Review of “Cry Wilderness” (1987)

A very short clip from MST3K


Longer review:

For our Saturday night pizza and bad movie, we picked one Mystery Science Theater that may have actually improved the viewing experience. This one is just nonsense. Or fine family PG-rated viewing, however you want to look at it.


On a school trip, Paul Cooper (Eric Foster) wanders away from the group of boys with red ties. When his teacher Mr. Douglas (Navarre Perry), finds him, he’s standing by an exhibit of something like a tall ape/man. Paul tells his teacher that he’s seen him. He’s seen Bigfoot. Mr. Douglas tells him not to lie and threatens discipline.

Later, when Paul is in his dormitory bed, he hears someone calling. Why, it’s Bigfoot (Tom Folkes)! Or maybe it’s a vision. An odd red glow surrounds everything. Bigfoot tells Paul to come home. His father is in grave danger.

Mr. Douglas at first busts Paul before he can run away, but he runs away anyway. A trucker (Guy Bass) gives him a ride but doesn’t ask where a kid Paul’s age is going. Paul is probably no more than eleven or so.

He wanders through the woods somewhere in northern California/western Nevada until he stumbles across his dad, a forest ranger (Maurice Grandmaison), who pulls a gun on him, not expecting him. Dad lays down the law. Paul is going back to school on Monday. Doesn’t he ask what the kid is doing wandering around the woods?

Paul also stumbles across a pair of boots, which turn out to be on the feet of his dad’s friend Jim (John Tallman), a Native American who (I kid you not) wears blush all over his face. The amount of blush varies from scene to scene.

They all laugh. They laugh a lot. Inappropriately. They walk by a succession of wild critters like a fox with a collar on its neck. They stop laughing when they get to Dad’s cabin and find the door open. Who’s been here? Could it be Bigfoot? Could it be something worse?

Selection B—something worse. A hunter with exceptionally bad table manners is here to eliminate whatever’s been killing the wildlife. (Uh… there are bear in them thare woods? Think they might be doing some ‘a that there killin’? Eh, never mind) The hunter is keen to bag him a Bigfoot, and he gets wind that the boy might know a thing or two.


The strong point of this little flick is not the script. Nor the acting. Nor the special effects. Bigfoot doesn’t have gloves. The movie has wannabe echoes of Harry and the Hendersons (1987) and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) but adds nothing unique.

There are some lovely location shots from around Mono Lake, California, and the Devil’s Postpile. These are both otherworldly and breathtaking areas.

It’s hokum with cute animals.

There might be an explanation. In Backstory 2: interviews with screenwriters of the 1940s and 1950s, Patrick McGilligan records writer/screenwriter Philip Yordan saying this about the movie:

The distributor, who had done Sasquatch [1978], which cost maybe $150,000 and made over $4 million profit, says to me, “Give me a picture about Bigfoot, and I’ll make millions.” So I sat down and wrote a picture. He says, “No, no, no, you don’t understand. You got scenes in the beginning that will scare the audience. It’s for kids. So I had to take out all the scary scenes. Bigfoot couldn’t be threatening; he had to be nice. No blood, no violence, no sex, no bad language. I said, “You really want a picture about nothing!” He says, “That’s it! Now you’ve got it! Nothing! I want nothing!” I said, “That’s the most difficult thing to write.” Well, the picture is about nothing, if you sit through it, which I don’t know if you can.

So there. This stinker is incomprehensible, insulting, and bad not because the writer, actors, or director were incompetent but because the people who paid for it wanted it to stink. Yeah, makes no sense to me, either.

Title: Cry Wilderness (1987)

Directed by
Jay Schlossberg-Cohen

Writing Credits
Philip Yordan…(original story)
Philip Yordan…(screenplay)

Cast (in credits order)
Eric Foster…Paul Cooper
Maurice Grandmaison…Will Cooper
John Tallman…Jim
Griffin Casey…Morgan Hicks
Faith Clift…Dr. Helen Foster
Navarre Perry…Mr. Douglas

Released: 1987
Length: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Rated: PG

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

6 thoughts on “Review of “Cry Wilderness” (1987)

    1. Thanks for you kind words. I don’t think this could have ever been a great film. But it could have been fun and entertaining had the people with money wanted it to be.

  1. We went for a MST3K on Netflix. Sometimes they’re entertaining by just being silly. The films themselves can be bad but still enjoyable. I didn’t know anything about this particular film until I read the brief paragraph description.

    I figured it would be sappy. I hoped it would be silly and perhaps hokey, but the kind of hokey we could enjoy. I didn’t count on the insulting and the incomprehensibility parts. It led (ultimately) to the great quote from the screenwriter who said it was unwatchable. So, was it worth it? Yes. But as education, not as entertainment.

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