Greetings from the edge!
This week on the Edge, we’re caught between Cryptids and Texans ( and I can say that as a Texan myself ) in Sightings. The feet may be big, but the natives are heavily armed and, in this duel between man-ape muscle and Lonestar grit, I know who my money’s on. So let’s fire up the charcoal grill and see what Texas wine pairs best with Sasquatch ( we’re not savages after all! ) Starring Boo Arnold as Tom Mayfield the recently retired sheriff, Tahlia Morgan as Hannah Mayfield the retired sheriff’s daughter, and aspiring writer and Dante Basco as… Dante Basco!? Yep, Dante Basco as Akiro Nagi, the head of a local security firm and welcome addition to our merry band of players.
Our story begins with a report leading Sheriff Tom Mayfield, on his last night on the job, to respond to a supposed sighting by his cryptid crazy in-law Rickey Haggard (played by Rawn Erickson,) an apiarist ( Beekeeper ) and local loon. Soon after dismissing Rickey’s claims, Tom returns home and a strange noise leads him into the woods on his property to discover a dead woman that kicks off an investigation where Tom himself soon becomes the lead suspect.
Soon a slimy detective, seeking to use the ever expanding tragedy for self promotion (played to a tee by Kevin Sizemore) and a crypto-conspiracy hunter (played by Stephanie Drapeau) enter the picture and the plot begins to thicken. Is the killer in fact a mysterious undiscovered humanoid, an alien, or perhaps both?
The special effects in Sightings are… kinda non-existent. We occasionally see a hairy arm or leg, there are a few blood effects, and in one scene we get the shadow of a UFO and some flashing lights… and that’s about that. Although we do get Dante Basco talking about deer urine on several occasions, so if that’s something you happen to be into, there’s that. Sorry, folks. Still, the effects, what little there is of them, are shot fairly well and are a hundred times more effective than those in The 13th Friday or Tsunambee.
Saying that, I feel like I’m damning Sightings with faint praise, which yeah, I guess I may well be. Sightings feels more like those ’50s sci-fi movies where the monster only appears in the last five minutes of the film and is inevitably a huge disappointment. Except the last five minutes comes and goes and, besides a shadow outside a window, we never see the creature in totality at all. I have to wonder if this was a conscious decision on the director’s part or if the Alien/Bigfoot/Vampire suit was so epically awful that it was left out for the sanity of us all.
Sightings is a rarity in the bad movie genre. The acting is okay, the cinematography isn’t bad, the story (as insane as it is) holds together a lot better than drek like Cute Little Buggers or Alien: Reign of Man. The effects, although pretty much not there, aren’t offensive and the director has made the attempt to use what few sets they have well. In fact, if anything had managed to stand out, I’d have more to say. Sightings is utterly middle of the road and in itself, that is an accomplishment. It feels like a very outre episode of the old Unsolved Mysteries with Robert Stack ( in fact I kept expecting to hear his voice over. )
If it embraced its own wackiness, it could have been funny. If it had gone with the whole Alien/Bigfoot/Vampire wants women angle, it could have been lurid, and if it had focused more on the effects, it could have been a ’50s b-movie tribute film. What we end up with is a pretty competently acted, not badly shot film with a horrible script and nothing much to recommend it in either the positive or the negative.
I just can’t tell you to watch Sightings. If it was better, it might have been wacky fun, and if it had been far, far worse, it might have made epic riffing fodder. The real sin of Sightings is that it manages to be neither good enough on its own nor so bad that it’s fun to rip it apart with friends. If the script had been better, I feel the actors could have pulled Sightings out of the fire, but it all seemed too little too late and the after-credits teaser for a sequel seems to be a little optimistic, in my opinion. If you want a fun Bigfoot movie, watch Harry and the Hendersons. If you want a scary Bigfoot movie try… y’know, I can’t think of a single honestly scary Bigfoot movie. If you have any recommendations, leave them in the comments and let’s see if a truly scary Bigfoot movie might be the most elusive cryptid of all!
Nerdy Speculation Corner: Warning, may contain both spoilers and dangerous amounts of geekery!
I did learn at least one thing from Sightings. Apparently, Bigfeet ( Bigfoots? ) are repelled by aloe plants. Somebody please tell me if this is an actual thing people believe because that is so insane it has the true ring of somebody’s crazy theory. Aloe Vera: good for insect bites, burns, frostbite ( yes really ), athlete’s foot, herpes outbreaks, dandruff, and for keeping Bigfoot at bay… just seems to make sense, really.
Also, my favorite part of Sightings ( besides getting to see Dante Basco, of course ) is the movie’s closing music, which really captures the ’50s sci-fi melodrama feel with that signature weird musical ululation that has become almost a parody of itself. Maybe if the movie had fit the music a little more, it might have been a lot more fun.
Join us next week for more of what has made the Edge great: monsters so fake you can see the zipper ( or matte lines, ) mysteries so thin they can be seen through at a dozen yards, acting that would embarrass a kindergarten class, and scripts that are so far under the bottom of the barrel you’d need an excavation engineer and a horde of mole men to find the stygian depths from which they came!