The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot is an appellation of unreasonable length. So I’ll refer to it as Bigfoot from here on out.
Sam Elliott stars as Calvin Barr, a simple small-town man whose past hides a secret: During World War II, he personally assassinated Adolf Hitler. Oh, sure, the Nazi government never actually let anyone know Hitler was killed by the Allies. They had plenty of back-up body doubles with little mustaches who lasted the rest of the war. “I killed the man, but the monster lived on,” Calvin explains when confronted with his secret, “It’s nothing like the comic book you want it to be. Now you know.”
Bigfoot isn’t much like the comic book movie you expect going in, either, and writer-director Robert D. Krzykowski no doubt wrote that line of dialogue to signal his awareness of that fact. When the film played at 2018’s Fantastic Fest, it was met with a muted response and several angry reviews on Letterboxd, pillorying it for being such a letdown. Elliott is a legendary presence and the thought of him hunting down and graphically combatting Bigfoot? It would be a lie to say I wasn’t attracted to the movie for the fantasies that match-up conjured.
What Krzykowski delivers instead is a movie that feels a little more Bubba Ho-Tep than Bone Tomahawk (although it is up to neither film’s quality). While watching Bigfoot, I couldn’t help but contemplate the difficulty that comes with taking a concept such as this and translating it successfully into a feature-length narrative. There are any number of five- to 10-minute mashup videos on YouTube featuring famous characters fighting, with questionable copyright legality. There are dozens of comics featuring famous onscreen characters duking it out for supremacy. Each and every one of these is burdened with creating an emotional reason for their existence; for finding a storyline that keeps the audience invested and, hopefully, thinking about the experience long after. Bigfoot has a great title and a funny concept, but it’s no surprise that the solution to “What story is this” is a tried-and-true Old Soldier idea.
It succeeds entirely because Krzykowski knows how to frame Elliot and let his star do most of the work on his own. The script is fine, but it would fail with a lesser presence. It is not as deep as the aforementioned Bubba, but it aspires to be insightful about aging men while giving them a memorable menace to vanquish. It aims high. You know what they say. This one at least lands somewhere in the upper atmosphere unlike most movies that end up on VOD that belong buried under a mountain.
Come for the death of Hitler and a famous cryptid; stay for Sam Elliot making you glad he’s been around for so long and showing no signs of quitting.