Every now and then, a film comes along whose title seems to make no sense whatsoever. It doesn’t fit the plot, the characters, and seems to have been pulled out of thin air. Then there is The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot, possibly the most on-the-nose title of all time. It tells you exactly what you’re dealing with, but doesn’t fully prepare you for the experience that is this movie.
The following review will be spoiler free (even if the title is not).
Directed by: Robert D. Kryzkowski
Written by: Robert D. Kryzkowski
Calvin Barr (Elliott) is an unsung hero of World War II, and he’d rather keep it that way. He is leading a quiet life, shared only with his yellow labrador, Ralph (one of the better animal actors I’ve seen). There are also occasional visits with his barber baby brother, Ed (Miller). It is an isolated existence that leaves Calvin with a great deal of time to think about past regrets.
In 1987, the U.S. and Canadian governments come calling, with a new top-secret mission that only Barr can carry out. It seems Bigfoot is spreading a deadly virus all over the Canadian wilderness, and he must be eliminated.
Sam Elliott Lends Credibility
To be blunt, this movie would have been a complete wash, had it not been for Sam Elliott’s involvement. I’m not just saying that because we come from the same town, but because he really is that good. His very presence makes him perfect for this role. There is a quiet grace, a mystery, and an air of “don’t mess with this guy,” to both Barr and Elliott.
Elliott makes Barr a likable character. The kind you are rooting for, before he has even said a word, or made a move. He was an absolutely perfect casting choice. The only choice.
Calvin Barr, the Younger
Aidan Turner (best known as Kili in The Hobbit films) portrays a younger, and even more shy Calvin Barr, in flashbacks. He does a fine job, especially in wielding the unique Northern California/Texas hybrid accent Elliott possesses (Turner is from Ireland). It is the younger Barr, of course, who carries out the first task alluded to in the movie’s title. Therefore, Turner has a lot to work with in most of his scenes. He is believable as a young Sam Elliott/Calvin Barr.
The younger Barr (Turner) is also featured in a romantic B-story that seems charming, but kind of leads nowhere. It does round out Barr’s backstory somewhat, answering a few questions an audience may have about him. Overall, it mostly serves to provide Turner with more screen time, and give us the lovely Caitlin FitzGerald as Maxine.
Despite its clumsy, SyFy-esque title, there are some great performances in The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot. One of the most enjoyable for me, was that of Larry Miller as Calvin’s younger brother Ed. Miller is primarily known as a standup comic, and an actor in Christopher Guest films, such as Best in Show, and For Your Consideration. Aside from a wisecrack or two, his performance here is serious, and touching. Elliott and Miller may not match as brothers, physically, but they portray the emotional bond well.
The aforementioned FitzGerald isn’t given a lot to do as Maxine, but she is more fleshed-out than most “love interest” types. She is more than window dressing. She has a personality, a career, and a life of her own. Which is refreshing.
The appearance of Ron Livingston and Rizwan Manji, as the mysterious officials who visit Barr and give him his assignment, are also memorable. In fact, the conversation “Flag Pin” (Livingston) and Barr have at the latter’s dinner table, contains arguably the best dialogue of the movie. It’s the type of scene that leaves the viewer thinking this movie is pretty good. Wait for it…
Then It Goes Off the Rails
Quite suddenly, and in spectacular fashion, this movie goes from sentimental, and kind of badass, to absolutely horrifying. The climax of a film is usually the most exciting, the most well-done, the… well… peak. Not so with this one. The showdown between Calvin Barr and The Bigfoot is utterly ridiculous. It is also disgusting. And, it quite literally gave me nightmares.
You know how I mentioned the title of this movie makes it seem like a SyFy channel original? Well, at this point, that it virtually becomes one. It’s that type of over-the-top fight, with effects that aren’t so special, and a costume straight out of an elementary school production of Harry and the Hendersons. Only with giant eyes, and a corpse-like face that will chill you to your very core.
Since I couldn’t sleep anyway, I sat and thought more about the story. It occurred to me that the horrific nature of the second showdown, may have actually been symbolic of the first. Barr tells Flag Pin in their first meeting, that he didn’t want to be celebrated for killing Hitler. He had to live with the guilt of killing someone, but it didn’t do any good. That he killed the man, not the ideology. It continued to spread. In 1987, Bigfoot is spreading a virus that threatens to wipe out… everything. When you think of the story in these terms, it takes on more depth, and you can make the connection between the two title characters. They’re both monsters, spreading a plague that threatens the world. And Barr takes them both out. He does so at great risk to himself, and takes no joy out of either event.
Cult Classic Potential
As the credits rolled on The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot, I thought of movies like the Evil Dead/Army of Darkness series, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Yes, even Sharknado. Movies that aren’t exactly Citizen Kane level, but that appeal to a segment of the population, and become beloved. For their camp value, or musical numbers, or, in this case… Sam Elliott’s butt-kicking prowess, and Bigfoot’s hideous costume. I can easily see this becoming something that people talk about. The movie poster would look good at a theater, promoting midnight showings. You might even see that hideous sasquatch getup on cosplayers someday (although, for the sake of my mental health, I hope not).
The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot is one of the more uneven films I’ve ever encountered. There are scenes that approach (or even arrive at) greatness, there are scenes that are just awful, and there are plot paths that lead somewhere flat. The film is beautifully shot, and has that “epic” aesthetic. It would easily be a contender for cinematography awards. The performances of Elliott and Miller are practically Oscar-caliber. Those Bigfoot scenes, though. They’re just mind-bogglingly terrible, and ruin what could have been a great movie. Such a shame.
Thank you for reading! What are your thoughts on The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot? Comment down below!
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