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Film / Cry Wilderness

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Cry Wilderness is a 1987 family adventure film about a boy named Paul who befriends Bigfoot one summer and is encouraged by Bigfoot to journey to the mountains and help his (Paul's) father.

Paul is not understood by his teacher at his boarding school, who grows weary of Paul's somewhat ridiculous sounding stories about meeting Bigfoot and giving him Coca-Cola. One night, Bigfoot drops by Paul's school to warn Paul that Paul's father, a forest ranger, is in some sort of danger. Paul leaves school and makes the trek to the national forest his dad maintains. Paul joins his dad, his Native American friend Jim, and an Egomaniac Hunter named Morgan to find an escaped tiger in the forest. But once Paul lets it slip that he knows Bigfoot, what'll happen next? (Especially with greedy Morgan with them?)


This is the setup for a rather obscure movie with a very incoherent and confusing plot and copious amounts of Stock Footage. It's telling that this movie didn't even get a page on this very wiki until it was the subject of an episode of the reboot of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Tropes from said episode can be found here.

Tropes found in this movie include:

  • Adults Are Useless: The film tries to play this straight, with Red Hawk saying adults "Don't believe in anything but themselves," but Paul is the one causing most of the plot's complications and the adults would have had a much easier time doing their jobs without him underfoot.
  • All Animals Are Domesticated: Played maddeningly straight, for characters who are supposed to be wilderness experts and park rangers. Paul, his dad, and Jim constantly treat wild animals as pets, including extended scenes of Jim walking casually up to a wild bear and hugging it while Paul and his dad laugh, and Paul and his dad picking up and cuddling wild raccoon kits as if they were house cats. They couldn't even consistently film these scenes as written: Watch closely and you'll see the raccoon kits bite both Paul and his dad as they attempt to pick the kits up.
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  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Jim doesn't believe in Bigfoot, but has no problem with believing Native American spirit Red Hawk. Of course the latter is standing right in front of him...
  • Artistic License – Animal Care:
    • Giving human food to wild animals and treating orphaned animal cubs as pets are strictly prohibited in most nature parks, as they cause animals to lose their fear of humans and raid local towns looking for food. As the son of a park ranger, Paul should know this. Hell, on top of this, his father, the park ranger, should know this, but gave Paul two racoon kits!
    • All the animals Helen is taking care of at her cabin are kept in tiny cages that are barely big enough to house the animals in them, much less allow them to move around. They have no access to food, water, or shelter, and the cages are vary obviously not even secured to the ground. And the one the eagle gets put in is just a couple of temporary fence panels with a perch, there's not even a roof for the one animal shown that can fly!
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: Will and Jim constantly walk around with their fingers on the trigger of their guns, and wave them around with abandon. Even assuming these are tranquilizers, this is dangerous behavior and anyone experienced with firearms would know better.
  • Attack of the Town Festival: The pressure is on for Paul's father to catch the animal that slaughtered those deer, because the first tourists of ski season are due to arrive in a few days.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Paul's dad and Jim are tracking some animal that's unlike anything they've seen before, which has messily killed some deer and may pose a threat to any people in the area. It's clearly set up to make the viewer think they're tracking Bigfoot, and Paul seems to think that's what they're doing. But two-thirds into the movie, we finally see the animal they're tracking: a Bengal tiger that escaped from a circus.
  • Big Bad: Morgan, particularly right after he learns about Bigfoot from Paul.
  • Blatant Lies: Morgan's claims to be a U.S. Marshal. Not only does he not act or dress anything like an agent of the United States Government, he later acknowledges that he's a big game hunter.
  • Boarding School of Horrors: If a teacher can, on his own authority, deprive a student of food because he told one story that the teacher believed was false to one person, and then upgrade that to a disciplinary hearing that could result in expulsion when the story passes on to a second person, then there's something very wrong with the school.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Even though he’s supposed to be the main protagonist, Paul is a diminutive loudmouth with a serious attitude problem and a penchant for making a bad situation worse.
  • Covers Always Lie: The DVD cover art (shown above) uses a kind-looking gorilla face to represent Bigfoot. In the actual movie, Bigfoot has the face of a cave man who hasn't shaved or bathed in a few weeks—though the rest of his body does look like a gorilla suit.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Initially, Morgan Hicks is a boorish big game hunter with awful table manners, but he's there to help Paul's dad do his job. He only becomes the movie's true antagonist when he decides to kill Bigfoot, which only happens because Paul tries to confide in him that Bigfoot is real.
  • Denied Food as Punishment: Mr. Douglas forces Paul to skip meals as punishment for talking about a Bigfoot sighting.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Paul asks Morgan Hicks what he'd do if he ever met Bigfoot—which makes Morgan realize for the first time that he's in "Bigfoot country". Paul declines to say any more because "You have too many guns, mister," but the damage is already done: Morgan now believes Bigfoot is out there and wants the fame of killing him.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Mr. Douglas threatens to have Paul expelled because he believes in Bigfoot.
  • Eats Babies: For a moment right after we are first introduced to Morgan, we are led to believe that he has cooked and eaten some young raccoons that Paul's dad was keeping in his cabin. Fortunately, the raccoons are alive and well and are wreaking havoc in the kitchen.
    • although, the raccons Paul's dad found were explicitly stated to be baby ones, and the ones shown wrecking the kitchen are full grown...
  • Egomaniac Hunter: Morgan, who is very proud of his achievements in big game hunting and later relishes in the fame he'll get for taking down Bigfoot.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Morgan is first seen eating a roast chicken with the full complement of Jabba Table Manners including having grease dripping down his chin.
  • Evil-Detecting Animal: Very subtly, and may have even been unintentional; as Paul and Jim walk down the path that'll take them to Red Hawk, you can see some predatory animals in the background, such as some wolves sniffing around and a puma lying lazily by a fallen tree. When Morgan comes down the same path later, the same animals look somewhat more defensive and are giving the hunter some very hard and threatening-looking stares.
  • Eye Scream: Morgan ultimately gets his eyes torn out by a hawk.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Though Paul's dad discourages him from believing in Bigfoot, the teacher Mr. Douglas is an even stronger example. He tries to forbid Paul from eating dinner until Paul renounces his claims of meeting Bigfoot (though Mr. Douglas folds before Paul does), and he threatens to have Paul expelled for believing in "fairy tales". Though he comes around to Paul's side at the film's end.
  • Free-Range Children: Paul not only hitchhikes cross-country to reach his father, the trucker who picks him up does not instantly call the police, nor does Paul's dad ask how he arrived, and the school seems not to have called him.
  • Hong Kong Dub: Red Hawk's dialogue is quite obviously dubbed in by another actor.
  • Insane Troll Logic: The Mayor interrupts Paul's father and Jim's search for the dangerous animal by summoning them to a meeting at his house—just to tell them to get back to searching!
  • Jabba Table Manners: Will, Jim and Paul enter Will's home to find Morgan sitting at the table devouring an entire roast chicken with his bare hands. And ketchup.
  • Kick the Dog: As if eating Will's food uninvited and joking about cooking pet raccoons weren't enough, Morgan tries to choke one of those raccoons when it touches his meal. Just to make it absolutely unmistakable that he's the bad guy.
  • Kids' Wilderness Epic: Paul is The Protagonist of the film, and embarks on a journey in the wilderness with his dad and Jim.
  • Magical Native American: Not Jim, who is just a normal guy. Red Hawk, on the other hand, is very much so.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: None of the eagles in this movie are native to North America. The sick one that gets taken to Helen is a harpy eagle, while the one that attacks Morgan appears to be an African fish eagle. (The tiger, at least, is explicitly stated to have escaped from a circus.)
  • Product Placement: Coca-Cola gets quite a few mentions and Bigfoot's cave is littered with empty cans of the stuff. Also, the prominent Hunt's brand ketchup bottle and Morton's salt container on the table in Morgan's first scene.
  • Random Events Plot: Some of the plot points seem poorly connected and are often unceremoniously dropped into the viewers' laps with no foreshadowing. We don't even find out that the animal Paul's dad and the others are looking for is a tiger escaped from the circus until the tiger actually shows up. And Red Hawk? Comes right the flip outta nowhere.
  • Scenery Porn: If nothing else, the landscapes Paul treks across are pretty to look at.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Ultimately, Bigfoot's warning that Paul's father is in danger becomes this, since the danger Paul's dad does get in (a cave-in in an abandoned mine) probably wouldn't have happened had Paul not left his school (as efforts to get Paul to stay out of trouble delay the search for the escaped tiger until it makes it into said mine).
  • Stern Teacher: Paul's teacher at the boarding school, Mr. Douglas, who gets quite exasperated by Paul's tales of meeting Bigfoot. At the end of the movie, though, after finding out about the whole story, the teacher softens up considerably and is eager to ask Paul more about his adventures. And even catches a glimpse of Bigfoot himself.
  • Stuck On Bandaid Brand: During the Product Placement scenes, "Coca-Cola" is said repeatedly, never just "Coke" or "soda", etc.
  • Suit with Vested Interests: The Mayor, who also owns the local hotel, refuses to take reasonable measures to protect locals and tourists from the dangerous animal in the woods. His idea of dealing with the issue is to put more pressure on the park rangers to catch the animal—which ironically hinders their efforts instead.
  • Stock Footage: Quite a bit of it throughout the movie, which ranges from looking a little bit off to just blatantly obvious. Sometimes the film quality of said footage is clearly below that of the movie itself.
  • Take Our Word for It: Paul meets Bigfoot and forms a bond with him before the movie even begins. This rather crucial element of the plot is instead relayed by Paul to his teacher, likely due to budget constraints; Bigfoot is barely in the movie at all.
  • Unwanted Assistance: At the start of the film, Paul's father and Jim have the dangerous animal cornered—then the Sheriff and a bunch of rednecks with guns rush in to help, and the animal ends up getting away.
  • Walking Swimsuit Scene: In her only scene, the mayor's wife/girlfriend/mistress is walking through a museum in a bikini, complaining about not having any olives for her martini.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • The third of the drunk bikers. After refusing to leave the forest after being told to by Paul's dad, Bigfoot's whooping is heard and something suddenly pulls him off the screen. We're never shown what happened to him.
    • After his painful defeat at the claws of a hawk, you'd think that we'd get some sort of closure on what happened to Morgan afterward, but after he runs screaming off the screen clutching his face, he just vanishes and is never seen again.


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