08/02/2018

Review: The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then The Bigfoot (Fantasia Festival 2018)

by Matthew Hawkins

With a title like The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then The Bigfoot, many are anticipating the next modern grindhouse classic. As for myself, I knew going in that there’d actually be two possible approaches: either something totally wacky or something completely straight. I expected the former (and again, am assuming others are too), which would have been totally fine; despite my disdain for postmodern, self-aware midnight movies, one can’t help but be curious about such a legit intriguing name. Though I was rooting for the latter; it would be harder to pull off, yet if executed properly, the end result could be something truly memorable, one that potentially transcends multiple genre conventions. Turns out, the film did indeed go for option number two.

Again, when you hear something called The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then The Bigfoot, you expect to hear that it’s crazy, hilarious, absurd, goofy, shlocky, gruesome, and whatever else that’s usually associated with grindhouse fare. Alas the single word that sums it up best is the absolute worst in this instance: boring. Things start off spectacularly enough: it’s immediately established that the film jumps back and forth in time. First we meet young Calvin Barr, a US solider on his way to kill Hitler… right off the back is a Nazi watch gag that’s simply brilliant (hence no spoilers)… and in tandem we meet old man Calvin Barr, a grizzled vet tasked with the job of killing Bigfoot. As noted, everything is as real as possible, given the kooky koncept; anyone expecting another “what if” type flick, like how Inglourious Basterds flat out changes history, will be surprised. There is an explanation given as to why no one’s heard of Barr’s accomplishment, which directly ties into why he’s disillusioned and therefore resistant when duties calls again. Plus the title card is hawt; again, a promising start.

But back to those flashbacks: we also witness Barr before shipping off to WWII, when he was in love. In this instance, not much is spelled out, including why the romance ultimately peters out. There’s supposed to be this air of mystery, which in turn is supposed to give gravitas, yet given how one dimensional everyone is, the romance angle becomes a MASSIVE waste of time. The frustration continues with a solid cast who are given nothing to work with; I wasn’t so much curious of the film’s concept alone as I was with what star Sam Elliot does with it, which ain’t much. There will be a point in which you ask out loud to anyone within earshot, as was the case with my wife: “Okay, when the hell is he gonna kill Bigfoot already!?!?!” BTW, when we finally get to that part, things pick up something fierce and awesome. But then it’s over… yet the movie’s not done? The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then The Bigfoot honestly feels a super cool concept that a filmmaker came up with, yet when given the opportunity, was unable to actually come up with anything. Or should I say, tried to be smart and deep yet failed big time; sometimes a film that sounds grindhouse should be allowed to be grindhouse.

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