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The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot

THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT is not the wacky SHARKNADO type bullshit that the title may bring to mind, but instead an odd, humble little character piece about aging, regret, loneliness and sacrifice. Its greatest strength is that it stars Sam Elliott (or as I call him, The Man Who Mentored Dalton and then Fought The Hulk). He plays Calvin Barr, who many decades ago gave up the love of his life (Caitlin FitzGerald, Rectify) for an important WWII tracking, infiltration and assassination mission that he could never tell anyone about, and in his old age has failed to either feel good about what he did or find another purpose for his life. Its second greatest strength is that it attempts the daredevil feat of telling us that outlandish alternate history tale, following it with his being recruited to save the world by finding and killing a sasquatch, and not treating any of it as something to laugh at.

Who does that? And who pulls it off? In this case it’s a first time feature writer/director named Robert D. Krzykowski. 

I’m a guy who enjoyed ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER and PRIDE + PREJUDICE + ZOMBIES for executing intentionally ludicrous premises with a completely straight face. But even those rare cases have an irony to them. They don’t wink at you, but they know they have an agreement with you that treating something like this seriously is what makes it funny. The act of pretending it’s not funny is funny.

In my view that’s not what this one does. The closest tonal comparison I can come up with is Don Coscarelli’s BUBBA HO-TEP. Yes, it posits an eccentric view of what sorts of things can happen in the world, but its goal is not to be humorous. It’s very sincere about wanting to explore and deeply feel this character’s melancholic life. And there are similarities in that both characters are feeling shitty about life dragging on and having once lived a glory that no one knows about. But BUBBA has more hijinks and more action, it feels like ARMY OF DARKNESS compared to this. This is much more of a quiet, broody character piece.

It seems to take place some time in the ’80s. Or at least before flat screen TVs. Calvin sits alone at a bar, occasionally talks to his barber brother (Larry Miller, SUBURBAN COMMANDO, RADIOLAND MURDERS, FOODFIGHT!), mostly only has his dog to confide in. He talks about going fishing, but never seems to get around to it. Things keep reminding him of the old days. In fragments, out of order, we see parts of his World War II mission. They do an okay job of making us (or at least me) accept some dude (Aidan Turner, THE HOBBIT) as young Sam Elliott, even without sending him to The Bradley Cooper School of Talking Like Sam Elliott. But it’s a great relief when he finally gets the mustache.

When full grown Sam Elliott Calvin is called upon to save North America, it seems poised to be an empowering old-guys-prove-they-still-got-it story like TOUGH GUYS, ACES: IRON EAGLE III, SPACE COWBOYS, ROCKY BALBOA, TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE or the aforementioned BUBBA HO-TEP. It does have an early scene where some guys try to carjack Calvin and he leaves them all unconscious on the pavement, just like a Liam Neeson old man action movie. But he never treats this mission as a chance to prove something, or even a welcome interruption to his dull routine. It’s just another time when he must do his sad, solemn duty.

It’s the simplest and yet most apocalyptic Bigfoot scenario I’ve ever seen: the creature carries a prehistoric virus that will wipe out mankind if he keeps traveling south. But the story is intimate. One quiet man alone in the forest, searching for this animal to kill, feeling terrible about it. If you didn’t like killing a human being when the human being was god damn Hitler, of course you’re not gonna be thrilled about killing someone (even if you consider them an animal) who is dangerous through no fault of their own.

The creature (Mark Steger, who has played monsters in I AM LEGEND, THE LAST WITCH HUNTER, Stranger Things and Critters: A New Binge) is unglamorous, ugly, not that big, kind of Chaka-esque. (Note that his creators, Mike Elizalde and Spectral Motion, also did the LAND OF THE LOST movie.) But Calvin shows a great respect for him that I interpret to be compassion for a fellow living being rather than admiration for a unique specimen, though it could be either or both. My favorite thing in the whole movie is when he tries to offer the sasquatch a gesture of brotherhood and dignity in death. Being a historic badass doesn’t make him an unfeeling macho man.

According to interviews, Krzykowski started writing the movie 12 years before it was filmed, and it started more as the pulpy thing you might expect, but he was going through some sort of loss in his personal life and he started putting it into the character. Previously he directed a short and was co-producer/location manager/production coordinator/”sequence artist: Darlin’s dream” on Lucky McKee’s THE WOMAN. McKee is one of the producers, and somehow John Sayles and Douglas Trumbull are also on there as executive producers. Trumbull also worked on the visual effects! A few interesting actors pop up, including Ellar Coltrane (BOYHOOD), Ron Livingston (KING OF THE ANTS) and Sean Bridgers (THE WOMAN). But mostly this is a story about an old man out there alone, facing his past.

Is it a mistake to use such a goofy title? And doesn’t it contain, like, two major spoilers? I don’t think so. Once you’re watching you realize it’s less of a PYTHON VS. GATOROID type title and more of a THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD. And to lay it all out there from the beginning is part of the process. You already know what’s gonna happen to the boat in TITANIC, there’s no need for it to be a surprise. The suspense is in who will survive and what will be left of them, emotionally, after these historic events.

I think THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT is a pretty good movie. I enjoyed it, didn’t love it. But I’m so glad it exists because there’s gotta be somebody out there who it’s the perfect movie for, and they never could’ve seen it coming.

This entry was posted on Monday, April 8th, 2019 at 10:48 am and is filed under Drama, Monster, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

94 Responses to “The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot”

  1. This is my favorite movie of the year, so far. Gonna be a tough one to beat.

  2. I think I’d rather just see the movie the title makes it sound like. If all you’re a filmmaker and all you really wanted to do was have Sam Elliott be all sad about his mortality and legacy and shit, couldn’t you have just made one of the three or four of those kind of low key dramas that get made every year starring aging movie stars looking for an Oscar nomination? Wouldn’t you decide it was a crime against humanity to waste an amazing gonzo exploitation premise like this? I swear to Christ, we’ve turned into a society that legit reads PLAYBOY for the articles.

  3. Counterpoint: Why would you want to make just another so-bad-it’sgood-but-it’s-bad-on-purpose-so-it’s-not-good Adult Swim tropes checklist for the Reddit stoner kids, if you can instead use an incredibly stupid premise (and title) and then turn it into something unexpected and as it seems actually good?

  4. I would like to think there is something in the middle between “Dour existential drama” and “Wacky fart delivery system.” A film like this would be dramatic enough that you could take it seriously but light enough that you could still have a good time. A John Carpenter movie, for instance. I think we all agree that the John Carpenter approach to this idea would have satisfied both sides of the debate. I ask only that a filmmaker provide a similar credulousness that Carpenter brought so such ostensibly risible premises as, say, PRINCE OF DARKNESS, a movie about a satanic lava lamp that is neither a dirge nor a romp, while also kind of being both of those things. I don’t think the po’faced seriousness that has enveloped so much of contemporary genre fare is a good development. Genre is supposed to be the sugarcoating that makes the medicine go down easier. Now it all just tastes like medicine and we’re supposed to take it because it’s good for us. I miss when they’d shape my vitamins like cartoon characters.

  5. grimgrinningchris

    April 8th, 2019 at 4:32 pm

    I am with CJ and Vern on this one.

    Also, there are legions of people who read PLAYBOY more for the articles… with the boobs and butts as window dressing. PLAYBOY had, for decades and decades, some of the best investigative journalism, social and political commentary and probably THE best interviews/interviewers in the history of print media… that was until a year or two ago when they fucked it all up by changing the format and making the whole thing look and read like fucking click-bait internet.

  6. I mean, it’s good though, and he does kill both of the stated individuals. It’s just that to me the wacky titles conjure something that is not entertaining to me, that just fakes entertainment because it knows it has a premise that is amusing for the second that you spend reading it. This does something much more interesting without leaning as much on the premise.

  7. Vern, you make a good point but what title could capture the movie in a way that was more fair to tone of it? If it had a more serious and melancholic title like, oh, “Pride of Ruins” or some shit like that and then you watched a movie where a guy was dealing with the emotional impact of killing both Hitler AND Bigfoot, there would be still just as much divergence. I think the movie title just tells it like it is. Man, I can’t wait to see this flick.

  8. No, I agree. It’s the right title.

  9. I guess it’s just getting a little old that the Venn diagram of “Is there anything different I can do with this genre idea?” and “Let’s make it really slow and depressing!” is a circle these days.

  10. Examples? I’ve seen many slow genre movies recently, but outside of THE BABADOOK I can’t think of anything depressing.

  11. LOGAN was, uh, kind of a downer, but in a way that I thought really worked for the story. I’m pretty much always going to be more interested in a weird, serious take on a kooky premise than something that just goes for the easiest, most crowd-pleasing beats possible. At best, we get something like FURY ROAD, a completely serious and thoughtful story about the absolute craziest possible people. At worst you wind up with something like ABRAHAM LINCOLN VAMPIRE HUNTER, which kept forgetting to be entertaining in favor of its self-seriousness.

    Which isn’t to say just goofy fun can’t be a blast (like, I’m a guy who sincerely loved HARDCORE HENRY), but give me something to think about a little afterwards and I’m way more on board.

  12. I don’t wanna speak For Mr. M, but HEREDITARY stands out as something clearly intended as a protracted misery-rending experience test that fails to justify itself thematically or artistically.

  13. CJ: Substitute “dreary, dour, moping, joyless, and/or lifeless” for “depressing” then. I doubt you’ll have trouble coming up with examples.

    Sorry, guys, it’s just not what I’m in the market for. I don’t think think this kind of thing is healthy in the long run. I truly believe that the only reason any of us are tolerating this kind of movie now is that we were infected early on with the joyfulness of unapologetic genre fare. We’ve got it in our blood, so we’re willing to sit through these diluted and decadent degradations of their charms. Do you guys honestly think you’d be lifelong genre fans if these were the kind of genre movies that got made when you were young? It all feels so decadent, this urge to artificially elevate trash to art. It does neither trash nor art any favors, and it seems to be a LESS mature and sophisticated approach than embracing the trashiness of it all and making art anyway. I feel like not being able to tell the difference between good, honest trash and disingenuous art is what happens right before a culture eats itself.

    That’s a lot to hang on a movie where Sam Elliott is real sad about having to shoot a sasquatch, but dammit, I used to be super excited for this movie. I think there’s a way to deal with the thematic concerns and still be a rip-roaring adventure. This mopey shit seems like a copout.

  14. I think the trash/art distinction is false. I do think you hit the nail on the head that we need more fun and accessible/populist works of art. I definitely want a new Jason or more Jason and more Carpenter or Carpenter heirs who want to have fun. I also want more Ari Aster and more things like MANDY and more (but less self-important) Jordan Peele.

  15. Man, if you’re gonna be the “BACK IN MY DAY WE HAD REAL MOVIES” guy, there’s not a lot to respond to in that. You just don’t like the in-vogue styles, that’s fine. It happens. I promise it doesn’t herald a cultural apocalypse or, if it does, I promise to die violently in the coolest possible explosion to try and make you feel a little better about it.

  16. Nah, the only thing I can still think of is that wave of shitty arthouse horror movies, that neither work as arthouse movies or as horror movies, but I can’t really think of any fantasy and/or action movies that fit that category, outside of BUBBA HO-TEP (which I really love and is already over 10 years old, so I don’t count it). There is no “Indiana Jones, but it’s a meditation about the meaning of parenthood” or “The Avengers, but without any action and it’s actually about the effect of toxic masulinity on children”. Okay, maybe A WRINKLE IN TIME, but I think that one at least tried to be an exciting adventure.

  17. I’m not saying trash can’t be art (and vice versa) but you accomplish that feat not by injecting a trash premise with artificial growth hormone in hopes that a drama will grow out of it but by being the absolute goddamn best and proudest piece of trash you can be. There are literally thousands of hours of competent drama being churned out across dozens of channels and streaming services every single day. Trash, handled honestly and unapologetically, can get at a truth that every single one of them will always be a fumbling approximation of. So why follow their lead? Drama’s easy. Why not be bold?

    (Apologies to Dan Prestwich for the following rant, which he has heard before.)

    There’s an Uncanny Valley aspect to taking silly things seriously. Some things can never be taken 100% seriously, no matter how hard their creators try. I believe “Old dude killed Hitler and now is the only human being immune to a plague started by Bigfoot” is one of those things. (Batman is another but I think the world disagrees with me on that.) The closer you get to total seriousness without actually achieving it, the more you’re just pointing out how serious it’s not, whereas treating the subject with a certain amount of devil-may-care insouciance allows the reality of the thing to settle to a more palatable level. You don’t want to go completely throwaway and superficial, but you don’t want to overcorrect, either. Not expecting the audience to watch your monster movie like it’s an Ibsen play is a great way to earn their trust when it comes time to drop the more outlandish developments of this kind of material. You tell me I’m watching a serious drama, eventually I’m gonna have to call bullshit. So ultimately I think the approach is self-defeating.

    I mean, maybe it’s just me, but I find something that wants to make me laugh more emotionally endearing than something that wants to make me cry. That’s just not the way into my heart. You try to tug at my heartstrings, you’re gonna lose fingers.

    Obviously, I am talking out of my ass here about this particular film, which I haven’t seen and might just love, who the fuck knows? But I find this to be true more often than not.

    I will quote Werner Herzog on this subject: “Someone like Jean-Luc Godard is for me intellectual counterfeit money when compared to a good kung fu film.” Now the Godards are taking over taking over the genres, too.

  18. I mean, I think there’s a couple things going on here. Part of what you’re seeing now is the end result of a long period of genre creators *wanting* to be taken more seriously and of more mainstream creators coming around to the idea of the value of metaphor and distance that can be inherent in a more genre-focused work, so you’re gonna get some drama.

    But further, I really think you’re mythologizing the past here. Is your argument that we’ve *never had* genre films with pretensions to being “serious” art before? Like, say, 2001, or ROSEMARY’S BABY, or CLOCKWORK ORANGE? Or that the pretensions were somehow better in the past and are less acceptable now? Isn’t this just you viewing the modern-day cinematic slate without applying Sturgeon’s Law to both the past and present?

  19. Well, before reading your comments I would’ve guessed that you’d at least kind of like this movie. I am not trying to describe it as a joyless, boring movie. I didn’t find it that way at all. It is a unique tone that I don’t think should be dismissed without at least first seeing what it is.

    But then again I stand by HEREDITARY being a fun rollercoaster movie that got huge laughs throughout when I saw it, so I seem to live in a different tonal universe from most people here.

  20. Of course not. But very few wallowed in it the way those currently in vogue do, and the ones that did were a welcome change of pace. Would the elegiac UNFORGIVEN have made the impact it did if there had been no frivolous western tropes to subvert? UNFORGIVEN is a reaction to the accepted standards of the genre. You can’t have UNFORGIVEN without YOUNG GUNS. They can’t all be UNFORGIVEN or UNFORGIVEN fails to have any meaning.

    Also, and this may be a minor point, but none of the movies you mentioned were about a fucking guy who killed fucking Hitler and also fucking killed fucking Bigfoot. I think those movies were treated with the appropriate amount of seriousness for their subject matter (and all had their laughs, as well). They earned their tones. I can’t say the movies I’ve been seeing lately earn the amount of melodrama and indulgence they expect me to sit through just to get to the part that got the movie made in the first place.

  21. Vern: Like, I said, who the hell knows? I might just love it. But right now, I’m bummed that somebody took the amazing idea of getting Nazi Hunter Sam Elliott to fight Bigfoot and they decided that Nazi Hunter Sam Elliott fighting Bigfoot was actually the least interesting part of the story and actually what’s important is that he’s bummed because he got dumped once. I might very well be wrong here, but right now I’m not finding that the most effective sales pitch for a movie in which Nazi Hunter Sam Elliott fights Bigfoot.

  22. I guess I just don’t see where you demarcate the line between a movie that “earns” its tone and a movie that doesn’t. HOW does a movie go about earning the right to, I guess, take the psychological makeup of its characters with a certain mild amount of realism? I mean, with your example of UNFORGIVEN- yes it absolutely works on its own. I just showed it to my wife recently, actually, who absolutely hates Westerns and refuses to sit through them as a matter of course, it was the first Clint Eastwood movie she’d ever seen in fact, and…she loved it, because it’s a good movie that doesn’t depend on subverting any expectations to maintain its impact. (By contrast, she hates the original ALIEN, with a complaint you may sympathize with here- in her opinion, it takes waaaaaay too long for the chestbursting to start)

    “Tone” is like the ultimate subjective metric to measure a movie by. One person’s masterful build of character motivation and psychology is another person’s boring slog.

  23. I mean, none of the ones you mentioned are any of my favorites either. I guess you’re right, it’s just different strokes and what the fuck do I care?

    You know, I’ll be honest: I’m not exactly in the greatest place to judge this kind of thing right now. I have never been this misanthropic, and I’ve been self-defining myself as a misanthrope since the first time I heard the word. I fucking despise the human race. I fully believe we are doomed, and it’s 100% because humans are a corrupt species that has grossly inflated its own sense of importance. The world is burning and we’re still staring at our own navel. We’ve had centuries of so-called civilization to figure out the simple act of not fucking destroying everything we touch and we’re as far from that goal than ever. So when a movie wants to linger on character motivation or psychology or tries to approximate anything like the nonstop shit factory that is the real world, I can’t say I’m too interested. A little dab’ll do you when it comes to that stuff, in my opinion. At the end of the day, everybody is terrible, so I really don’t want to get that invested in anybody. Can’t I just watch Sam Elliott stuff a live grenade down a sasquatch’s throat and say a pithy one-liner before it explodes? How anybody has any stomach for fake drama after the 10-gallon bucket of despair the real world dumps on us first thing every morning is truly beyond me. You all must be made of much sterner stuff than I am.

  24. I’m more interested in this idea that Hereditary is a comedy. Vern, I’m sure those people weren’t laughing because it was the intent of the filmmakers.

  25. I laughed at the daughter’s funeral but I REALLY don’t think I was supposed to.

  26. It’s not a comedy, but it has plenty of dark humor in it. An example is the scene where she’s in total disbelief about her husband not understanding why she’d build a miniature model of their daughter’s fatal car accident. And some parts, like the self-decapitation, have sort of an EVIL DEAD are-you-prepared-for-how-far-over-the-top-we’re-willing-to-go mischievousness. I can’t imagine this would be done on accident, but if it was it’s still there. I had a blast.

  27. grimgrinningchris

    April 9th, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    I bet it wasn’t a SPOOK-A-BLAST though, Vern.

  28. I actually called it an “art-a-blast” in my review.

  29. Kurgan – I saw the original Alien with my dad in 1979. It was playing at an old movie palace in downtown Chicago, and presented in 70mm. The atmosphere played a huge part in my experience, with the cavernous theatre like a part of the movie, with a screen twice as big as those fake IMAX ones today. When the chest burster first appeared (remember, no one had seen ANYTHING like it before), a third of the audience ran for the exits, and I felt like I was in a haunted house watching a horror movie. It was the same movie theatre where I also saw two William Friedkin movies, The Exorcist and Sorcerer. 70mm did not cost extra, and those movies remain impactful on my love of cinema. Hope I didn’t sound like a lecturing old man.

  30. Boy, you guys sure talk a lot about HEREDITARY around here.

    I’m personally one of those internet assholes who thinks HEREDITARY is fake horror for posers, and IMO Vishnevetsky, from the A.V. Club, nailed that movie better than anyone:


    That is, it’s much more effective in the black comedy/family drama parts, and not so much in the scary horror parts. I definitely believe that the comedy was purposeful, but I don’t know if it really helped. Overall, the movie shares the same problem that most of these over-hyped, slow-burn indie horror films have: the horror is pretty mehish and derivative, and there’s some kind of more respectable drama element that tries to cover that up. Black comedy/family drama in HEREDITARY. Single mom drama in BABADOOK. Kids approaching adulthood drama in IT FOLLOWS. And so forth.

  31. Counterpoint – this is a different subgenre of (horror film) that sets out to do somewhat different things, succeeds magnificently on its own terms while adding to the richness of the fuzzy super-genre of “arguably style of horror film,” is unfairly judged by self-appointed horror purists (who are the only ones actually behaving like snobs while trying to reverse the narrative by projecting snobbery onto “arty” horror) who confuse “doesn’t give me the emotional experience I want or expect” with “is bad.”

  32. “style of” –> “a type of”

  33. I suppose what I’m after is the important-to-me distinction between “not my cup of tea” vs. “is shit,” “is an aesthetic failure proportionate to it not being my cup of tea,” ” it’s existence is what’s wrong with horror. ” i love certain sub-genres of rap, don’t get others, and I don’t enjoy (at this stage of my life) classical music. I don’t need to dismiss classical music as a shit genre to assert that it’s not my cup of tea. The distinction matters, because it’s the difference between thinking and behaving with humility and healthy openness vs being the armchair prick who has it all figured out and who doesn’t merely have tastes and preferences but objectively superior and immutable knowledge of what is worthy art and has the right to i validate other’s subjective experiencs s when they don’t line up with yours. Own your tastes as your tastes without making dissenters out to be stupid assholes. From the aspirations / “do as I say, not as I do” files. I’m guilty of this sin.

  34. Skani: Would it help if you assumed there was a silent “In my humble opinion, which is worth no more than your own, and I apologize ahead of time lest the vigor with which I assert it seem to demean your personhood, which I value,” in front of every comment? Because I am going to continue to assert my arguments as if they are objective truths, because using passive, wishy-washy language like the aforementioned is a waste of time when you’d think we’d all have learned to respect each other as amiable combatants by this point and wouldn’t need to pull our punches for fear of damaging one another’s fragile egos. Of course, we all know our bullshit theories are just opinion. We’re talking about art here. There’s no such thing as fact. That’s just common sense. We don’t need to coddle each other to ensure that proper respect is given. In fact, going out of our way to make sure we’re not stepping on any delicate little toes seems condescending to me.

    In other news, man, I was in a state yesterday, huh? I went pretty far afield but really all I was getting at was that, while all kinds of horror/exploitation is still being made all the time, it seems like all the filmmakers with any talent and/or buzz in the horror/exploitation genres are leaning into the kind of mopey, downbeat filmmaking I generally do not respond to, and I wish there were more talented up-and-comers getting recognized for making the kind of dynamic, balls-to-the-wall stuff I DO respond to. I am jonesing for someone with chops and clout to make a new classic of over-the-top gonzo greatness. And for a second there, I thought this one might be it, so I felt pretty let down to discover, nope, actually it’s all about Sam Elliott being sad. The dream remains unrealized. I’m sure the film is good for what it is, but what it is is not what I’m looking for.

  35. I guess I just kind of resent the idea that modern horror is somehow “fake” or for posers or something. How do you even define that? Like, I fuckin’ love horror movies, I’ve been watching them since I was a little kid, but the *only* one that’s got under my skin in the past decade or so was IT FOLLOWS. Walking home in the dark afterwards really creeped me out, I kept nervously checking over my shoulder like some sex demon was gonna get me or something, even though that’s objectively dumb. I don’t know why! It’s not like I was hiding my face behind my hands during the movie or anything, but it still…got to me a little afterwards. Does that make me a fake horror poser, because I enjoyed the hip horror movie of the time and it even affected me a little? Seems like bullshit to me.

  36. Big DM- That sounds awesome actually. My dad introduced me to ALIEN too, and for years we’d fight about which was better, ALIEN or ALIENS. I’d always argue it was ALIENS, but in my heart I know he’s right and it’s ALIEN.

  37. See, this is my point about your Strunk and White meets laconic badass who suffers no fools pale rider identity mashup. It’s not coddling or wishy washy to be provisional and to self-present as teachable, especially in dialogue. You’re creating a straw man caricature. But you are a very effective writer and I love you anyway. Just unnecessarily combats at times. I became more combative on this site in response to you (and Crushinator, who added a certain smugness that you lack).

    Also, I agree with you. I want a director with the brilliance and accessibility and humility of Carpenter, and I want really fun characters like your Bill Paxtons or Kurt Russells types (they need not be white guys, or course).

  38. These are all issues that arise from reviewing the audience and not the movie. How about we just not do that? Like, *I* think IT FOLLOWS almost entirely squanders a great premise, despite a solid opening. Me. I did that. I am not trying to represent the entirety of horror fandom. *You* think it was great. You. You did that. You are not trying to represent the entirety of horror fandom either. So what’s the problem? Nobody is actually saying what the other side says we’re saying. I feel like we’re all arguing against strawmen who left the building six months ago.

  39. Filmmaking and criticism are always social and in flux and have as much to do with our personal emotional bullshit and historical moment that is always flowing and sloshing in and out of the building. I like reviewing the audience as long as I’m honest about it, since the audience and artist and industry are clearly locked in dialogue and mutual influence whether they accept it or not. And I’m not even one of these postmodern humanities nihilists.

    Your tough guy exterior doesn’t fool me. You’re here seeking hope and connection like the rest of us. Now, hug this shit out, Will Hunting.

  40. Well, which is it? Should we assure everyone that it’s just, like, our opinion, man, and don’t take it personally, or should we feel free to assign motivations and biases to total strangers who happen not to like the same movies we do? For me, being a respectful debate participant means doing everything I can to fight my natural urge to lay waste to all dissenters with a flamethrower of snark by keeping my arguments to a. the text itself, b. verifiable outside sources, and, when all else fails, c. my own personal emotional reaction, which is my own business and not open to debate anyway. But within those parameters, I have not only the right but the duty to state my views as strongly as possible. If you say I make you more combative, GOOD. Resolution is only acquired via conflict. We start out by slamming broad, blunt-force opinions against each other, and eventually both sides get whittled down to something more precise and incisive. That’s the purpose of debate: to see which of our opinions can withstand trial by combat. Ideally, this process would help each of us abandon untenable and/or bad faith positions, but that’s not likely to happen if we pussyfoot around each other’s points. There’s nothing personal about this process unless someone chooses to make it so. If you choose to take my opinions on a film personally, that’s your decision. I can’t control how I’m perceived, so I won’t bother to try. But I’m not going to apologize for coming out swinging. I trust that each and every one of you is mentally strong enough to dish it out as well as you can take it.

  41. So, you assume the primary value we derive from these threads is Socratic debate and the resulting synthesis as a discrete product? Or the sharpening of one’s sword via combat? That’s maybe 30% of it for me and depends on my mood. Mostly it’s dialogue and connection and new perspectives and feedback. You’re adorable though. I can take it. :)

  42. I’m truly never trying to start shit, is what I’m saying. I talk hard, man. I get this intense about EVERYTHING. I’m sure it can be insufferable. You’re under no obligation to like it, but I assure you and everyone here that I mean no offense. It’s just how I am.

  43. Ok well if you don’t want to pussyfoot around, then- you’ve come into the comment section for a movie you haven’t seen in order to loudly complain that you haven’t seen it and won’t see it because you *assume* you won’t like it. By your own outline, you’ve jumped right past “a. the text itself” as well as “b. verifiable outside sources” straight to “c. my own personal emotional reaction”, so I’m thus forced to assume that you’re just interested in acting like an attention-seeking jackass and not actually having a good-faith debate about the state of genre filmmaking today, much less whether this particular movie succeeds or fails on its own merits as a film.

  44. Majestyk is seeking dialogue and connection in his own idiom. A wild, skittish horse, is he. Plus, he’s a tenured professor here in the Vern-verse.

    I’m looking forward to seeing this film, now.

  45. I can’t very well discuss the merits of a movie I haven’t seen, can I? I said several times that I might very well enjoy the movie as is but I’m disappointed that it’s not the movie I hoped it would be, which prompted some disappointment that those types of movies do not seem to get made very often.
    But hey, let’s just hurry up and make this was personal as possible. It’s not like I just fucking said that I try never to do that. You think I’m wrong, say I’m wrong. Lots of people did. Did I then make it personal? No. I tried to fine-tune my points until I got to the truth of them. At no point did I insult anyone.

    And I still won’t, as much as I’d like to. I’m sorry my thoughts on a Bigfoot movie were not to your liking. I will do better.

  46. Man, get over yourself. If you didn’t want to see the movie, the easiest thing in the world would have been to not comment about it. But you didn’t want to do that! It’s not some kind of personal attack to *notice* that you commented and keep commenting very stridently on this movie you’re not interested in. If you’re not seeking attention, what *are* you looking for? Validation for your impulse to not watch this movie? Fine- I validate it.

  47. I think Daniel was kidding when he said “fake horror for posers,” but that is definitely a real sentiment that has been expressed in these comments and elsewhere. The fear is “if these type of horror movies are so popular I will never be able to see another type again,” which is weird coming from such tried and true dyed in the wool purebred with papers horror veterans who by definition have been through so many more cycles and fads and pendulum swings from PG-13 to hard-R torture porn than I, a poser who liked some movies they didn’t, ever heard of.

    I think maybe there’s something built into parts of horror fandom where there’s gotta be a bad guy who doesn’t belong who’s ruining horror. The fear of the hipster art snob in the A24 trucker hat who likes HEREDITARY, IT FOLLOWS and THE WITCH might have replaced the teenage girl who liked TWILIGHT and before that PG-13 ghost movies and before that the SCREAM knockoffs. So maybe that’s a tiny bit of progress.

    But I think despite that the horror community overall is more welcoming and accepting than some of the other types. It’s fun to be opinionated but weird to be close minded. I like horror fans like the hosts of Shock Waves, who (maybe because it’s kind of become part of their job) are open to watching just about anything horror-ish and giving it a shot.

    But again, THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT is a highly unusual movie that I had to go back to BUBBA HO-TEP to try to describe and that doesn’t quite do it. It’s true that it’s not for everyone, not even close, it’s hard to guess who exactly the audience would be for something like this, and that’s why it’s special and I applaud it.

  48. Kurgan: That’s an excellent point. What I will do to rectify this egregious sin of opining harmlessly on a trivial topic is stop payment on the check I sent to the squad of mercenaries that went to your house and put a gun to your head and made you read and respond to my comments. I thought I was merely sharing how I felt in order to see if anybody else felt the same way, but in actuality, I was seriously impinging on your freedoms as a person who gives a fuck whether I want to see a Bigfoot movie for some reason. I did it for the attention, you see, because it is so rewarding to have everyone speculate about what kind of person you are based on your disinterest in a Bigfoot movie. It is truly everything I ever wanted.

    The point is you are the true hero here and I am the villain. I didn’t know my thoughts on a Bigfoot movie I haven’t seen would hurt you so deeply or have the slightest fucking thing to do with you. I was wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong. I know better than to ask for forgiveness, but from now on, what I will do is I will check with you about what thoughts are appropriate for putting on the Internet, where only the most significant and vital opinions are ever shared. This is important. It is more than worth being a dick over, that’s for sure. You have stopped a monster in his tracks, a monster who told you he wasn’t that interested in a movie you liked. The ends justify the means when it comes to stopping that kind of evil.

    Please stand up and accept your slow-building applause from the appreciative audience.

  49. Literally lol-ing over here.

  50. Majestyk, I was gonna say how much I liked the Herzog quote. That’s how I feel about most Bergmans and Von Triers out there. But I see I’ve picked the wrong time to pay a visit without calling first.

  51. Mr. M- Look, I think we both got each other a little worked up here. I’m not trying to sling personal insults at you, but I *do* find it annoying when I see people bag on things without being willing to engage on them on their own terms first, and I let that get away from me a little bit. I like you personally (we used to talk a lot on the old AV Club, assuming you’re the same Mr. Majestyk who posted there), and I respect your opinions, but this particular thing just set me off today. It’s obviously not personally important to me how you feel about this movie, so let’s just drop it and blame my sixth cup of coffee for this morning’s unpleasantness.

  52. Fair enough. I’ve been there plenty of times myself. Funny how I always decide the time I deserve to let myself be furiously self-righteous is the day I woke up with a splitting headache after only four hours of sleep.

    And yeah, that’s me on the A.V. Club. Still there for some reason, even though everything about it has deteriorated drastically. I basically just use it as a safety release for dangerous snark buildup. I don’t actually care what any of the remaining writers or commenters have to say, unlike here.

    I’ll admit I didn’t have a lot to add on this review, but I really was just trying to see if anybody else felt similarly. Turns out no, it’s just me, and in fact nobody even knows what the hell I’m talking about. I’m not sorry for that but I am sorry for hijacking the conversation. I’m sure everybody who liked it is right. I’ll see it eventually (I see every Bigfoot movie eventually) and hopefully I’ll appreciate what it has to offer even though it’s not the way I’d have gone.

  53. It’s not just you who longs for fun and exuberance. I know you want to be you against the world, but you’re definitely not alone. I think that is the itch that a STRANGER THINGS tries and more or less succeeds at scratching, granted its tonally somewhere between GOONIES and John Hughes and Carpenter-lite. It at least is proof that not everyone wants to be preached at or pummeled into despair.

  54. To be fair, I’m also against the opposite of fake poser for horror is the guys that grew up with horror movies and want to make love letter movies. Those guys also suck.

  55. Which guys are those?

  56. Skani: That’s not what I want. All I ever want is to be understood. Not agreed with, not disagreed with. Just understood. I have apparently been doing a terrible job of that the past couple of days.

  57. Like 70% of low budget horror filmmakers out there. Guys like Adam Green.

  58. MM, there are people who understand you and people who agree with you and people who both and people who neither. There are people who more or less understand and more or less agree but get tired of defending what these movies are against what you want them to be (without having seen them!). Of course, no one is ever going to understand you like you do. Oh, the humanity, am I right?

    I don’t mind talking or hearing others talk about films they haven’t seen if they want to contribute other observations, based on other films or trends that they see as relevant. Unlike Vern, I’m not here in the capacity of a critic writing a structured critical essay, so, I think a mix of things are fair game.

    I think maybe you just want to vent or argue, which is okay, but then eventually someone wants you to knock it off bc it’s bumming them out, and then you say it’s they’re fault for being bothered and they’re fault for making it “personal,” which is code for you are allowed to piss others off and be negative if it adheres to your idiosyncratic and rigidly held principles of debate etiquette but others are not unless they adhere to said principles. And then there is a whole tiff and mutual apologies and you hug it out. Rinse repeat.

    I find it helps me if I only take myself and life a little bit seriously but not too seriously.

  59. Yeah, I couldn’t even bring myself to watch the HATCHET movies.

  60. Their, not they’re…dangit

  61. Just having a conversation without feeling the urge to change the other person’s personal views seems like a lost artform.

  62. Not that I myself have ever been a master in this field.

  63. @Skani
    Yeah, I was trying to keep it light with the “fake horror for posers” line, but in retrospect I can see how that was a poor choice of words :-)

    I don’t like the movies I mentioned in my comment, and I don’t think their successful in what they’re trying to do, but I wasn’t necessarily shiting on the whole indie, film festival, critical darling horror type/subgenre. In the last couple of years I’ve been mostly disappointed by those films, but, that being said, there have been a few I’ve liked. If you want me to be my most objective on HEREDITARY, then I guess I would say it’s mediocre, or underwhelming. I usually say “it’s shit” when I see a lot of people giving it the “savior of the genre” treatment, so I guess I might be a contrarian dipshit.

    Vern is probably right that a horror nerd is never satisfied. But I don’t wanna gatekeep, or anything like that. I very much enjoy the myriad of opinions in the horror community, and the conversations that stem from that.

    Well, I mean, sometimes I wish I could police the horrorspher and recreate it in my image, but I for real think that HUMAN CETREPIDE 3 is a very fine, underappreciated slice of Romeroesque social commentary, so it’s 100% sure that my opinions will not be taken seriously :-)

    “I’m also against the opposite of fake poser for horror is the guys that grew up with horror movies and want to make love letter movies. Those guys also suck.”
    “Like 70% of low budget horror filmmakers out there. Guys like Adam Green.”

    I think the HATCHET movies or DIGGIN UP THE MARROW, or Joe Lynch’s EVERLY, are perfectly fine, but Ari Aster is also being love letter referential with his horror game. The first shot from the A.V. Club clip that I linked to, that’s a SHINING reference:


    And there’s also stuff from ROSEMARY’S BABY, THE EXORCIST, and LORDS OF SALEM. It’s just that Aster interspersed that stuff with Todd Solondz’s type of black comedy and Wes Anderson’s production design, to the point that it feels like a bloated 2-hour version of this SNL sketch:


  64. the “horror” aspect of 95% of most modern horror films is the weakest, most mishandled shit in the mix so if i’m going to sit through one i may as well get some quality filmmaking or weird quirks or influences etc out of the deal is my thoughts on the subject. i’ll take the non-horror aspects of a HEREDITARY over a HATCHET any day of the week, for example, if the horror shit isn’t going to do much for me anyway. which means at the moment i generally side more with the cursed A24ers (even though i would describe the vast majority of their horror output as being “fine” at best).

    as far as recent non-poser horror movies go i thought that OVERLORD was fucking *great* and the kinda similar but criminally slept on TRENCH 11 was rock solid as well.

    in summation, really looking forward to seeing this BIGFOOT movie that has steered the comments section back to standard issue off topic shenanigans and away from whatever the fuck kind of miasmic nightmare world hellscape the C****** M***** section mutated into.

  65. You guys are so friggin weird because there is no comedy in Hereditary guys. I also think it’s hilarious that his “references” are from horror movies that are for horror tourists anyway.

  66. What is wrong with being a horror tourist? Seems very zero sum to look at tourists as a threat or even as a net no us.

  67. Net minus. One of these days,tablet. Bang, zoom, to the moon.

  68. Mr. Subtlety's Real Name

    April 11th, 2019 at 1:48 pm

    Part of the divide on HEREDITARY may be about what “comedy” means, exactly. If it means “jokes,” there are absolutely none. If it means “button-pushing transgressiveness which goes a little further than you might expect and consequently generates a kind of shocked laugh” there are a few moments in there.

    I think it’s worth mentioning that Ari Aster’s first film, a short called THE STRANGE THING ABOUT THE JOHNSONS, has a plot so jaw-droppingly shocking that it can only really be called satire, even though I can’t really imagine anyone watching it and laughing. With that as a baseline, I think it’s possible to see a similar sense of blackly comic provocation in HEREDITARY, at least from time to time. It’s always a little funny to upend expectations, especially when you flagrantly cross a bunch of lines while doing so.

    That having been said, though, I think the movie is like 95% dead serious and maybe, MAYBE 5% comic transgression.

  69. Uh, well, looks like my real name got in there again. Ive been having trouble with the comment system recently. For some reason the last few days when I’ve tried to comment, it never shows up here. If I try to re-post, it says “You’ve already said that,” so it must be entering the system somewhere, but it hasn’t been displaying. And now here it posted, but using my actual name for some reason. Anyone else have that problem?

  70. So, funny, I wanted to enjoy OVERLORD, but I had the very same expectation trap problem Majestyk describes, which is that it didn’t seem to fully tap the potential of its premise and wasn’t quite horrory enough! I apparently am not immune to this problem. Nothing I hated, just surprisingly bland, though I did like the part where they reanimated that guy with the zombie super soldier reanimation juice then quickly realized that was a bad idea. I guess sometimes dead *is* better. It had it moments but not a lot charisma in the cast, Kurt Russell bloodline notwithstanding.

  71. “Joseph D Weeks” is a pretty badass sounding name though, you should be proud.

  72. Mr. S- I saw THE STRANGE THING ABOUT THE JOHNSONS and it’s actually the reason I haven’t bothered to get around to HEREDITARY yet, despite all the good (and bad!) things I’ve heard about it. Calling it satire seems generous to me, because I can’t imagine what it would be a satire *of*- normal family dramas? You’re definitely right that it wasn’t exactly a thigh-slapper, so to speak, but to me it felt more like a particularly-but-not-spectacularly fucked-up episode of Law & Order: SVU, pushing buttons as hard as it can just so that the buttons are pushed.

  73. Anyway, slightly off topic but I had the pleasure of meeting Lucky McKee at a convention last December, since I was sadly one of the few there who even knew who he was (It was some comic book slash horror con) I had plenty of time to chat with him about horror movies, we talked about everything from TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE to Tobe Hooper’s EATEN ALIVE as well as the works of Jack Ketchum of course.

    I bought a signed copy of the THE WOMAN novel, isn’t that neat?

    He was a cool guy, first filmmaker I’ve ever met in fact.

  74. Joe Weeks is badass. That’s hard-boiled private eye material, right there. Way better than my real name, Shrimpy McWiltenberger.

  75. As someone who knows Mr Subtlety IRL I can confirm that he’s a huge pussy and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen him cry before

  76. “Joe Weeks” definitely sounds like the name of a safecracker who gets murdered by the crazy guy on the heist crew in order to frame Parker and get his share of the loot.

  77. I was curious why I seemed so alone here thinking HEREDITARY is funny. So I did a Twitter poll. 277 people voted, and it was pretty divided, but it did lean in my direction: 58% “HEREDITARY is darkly humorous” vs. 42% “HEREDITARY is dark and humorless.” So it’s not just me. Of course, people replied to explain to me that I and the audience were laughing at the movie’s expense or out of scary nervousness. I personally feel like I am the best authority on whether or not I found humor to be funny and laughed at it, but I could be wrong.

  78. Hereditary had me rolling when I saw it in the theatre, I was sure it was supposed to be darkly comedic based on the sense of timing and over-the-top absurdity, but was a little worried that it might be unintentional since some other people took it very seriously. So, I’m glad I’m not the only one. Comedy is a genre that I tend not to think is very funny though, usually I get my laughs from movies in the horror, action, art etc. genres, any genre other than comedy

  79. TRENCH 11 is like OVERLORD’s far more overtly horrorific DTV drinking buddy, if that helps sell it to anyone. it also features some of the most truly repulsive practical body horror effects i’ve seen in a minute and that shit almost never gets to me so it must have been doing something right.

  80. I’m also pretty baffled by the “HEREDITARY is not funny” crowd that seems to predominate on this site. If someone would ask me to do a short synopsis on why I didn’t like that movie, then I think I would say: I expected to see an intense horror film, and what I got was a parody of an intense horror film.

    Like, I think Joseph needs to do a Ridgeman and recalculate that percentage, because there are moments when this movie is really going for it with the laughs. Dark and cringey laughs, but laughs nonetheless. I remember thinking when it [SPOILER] turned out that Charlie is a lord of Hell who’s also a weird, awkward kid that this movie was just a big LITTLE NICKY riff.



    And guys, I’ve nothing against movies that are for horror tourists, or horror tourists, or A24. I’m sorry if I offended someone with the “fake horror for posers” comment. I just don’t like some of those movies. That’s all.

    Also, now I’m sorta interested in what you all think about THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER? Cuz that was another movie I didn’t really like and I know some people who think it’s a bone-chilling supernatural drama, but I’m 100% on it being a pitch black, deadpan comedy. It employs a similar type of humor to HEREDITARY and probably pushes it even further. So is SACRED DEER serious or funny/attempting to be funny to you people?

    Hey, I checked the trailer for that TRENCH thing and it looks kinda promising, I’ll be interested in checking that out. The team of soldiers crawling underground part reminded me of CRAWL OR DIE (or CRAWL BITCH CRAWL), which was a non-poser sci-fi horror from a couple of years ago that I really enjoyed. It’s basically a Carpenter/Dan O’Bannon ALIEN/ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK riff, but instead of doing the modern let’s-be-reverent indie/hipster thing, it’s doing the old Italian exploitation let’s-rip-it-off-and-be-gross-and-sleazy thing.


  81. Daniel – for what it’s worth i thought that SACRED DEER was tense as hell and also laugh out loud goddamned hilarious, intentionally so.

  82. KILLING OF THE SACRED DEER is clearly a cringey black comedy. But I’m not convinced HEREDITARY can be described the same way. There are definitely a handful of moments which are kinda funny in how blunt and shocking they are, but surely you guys don’t think all the bleak drama about dealing with loss is supposed to be some kind of arch satire, right? And that’s gotta be at least half the runtime. It might have moments of humor, but calling it funny overall still seems like a big stretch to me.

    Also, I can’t tell you how strange it is to check back and see what you guys are saying about HEREDITARY and instead find a running evaluation of my name vis-à-vis is potential for crime fiction.

  83. Also, speaking of names, now that I got the comments working again: what’s the deal with the extraneous definite article here? If there’s only one Bigfoot, why not preserve the cadence of the first part of the title and just call it THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT? The extra “the” throws me off every time. It’s a real pebble in the boot of this title.

  84. I have the name of a European counterfeiter who gets roughed up for information by the detective and then ends up dead in a suspicious car accident three quarters of the way through the book, so I wouldn’t complain if I were you.

  85. Mr S.- you’re right, properly it ought to be THE MAN WHO KILLED THE HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT

  86. The tension builds slowly in this patient, character-driven horror film because, as Aster says, he wanted to make sure he was making a “vivid family drama” before anything else.

    Vivid family drama’s generally aren’t that hilarious lol

  87. Mr. M, you know as well as I do that if you submitted a story with your real name in it, your editor would hand it back to you and tell you to think of something less distracting and implausible.

    Kurgan — good point, that does flow a little better.

  88. I recognize that, in the same way Benedict Cumberbatch is a real life Harry Potter character and Walton Goggins is a real life Old West archetype, I am a real life Hercule Poirot adversary. I have the name of a Belgian magistrate with a monocle who murdered his second wife to take control of her textile empire.

  89. My friend, you ARE a Belgian super villain!

  90. On IMDB the reader reviews are titled. So there’s a review for this one titled Nonsense, and the next review will be titled Honor, Integrity, Sacrifice and Duty. Then a few reviews down one is titled Nothing Much, the next is titled Strange, beautiful, haunting. On this one I come down with the multi word titles with commas. I was intrigued by the trailer (very rare these days) and just had to see this thing. The action scenes, the fight with The Bigfoot were just brilliant, Wade Garrett has still got it. The way it was edited was just so strange, but for me it really worked. This old geezer is making breakfast and he’s listening to Cast your fate to the wind by The Vince Guaraldi Trio on vinyl. This guy isn’t casting his fate anywhere, he’s been waiting for his fate for decades and when it finally shows up, he is just so pissed. Just such a cool music choice, like in Matrix Revolutions when Neo sees the Oracle and she’s playing Duke Ellington’s I’m beginning to see the light. Really pedestrian scenes of slow conversations cut straight to dramatic music and sturm and drang and intrigue and spies and then right back to walking the dog and getting the mail. Really loved it. I like the title. I like a title that tells you what you are going to get. I just saw Hyde Park on Hudson, it should have been called FDR was REALLY into his cousin.

  91. Caught this on Hulu and I think it’s worth a watch. Yeah, it’s not the wacky action comedy the title hints at, but as a fan of Elliot, I still thought it was pretty enjoyable and entertaining. It looks great and I like the John Williams-y score alot. It is surprising though how much screentime Elliot shares with Aidan Turner (who plays the younger version of him) – which reminds me, what the hell happened to McClane? The Die Hard prequel/sequel which I guess would have used the same structure as this and would have been basically “The Man Who Saved Some Hostages and Then Saved Some More Hostages”?

  92. Got scraped when Disney purchased Fox

  93. Got scraped when Disney purchased Fox

  94. Man I think I remembered reading Disney killing off Predator and Alien (so we’re not going to get the 3rd in the Scott/Fassbender Trilogy I guess?) but I guess that makes sense they’d kill off Die Hard too. I wonder who they would have chosen to play young Bruce Willis, or if the plan was to CGI de-age Willis, which I don’t really see them spending money on, or him putting in the time for.

    The guy who played young Sam Elliot here didn’t really look like him or talk like him, which is odd since Elliot has a famously distinctive voice and look, but I never once felt they weren’t the same character, which is pretty high praise for the movie. I don’t know if most of us would be ok and accept that with a young McClane, or if we’d become those dudes who complained that Alden Ehrenreich didn’t act enough like Harrison Ford in Solo. (I also complained Chris Pine didn’t do a William Shatner impression in the first Star Trek before I eventually got over it and realized it was the right decision)

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