❉ Writer/director Robert D. Kryzowski and a seriously great Sam Elliott deliver one of the year’s best and most pleasant surprises!
“The title and premise suggest a jokey spoof but what you get is anything but. Instead we are treated to a meditation on violence and the regrets it leads to that are lingered on in later life. All of this is anchored by a never better Elliott who delivers a fantastically soulful and sympathetic performance.”
It is not a title that inspires confidence, reminding one of the likes of those jokey films about Nazis that live on the moon or others of that ilk about spiders or sharks that fly and are made of lava that seem to be made only to fill the schedules on the sci-fi and horror channels. However, one look at the credits of The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then Killed Bigfoot, which received its world premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival ‘FANTASIA 2018’ last night (20 July), reveals a pedigree of talent that would hardly be associated with the likes of that.
While writer and director Robert D. Krzykowski may be an unknown quantity at this moment in time, his script and pitching skills must really be something to pull in the likes of John Sayles and Lucky McKee to produce. And then to rope in Douglas Trumbull to join them and provide visual effects too is quite a coup. The cast also inspires confidence; the seriously great Sam Elliott leads proceedings here as Calvin Barr, an old man living out his days in a small town with a mysterious past, hint; there’s a clue in the title to that. Everyone’s mum’s Sunday night crush from Poldark, Aidan Turner, plays the younger Barr, showing his dangerous journey across Europe in World War II after leaving the love of his life behind in America.
The title and premise suggest a jokey spoof but surprisingly what you get is anything but. Instead we are treated to a meditation on violence and the regrets it leads to that are lingered on in later life. All of this is anchored by a never better Elliott who delivers a fantastically soulful and sympathetic performance. The structure of the film too provides surprises; the assassination of Hitler is dealt with in a quick matter of fact manner and quite cleverly too. When Elliott is tasked with hunting down the mythic Bigfoot, for reasons I will leave you to discover yourself, we are further treated to an often visually stunning and emotional second half.
As mentioned before Elliott has never been better than here, given an all too rare chance to carry a film in the main role. His weary, hangdog voice and face have rarely been put to as effective use as here. The scenes with his younger brother, played by Larry Miller, portray a man of decency who feels he has been compromised by the things he has been tasked with for the greater good. Miller, known for his acerbic presence in roles for films such as 10 Things I Hate About You, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and an easily insulted doorman in Seinfeld is just as affecting here. The scenes they share are just as important and gripping as any that include Nazi’s and mythical woodland creatures.
The reluctance of Calvin to get back to what he is best at provides an exciting latter section; “That scope, that gun and that knife. That’s all I’ll need.” It is reminiscent of Don Coscarelli’s Bubba Ho-Tep, with aged men battling creatures of legend, but it eschews any pretence of tongue-in-cheek tomfoolery. However, there are amusing and inventive touches peppered throughout the film; a watch with a ticking Swastika hand in one instance and the placing in shot of a tiny brontosaurus figurine in another and the rest of the cast are filled out with recognisable faces such as Ron Livingston, Rizwan Manji and Boyhood’s very own Ellar Coltrane all providing sterling support to Elliott.
The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot is a seriously cracking debut from Robert D. Krzykowski. One that you should definitely keep an eye out for it after it makes its worldwide bow at this year’s Fantasia Festival. There has been no word so far on distribution but surely this will soon be resolved as Kryzowski’s directorial vision and excellent script, not to mention again Elliott’s brilliant performance, deliver one of the years best and most pleasant surprises. When you have the Old Testament presence of someone like Elliot standing in the centre of a screen before a fire-engulfed mountain you know you’re onto something good.
❉ The 22nd edition of Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival hosted the World Premiere of Robert D. Krzykowski’s The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then Killed Bigfoot at Montreal’s Auditorium des Diplômés de la SGWU at 9:30PM on July 20th, 2018, with actor Sam Elliott and director Robert D. Krzykowski in attendance.
❉ With special thanks to Yulissa Morales and Ted Geoghegan
❉ Iain MacLeod was raised on the North coast of Scotland on a steady diet of 2000AD and Moviedrome. Now living in Glasgow as a struggling screenwriter he still buys too many comics and blu-rays. Has never seen a ghost but heard two talking in his bedroom when he was 4.