After receiving a distressing call warranting a trip to Mexico, alcoholic and drug dealer Warran Novak attempts to sell half cooked crystal meth to junkies that ends in two fatalities and two armed drug pushers in hot pursuit of Warren after he steals their cash for the road trip to the border. Before entering Mexico after a tireless drive and unaware of where to exactly go next once crossed the border, the fallen military soldier rents a motel room in the rundown town of Bedford Flats, a once thriving community lush with value and tourism derived from it’s once popular hunting tradition of bison and other wildlife. Now that the wildlife has dried up, Bedford Flats has landed in a stage of an ugly depression and to keep on the tradition of hunting, the foundation of which Bedford Flats has been built, the towns people gather to conduct a merciless hunting expedition of drifters and unsavory folk. Warren and his two pursuers, plus a homeless Mexican and the town drunk, are forced to participate in the hunt as prey with only their able bodies to carry themselves across the salt flats and seek shelter in the rocky landscape just beyond, but Warren decides to fight back against the towns’ most capable hunters in a twisted game of cat-and-mouse.
Western horror has always been a fascinating subgenre with a bleak and barren landscape denizened with colorful, hellbent characters committing one of three sole acts: taking, surviving, or dying. Selective Collective and Waterstone Entertainment’s “Happy Hunting” steps ever so lightly beyond the border into the realm of modern western horror involving a deranged game of hunting and killing humans for sport backdropped mostly in Bombay Beach, California and written and directed by first time feature film filmmakers Joe Dietsch and Louie Gibson, who is one of the sons of Hollywood superstar, and who knows all about western dystopias, Mel Gibson (“Mad Max”). Louie Gibson might have learned a thing or two from his “Apocalypto” directing old man by delivering the brash ferocity and the stoned-heart, icy personas into the story and into the shot twisting an already vulnerable situation into sheer, bite-the-bullet terror.
Martin Dingle Wall delivers every shaky alcoholic tremor as drifter Warren Novak. Wall’s soft eyes, but rugged appeal justifies the 46-year-old actor as an unlikely, likable hero even though Warren will do just about anything for money and for the drink. Wall is able to tap into Warren’s subtle high intelligence and exploit it for the screen against a variety of aberrant game hunters by actors including “Devil Girls'” C.J. Baker, Michael Tipps, Kenneth Billings, and Liesel Handson of “Planet of the Vampire Women.” Dietsch and Gibson pick out one hunter to be the most versatile bad guy in Ken Lally. Lally, whose voice has captured legendary video game characters such as Mortal Kombat’s Smoke, Goro, and Shinnok, brings that malevolent tone to the silver screen as Bedford Flats all around nice guy, Steve Patterson. Of course, “all around nice guy” is an oxymoron in “Happy Hunting” because there are no such thing as nice guys in Bedford Flats, not even the crooked Sheriff Burnside (“Sasquatch Hunters'” Gary Sturm) who acts as the maestro for Bedford Flat’s great annual hunt.
What’s interesting about the film is that there is no love interest which is a rarity; instead, Warren is motivated by a mysterious phone call regarding a possible Mexican love child in the need of help. The mysterious plea over the phone line provides Warren with a purpose in this purposeless life, but that purpose is amplified by the very abrupt detour by a deranged town seeking to rid, what they consider to be, lowlife scum. Another side to Warren’s plight is that the whole sadistic game, the entire inhuman hunt, could be a figment of his withdrawal. Being a drifter and a person who doesn’t amount to much, Warren self worth goes in and out of various stages of withdrawal throughout the duration, before and during life stakes, with dropped dialogue and visible hints about symptoms of going cold turkey. Lets not forget to mention that the directors make an elucidation of Warren’s withdrawals with visions of a dead man, one in which Warren kills prior to his trek to the border, conversing with him, providing him undue advice during the predicament. Then, there’s the very end scene which shoots the likelihood of Warren’s version realism and sanity right out the window and begs the question if everything Warren went through, every struggle, and every death experienced was all inside his head.
“Happy Hunting” has been released on DVD courtesy of Umbrella Entertainment. The region 4 DVD is presented in a widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio that’s utterly gorgeous and stupefyingly frightening in the long and wide shots of Bombay Beach’s desert wasteland. Heavy in dusty yellow and rich in lifeless landscape, the color palette is understandably one-sided, but the merit is in the detail of every dry land crack and every minuscule dust bite being disseminated about with every action. The English 5.1 Dolby audio track has balance, range, and fidelity. Dialogue’s clear and prominent, even with Martin Dingle Wall’s slightly raspy and sluggish deliveries. A blight on the DVD is the bonus material and that goes without saying because a single extra doesn’t grace the package, constructing an anemic, film-only DVD presentation of Joe Diestsch and Louie Gibson’s first feature run. However, “Happy Hunting” re-illuminates Western horror stark with a dire need for survival during trying times and Joe Diestch and Louie Gibson have fashioned a subtle analogy of what life would be like in a supposed Trump America where the U.S.-Mexico border wall would be infact 10 feet high, “deplorable” people are axed from today’s American society, and the small rural, once thriving, communities are stuck in the past with outdated viewpoints and assumptions of how maintain existence in a world changing around them. In the end, “Happy Hunting” goes beyond Western horror into being an insightful dystopia of exploitive western survival horror.
After numerous attempts have failed in trying to frighten audiences with using the mythical Sasquatch (Assault of the Sasquatch, 2006’s Abominable, Sasquatch Hunters, Devil on the Mountain, Boggy Creek), another release using the big footed monster has missed the mark and severely at that!
Sexquatch: The Legend of Blood Stool Creek – an intentional comedic movie where an alien Sasquatch named Stinkfist crash lands near a camp Summer home where a group of young sex crazed people are staying to have a “get laid” party for one hopeless teen virgin. Stinkfist has one mission on earth to kill and rape any living thing that walks on two legs and his intentions are based off a bet he has with another alien. I’m sure you can guess what happens next?
I find the difficulty in reviewing such a movie because of the flick’s purposeful nature in trying to be goofy, witty, dumb, stupid, and somewhat bloody. I mean, we’re talking about high school grade humor here with Sexsquatch where sex, shit, and queef jokes are at the top of the list. The brain can only take so much and even after the short runtime of 70 minutes of this humor, I wanted my hour and half back so badly. Sexquatch is not the worst movie I’ve ever encountered, but makes the top ten list in my opinion.
Another thing – if a movie has sex in the title, shouldn’t there be some tits? Exposing some of the ladies bare essentials seemed not essential. Out of the six actresses, only two of them I’d want to see topless and reamed, but the others were…well…ugggh. No chests were exposed and the movie is called Sexquatch. Comprehension of this flaw leaves me and I can’t seem to focus on writing this review anymore. It’s like having Sex and the City without the sex, it’s like having a horror movie without a little gratuitous nudity, it’s like True Blood without vampires. Your title represents your movie and without plot justifications, your title will not be well sought!
Now I might seem a bit harsh with my review o far, but not everything is completely a misfortune for Sexsqutch. Steven Dinero, who plays Skippy in the film, has to be the only redeeming value and I’m guessing with his last name as Dinero, Skippy portrays a good impression of Robert De Niro throughout the entirety; it’s not award-winning material, but the impression relieves a little of the agony.
Sub Rosa Studio Cinema brings you this gem and there should be no surprise that’s low-budget and no good at all, but who knows, maybe Sexquatch is your gold mine of funny jokes while extremely stoned off your mind. Like mentioned before, low-budget and you can see the Sexsquatch’s socks and tennis shoes! Haha! If you want a great and scary atmospheric bigfoot picture, see Peter Cushing in The Abominable Snowman or go classic and see Harry and the Hendersons! Not exactly horror, but still a great picture.