Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here.
Never heard of this one, but when Vern starts tossing around comparisons to the original TEXAS CHAINSAW, I start paying attention, because I know how highly he regards that film. I love indie horror that comes out of nowhere to surprise you, so is this going to be a film worth seeking out? Only Vern knows…
THE WILD MAN OF THE NAVIDAD is a ’70s style low budget horror movie that’s going to be playing the Tribeca film festival in New York later this month. But it originates from Harry’s neck of the woods. The “Wild Man” of the title is a mysterious being – sasquatch? lunatic? – who lives near the Navidad River in Sublime, Texas, does not necessarily have the best manners, and may or may not take some bites out of any animals or humans that encounter him.
The lead character Dale S. Rogers (played by co-writer/co-director Justin Meeks) is a quiet outsider who, after being fired from his job as a welder, decides to open up some of his land to hunters for extra money. This is where the Wildman lives and where the trouble begins. Wild Men aren’t picky about what they eat. Plus they get vengeful when people shoot at them.
Dale already has a troubled life even before he’s kind of responsible for the deaths of hunters. His wife is in a near-vegetative state due to a car accident, for one. And as the owner of this land he has taken on an unpleasant duty. One nice moment in the unfolding of the story is when Dale is arguing with his faithful manservant/live-in nurse/I’m-not-sure-what-he-is Mario when suddenly the grandfather clock strikes 9. They stop cold, give each other a solemn look, and then Dale puts a plate of rabbit meat on his doorstep. They sit inside and listen in horror as some beast comes by and enjoys his dinner. Imagine if you had to do this every night. Better than watching American Idol or whatever they have on at 9, but probaly gets old after a while.
The story seems to take place in the ’70s (so I guess it would be Lawrence Welk on at 9) and stylistically it’s definitely a throwback. You got some LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK in the beginning, with narration and maps and everything, and that’s obviously what the subject matter most closely resembles. But the two movies it most reminded me of were the original TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE and the non–horror LAST NIGHT AT THE ALAMO. That’s not a coincidence. WILD MAN is produced by Kim Henkel, producer and writer of both of those, and mentor to directors Meeks and Duane Graves since he was their film professor at Texas A&M. (That’s also why they sent the movie to me, by the way. They know I’m a sucker for anything CHAIN SAW related. Well played, fellas.)
From CHAIN SAW you’ve got the opening credits, the droning score and atmospheric shots of dry, weathered Texas locations. But it’s the ALAMO stuff that’s most interesting to me. When the story’s not showing what’s going on on Dale’s property it’s often showing the good old boys and moonshiners hanging out shooting the shit at a tavern. In fact, Kim Henkel is seen in some of the bar scenes and I assume he’s playing his character from ALAMO since his name is Lionel again.While way, way, way too many horror movies are youth oriented these days, most of the supporting cast here are greying old Texans they must’ve cast while they were scouting locations. Some deliver their lines better than others, but any lack of acting skill is a worthy trade off for the grit and authenticity of real people over actors. (And none of them are as bad as some of those guys in BOGGY CREEK.)
So it has more of a texture to it than your usual formulaic horror. It’s not just about hitting the horror beats, it’s also about bearded old coots arguing about the smoke from their moonshine rigs. One touch I thought was kind of hilarious and creepy is that the character of Mario is portrayed as fairly heroic for most of the movie, but is also seen trying to molest Dale’s disabled wife. In fact he’s introduced with his pants down, sniffing her panties. I bet you don’t get that in the remake of PROM NIGHT.
The monster itself is left fairly mysterious. He’s mostly seen as a moving pile of pelts and antlers. I kind of wish they would’ve found a taller dude to play him so he has more of a sasquatch look. And to be honest I might have gone for a little more violence. But oh well. I’m sure I’d get out of the way if I saw that fucker coming.
One thing I didn’t realize while watching the movie is that the “Wild Man of the Navidad” really is a Texas legend and not just a fake one made up for the movie like Blair Witch or The Legend of Curly’s Gold. The Wild Man (or sometimes Woman) of myth was maybe not as vicious as this one, but would do odd things like replace fat pigs with skinny ones and steal knives and saws only to bring them back later sharpened and polished to perfection. According to many accounts the man turned out to be an escaped slave hiding out in the area. But this version of the story alleges that that wasn’t true, and purports to be based on the journals of a real Dale S. Rogers who encountered the monster(s) many times after that. (So I guess Dale knew about Mario sniffing his wife’s panties if that was in the journals.)
One thing I wonder about these “lost journals” type stories – how many people really write journals? Does this welder/beast tamer seem like a dude that keeps a diary? Not really. But oh well. Suspension of disbelief. At least it’s not a faux-documentary.
Now, I’m not gonna say that this is a re-invention of horror or the next big thing or anything like that. This is a small movie and it’s not for everybody. Even if I thought it could catch on big I wouldn’t want to say it because I’m so tired of those internet-approved indie horror movies like BEHIND THE MASK and HATCHET that I hear about for a year and then when I see them I wish I didn’t bother. But to me personally this was a nice, effective little movie and I won’t be surprised if we hear more from these guys in the future.
Originally published at Ain’t-It-Cool-News: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/36366
View the archived Ain’t-It-Cool-News Talkback
April 12, 2008, 3:36 p.m. CST
by Stevie Grant
April 12, 2008, 3:37 p.m. CST
by Stevie Grant
is completely redundant. All of the Republic is sublime.
April 12, 2008, 3:57 p.m. CST
April 12, 2008, 4 p.m. CST
Did someone mention Legend of Boggy Creek?!
Actually, I’ve had this movie on my radar for a while and can’t wait to sink my fangs into it soon.
April 12, 2008, 4:14 p.m. CST
Good as always….
I wonder when this makes its way to Europe….
April 12, 2008, 4:55 p.m. CST
If there’s a quasi-sasquatch in it…
…caruso will watch.
April 12, 2008, 5:11 p.m. CST
What about that Sasquatch movie?
The one from the “Napoleon Dynamite” writters that has Justin Long in it? I keep getting it on my netflix list but I havn’t watched it, it’s called Sasquatch Gang, i think. Havn’t heard shit about it. Anyways, this review had me at Texas Chainsaw ,but i didn’t read anything that made me really want to see it.
April 12, 2008, 5:13 p.m. CST
Boggy Creek fan here
Travis Crabtree is the man! He brings me sugar, and tobacco, and even a bit of wine. Those Crabtree boys are something else.
April 12, 2008, 5:33 p.m. CST
Hey, Travis Crabtree…
wait a minute for me… but the sumbitch just keeps RUNNING!
April 12, 2008, 5:51 p.m. CST
Bigfoot vs. Werewolves! Now there’s a cash cow!
by Uncle Stan
Nothing but profit and a guaranteed franchise.
April 12, 2008, 7:34 p.m. CST
Jose Feliciano Disapproves.
Navidad What? Fuck You.
April 12, 2008, 9:30 p.m. CST
Just gonna throw this out there…
Cropsies [sic?] versus sasquatch(es). That’s a free idea for anyone who wants it. Do with it what you will, but make me proud.
April 12, 2008, 10:02 p.m. CST
There was a story recently about a ..
“wild man” somewhere in Russia(?) that burned down a bunch of vacation homes. He was known to shoot at “trespassers” often. He had his house taken and sold when he was gone once for an extended time out of society. Taken and sold by his family because they assumed he was dead. They tried to develop on the land he was hiding on for years, and when they did so he burned down their every attempt, no matter how expensive. Wealth finally won out in the end and they didn’t bother driving him out. Commandos were hired and he was shot dead. Wish I could find the story. It would make a great film in this style, although much colder and darker. As much as I have experience googling things, this one has eluded me. If anyone can find it, I’d appreciate it and I guarantee a good read.
April 13, 2008, 6:31 a.m. CST
Eat Shit, Sarah Marshall
I actually thought Hatchet was pretty good. At the very least it had Harmony’s tits in it.
April 13, 2008, 7:55 a.m. CST
I heard Travis Crabtree loved “Hatchet” as well.
Smokey Crabtree has seen it 14 times just to see the dumb blonde vampire chick’s hooters.
What a body.
April 13, 2008, 8:35 a.m. CST
Isn’t the Hulk
the only “true” Wild Man? Screw these imposters! Hulk Smash! That is all.
April 13, 2008, 9 a.m. CST
Is there a more entertaining film critic than Vern?
I like his no bullshit approach and the fact that he can appreciate DTV releases but also a solid Oscar contender too. Nice one Vern.
April 13, 2008, 9:12 a.m. CST
The “Wildman of Navidad”. I resent this unauthorized biography and the recent news that I have declared my superdelegate vote for Hillary Clinton. I am still undecided….OH! I almost forgot….”grrrr”.
April 13, 2008, 9:14 a.m. CST
gotilk, that story was about OLEG!
April 13, 2008, 10:36 a.m. CST
Thank you, ironic_name.
April 13, 2008, 10:39 a.m. CST
Gremlin shitting pie beast?
Wasn’t he a bad guy on Power Rangers?
April 13, 2008, 11:41 a.m. CST
FELIZ NAVIDAD, WILD MAN!
April 13, 2008, 11:45 a.m. CST
WANT TO SEE IT BAD!!!!!!!!!
April 13, 2008, 11:55 a.m. CST
Gremlin shitting pie beast.
translates as;<P> I would see the shit out of that.. starring john stamos as the park ranger!
April 13, 2008, 12:22 p.m. CST
Wild Man Of The Navidad
Having been @ the films premier at the theatre in late 2007 I was very excited to see their new work. Having followed their film works since 2001 (starting with Headcheese, filmed on all the same locations as the original Chainsaw Massacre) I knew everyone at the premier was in for a real treat. And sure as fire they delivered the goods. They took their film works to a whole notha… level as the guy on MadTV would say. Big props the everyone involved in the film its destined to be a cult-classic and survive the test of time for many decades I’m sure. I wish it would be released soon though so everyone could obtain it at their local video store and the such.
April 13, 2008, 1:01 p.m. CST
This kinda sounds like…
…”Wendigo”, a very cool flick that also botches its creature reveal. Still worth watching, and since Vern has never steered me wrong (tho I have to say, I enjoyed both “Hatchet” and the “Day of the Dead” remake… but only as a guilty pleasure zero-budget zombie flick) I’ll be looking for this Navidad deal. Thanks for the head’s up.
April 13, 2008, 2:38 p.m. CST
The real monsters in Texas
are running the state government. They would devour Navidad, monster and all, and still be hungry for more. We’re talking Republican greed heads of Biblical proportion. The Land Commissioner just tried to sell of a tract of land given the state by the Nature Conservancy so his buddies would have a place to shoot some game. The governor is trying to condemn millions of acres so a Spanish company can build a toll road across Texas. Vern, your monster is a pussy compared to them.
April 13, 2008, 5:44 p.m. CST
Bigfoot vs. Robots! Another bonafide hit!
by Uncle Stan
Shit! I’m over-qualified to work at NBC.
April 13, 2008, 6:37 p.m. CST
i was also had at
TCM but then it started to sound more like wrong turn?
April 13, 2008, 6:54 p.m. CST
Oh NAVIDAD not Natividad
I thought this was a Russ Meyer Bioflic for a second
April 13, 2008, 7:33 p.m. CST
gotilk – see link below – I am Spartacus
April 13, 2008, 7:36 p.m. CST
I am not Spartacus, gotilk
The link doesn’t work or something. Okay, the dude’s name was Alexander Bichkov. How do I know? I’ll tell you–it was a giant Russian conspiracy that goes all the way to the Kremlin, and–just a second, I think someone just came into my garret, and qujqrejcf; wehoiu3;v v dadfnaql122v b4
April 13, 2008, 11:25 p.m. CST
Sounds like it could be good.
I’ll watch it. Oh, and Vern, I think “Behind the Mask” is awesome as hell.
April 13, 2008, 11:38 p.m. CST
That’s the one, Garbage!! Thanks!
Thank for the help. It was bugging me! Wild story, huh?
April 13, 2008, 11:39 p.m. CST
How could I forget he was Russia’s RAMBO
I have no idea how that one slipped my mind.
April 13, 2008, 11:42 p.m. CST
And the link did work. Thanks.
Just had to remove a few spaces and it was fine. It was even the original story. That image in the story is disturbing. It’s not often you see a dead body in a story like that. Creepy. But there’s no doubt it would make a great film.
April 14, 2008, 12:14 a.m. CST
This is too funny
My wife’s parents have a place on the Navidad near Sublime and this has been a funny story for some time. When we heard they were making a move a couple of years ago, it just sounded hilarious. I can’t wait to see how the chamber of commerce capitalizes on this movie.
April 14, 2008, 12:42 a.m. CST
Let’s see..takes place in Texas in the 70’s..
by otm shank
The wildman was probably just Dubya on a coke binge.
April 14, 2008, 12:45 a.m. CST
The Legend of Curly’s Gold
by otm shank
Thanks for the laugh Vern.
April 14, 2008, 12:51 a.m. CST
I saw this movie
I caught this movie at a private screening in Dallas a few weeks back. I was really surprised by it – I agree with most of Vern’s comments. I think what most of the reviews haven’t pointed out is it captures the spirit/atmosphere of the original Chain Saw more than anything else. Henkel’s influence is apparent. I really enjoyed it and personally I think it will be big.
April 14, 2008, 12:56 a.m. CST
“If they know it will show up every night at the same time, why don’t they just kill it?” – I saw it and the answer is within the movie. If only it were that easy! hah Oh and Wendigo is MUCH more polished and supernatural than this film. Wild Man has a gritty realism to it. I like some of Feseneden’s stuff tho
April 14, 2008, 1:07 a.m. CST
From the Tribeca website…
“Laced with tension-fueled anxiety and a moody aura, The Wild Man of the Navidad realizes an old Texas legend with a vintage ’70s horror visage. Based on the journals of Texan Dale S. Rogers, the film follows Dale, his wheelchair-bound wife Jean, and her oft-shirtless, lazy-eyed caretaker Mario, who fondles Jean whenever he can. They live on a ranch in the sparsely populated, moonshine-soaked Texas town of Sublime, where Dale’s family has lived for more than five generations. Each night, he sets food out on his porch, but this isn’t for any pet cat-it’s for a mysterious creature that, according to local lore, has inhabited the Navidad River bottom for more than 100 years. Inside, Dale, Jean, and Mario wait in silent paranoia while the house shakes with growls and snarls right outside their door. Though the ranch sits on vast acres prime for hunting, Dale has resisted opening up the land. But after the prodding of some of the rifle-loving townsfolk and the loss of his job, he gives in and opens the gate to the compound-then the hunter becomes the hunted.
Made on a shoestring budget with a limited crew and local non-actors joining the professional ones, Duane Graves and Justin Meeks (who also stars as Dale) have crafted a haunting journey, filled with Texas-sized eeriness and bizarre characters. Less concerned with making a bloodand-guts slasher flick (though it was coproduced by Kim Henkel of the 1974 classic Texas Chain Saw Massacre), Graves and Meeks employ a form of terror that comes from the unknown. At times schlocky and strange, The Wild Man of the Navidad proves that less is more.
April 14, 2008, 8:45 a.m. CST
JML9999, you bastard!
You stole the joke I was going to use almost word for word! Damn your black heart!
April 14, 2008, 12:55 p.m. CST
Damn it !!!!!!! I want to see this flick…
I keep hearing about this film… when can I catch it on the big screen or dvd? I know it is premiering in Tribeca but that is too far for a poor boy……..Hey now gotcha and catchit yep..
April 14, 2008, 12:59 p.m. CST
found website and myspace with a trailer yea!!
Looks good, check out trailer at www.myspace.com/wildmanofthenavidad
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.