Night Claws (2012)
What do you get when you put Frank Stallone in a B-grade Bigfoot flick? What do ya think — ya get Frank F*cking Stallone in a B-grade flick!! If you’re sitting there unfamiliar with Frank Stallone’s oeuvre then I just don’t know my readers as well as I thought I did. Yes, Frank is the younger brother of Sylvester but is a powerhouse in his own right. Don’t believe me? Check out the video of his hit song, “Far From Over” from the STAYING ALIVE soundtrack (see below, after my summary). See?!?? Well good old Frankie might be listed at the top of the credits on IMDb.com, but his role is actually pretty small but he still manages to put in an intense performance. But enough of Frankie. What about the film, NIGHT CLAWS??
At the end of the day NIGHT CLAWS is a film about Bigfoot. I wouldn’t exactly call it a “Sasquatch-ploitation” flick, due to the noticeable lack of gore and violence (we’ll get to this in a minute), but the film does manage to be entertaining. The film opens as do many B-movies — with a couple making out in the backseat of a car. The girl hears something and he doesn’t. He convinces her it’s nothing until there’s a noise even he and his raging semi can’t ignore. Bigfoot crashes their little party and then we immediately roll to the opening credits. A pretty standard and uninspired opening that luckily doesn’t infect the rest of the film.
The next day sheriff Kelly (Reb Brown) is called to the scene of the torn-apart tonsil wrestlers and the coroner is convinced some very large animal is the culprit. News of the attack draws the attention of Sarah the scientist (Leilani Sarelle) who drags her assistant Thomas (A. Wade Miller) to the backwater burg because she’s convinced that Bigfoot is responsible. In another subplot there’s a local survivalist, Sharon (Tara Kleinpeter) who teaches submersion classes on how to stay alive in the woods. Just as the sheriff is issuing a “stay outta the woods” mandate, Sharon is taking two couples, Cindy and Charlie (Alissa Koenig & Ted Prior) and Ed and Linda (Edward Saint Pe’ & Candace Weber) out for a pretty hardcore survivalist lesson. Charlie comes across as brutish, violent, and very abusive to his wife … and it also seems that he’s being set up as one of the stars of the film. Odd choice because I wanted to see Bigfoot peel him like a grape, that abusive asshole!!
In yet another subplot there’s a mysterious hunter (David Campbell) and his cronies who are hunting down Bigfoot. It seems they’ve been tracking the creature for quite some time. There’s other subplots about the town drunk, Cooter (Art. James), who claims to have had multiple run-ins with Bigfoot and even claims there’s multiple Bigfoot’s out there; there’s a group of teens throwing a party despite the sheriff’s warning; and there’s even the mayor who has a chronic case of JAWS-itis. It’s getting warmer outside and the surrounding forest provides a lot of income from tourists and campers:
“Are you crazy? We can’t close the beaches … Uuhhh, I mean the forest …. We need to keep the forest open. Yeah, the forest!!”
All these various subplots really make the film feel like a made-for-TV movie which is unfortunate, but it also seems to be what happened here. From what I read, NIGHT CLAWS started out as a TV movie and then evolved into the feature length film before us. Unfortunately the tone and atmosphere of the film never rises above the level of “made-for-TV.” I’d say this feels like a SyFy Original, but even SyFy flicks have more blood and gore in them. The acting, though, is above average and NIGHT CLAWS is full of recognizable B-movie actors and actresses.
The good news is that the acting is solid all around and director Prior keeps everything moving along at a nice pace. We don’t get to see the creature nearly enough and all the gore, except two scenes, is done off camera. This was very frustrating because the potential to make a Sasquatch-ploitation flick was there, but everything was tamed down for what the filmmakers thought was going to be a TV audience.
NIGHT CLAWS also takes a completely unnecessary twist towards the end where a few main character’s true intentions are revealed. One character’s twist in particular was completely ridiculous and only hurt the overall effect of the film. It just didn’t make any sense and even thinking back to all the “clues” leading up to the twist, it just doesn’t work. These twists were foolish choices by writers Prior and Fabio Soldani. And who’s choice was it to end the film so abruptly? It felt like they ended this one after the camera ran outta film!! But what I really enjoyed was Frank Stallone’s cameo at the end. Yeah he gets top billing here, but he’s in the film for about eight minutes. It’s a short but sweet role.
NIGHT CLAWS isn’t without it’s flaws (it’s biggest one being the noticeable lack of blood and gore), but it also has it’s charms. Sheriff Kelly, Sarah, and a few others are really likable and do good jobs in their roles. If you can get beyond the made-for-TV feel NIGHT CLAWS has, you’ll find yourself enjoying this one. I did. And what’s really refreshing is that there is zero, zero CGI here. The Bigfoot creature (played by Bruce Larsen) is 100% practically done. It’s not perfect but I found myself really enjoying this one. Definitely recommended.
Director: David A. Prior (& writer & actor)
Plot: 3 out of 5 stars
Gore: 3 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer
And here’s Frank Stallone at his best. For motivational songs, this ranks right up there with Survivor’s, “Eye of the Tiger”!!