It looks like comedian-turned-director Bobcat Goldthwait is on a mission to give the found-footage genre a much-needed (and hairier) makeover. He just premiered his latest film, Willow Creek, in Boston on April 29. The movie, which follows a young couple traveling the wilderness in search of Bigfoot, is currently touring the indie-film circuit. It’s not playing in Orlando yet, but we sat down with Goldthwait over the weekend while he was in town doing standup at Improv Orlando to chat about his latest venture.
Orlando Weekly: You’ve had a pretty diverse directing career. What inspired you to make a horror movie?
Bobcat Goldthwait: As a kid, I’d always been fascinated with the Patterson-Gimlin footage – ya know, the footage from 45 years ago of Bigfoot walking through the woods – and this just gave me an opportunity to go to Willow Creek [California, where there have been multiple Bigfoot sightings], where it was shot, and make a movie. I write a lot of screenplays and horror scripts, but I don’t want to be married to one genre. I do enjoy horror pictures, though. I’ve even written a zombie-fetus movie called Ankle-Biters that I’ve been trying to get going for a while.
Sounds squishy! What specifically fascinated you about making this Willow Creek?
Well, as I made the movie, I certainly ran into people who were way more involved in Sasquatch than I am. But it just seemed to make sense. I think the movies I’ve gotten to make, they’re all about different parts of my life. This is the part of me when I was 8 or 9. I think World’s Greatest Dad is basically a movie about me in my 40s. So it’s kind of weird that I’m going backwards. I guess the fetus movie would make sense, then!
So it’s a found-footage film, right?
Yes, the dreaded found-footage film. I really feel bad for reviewers or hard-core genre fans because you really have to sit through a lot of bad efforts, but that’s just the take. I really wanted to know if I could do one. Two things I don’t like about those movies: They tend to have really bad actors in them, and you can’t help but ask yourself, “Who is this ghoul who actually found the footage and edited it into a movie?” So my movie isn’t done that way. You’ll actually see the actors turning the camera on and off after every take. Sometimes I think people make found-footage films because it’s inexpensive, but I probably would have gotten around to making Willow Creek even if it took a larger budget.
There’s been an influx of Bigfoot horror movies over the past few years. What would be the one thing that sets your take apart from the others?
I actually go to Willow Creek, and there are real residents in the film who really lay the pipe and tell you, “Don’t go out in the woods.” Although they’re very eccentric, I’m not pointing the camera at them in a snarky way like, “Hey, look at these weirdos who believe in Bigfoot.” It’s done with love. I don’t have contempt for the people who believe, because I’ve never been a big bully. I’ve always had a way of relating to the outsiders, and I can’t think of a more outsider group than Bigfoot People.
It goes: Renaissance Fair People,
al-Qaida and then Bigfoot People.
Here’s the thing: When folks heard the plot of World’s Greatest Dad, how his son dies through auto-erotic asphyxiation, people thought the jokes were going to be about this kid beating off and dying, but that was never the joke. It was taken seriously. That’s the same thing about this Bigfoot movie. It’s treated seriously, and that’s what makes it different.
All right, just for kicks … what monster, fictitious or living, scares you the most?
There’s a really nice thing about making a movie in the forest, in the middle of the night. We actually shot some scenes where we were 17 miles down the road. There was no phone, no planes flying over, and the nearest city was another 40-50 minutes away. So when you get in a tent in the middle of the night, you go insane. There’s a lot of monsters out there. So I’m going to say … aliens. The kind that kill people.