of cheating the audience out of seeing what they’re there to see. I’m there to see the monster! To see how it moves! To see the monster action! I’ve never been 100% satisfied with anything that I’ve ever seen.”
Sanchez continues, “That being said, listen, I know I have the benefit of Spectral Motion accepting the job, and I’ve been talking to them for a long time about making a Bigfoot movie. This was something that was meant to be between us and Spectral Motion. My whole thing was simply, ‘Listen if we’re going to make this movie, then we HAVE to spend a big portion of our budget on that suit.’ It has to sell, or else we don’t have anything.”
Sanchez also did a lot of research pertaining to how he wanted his creature to look.
“I’ve been studying the idea of how to make this film since I was a kid, ya know? I remember watching ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’ and always critiquing that suit! The feet were all wrong! Even as a kid I was like, ‘Why did they make the feet like that? It looks like he’s wearing flesh shoes!’ So from a very early age I was trying to figure out how to do this, and I remember seeing Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan. Rick Baker did the ape effects for that film, and I’ve always used that as an example of how to do it right. When you look at those apes… man, they look really authentic. It’s not just the suit though; it’s the way that they’re lit, the way that they’re shot, etc. When it came time to make Exists, I knew what I wanted and, more importantly, what I didn’t want. When I saw the suit and especially when I saw Brian [Steele] in the suit, even as someone who helped design the look of the creature, I was blown away. It totally worked. This didn’t look like a human in a suit. This looked like a creature. From there it was all a matter of saying, ‘Okay, what’s the best way to show this off but not completely over-expose it?”
Next for Sanchez are two films he’s producing for younger up-and-coming filmmakers, Treehouse and Ninjas vs. Monsters.
“It’s always kind of a personal thing for me. A lot of guys reach out to me, but I just don’t have time and I’m not really a producer. However, when somebody comes along and I see something that just needs to get out there, I try to help when I can. I get a lot of energy just from working with filmmakers, man. The energy and the enthusiasm that these guys have… it’s just amazing. I get as much out of it as they do.”
“I got this one right now called Ninjas vs. Monsters, which is a really fun kind of kung fu B-movie with a lot of action and crazy effects and stuff. It’s from filmmaker Justin Timpane, who lives up here by me in Maryland. We’ve known each other for a little bit, and I’ve been kind of helping to shepherd this latest film, which is actually part of a trilogy. Justin heads up a do-it-yourself filmmaking company, and I really dug this flick a lot. It has kind of that old kung fu movie vibe that I loved as a kid mixed with some Evil Dead-like humor and gore. I really try to help when I can.”
The terrifying urban legend comes to life when Exists arrives on DVD (plus Digital) and Digital HD February 3rd from Lionsgate Home Entertainment. The film is currently available via On Demand.
For five friends, it was a chance for a summer getaway – a weekend of camping in the Texas Big Thicket. But visions of a carefree vacation are shattered with an accident on a dark and desolate country road. In the wake of the accident, a bloodcurdling force of nature is unleashed – something not exactly human, but not completely animal – an urban legend come to terrifying life… and seeking murderous revenge.