“Sasquatchploitation”! Love it! I don’t know who invented the term, but I first came across it on Dread Central, so I’ll give the credit to them. It describes, of course, the absolute frenzy of Sasquatch (or Bigfoot) movies that has descended upon the world of independent cinema over the years. Sasquatch have been reported as lurking in the shrubbery all over the US and beyond, right up to and including their albino cousins, the Yeti, or Abominable Snowmen, of the Himilayas, who are naturally more inclined to lurk in the snowbanks.
Director Tyler Meyer and writer/producer Dennis Meyer have taken it upon themselves to introduce the world to the particular sasquatch that haunts the grasslands of Ohio — known as Grassman and first sighted by white settlers in 1869, or so the story goes. He’s big (7 to 9 feet tall), ape-like and hairy, and only ever appears when nearby cameras are malfunctioning — so he ticks all the right boxes.
But is he vicious, preying on campers and hikers whenever he gets the chance? Well, it wouldn’t make much of a monster flick if he wasn’t, would it?
Grassman’s “handy” work?
The Legend of Grassman has been in production for some time, first reported by Avery Guerra back in February 2010 on Monster Island News. As the director described it there:
“The film is kind of a mixture of a 1930s jungle adventure, a 1980s slasher movie, and a 1970’s Bigfoot documentary. The films that have influenced us on this project come from all different eras and genres, but early on Dennis and I focused on Jaws as the type of movie we wanted to emulate.”
The story goes like this: “Some legends are best left undisturbed.”
After a mysterious attack on a home in rural Ohio, a group of hunters and cryptozoologists head deep into the woods hoping to find proof of what they believe is responsible: the legendary Grassman, Ohio’s elusive bigfoot. (from website)
Back then it was expected that the film would be ready for distribution by September of that year. Well, it didn’t quite eventuate and here is where the film now stands, right from the horse’s mouth via Avery:
When you originally contacted us last year, we had shot about 60% of the film. We had just put together a trailer with the available footage to help convince people to work with us so we could finish up the movie. At that point, there were still a few locations we hadn’t found and several roles that hadn’t been cast yet.
Some of our newer locations include the Lewisburg Haunted Cave, situated in an abandoned limestone mine in Lewisburg, Ohio and the 22nd Annual Bigfoot Conference held at Salt Fork State Park in 2010, where we shot a scene that mixes our fictional Bigfoot researchers with real-life researchers like Jeff Meldrum and Don Keating.
Lynn Lowry (Cat People, The Crazies) joined our cast as an offbeat character who lives in a big creepy house in the woods. She’s the first professional actress our crew has worked with and I couldn’t have asked for someone better to break us in. Not only was she laid-back and easy to work with – which was hugely important to me as a first time director – but she was incredible to watch. She’s so nice and so pleasant in person and then before our eyes, very subtly, she would morph into this creepy-ass character – her whole body seemed to change – the way she stood, the way she moved. I was absolutely riveted by everything she did. And she offered me a lot of different choices in the editing room. I’ve never had raw footage that was so entertaining.
Check out this video on the subject of working with Lynn Lowry:
Tyler Meyer continues:
After looking at a rough cut of the film, we decided part of our plot was missing, so we wrote and shot couple new scenes with Jessica Cameron (Camel Spiders, Girl Scout Cookies) that ties up a few plot points and also includes a lot of gratuitous violence. She was a lot of fun to work with and she delivered the most emotional performance in the film. In addition, her role with pretty physically demanding, but she hung in there no matter how many times I asked to her run, trip, get smacked in the head, or scream a loud horror scream – and she has a GREAT horror scream.
Most recently, we drove to Portsmouth, Ohio, where we were joined by Wayne Burton and Dallas Gilbert, who were featured in the documentary Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie. They are making their feature film acting debut as the financiers of our film’s expedition. Even though they didn’t have much experience with this type of production, they jumped right in and did an awesome job. Their scenes are hilarious and we had a great time shooting them. The shooting of our Portsmouth scenes was documented for their reality show Dallas and Wayne: the Bigfoot Hunters, full episodes of which can be seen on YouTube.
Scenes from the Wayne and Dallas shoot:
We were able to get George Lauris, who starred in and narrated Sasquatch: the Legend of Bigfoot, to record some narration for us for a scene early on that introduces one of our main characters. I watched Sasquatch so many times while prepping for this film that it’s a bit surreal and very cool for me to hear the voice of that film talking about one of our characters.
At this point, most of the film has been shot. All but one of our main actors have finished shooting. We have only one scene left that still has a substantial amount to be shot and then all that’s left are cut-ins and effects shots. We’ve been editing the film as we go. Our current rough cut runs about an hour and forty minutes. There is a lot of digital effects work that still needs to be done, as well as sound editing and mixing.
Overall, I’m very happy with the way the film is turning out. It’s shaping up to be the kind of Bigfoot movie I’ve always wanted to make. It’s funny, scary, and I think it evokes the Bigfoot films I grew up with in the 70s. We’re hoping to have it finished at the end of the year , so that it can begin screening at film festivals in the Spring.
Now check out the latest version of the trailer:
Looks promising, eh?
Making Grassman – Throwing Fusee on to the Fire:
More behind-the-scenes footage like this one can been seen on Vimeo. Additional images are included in the gallery below.