The Wild Man of the Navidad [Import]
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From The Producer Of The Original TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE
Based on the terrifying true story from the journals of Dale S. Rogers
In 1975, the small town of Sublime, Texas had an encounter with a creature so horrifying that it remains legend today: Deep in the woods along the Navidad River, someone or something has left its lair to rip a trail of ferocious carnage through the local population. Is it man, monster or Lone Star myth? And in a rural community commanded by the Bible, corrupted by moonshine and ruled by rifles, can anything stop the vengeance of a beast unleashed? Pass the popcorn and hook that speaker to the driver s side window, raves Film Threat. THE WILD MAN OF THE NAVIDAD has a lot of heart and captures the essence of 60s and 70s grindhouse/drive-in horror!
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That film was The Legend of Boggy Creek; a low-budget, psuedo-documentary which relied on reenactments to tell the tale of a monstrous nocturnal creature which was purportedly prowling the ominous, lonely backwoods of Boggy Creek, Arkansas and terrifying locals with harrowing after-dark raids on isolated farm houses. The uncertainty of just WHAT was lurking in the murky bottoms of the creek and the ability of the filmmakers to convey feelings of dread and unspeakable horror in the face of abject terror haunts me to this very day. The washed-out look of the film and candid performances from the actual people to whom these encounters were said to have occurred lends an overall sense of realism to proceedings and renders CREEK a landmark in the pantheon of Bigfoot cinema.
Which brings us to THE WILD MAN OF THE NAVIDAD; a sly and inventive homage to early-70's shock-cinema which faithfully and respectfully adheres to a formula similar to other films of it's ilk (BOGGY CREEK included). Operating on a shoestring budget, filmmakers Duane Graves and Justin Meeks move things along at a brisk clip as they depict the (supposedly-true) strange goings-on in the remote Texas town of Sublime. Seems the town (and one local in particular) are harboring a sinister secret - a secret which all but unhinges the town's inhabitants and propels them over a cliff of self-induced paranoia and into a chasm of riotous fear. You see, Sublime is home to a crazed-wildebeast-of-a-man, which prowls a restricted and cordoned-off area of the wetlands and preys upon unsuspecting wayward lovers and over-zealous hunters.
Over-the-top in it's depiction of some of the creature's kills (not even children are spared a gruesome demise at the expense of this beast's ravenous appetite), WILD MAN OF THE NAVIDAD work's best when it follows the exploits of the hapless few who embark upon ill-advised hunts for the creature and less-so when it focuses on a bizarre sub-plot involving the owner of the land, (on which the WILD MAN prowls) his wife and caretaker. Cinematography (also by Graves) is gritty and captures the despair and unfrequented town of Sublime in all it's remote glory. Graves camera manages to also convey moments of stark helplessness, especially during a scene where the beast ransacks a home.
The WILD MAN itself is an abominable creature; gargantuan, primitive and possessed of enormous strength. Graves and Meeks do an admirable job in keeping the creature cloaked-in-darkness for the majority of the film so that when it comes time for the big reveal, it is both shocking and disturbing.
THE WILD MAN OF THE NAVIDAD is a creative diversion from the ususal Hollywood horror-fare and is an impressive effort by the fledgling-filmmakers. Adventurous horror-buffs and those into films with a quasi-cryptozoological bent are recommended to hunt this WILD MAN down at all costs.
(Below riddled with spoilers)
Based on true events, this is the story of a man recently laid off from his job, and (in desperate need of money) decides to open up his land to the local hunters so they may hunt for game on his property, even though he knows his land is inhabited by a savage wild man. Though he has been trying to appease the wild man for some time with offerings, a hunter shoots and injures the wild man, and then all hell breaks loose.
I have read many reviews on this film, and have heard the good and bad things people have said. But I wanted to address the bad:
Yes I agree, I wanted a bigfoot movie out of this too. This is a little different creature feature. I was confused at first about the creature's appearance with it wearing animal skins. This was unlike any bigfoot story I had heard. But then I looked it up online. Some reports say that the original wild man of the navidad was indeed a man, an escaped slave in the 1800's who was a prince of his tribe back in Africa. After escaping, he donned animal pelts and lived off the land for 14 years. Farmers would find their tools missing one day, only to find them returned and sharpened the next day. And he never hurt anyone. He was eventually captured and re-enslaved. Then after the Civil War, he was released. So even though the creature seemed strange to me, to see him running around in animal pelts, I get that side of the story....maybe it was truly a real feral man living off the land and killing people. Look it up, there's scary stories like this everywhere. Once they remove the hood at the last where you can actually see his face, it's pretty scary though brief. There is a very scary picture of his face online, looking like a balding man with a shaggy mustache and beard, and a desperate need to see a dentist. And with all of the creature's growling, it just made it more eerie....for if it was just a man to begin with, and you heard the man say "Rowr!!!", the jig would be up. But still other reports say there have been bigfoot beasts in the navidad region for years, and this movie tells a story of factual events that took place in 1975.
So whichever of those two stories you choose to apply to this film's ending is your choice I suppose. Man or beast, it doesn't really matter, because the story is every bit worth the ride.
The film as a whole is interesting, quirky and enjoyable, but ultimately disappointing in its attempt at a fusion of The Legend of Boggy Creek (contextual) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2-Disc Ultimate Edition) (aesthetic). The film itself comes across as a somewhat self-indulgent vanity project (the writer/director team also starring), though it does have several attributes; such as grotesquely engaging non-professional actors, and great locations, and is certainly worth seeing and owning if you are a fan of films like the aforementioned Boggy Creek, or Town That Dreaded Sundown [VHS], as it pretends to that genre in obvious homage to Charles B. Pierce.
All said - I was initially very excited when I heard about Wild Man, but as an end result I'd liken the experience to riding a roller coaster, at a child's theme park: Teasingly precocious at turns but never actually meeting expectations.
What does make this "true events" story different from the other flicks I've mentioned, is that there is some splatter involved, but nothing too over-the-top. If those of you can understand its campy approach and not look at it as just being silly, than you will enjoy it for what it's meant to be. The images captured in 'The Wild Man of the Navidad' are beautiful!