Cheapie sexploitation films from the ‘60s and ‘70s share a lot of things in common. Rough production value, amateur acting, hair, bad skin - it all came with the territory. Many also share a shaky frame of genre or story on which to hang their goofy, uncomfortable-looking sex. After all, every movie needs something original to set it apart, but no movie needs more than the bare minimum of originality when it’s got people fucking in it.
Beauties and the Beast certainly features plenty of people fucking, but for a movie alternatively titled Desperately Seeking Yeti, with the VHS art you see above, there’s a real paucity of Sasquatch sex going on.
The film opens with a typical-for-70s-Bigfoot documentary-style onscreen narration and stock footage, giving it some semblance of dignity and class. “The story you’re about to see could be true,” intones the narrator, setting the stage for a feature that is at least in part about a creature.
It doesn’t set the stage for what we actually get, which is a confusing and kind of dull mishmash of hippie sexploitation romp, lost-treasure thriller and, well, Bigfoot movie.
As you might have guessed, most of the film’s screentime is focused on the hippies, who live off the land (and each other’s genitals) at a boys’ summer camp during the off-season. These are characters who don’t really distinguish themselves from one another - you could complain about the female characters being interchangeable, but really, all the characters are interchangeable. They’re all dirty hippies (literally; I’m not being judgemental), and they all really love getting naked, especially outdoors. If you’re into skinny-dipping, sexy acoustic guitar jams or naked picnics, this movie is for you; if you’re into awkward, clumsy, unattractive outdoor sex, it’s even more for you. Like many films of this sort, the whole thing seems like an excuse for a bunch of friends to get nekkid together in the woods.
There is a story going on - something about some idiot, asshole hunters going after ancient coins being hoarded by a crazy old hermit, and some European and possibly lesbian student researchers staying in a cabin in the woods for some reason - but little of it makes any sense. Certainly, the filmmakers don’t seem to care about it as much as they cared about rutting hippies, or about the wonderfully Russ Meyeresque nude shootout dream sequence that takes place halfway through. The tracked-on-in-post dialogue makes halfhearted attempts at tying everything together, but never really succeeds.
Oh yeah, Bigfoot's in this movie too.
As for Bigfoot himself, nobody involved in this movie did him any favours. He’s more man-like here than usual, his face more reminiscent of a big dude with hirsutism than the more ape-like depictions of Bigfoot we’re used to. Resplendent in bushy eyebrows and facial hair, he mostly looks confused.
He’s probably confused because the movie doesn’t really know what to do with him. In the first twenty minutes, there’s a plotline set up with Bigs abducting women foolish enough to go topless in his forest. He takes them back to his little cave (with throw rugs conveniently placed so his abductees don’t get sore bottoms) and then...doesn’t do anything with them. There’s not even anything implied to happen offscreen - it is explicitly stated that he feeds and waters his prisoners but does nothing untoward to them. But we never find out if he eventually does, or even what happens to his captives, because the film abandons them about twenty minutes along, in favour of an altogether odder sequence.
Bigfoot, as portrayed in the majority of Beauties and the Beast, is more or less a dirty old perv struggling with his rampant sexual desire. He compulsively watches people having sex in his forest, regardless of how bad they are at it, hiding behind rocks or trees. When it all gets too much for him to handle, he barges into their lovemaking - just to join in, I’d like to think - which sends the man running, screaming and flailing. Bigfoot, being a big hairy monster in a ‘70s sexploitation film, proceeds to kidnap the woman (again, it’s not clear whether any of these characters even have names) and take her to a secluded clearing. It’s at this point, the 28-minute mark, where we get our first Bigfoot action.
But Bigfoot seems really uncomfortable with his sexuality - or possibly with his own predatory methods of seduction. Faced with the unconscious woman he has dragged from her love, he gropes her arms and breasts awkwardly for a minute, growling and breathing heavily, before collapsing against the hill, seemingly defeated and overwhelmed. There’s a lot wrong with this sequence, and it’s almost as if Bigfoot realises how wrong it is as he’s doing it. Accidental or not, Beauties and the Beast may be the only film ever to conflate the Abominable Snowman with sexual guilt. It’s a bizarre sequence rendered far more interesting by the filmmakers’ inability to actually communicate whatever their actual intention was.
For a Bigfoot movie with this much sex in it, you’d think there’d be more Bigfoot sex than there is. But Bigfoot is a celibate creature; a primal, animalistic being with no idea what to do with his libido, kidnapping women only to do nothing with them. In the end, having never gotten laid, he runs away with a crazy old hermit, to presumably live a chaste life of counting ancient coins. Me? I want Bigfoot to get some sometime. He lives such a solitary life, he deserves a little sexy fun in his life. Maybe he’ll find a female Bigfoot one day to settle down with. Maybe he’ll find happiness.
Until then, enjoy the topic-relevant rap I performed at the Fantastic Fest Nerd Rap Throwdown last year. At the time, Devin said it made his creek boggy, so hopefully actual Bigfoot will hear it and become similarly bogged.