Starring Hilary Schwartz, Josh Cornell, Trent Haaga, Michael Powers
Directed by Lola Wallace
Legend of the Sandsquatch is the movie that dares to ask the question, “what if the naked Indian that haunted Jim Morrison’s dreams in Oliver Stone’s movie about The Doors was for real and actually a cunning yet feral homicidal maniac that stalks the desert killing anyone that comes to close to its dwelling?”
If nothing else, Legend of the Sandsquatch boasts quite possibly the lankiest movie monster I’ve ever seen. The legend talks of the Sandsquatch being the desert-dwelling cousin of the Sasquatch. Well, it is about 10-feet tall. Other than that, little about the Sandsquatch is squatchy. Is “squatchy” a word? It is today, and “squatchy” this Sandsquatch most definitely is not. Yeah, he’s tall and he’s got an ugly face but that about the extent of his “squatchyness”. Hey, two new words today!
When we see the Sandsquatch at night, semi-obscured by the darkness, the director does a fine job lighting this creature with shadows so as to make it appear as a genuinely menacing monstrosity, but a fatal error is made on the part of the filmmaker. The movie makes the grievous mistake of showing this thing in broad daylight too early in the film and the moment we get a good gander at the Sandsquatch in all its glory (and if not for that patch of strategically-placed hair covering its gonads it really would be all its glory!) the movie enters into It Conquered the World “That’s the monster? Are you kidding me!” territory. An anorexic-looking ten-foot tall naked guy in serious need of a bath with bony arms and legs, a withered old man face, and hairless save for Burt Reynolds’ toupee covering its, uh, area – thank god! It’s like Beast of Yucca Flats mated with one of the creatures from The Descent and gave birth to an emaciated man-beast that looks like it would have been the perfect creature had this movie had been called Auschwitz Zombies or Ethiopian Famine Massacre. It certainly doesn’t look like it eats its victims, that’s for sure.
On the plus side, the silly physical nature of this otherwise vicious beast does yield an extra cheesy layer to the film, though I’m not sure that’s entirely what the makers had in mind. I’m watching this thing decapitate people with its bare hands and thinking; “doesn’t superhuman strength still require some semblance of muscle tone?” Other than its ugly mug and immense height, nothing about Sandsquatch’s appearance is intimidating.
It’s also established that the Sandsquatch moves super fast and has a hypnotic power that causes those that have sighted it to forget what they’ve seen. Neither of these attributes are capitalized on, especially the hypnosis aspect, least of all explaining how, if this is the case, that grandpa didn’t fall victim to this power upon surviving the first encounter and forget what happened altogether.
The whole movie is based around this punk chick named Sue – one of the least appealing leading ladies I’ve seen in a long time. This girl is a total wet blanket; not only do we have to listen to this girl sulk about her grandpa not coming home the other night, we also get to listen to her sulk about breaking up with her unsympathetic, cheating, punk rocker boyfriend. A significant chunk of the film early on is devoted to listening to Sue mope because grandpa didn’t come home last night and because her boyfriend’s a prick. I say get her a Zoloft IV drip, some bonbons, the season 2 boxset of “Grey’s Anatomy”, and tell her not to open her mouth again until she’s gotten it all out of her system.
Now the reason grandpa didn’t come home is because he went out into the desert to go hunting the Sandsquatch as he does on a regular basis with some of his Sandsquatch-hunting buddies. As the film’s opening prologue shows us, grandpa first encountered the Sandsquatch as a young man when he and some friends were wandering about this section of the wherever desert named Jagged Sands without so much as a car for some reason. All of sudden, the Sandsquatch ambushed and killed all but grandpa. Why? Because that’s what Sandquatches do, apparently. They’re jerks. Personally though, I don’t care how thin or how fast this thing is; a ten-foot tall naked man is not going to sneak up on me out in the desert in broad daylight. That’s the sort of thing I’m going to notice.
A series of flashback sequences show grandpa heading out to this desert shack to write in his journals about his hunts for the Sandsquatch; the best parts of the movie in my opinion, certainly the only scenes that ever achieve anything resembling mood or atmosphere. The same actor plays both his younger and elderly selves, only with one heck of a make-up job to make him look geriatric. I know spending too much time out in the desert sun can turn your skin leathery, but rubbery?
As grandpa writes in his journal, he’s finally found the Sandsquatch’s lair and vowed to put an end to its evil once and for all. The fact that’s he’s never heard from again should indicate that didn’t plan work out so well for him.
Now Sue has to go find grandpa. Joining her will be Garrett, an old school chum who she hasn’t seen in some time and just happens to bump into while drivin’ and cryin’. Naturally, it turns out he’s always had a crush on her, though I’ll be damned if I know why. Sue isn’t exactly drop dead gorgeous and she’s clearly got as much baggage as a luggage store. Still, he doesn’t hesitate to do anything he can to aid and comfort her. Given the initial awkwardness of the actor’s performance, I honestly expected Garrett to turn out to be some sort of psycho stalker. Nope, just awkward acting. Uncomfortable acting abounds in this flick.
Joining Sue and Garrett will be her chain-smoking, emo-tastic best friend, the one who just slept with her boyfriend the night before, the same boyfriend who’d just been shown having sex with another woman earlier that same evening. The dude’s the leader of a rock band; they get a lot of tail. The matter of this best friend forever having slept with her boyfriend is a subject that never really leads to anything; kind of a pointless subplot now that I think about it.
Most of the movie’s midsection suffers from a serious lack of anything interesting going on. Too much uninteresting exposition delivered stilted by downer characters. Way too much time is spent with the ex-boyfriend and his band mates, but then I realize this was primarily so that they could work in the nudity.
As I watched Legend of the Sandsquatch I kept flashbacking to that great Don Dohler documentary Blood, Boobs, & Beast which I reviewed not too long ago. Three things the movie has to have in order to satisfy the distributors: blood, boob, and a beast. Legend of the Sandsquatch does, indeed, boast all three.
Their first trip out to the cabin turns up nothing but grandpa’s journal. Garrett takes it home to read, becomes totally enthralled by the whole Sandsquatch deal, and leads Sue back up there along with her supposed best friend and another dirt-biking, gun-toting friend. The punk rock boyfriend is angry and since he’s heard through the grapevine about this whole searching for Sandsquatch nonsense, he foolishly decides to play a trick on Sue by getting a gorilla suit and driving up to the shack with his band mates and a woman he hasn’t yet slept with but is more than willing whenever he’s ready. Again, he’s the frontman for a rock band; they get lots of tail.
Let me tell you something: Anytime a character in a horror movie gets it in their head that they’re going to play a joke on someone else by dressing up in a costume resembling the monster or killer – that character is dead meat. Never fails.
And have you ever noticed how every filmmaker has to include a shot of either a scorpion or a tarantula walking along the sand at some point anytime a movie finds itself set in the American desert? Scorpions and tarantulas are like the universal symbols for American deserts as if endless sand, arid climate, and no sign of water anywhere wasn’t enough to make the point. I see this so often now I’ve begun taking stock of it.
So after spending the first quarter of the film dealing with grandpa and his flashbacks and the middle portion dealing almost entirely with the drearily disinteresting angst in these people’s lives and setting the stage for the third act stalking & killing, Legend of the Sandsquatch finally falls into traditional stalk & kill territory with characters getting picked off one-by-one before the film comes to an abrupt halt with the sudden appearance of third party character and their one-sentence explanation as to why. It’s hard not to feel more than a little cheated by this anti-climactic climax.
I wish I could say that I thought Legend of the Sandsquatch was a better movie but it just isn’t. Lord knows I’ve seen much worse, but the premise had the potential to be something a little different. Outside of the true oddity that is its title monster, this is nothing more than a barely passable, run-of-the-mill B-movie that serves as a reminder as to why so many B-movies of old were better off when they only clocked in at 70-minutes – and had satisfactory conclusions.
That said; if you ever wanted a rough idea of what a ten-foot, homeless, stage 4 cancer patient on a rampage would look like, then Legend of the Sandsquatch is the movie for you.
2 out of 5
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