A small town is being terrorized by a killer Bigfoot. One that is blood thirsty, vicious and kills without warning and without discrimination.
Directed by David A. Prior
4 out of 10
– “I’m Confused. Did a creature do this or is there some raving lunatic running around the woods killing people?”
“Night Claws” is a rarely charming but ultimately goofy throwback to the creature features of the 1980’s. It isn’t a bad thing, though, if that is what the director intended. Those lines are blurred by some very pedestrian acting, a silly set up and very amateurish camera work. So, I am not too sure what the intention was with this film. The story, which involves a Bigfoot terrorizing a small backwoods town is threadbare and shabby. It plays very by the numbers which would have given it some interesting status in the past but in the present day seems quite verbose.
Reb Brown (The Howling II and Captain America) plays Sheriff Joe Kelley and he has his hands full with dealing with the aftermath of the brutal slaying of two teens killed in the woods. He is joined by an anthropologist named Sarah Evans (Leilani Sarelle from Days of Thunder) to assist him with the investigation. These proceedings are made a bit laughable with how non chalant they all seem to be when they mention a Bigfoot is loose in the woods. The horrid acting does not allow the viewer to actually be convinced that the characters are either uninterested or deeply concerned. The interaction between Evans, Kelley, a forensics specialist and even a local town drunk, (who clams to have seen a whole family of Bigfoots), is hokey and flat.
The Sheriff’s girlfriend, Deputy Roberta (Sherrie Rose) also establishes herself as a smart but somewhat jealous (of Evans) woman trying to help hunt down the beast. While the investigation ensues, a survivalist camping trip takes place with a rag tag bunch of hikers who are only in this story as Bigfoot bait. Director David A. Prior (who also edited the picture) sets them all up individually as their hiking leader, Sharon (Tara Kleinpeter) struggles to control the heated interaction of 2 guys who get into a argument. She succeeds in calming everyone down but Charlie (Ted Prior) remains an asshole and comes across as a belligerent dick. His wife Cindy, played by Alissa Koenig, (who is the worst actress I have ever had the displeasure of watching) is just an annoying stereotype of a trophy wife.
The hike goes awry one night ( It never really looks like night and was probably done “day for night” when shooting. That is why the movie has a funky bluish hue during those scenes) and Charlie pulls a gun and does and says some really dumb macho crap. But it may all be a ruse. A big game hunter dude named Crawford (David Campbell), with 2 others (who Crawford calls number 1 and number 2), is also on the trail of the monster, acting as a poor man’s landlocked Quint. Meanwhile, Kelley diffuses a lynch mob and tells Evans that “Cooter” (yeah, I know) is not a reliable source. Eventually they head out to look for the hikers (without flashlights for some reason) and the Bigfoot mystery deepens when a mysterious man named Testi (Frank Stallone) eventually shows up with some funky agenda.
During the hunt, Crawford learns the hard way that Charlie knows how to defend himself. Also, 2 local dumb asses (introduced in a bit of bad looking green screen while driving), ignore the Sheriff’s warning and head out to get wasted in the woods for no apparent reason other than to get drunk and get laid. Huh? Anyway, Crawford ends up using Charlie in order to lure out the monster. Back at the party in the wood, Bigfoot shows up starts to tear everyone to pieces. Some he grabs and others he slashes with his huge claws. So, will the Sheriff get to everyone in time? And will Crawford nab the beast? Who is Testi? Who will survive the attacks? Who cares?
In it’s defense, “Night Claws” actually manages to produce an interesting conclusion. But the film is so full of low budget camp and cheese, ad nauseum, that might distract some viewers. The movie has a somewhat like-able bunch of B movie actors to deliver all of the preposterous dialog as if bored to death or as if rehearsing for a high school stage play. I must admit that Sherrie Rose was fun to watch, here. I really struggled to stay awake through this movie, though. The monster, Sasquatch himself, dispatched people in weird ways, too. Do you really think Bigfoot would squeeze your head to death if he really existed? The make up department gets kudos for creating a bunch of believe-able looking monsters at least (though they are shown way too long in the shots) and the minimal and bloody graphic violence is shot and edited with blessed quickness. The score by Chuck Cirino and the camerawork by Sodric Dira are not very impressive but it has a bit of goofy charisma. Just a bit.
“Night Claws” really doesn’t make an extra effort to stand apart and the 80’s throwback feel is not really enough to make this film all that terrifying or interesting. It is a slim, no budget creature feature that looks flat and has actors that are even flatter. It doesn’t even qualify for the coveted “so bad it’s good” type of Bigfoot movie that “The Asylum” churns out on their assembly line all the time. Oh and stay for the end credits and song. You have to hear and see it to believe it. Watch if you are really bored and in the mood for something sucky and forgettable. Which I hope you aren’t.