Reviews

Legend Of Bigfoot, The (1976)

The obsessions of mankind can run the gamut from healthy and prosperous to skewed and insane. Somewhere in the middle stands Ivan Marx, professional Bigfoot tracker. This is his story. Make sure to grab about twenty grains of salt on your way in.

Unlike The Legend Of Boggy Creek and Sasquatch: The Legend Of Bigfoot, the late Ivan Marx’s debut film is not a mockumentary. At least not completely. No, The Legend Of Bigfoot is the embellished fairy tale of Marx’s life as a professional animal tracker, which quickly led to his preoccupation with all things Sasquatch. Regardless of the man’s original aspirations (fame? respect? party clown?), his take on the 1970s Bigfoot sub-genre is nothing short of spectacular, nearly eclipsing Charles Pierce’s classic Boggy Creek as one of the most entertaining Sasquatch films of all time.

Speaking to the camera, Ivan Marx introduces himself and sets the next 80 minutes in motion. The film details his continent-spanning search for the elusive Bigfoot, with the help of his wife, Peggy, a small group of assistants, and his red Volkswagen Bug. Along the way, Jean Shepherd-styled narration and peeping tom footage of mother nature welcome us into the deranged merry-go-round of Mr. Marx’s mind. Scenery runs the gamut from fascinating (a poor squirrel deals with the loss of his mate), appalling (mass caribou slaughter courtesy a few redneck hunters), and hilarious (an obvious Marx walking bowlegged in his dimestore Bigfoot outfit). As the trail grows warm, Ivan divulges his ridiculous theories on Bigfoot’s place in the universe; spiritual god or headlight-eyed savage? Perhaps we’ll never know.

The Legend Of Bigfoot is like an empty-headed exploitation version of John Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley via The Blair Witch Project. It’s a road trip without meaning, a true representation of the strangeness that lies within the head of an unchecked obsessive. As an experience, the film is nearly always pleasant, romantic, and even a little creepy, despite the few minutes of animal violence (which mostly occurs at the paws of other animals). The sparse score, wind sound effects, and endless isolation do much to help the mood when the Bigfoot footage appears under, uh, less-than-realistic circumstances. We never get a good look at the creature, but the sight of a skinny white guy’s heel hanging out of a furry pant leg gives you an idea why. Marx’s puff piece is a curious snapshot of bygone times, delivered with brevity, absurd rantings, and a knack for intriguing photography. All together, a very satisfying trip for Bigfoot fans.

Apparently, there was a time in American history when a man could take to the streets and survive by documenting his strange obsessions. Fact, fiction, or unintended comedy — The Legend Of Bigfoot makes for a captivating watch today.

From the Archives