Black River Monster (1986)

Black River Monster opens with this onscreen message:

“This production was filmed in its entirety, using all natural settings, at the Black River Farm and Ranch in Croswell, Michigan, an operating summer horse ranch for girls.”

Leroy is an overweight man who likes to sleep until noon. One day, Leroy’s mom (played by Leroy in drag) gets him a job as a handyman at Black River Farm and Ranch. While walking to work, Leroy is fat-shamed by two hicks named Louie and Sleaze. Leroy arrives at the ranch. But so does Bigfoot! While Leroy waters the lawn and runs errands, Bigfoot spies on kids, pets baby cows, and trashes the inside of a barn. Mr. D, the owner of the ranch, asks Leroy to sleep in the barn so that he can catch Bigfoot. Leroy falls asleep in the barn. In his dream, he finds a woman who is tied to a tree. Leroy unties the lady and embraces her. She morphs into Sleaze, who is a man.

I had no idea that Croswell, Michigan was code for the fifth dimension.

Shot on video by Camelot Studios, the company that would go on to make The Hackers, this movie was intended to serve as a promotional tool for the Black River Farm. I’m not sure what they were trying to promote by making a 50-minute family movie about a beast terrorizing their property. But it worked, because I want to move there right now.

When I have trouble falling asleep, I imagine myself lying under a tree on a sunny day in the front yard of my childhood home. This relaxes my brain and helps me drift away. Black River Monster gave me a similar feeling of serenity. Like The Bounty Hunters, this is a dreamy mish-mash of divergent elements and questionable decisions. But it’s also a showcase for lush forests, blue skies, slasher synthesizers, pratfalls in the style of Harold Lloyd, and a Bigfoot that looks like an animatronic band member of The Rock-afire Explosion from Showbiz Pizza — all filtered through the transdimensional lens of a camcorder.

Black River Monster has less energy than a 98-year-old human trying to walk up four flights of stairs while carrying two bags of groceries. It mostly focuses on people walking, watering their lawns, sleeping, driving cars, and playing saxophone solos at a flea market. It is not an exaggeration to say that this movie is probably a better sleep aid than Cinnamon Toast Crunch edibles. I’m aware of this. I accept it. My eyelids drooped two or four times while watching the movie. But I still loved it.

In Night of the Demon, Bigfoot removed a dude’s penis and threw it at a tree. In Black River Monster, Bigfoot hugs a goat. I’m happy to live in a world that has room for both.

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