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The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot review
An aging veteran who once assassinated Hitler is called back into action to hunt down the legendary Sasquatch.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Robert D. Krzykowski

Starring: Sam Elliott, Aidan Turner, Sean Bridgers, Larry Miller, Caitlin FitzGerald, Ron Livingston

The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot poster

When it comes to the supernatural, the paranormal and the otherworldly, I'm about as sceptical as they come. In many cases, I find comfort in my lack of belief - I'm glad I don't have to worry that my house might be haunted by the spirit of some past resident - but in others, it's a little depressing. I wish, for example, that I could believe in the existence of the Sasquatch (aka Bigfoot), the mythical beast that some believe roams the forests of the US and Canada's Pacific NorthWest. The idea that an advanced animal species has managed to prosper despite the increasing intrusion of man is an inspiring and romantic one, the sort of myth we need in our decaying world.

Sadly, the existence of the Sasquatch is easily disproven by one key factor - shit! Every animal needs to drop a load at least once a day, yet despite the countless, often very well funded expeditions to find a Bigfoot, nobody has ever come across so much as a single Sasquatch stool. If The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot gets one thing right, it's having Sam Elliott's reluctant Bigfoot hunter realise he's on the trail of his prey by coming across a pile of cryptozoological crap in the woods. "Vegetarian," he concludes from a quick sniff.

The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot review

Given its extravagant title - the sort of title no movie could ever stand a chance of living up to, in fairness - you might expect The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot the sort of braindead Troma/Asylum quickie that requires two six packs and a mound of coke bigger than the one Pacino dunks his head into at the end of Scarface to get through. You'll be surprised then to find it has more in common with the recent crop of elegiac movies starring aging actors reflecting on their mortality and the mistakes they've made in life (see also Lucky, The Last Movie Star and that other recent Sam Elliott vehicle The Hero).

In 1980s America, septuagenarian WWII vet Calvin Barr (Elliott) lives a lonely life. Barr has carried a secret for the past decades. His role in the war was like no others, and as the title tells us, he was the man responsible for the Fuhrer's demise, though the Nazis covered up the assassination with a series of doubles of their leader, leading to the now accepted notion that he died in a Berlin bunker.

The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot review

Barr is haunted by the murder he committed, even if he believes his victim had it coming, so he's none too happy when his country comes calling for him once more. It turns out The Bigfoot is indeed real, and unfortunately for the creature, is carrying a virus that threatens to wipe out every other species on Earth if it's allowed to spread. Barr reluctantly accepts his country's call and heads off into the forests of Canada to once again save the world and lose a piece of his own humanity in the process.

It's no surprise that writer/director Robert D. Krzykowski's debut is at its best whenever Elliott is on screen. After all, this is an actor who managed to steal A Star is Born from Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper simply by turning his head (if you've seen the film, you know what I'm talking about). Elliott's wonderful face is a wrinkled road map of American masculinity, one that Hollywood has left locked away in its dashboard for too long, so it's great to see him experience a late career revival.

The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot review

Unfortunately, roughly half of the movie consists of flashbacks to Barr's youth, where he is played by Irish actor Aidan Turner, who looks and sounds nothing like the grizzled star. These scenes, which veer from Barr's wartime duties to his awkward courtship of a pretty teacher (Caitlin FitzGerald), serve to detract from the ambiguity fostered so deliciously by Elliott's performance as the older, world-weary Barr. Accompanied by a treacly score, these flashbacks have the feel of some awful Robert Zemeckis remake of an acclaimed documentary. I'm always arguing that movies should "show, not tell," but in sometimes a great actor's telling can be more effective than a mediocre filmmaker's showing, and that's sadly the case here. When your star has a face and voice like Elliott's, it's best to let him carry the load.

The sincere tone of The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot seems too often to be battling its pulp title. Krzykowski's film is surprisingly bereft of the humour that viewers enticed by its moniker may be expecting, but we've seen past examples of how genre silliness and emotional sincerity can make great bedfellows. Take for example Don Coscarelli's Bubba Ho-Tep, in which Bruce Campbell plays a nursing home resident who may or may not be Elvis Presley, and who finds himself battling a centuries old mummy. It's a ridiculous premise, yet while Coscarelli mines the laughs inherent in the idea, he also gives us a genuinely touching examination of old age. The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot is executive produced by John Sayles, who as the writer of Piranha, Alligator and The Howling, knows a thing or two about injecting serious themes into fun monster movies without detracting from their entertainment value. It's a shame he couldn't have lent his talents to its script.

The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot is on Netflix UK now.

2019 movie reviews