Vinegar Syndrome’s Drive-In Collection has been comprised of various genres so far – horror, action, sexploitation, porn – but has yet to include documentary. Actually, from my account, the fantastic A Labor of Love is the only non-narrative release from the company until this collection. And I, for one, really can’t wait to see what other off kilter docs the company can dig up as they’re two-for-two at this point.
This all said, this double-feature is only one half non-narrative with In Search of Bigfoot being a documentary and Cry Wilderness being another kitschy horror flick finally being given its due. Both of these fall into types of cinema that we don’t get enough of from Vinegar Syndrome. The company has been releasing hours upon hours of vintage porn – all very, very welcome – but this is the type of pairing that I want more of, especially when it is being packaged this well.
The headliner here, In Search of Bigfoot, is a very rough 1975 doc about the titular creature. It features two characters, Bob and Mike, who are adventuring about in the Pacific Northwest on the hunt for Bigfoot. They interview people in the area about the creature and their experiences with it. There is also some really awkward narration and some on screen text with tidbits of info about Bigfoot. It’s a weird but breezy 75 minutes and may not all be legitimate, but it is fascinating nonetheless and something that I’m very happy to have accessible. It also makes a great double-feature with Bobcat Goldthwait’s Willow Creek which released theatrically this year.
Following that one is Cry Wilderness, a 1986 creature feature that defies any succinct explanation. I’m not truly sure who this is for as it is as much a family film as it is a seemingly grimy piece of nature-sploitation. It is basically about a kid who is friends with Bigfoot (or maybe not?) and needs to find his father in the woods. There’s some really bizarre stuff happening in this, most of which involves an extended sequence featuring racoons. And there’s some politically incorrect Native American stuff, you know, for the kids. This one is as odd as In Search of Bigfoot, if not more so, and definitely works well with it.
These two films are presented better than one may expect considering how/when they were made. But, Vinegar Syndrome haven’t disappointed me yet so I can’t say that I’m surprised. Cry Wilderness is from its original 35mm camera negative and is easily the better looking of the two. The colors and black levels are very solid and the source is surprisingly clean. It almost begs for a Blu-ray, but I’m assuming that was cost prohibitive for this rather niche release. In Search of Bigfoot was shot on 16mm and is much more grainy than the former film, but it looks as good as could be expected. There is more wear and the colors aren’t as bold, but I can’t imagine it looking much better than this.
This entry into Vinegar Syndrome’s Drive-In Collection is essential for anyone interested in all things Bigfoot as well as those that dabble in facets of odd Americana. The inclusion of both a “documentary” and a narrative allow the topic to be approached from rather different avenues, even if they have decidedly similar results. It’s a double feature that’s alternately fascinating, perplexing and just flat out entertaining. Well worth the cost of admission.