Unfortunately, this review of Primal Rage: Bigfoot Reborn must begin with a content warning: This seemingly innocuous monster movie contains a bigfoot-human rape scene. I’m sorry that you now have to consider that such a thing exists in the world.
Without this completely unnecessary scene (as well as the film’s painfully caricatured portrayals of Native Americans), Primal Rage might be forgivable. It’d still be bad, but that’s practically guaranteed with low-budget horror movies about forest-dwelling apes. The plot is blander than a mayonnaise sandwich, but that’s also to be expected: Ashley (Casey Gagliardi) retrieves her husband Max (Andrew Joseph Montgomery) from his 18-month stint in the pokey; on the way out of town, they’re stalked through the woods by the titular red-eyed beast. Predictably, Ashley spends most of the movie without pants.
This is no ordinary bigfoot: He’s the appointed guard of his species’ domain, and he’s gone rogue and is killing humans willy-nilly (which seems like it could be a ham-fisted metaphor for Native Americans exacting revenge on colonizers). He wears a mask, shoots arrows, and wields a flint ax and an obsidian knife to pulverize skulls. Most of Primal Rage is unequivocally bad, but the gore is artful and creative: gray, decomposing flesh, intestines flying around, eyeballs smooshed like overripe grapes, a guy getting his face ripped open by the mouth. Plus, a forest witch who looks like a dehydrated goblin!
The masterful gore is no surprise; Primal Rage is the directorial debut of veteran SFX makeup artist Patrick Magee, whose credits include 2008’s Zombie Strippers. Shots of bigfoot carrying the limp, blond Ashley seem like an obvious homage to 1933’s King Kong—a film with its own racist connotations—and the old-school horror soundtrack oozes nostalgia. It all feels like a campy throwback, until it recklessly swerves into much darker territory.