Brilliantly Terrible and Terribly Brilliant!

There are lots of ways to make a good low-budget horror, but also lots of ways to make a bad one. This is a perfect example of the former. It may look rough at times, the money for good CG clearly wasn’t there but still, they produced a solid little movie. I have seen a lot of low-budget flicks in my time but once in awhile, one pops up and surprises you, and that’s precisely what Paul Bunyan and his merry victims have done. There was nothing exceptional in this film, nor was there any performances of note. Instead, what we were presented with was a formulaic hack and slash horror that worked very well indeed.

We start off with a group of men preparing a meal outdoors, next to their shack. One of the men, Foreman Bill, played by the one and only Dan Haggerty (Grizzly Adams), goes into the cabin to collect something but when he goes back out all of his buddies have been decapitated … and now it’s his turn! We then come back to the present day, where a group of troublemaking kids in their late teens, are at a boot camp, led by the very loud and insulting Sargent Hoke (Thomas Downey). Some of the insults Hoke throws at the kids were pretty funny, like the computer nerd with glasses was dubbed “Chicken Little.” I last seen Downey in Sorority Party Massacre (review here) and he certainly lets you know when he’s on screen with some excellently funny overacting.

The performances were not bad at all, except for a couple of very minor characters, like the barman, for example. But really, those small rough bits added character and charm to this gore flick. Paul Bunyan himself was a man in a rubber suit who growled his way to great effect throughout the movie. It was fun seeing how badly our giant axe-swinging maniac was enlarged and overlaid to make him look massive thanks to poor CG, but even so, it was good. It’s all thanks to director Gary Jones, who created the special effects for Evil Dead II, which explains a lot.

This film worked really, really well considering what little resources Jones’ had, but he has put his extensive experience to good use and produced a future classic. I hope the success of this movie spurs him on to make another of these because he is most definitely rather good at it.

Grade: B+

by Ed Blackadder