THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Forty-Six: Kiamichi Beast Expedition 2

Bigfoot investigator Master Hughes returns to the Kiamichi Mountains of southeastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas to search for the oldest Sasquatch in the region, the Kiamichi beast.

In his 2022 amateur documentary Kiamichi Beast Expedition 2, Hughes makes an interesting discovery as he hikes through rocky terrain and dense fog. Unlike his 2021 expedition, Hughes goes solo this time around.

Master Hughes

Kiamichi Beast Expedition 2 is available free with ads on tubitv.com along with the first one released in 2021, The Kiamichi Beast Expedition. Click HERE to read my review of The Kiamichi Beast Expedition.

Hughes sets the stage for Kiamichi 2 as he talks about the number of people who go missing in the wilderness and how officials said mountain lions did not roam the mountains until proven wrong.

“If a 220-pound mountain lion can’t be found, you’re going to tell me Bigfoot can’t hide up here,” Hughes says.

In the first Kiamichi film, Hughes shares what he claims is the only known recording of the beast’s howl along with other potential evidence like an 18-inch footprint, bones, crystals, and stacked rocks in remote locations.

In Kiamichi 2, Hughes finds a strange print along with bones and stacked rocks, but he also discovers three primitive shelters in the middle of nowhere. Hughes says the remote location and age of the structures suggest potential hominid activity.

In my review of the first Kiamichi film, I compared it to watching two men fish without ever catching a fish. No “fish” are caught in Kiamichi 2, but the primitive structures at least qualify as a trio of interesting nibbles.

Once again, this documentary is more for hardcore Bigfoot or wilderness enthusiasts rather than the casual viewer. The 78-minute video basically follows Hughes hiking through the woods and showing us what he sees.

I think the strength of the Kiamichi films is the authenticity of Hughes himself. His plainspoken narration complements his no-frills videos perfectly. I also think the music by Darren Curtis raises the level of eeriness to the project, lending it an X-Files vibe.

At the end, Hughes admits evidence is difficult to compile and what he’s found so far is “small.”

“But it’s important evidence,” Hughes says. “And when you put it together, it helps you come to a conclusion.”

Hughes promises to walk the mountains again to hopefully one day reach that conclusion as he plans to shoot a third Kiamichi expedition later this year.


RELATED LINKS

THE BIGFOOT FILES

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Forty-Five: One Step Too Far 

One Step Too Far is a thriller set in the Wyoming wilderness that follows a group of eight hikers trying to find a missing person. Released in 2022 and written by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner, the novel is Book 2 in the Frankie Elkin series. 

One Step Too Far has nearly 9,000 ratings on Amazon with an outstanding 4.6 (out of 5) review score. Top reviewers loved Gardner’s storytelling and Frankie’s character, while the negative reviews criticized the slower pacing and lack of action. 

Frankie is a unique protagonist. A recovering alcoholic, Frankie is your average, middle-aged woman who spends her life searching for missing people who are forgotten by the police, the public, and the media. Her efforts are voluntary, forcing her to live the life of a drifter, but she has a talent for it. 

In One Step Too Far, Frankie ventures well outside her comfort zone and into the great outdoors to help a grieving father find his missing son, Timothy, who disappeared on the first night of a bachelor party camping trip five years ago. His four best friends returned from the trip alive, but Tim disappeared without a trace. 

When Tim’s father Martin organizes another annual search, Frankie joins the group of eight despite lacking basic survival skills. The group also includes three of Tim’s four best friends, a legendary local survivalist named Nemeth, a woman named Luciana with her cadaver dog Daisy, and a cryptozoologist named Bob of the North American Bigfoot Society. 

The pace of the book is as deliberate as the hike to their destination at Devil’s Canyon, but it allows us to watch how Frankie operates. She’s patient and inquisitive. She tries to find out what makes each member of the search party tick. That takes time. So, while One Step Too Far is not an action-packed thriller in the traditional sense, it still manages to ramp up the suspense in between the occasional action scenes by adeptly using slow reveals throughout the narrative. 

Is this a Bigfoot book? Maybe. Maybe not. Bigfoot does provide the one hope for Tim’s father Martin, who promised his dying wife he’d bring their boy home. In a rare moment of vulnerability, Martin tells Frankie why he’s working with Bob of the North American Bigfoot Society. 

“I read about another case they were working on. A young man who went missing in the mountains of Washington. The Bigfoot hunters are particularly focused on that area. … One of the guys gave an interview saying they didn’t know what had happened to the young man, but they could see him taken in by a family of Sasquatch and living happily ever after. I am a carpenter by trade. A man who works with his hands believes in things that I can feel and touch. But that quote … 

“When you lose your child, and I mean lose your son, as in you have no idea where he is, no idea what happened to him, what his last moments might have been like, you need some kind of hope to get you through the day before the terror finds you again at night. I never even thought about Bigfoot five years ago. Now, I want nothing more than to believe.” 

While Martin’s hope is driving the expedition, Frankie’s methodical conversations with each member of the group are unearthing secrets that deepen the mystery of Tim’s disappearance and what happened the night of the bachelor party. The extended climax turns on a couple of shocking twists but ultimately ends with Frankie’s tenacity solving the mystery. One Step Too Far is an interesting read for hikers and Bigfoot enthusiasts who enjoy a more cerebral thriller rather than a violent creature feature.

NEXT UP: Chapter Forty-Six: Kiamichi Beast Expedition 2. I review the 2022 documentary by Master Hughes.

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Forty-Four: The Beast

The Beast: A Bigfoot Thriller by Armand Rosamilia is an unabashed creature feature starring a ferocious Bigfoot on a mass killing spree in New Jersey during the summer of 1986.

Published by Severed Press in 2019, The Beast boasts a solid 4.2 (out of 5) with 65 ratings on Amazon. Overall, top Amazon reviewers praised the depth of the characters and the action but wished the author fleshed out the story more.

The Beast follows a pair of teenage twins, Jeremy and Jack Schaffer, who are polar opposites. Jeremy is a geek who plays Dungeons and Dragons with friends Kathleen and Randy, while Jack is a promising athlete who thinks a bit too highly of himself. It’s classic nerd versus jock.

However, the family dynamics are complicated by the twin’s unfaithful father and desperate mother. Bigfoot doesn’t care about human drama, though. The beast pounds an old man and his dog to slush by the end of Chapter 1 and sends another man to meet his maker in Chapter 9 before reality hits the fan for residents of the sleepy New Jersey town. In between, hints of the Bigfoot threat are sprinkled among the tense moments in the Schaffer family drama.

Of course, the initial suspect is a bear on the loose, and soon police officers, park rangers, and news crews are on the crime scene. One police officer, Sara Caine, seems to be the only one with the right combination of common sense and courage to solve the case. But with 250 acres of woods to scour, Sara knows the “bear” hunters will soon be the hunted the moment they enter Bigfoot’s home territory.

When the locals start hunting the “bear,” all hell breaks loose. The author Rosamilia ramps up the action and suspense in a thrilling climax, placing the twins, their friends, and their family in the path of the relentless Bigfoot.

The Beast finishes with a furious clash and a curious twist. Thankfully, both provide what readers of cryptid horror fiction often crave. After all the dust is settled and the blood is dried, The Beast is pure B movie fun in book form with a definite Jaws with claws vibe.

NEXT UP: Chapter Forty-Five: One Step Too Far. I review the 2022 novel by Lisa Gardner.


THE BIGFOOT FILES

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Forty-Three: Shadow of the Sasquatch

J.H. Moncrieff‘s 2021 novella Shadow of the Sasquatch follows the exploits of podcast host Nat McPherson after her harrowing adventure at Dyatlov Pass. The book is set more than a year after Nat returns from a tragic trip investigating the mysterious deaths of nine Russian skiers chronicled in Moncrieff’s intensely satisfying 2018 novella, Return to Dyatlov Pass.

Click HERE to read my review of Return to Dyatlov Pass.

Shadow of the Sasquatch opens with a prologue where Riley Tanner — wife of Jason and mother of 10-year-old Brooke — is getting the steal of a deal on a four-bedroom, three-bathroom house tucked into the Oregon wilderness. The reason for the low price is the previous owners were “city people … frightened by night noises,” according to the realtor. It’s not enough to deter Riley who agrees to buy the house.

The story then shifts to Nat McPherson in the midst of a therapy session. Nat once hosted the most popular podcast in the U.S. dealing with supernatural and unsolved mysteries. However, since the tragedy at Dyatlov Pass, her life has spiraled downward. Nat suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder that she medicates with alcohol. Her therapist urges Nat to go back to work to help her struggling financial situation.

A distressed call from the Tanners’ daughter in the middle of an apparent Sasquatch attack prompts Nat to return to action. When Nat arrives in Oregon, Riley explains the creatures only appear when her husband Jason is away on one of his trips as a long-haul truck driver.

When Jason goes on the road again, the creatures return, one nearly killing Nat and sending her to the hospital. While Nat recovers, the Tanners investigate the history of their house and locate the previous owners, Franklin and Elizabeth Riordan, in Phoenix, Arizona. They take a trip to Phoenix in search of answers from the Riordans.

Meanwhile, Nat’s emotional state is shaky at best as she sneaks out of the hospital and returns to the Tanner house to investigate further. Part of Nat wants to exact a measure of revenge on the creatures terrorizing the Tanners after what happened at Dyatlov Pass. And while the Oregon creatures are similar to the ones that Nat encountered at Dyatlov Pass, one major difference troubles her: “If they wanted to kill her, they could have.” Why didn’t they?

The answer is a shocker. The final quarter of Shadow of the Sasquatch hits the reader hard with a couple of stunning plot twists that effectively explain the creatures’ behavior. The epilogue neatly wraps up any loose ends.

Shadow of the Sasquatch is another outstanding entry into cryptid horror fiction by Moncrieff. I suggest reading Return to Dyatlov Pass first to truly understand and appreciate Nat’s state of mind in Shadow of the Sasquatch.

The key to the Nat McPherson books for me is Nat herself. Resilient but vulnerable, Nat is the perfect imperfect character to build a fiction series around. I look forward to hopefully more of Nat’s adventures in the future.

NEXT UP: Chapter Forty-Four: The Beast: A Bigfoot Thriller. I review the 2019 novella by Armand Rosamilia.


RELATED LINK

THE BIGFOOT FILES

 

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Forty-Two: Return to Dyatlov Pass

The 2018 horror novella Return to Dyatlov Pass is a cut above the typical creature feature. The 150-page story by J.H. Moncrieff is a sincere fictional attempt to investigate the mysterious – and true – 1959 deaths of nine Russian skiers whose bodies were discovered in the Ural Mountains.

Dedicated to the memory of the actual deceased skiers, Return to Dyatlov Pass is about a team of adventurers, led by Nat McPherson, that go back to the frigid scene of the unexplained fatalities. Nat is the host of Nat’s Mysterious World, the most popular podcast in the U.S. on the topic of unsolved and supernatural mysteries. 

Nat is a strong female protagonist with a lot of pride – maybe a tad too much. She lets an internet troll goad her into probing the Dyatlov Pass Incident and making the grueling trip to Russia. Her producer, the loyal Andrew, assembles a team of outdoor survivalists to accompany the podcast duo.

The opening scene perfectly – and horrifically – sets the mood as Moncrieff transports us back to March 1959 in the Ural Mountains where we witness the final minutes of the last survivor of the original Dyatlov party, a young woman named Lyudmila. 

“The moment before she died, Lyudmila wondered how it had gone so terribly wrong. Concealed within a makeshift snow cave for warmth and protection, she huddled close to Nicolai, though her friend’s body had long grown cold and stiff.” 

And that’s just the first paragraph.

Neary sixty years later, Nat and her team travel the same path, hoping to discover the truth of what really happened. Moncrieff creates a fully formed character with Nat, an inquisitive woman full of doubts and a powerful but untapped survival instinct. The author keeps the rest of the group from devolving into stereotypes with snappy dialogue and intense interactions, giving the minor characters a sense of personality. The crew is a mixed bag, each with individual experience but lacking the cohesion of a seasoned team that works together regularly. As the expedition progresses, the foreboding tone of John Carpenter’s The Thing and The X-Files’ “Ice” episode infiltrates the group’s dynamic, especially when people start dying. 

Actual investigations of the Dyatlov Pass Incident have attributed the deaths to an avalanche and hypothermia, but some of the bodies had traumatic injuries like skull damage and eyeballs missing. Other theories include military testing and alien encounters since the skiers’ clothes reportedly contained high levels of radiation.

Another theory? Yetis – aka abominable snowmen – killed the party of experienced skiers because a note reportedly found at the real campsite read, “From now on we know that snowmen exist.”

A gripping and heartfelt tale of terror in the mountains, Return to Dyatlov Pass parallels much of what the original 1959 victims “might” have experienced on their trip and offers an interesting take on the yeti theory. Plus, I learned what a “Mansi” is. Return to Dyatlov Pass is a must-read for fans of cryptid fiction.

NEXT UP: Chapter Forty-Three: Shadow of the Sasquatch. I review the 2021 novella by J.H. Moncrieff. 


RELATED LINK

THE BIGFOOT FILES

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Forty-One: Bigfoot 

In 2005, publisher IDW released a comic book series of adult creature horror titled Bigfoot. With art by the late Richard Corben, Bigfoot was written by Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) and Rob Zombie (Halloween), rounding out a major trio of talent for the brief four-part series.

Issue #1 opens in Blackwood National Park in 1973 with Bigfoot displaying his hunting prowess against a deer. The scene then cuts to a happy family of three accompanied by the ominous words: “Nobody should have to live through what I lived through in the summer of 1973.” 

The couple with their 10-year-old son Billy and dog Gomer is driving to a cabin at the ironically named Happy Trails Campground. The writers infuse the 1970s vibe with references to The Partridge Family and Doctor Midnight. Once at the cabin, there’s a sweet family moment featuring a Bambi story, and then it’s off to bed for Billy and time to play for the adults. 

It’s also time for Bigfoot to make a grand entrance. And does it ever, exploding into the cabin like a tank and interrupting Billy’s parents. Billy hears the commotion and peeks into his parents’ room to investigate. What he sees is a full-page shot of a bloodied Bigfoot in King Kong attack mode.

The authorities soon arrive and interview a shell-shocked Billy who can only mumble the word “monster.” The media call it a “bear massacre,” but the sheriff finds Bigfoot prints and covers them up. Issue #1 ends with Billy waking up from a creepy nightmare, setting the table for vengeance down the road. 

Bigfoot #1 is available for free on Amazon’s Kindle and ComiXology digital platforms, and the actual 2005 comic book is for sale through Amazon, starting at $69.83. The first issue received more than 150 Amazon reviews, averaging 4.1 stars out of 5. The other three issues are $1.99 each on Amazon Kindle. The comic books are short — between 22 and 25 pages — but the story oozes elements of old-school horror.

Overall, the plot of Bigfoot #1 is formulaic, but I like the formula. I love creature features and revenge tales, and it doubles my reading pleasure when they’re mixed together. Corben’s artwork captures the brutality of the Bigfoot attack, and the writing is straightforward. Plus, I just enjoy seeing Sasquatch in a comic book, which is as rare as a bona fide Bigfoot sighting nowadays.

NEXT UP: Chapter Forty-Two: Return to Dyatlov Pass. I review the 2018 novel by J.H. Moncrief.


RELATED LINK

The Bigfoot Files

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Forty: David Ford

Man vs. Bigfoot and Something in the Woods are a pair of gritty independent Bigfoot films written by, directed by, and starring the same man: East Texas native David Ford.

What the movies lack in budget, Ford replaces with old-fashioned, heartfelt storytelling that’s missing in most Bigfoot creature features.

Both films feature a Christian man trying to protect his family from Bigfoot. The legendary beasts are portrayed as monsters lurking in the woods with seemingly animalistic urges. However, their motivations are initially misunderstood.

The two films are available to watch free on the ad-supported streaming service Tubi.

Released in 2021, Man vs. Bigfoot is produced by GodZone Ministry, Saving Oscar Productions, and Random Media. It’s about a man named Jack who searches for his brother after he goes missing on a hiking trail. Jack soon finds himself in a game of cat-and-mouse with an angry Bigfoot.

Ford’s first Bigfoot film, Something in the Woods is loosely inspired by events reported about the Cowman of Copalis Beach. The story follows the Hartman family and their encounters with a Bigfoot stalking their farmhouse in the late 1960s. Released in 2015, Something in the Woods is produced by GodZone Ministry and Saving Oscar Productions. Tony Gibson also directed the movie with Ford.

A former teacher who works in advertising, Ford grew up in the small town of Harleton, Texas, and now lives in neighboring Hallsville. His interest in acting and filmmaking started after college.

“I have been messing around with a video camera since I was in the seventh grade, doing skits with my friends,” Ford said in an exclusive interview for THE BIGFOOT FILES. “I didn’t get serious about acting until I graduated college and did some acting on the side while being a teacher. I did one indie film with a local guy and realized that I too could probably make a movie after watching him do it. I learned a lot from my first film and just continued to grow with each film.”

Bigfoot sightings in East Texas stimulated Ford’s interest in the popular cryptid.

“My interest in Bigfoot started just through reading the research and evidence over the past 50 years in reports and stuff,” Ford said. “I wasn’t aware that East Texas was a hot spot for sightings at that time and when I read a report of several sightings in my area, well, I had to dig deeper. The more I dug the more I realized the evidence was very strong. Then, in 2015, while out in the woods one evening just before dark, something pushed over a dead tree in the thicket near me. I couldn’t see it, but it was huffing and puffing and running back and forth. The steps were heavy. That got me on the fence, and a couple years later I caught some audio of what I believe were Bigfoot creatures behind my house at 2 a.m. It took a couple months of setting my audio device out to finally get something that to me was conclusive. It sounded like a caveman getting on to a little juvenile for getting too close to the recorder.”

Ford thinks Bigfoot is a primate.

“I do believe the creature is an ape-like species that has been discovered, just not caught,” he said. “There is a mystery as to why we can’t catch one, but they are extremely fast, mainly active at night, and masters of the woods. Usually, when people see one, it’s very brief and they take off running. You got thousands of reports dating back to the 1800s of this same type of species. What is it? I don’t know, but they do have ape-like behavior in their rock-throwing, how they are built, and shaking trees, building teepee type structures, etc.”

Ford scored the ultimate Bigfoot casting coup when Bob Gimlin agreed to a cameo in Man vs. Bigfoot. Gimlin, of course, is one of the two men responsible for the 1967 Patterson-Gimlin film, which allegedly shows a female Bigfoot walking along Bluff Creek in Northern California.

“After making my first Bigfoot film, I ran into Bob Gimlin at Ohio Bigfoot Conference, and we became friends,” Ford said. “So, it was important to me to try and get him in a cameo in my next film if it was possible. Bob is a genuine man, and his story has never changed. The stabilized version of his story is proof the creature exists because nobody has been able to replicate that creature with muscles flexing beneath the fur, and stretch fur technology didn’t exist then. There are lots of other points to that video that make the Patterson-Gimlin footage the best evidence we have, and anyone interested can listen to Dr. Jeff Meldrum speak on it.”

While Ford believes Bigfoot exists, he also firmly believes in the existence of God. His two Bigfoot movies feature Christian families in lead roles, but the religious references are subdued and blend nicely into the composition of the characters.

“I try to plant seeds of the Gospel message in a subtle way,” Ford said. “I think it’s important to sow seeds of the truth in a dark world. Science can’t explain our need and want to worship something, and I believe God built us this way, to want to know Him. I also believe that we all will stand before God one day to give an account as the Bible teaches, and I don’t want to be someone who never shared the good news of Jesus. There are like 4,200 religions in the world but only one that rose from the dead, and only one that is based on grace and not works. I have some Christian-centered films lined up for the future, and I plan to make those when the right investors or funding comes along.”

So, does Ford plan to make more Bigfoot movies?

“I would love to make other Bigfoot films and other movies,” he said. “The problem I face is funding. I made other movies for about $15,000. That isn’t enough to pay people. I just did those movies like that to show what I could do. So, I am hoping to find private investors for my future films. The goal for my next project is $200,000. If anyone is interested, they can reach out to me.”

The best way to contact Ford is his email: davidford75@gmail.com.


RELATED LINKS

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Thirty-Nine: Man vs. Bigfoot

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Sixteen: Something in the Woods

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Thirty-Nine: Man vs. Bigfoot

Man vs. Bigfoot is a low-budget creature feature from David D. Ford, who wrote, directed, and acted in the 2021 film. The movie is free to watch HERE on Tubi.

Ford plays a tormented cop named Jack on leave after a traffic stop escalates into a tragic shooting. He deals with the nightmares thanks to a supportive wife and a new therapy group, although he questions whether he can put on the uniform again.

The film kicks into gear when Jack’s brother Aaron heads to the woods for a solo hiking trip. Aaron calls his wife the first night, reporting strange noises in the night. Not surprisingly, Aaron goes missing. A search party finds Aaron’s cellphone, and Jack spots a shadowy figure in the background of one of Aaron’s selfies.

Ruled as a likely bear attack by authorities, Jack continues to search for his brother. During Jack’s first night camping in the forest, he encounters a Native American trapper named Don Bighorse. The trapper tells Jack, “The protector of the woods is angry and out for blood. I think your brother was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The protector, of course, is Bigfoot. The trapper reveals he’s seen Bigfoot twice, including one week ago.

The next day Jack encounters the creature, and the movie becomes a cat-and-mouse game between man and beast for the remaining 45 minutes.

The Bigfoot in the film is realistic enough, and the battle between Jack and the creature is a gritty brawl at times. Both seem reluctant to deal a fatal death blow even when the opportunity is there.

Man vs. Bigfoot overcomes a slow start to finish strong with an emotional climax and one of the sweetest final shots ever in a Bigfoot movie. Ultimately, the film is about two creatures — man and beast — struggling with grief over recent tragedies in their lives.

Man vs. Bigfoot also features a cameo by Bob Gimlin, one of the filmmakers of the famous 1967 Patterson-Gimlin video that allegedly captured a real Bigfoot walking along Bluff Creek in Northern California.

In 2015, David D. Ford directed and acted in another Bigfoot movie titled Something in the Woods. Click HERE to read my review of Something in the Woods, which is also free to watch on Tubi.

NEXT UP: Chapter Forty: David Ford. I interview the actor/writer/director.

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Thirty-Eight: Letters from the Big Man

The 2011 feature Letters from the Big Man is the most bemusing Bigfoot film I have ever watched. At times more meditation than movie, it’s like a love letter featuring an enigmatic Sasquatch and a woman ready to surrender to nature.

Directed by Christopher Munch, Letters from the Big Man feels like a passion project. After viewing it on Amazon Prime Video, I still don’t know what to think of it. But it did make me think. I checked the critically acclaimed film’s rating on the review site Rotten Tomatoes, and the audience score of 52% confirmed my suspicions. It’s not an easy movie to categorize. Film critic Roger Ebert wrote at the time, “‘Letters from the Big Man’ will mystify some, please others with its serenity, and be unlike any Bigfoot movie you have ever imagined.” That sums up the reaction I had.

Darrin Jones, a talented blacksmith in Alabama, recommended the film to me. Darrin and his wife create and sell custom merchandise, including items stamped with the Bigfoot logo. I purchased a Bigfoot keyring and four Bigfoot coasters from them at a gun show last year. Their business is located on Facebook under “Jones Knives and Leatherworks.”

Letters from the Big Man revolves around a Forest Service employee named Sarah Smith played by an excellent Lily Rabe. In the aftermath of a recently ended relationship, Sarah copes by accepting a solo job to study rainwater run-off in a remote forest impacted by fires.

What follows is a slow burn tale as Sarah enjoys the isolation of nature while Bigfoot watches her from a distance. Sarah meets an environmental activist to break up her solitude. There’s a subplot involving a secret government plan to build an intelligence center to study Bigfoot for military reasons. Apparently, the CIA thinks the Big Man employs extrasensory abilities ripe for exploiting.

However, the focus of the film is more on feelings than plot, although it’s difficult to discern what Bigfoot feels. Sadness mixed with hopefulness, maybe? Sarah’s feelings are profoundly affected by her time in nature. She draws artwork of Bigfoot from her dreams, and she desires to live with the creatures in the same way Dian Fossey immersed herself with the gorillas.

Yes, Letters from the Big Man is a strangely serene film, but as a Bigfoot enthusiast, I enjoyed it. The makeup department’s dignified interpretation of Bigfoot and the subtle acting of Isaac C. Singleton Jr. reinforced my ideal version of Sasquatch as a patient and peaceful creature struggling to make sense of humanity’s self-destructive behavior.

At one point, a character says of Bigfoot, “It’s all about the heart with them.” Perhaps that’s the message of the movie. Maybe the filmmaker hopes Bigfoot can say the same about humanity one day.

NEXT UP: Chapter Thirty-Nine: Man vs. Bigfoot. I review the 2021 film directed by David D. Ford.


RELATED LINKS

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Thirty-Four: Exists
THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Twenty-Nine: Primal Rage
THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Eighteen: The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot
THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Sixteen: Something in the Woods
THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Nine: Stomping Ground
THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Eight: Abominable
THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Seven: Willow Creek
THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Six: Big Legend

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Thirty-Seven: Something in the Woods

Something in the Woods is an old-school creature feature that ramps up the woodsy horror and delivers a satisfying climax to The Beast of Fallow Pines trilogy. While the first two books in the series featured solemn adults dealing with their grief alone, Something in the Woods lets loose with young adults drinking beer, smoking pot, and having sex.

If you haven’t read the first two books in the series, here are my reviews of Book 1 (The Darkness in the Pines) and Book 2 (The Beast of Fallow Pines). Click on the book titles for the links.

Written by Harlan Graves, Something in the Woods instills the vibe of a Friday the 13th film as four campers battle for their lives against a force of nature hellbent on horrific violence.

The story opens with two couples, Will and Laney and Bryce and Brittany, pumping gas at one of those rundown stations you see in most hillbilly cannibal movies. They encounter a strange, old man (wearing ragged flannel and patched jeans, of course) who warns the group to stay away from Fallow Pines.

“There’s something in the woods,” he says. “Sometimes hikers go up into those pines and never come back down again.”

Naturally, the campers go up into those pines, and we’ll get to see if any of them ever come back down again. Why are dire warnings from old-timers always ignored by young adults in horror fiction? Nobody likes a party pooper, I guess.

By page 6 of the 35-page story, the author Graves rewards readers of the first two books with a familiar sight that leads to more clues and eventually another intense battle with the Beast of Fallow Pines. As I stated in my previous review, Graves masterfully writes riveting fight scenes between humans and the Beast, which is the strength of all three tales.

Like Book 2, Something in the Woods finishes on an ominous note. The final sentence blends doom with a shred of hope, signaling the end of a trilogy worth reading for fans of cryptid horror.

NEXT UP: Chapter Thirty-Eight: Letters from the Big Man. I review the 2011 film directed by Christopher Munch.

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Thirty-Six: The Beast of Fallow Pines

The Beast of Fallow Pines is Book 2 in a cryptid trilogy written by Harlan Graves. The story follows a recently divorced man named David who relocates to his late father’s abandoned cabin in the remote wilderness to escape the painful memories of his past. His only companion is his dog, the Great Pyrenees named Argus.

David, by the way, is the son of the main character from Book 1, The Darkness in the Pines. You can read my review of The Darkness in the Pines HERE.

The Darkness in the Pines and The Beast of Fallow Pines not only share a bloodline, but they also share plots, styles, and tones. Both feature troubled men in the same isolated location stalked by a creature in the woods. Even the warning signs are similar – a decapitated deer instead of a bear, for example.

Before the inevitable encounter, David senses the dark presence of the Beast. Sounds wake him up in the middle of the night. He sees glowing eyes in the darkness. Basically, The Beast of Fallow Pines is the same creature-feature storyline as Book 1 but adds a dog to the mix.

As a fan of cryptid horror, I’m not looking for razzle-dazzle or originality. Just make the Sasquatch encounters interesting, which is what Graves is able to do, and I’m hooked.

The Beast of Fallow Pines gains steam when Argus disappears into the woods. When David returns from his unsuccessful dog search, he finds his cabin ransacked .. and you can guess who the culprit is.

Like his father before him, David must face the Beast in another well-orchestrated fight scene. The author Graves knows how to pack the action and suspense in a gritty man-versus-beast battle. Unfortunately, the book ends with a cliffhanger of sorts, which may leave some readers without a satisfying resolution.

However, there are three parts to a trilogy — not two, and I’m sure Graves will address any loose ends in his third book titled Something in the Woods.

NEXT UP: Chapter Thirty-Seven: Something in the Woods. I review Book 3 of The Beast of Fallow Pines trilogy.

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Thirty-Five: The Darkness in the Pines

 

The Darkness in the Pines by Harlan Graves is a creature-feature novella about a grieving Vietnam veteran named Howard Ward. Released in May, the story is Book 1 of 3 in a series titled The Beast of Fallow Pines. The Fallow Pines is a mysterious place with a history of missing lumberjacks and miners from the 1900s.

The first sentence – “Howard Ward had seen some shit” – is a perfect opener because it implies Howard is about to see more that he hadn’t seen before. And boy, does he ever.

Howard is an aging former soldier who lives in an isolated cabin amid a primeval forest known as Fallow Pines. Still bitter about the tragic death of his wife, Howard lives a loner’s survivalist life.

The story begins with Howard’s discovery of a decapitated bear soon followed by chickens with their heads torn off, then the inevitable footprint we suspect is Bigfoot’s.

The author Graves incorporates Howard’s Vietnam experience through past memories and dreams without killing the suspense in the present. Graves’ writing conveys the foreboding sense of walking through the woods alone, using the snap of a twig or the silence to effectively heighten the tension.

“The wind hissed through the pines, the branches rasping like dry bones. It carried with it the faint scent of decay.”

Howard’s first encounter with the Beast is watching “a huge black shape” drag away one of his deer kills.

When Howard visits a surplus store to buy a bear trap, the proprietor Tom warns him.

“Careful up there, Howard,” Tom said. “I overheard on my scanner just a week ago how a camper out Fallow Creek way was mauled in his sleeping bag. … Bear ate him like a burrito.”

Of course, Howard is stubborn, at one point telling the darkness, “These are MY woods.”

However, Bigfoot disagrees.

The Darkness in the Pines delivers not one but two epic one-on-one battles between Howard and the Beast. Howard seems to channel Arnold Schwarzenegger from the 1987 film Predator, using his soldier skills to try and kill the Beast.

The three titles in The Beast of Fallow Pines series have generated more than 220 reviews on Amazon averaging 4.2 stars out of 5. I enjoyed Book 1 enough to read the rest of the series. I think fans of cryptid horror will enjoy it, too.

NEXT UP: Chapter Thirty-Six: The Beast of Fallow Pines. I review the 2021 novella by Harlan Graves.

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Thirty-Four: Exists

Exists is the purest Bigfoot film I’ve ever watched. By purest, I mean if you looked up “Bigfoot movie” in the dictionary, a picture of this film’s poster should be there. Released in 2014, Exists is directed by Eduardo Sánchez, one-half of the duo who directed and wrote the groundbreaking 1999 found-footage horror film The Blair Witch Project.

Available free with ads on tubitv.com, Exists is basically a more action-packed Blair Witch-style creature feature as the plot follows five friends into the remote East Texas woods for a weekend camping getaway at a neglected hunting cabin. One of the campers, Brian, is the fifth wheel of the group, but he brings along a lot of video equipment to document the adventure.

The film opens with these foreboding words: “Since 1967, there have been over 3,000 Bigfoot encounters in the U.S. alone. Experts agree the creatures are only violent if provoked.”

Exists effectively uses almost all the Bigfoot clichés, including discovery of the hair and the footprint, the eerie vocalizations, and rock-throwing. The Sasquatch itself is one of the best to grace the big screen thanks to the costume design of Charlotte Harrigan and the creature acting of Brian Steele.

The movie starts fast when the group of friends hits something in the road with their SUV. Brian’s video camera catches a mysterious image of “something” walking in front of their vehicle. However, they never find whatever it is they hit.

Once at the cabin, the group spends the first day at a nearby watering hole. While Brian surreptitiously videos one of the couples making out, he hears a noise and sees something moving in the woods. During his search for the creature, Brian reveals that years ago his uncle (who owns the cabin) “saw something out here that freaked him out. Bad enough that he never came back to his beloved hunting cabin.”

What follows that night is a close encounter of the Bigfoot kind as the group is terrorized and left stranded in the woods by a raging Sasquatch. The next morning, Brian’s brother Matt hops on his mountain bike and heads for the highway to look for help and hopefully find cellphone reception.

The second attack on the cabin spooks the remaining four in the group enough to take a shortcut through the woods to try and reach the safety of the highway. The final half-hour is an intensely desperate trek through Bigfoot territory with an emotionally satisfying climax.

For the most part, movie critics and audiences did not like Exists when released in 2014. According to movie review website Rotten Tomatoes, only 33 percent of critics offered positive reviews of the film, but what surprised me was the audience score of 29 percent.

Yes, the human characters are paper-thin, and the plot is bare-bones basic, but the Bigfoot attacks are exceptionally staged and realistic. I think 15 years after The Blair Witch Project’s release that maybe audiences were tired of shaky-camera, found-footage films, especially in the era of slick comic-book, super-hero movies.

Whatever the case, I’m glad the movie “exists” for Bigfoot enthusiasts like me.

NEXT UP: Chapter Thirty-Five: The Darkness in the Pines. I review the 2021 novella by Harlan Graves.

THE BIGFOOT FILES\Chapter Thirty-Three: Bigfoot: A Short Story

In D.L. Finn’s Bigfoot: A Short Story, a man’s life forever changes when he stumbles upon an obscure blog while searching for his recently retired friend, Bob and Bob’s wife Elly. The blog features a bizarre interview with Bob who reveals a conspiracy to kill Bigfoot.

The man reading the blog is Steve, whose wife Sandy wants him to find the new address for Bob and Elly. The couple retired and suddenly moved to Florida without so much as a goodbye or forwarding address. As Steve reads the blog, the story develops a distinct “X-Files” vibe complete with cryptid encounters, UFO sightings, and government conspiracies.

Finn effectively uses the blog in her 2018 short story to challenge Steve’s and the reader’s ability to discern fact from fiction. As the story elevates from a crazy Bigfoot tale into revealing a universal threat to humanity, Steve makes a life-changing decision for him and his wife based on a photograph and a gut feeling.

In an era of fake news and online hoaxes, Bigfoot: A Short Story makes you wonder what you would do in Steve’s situation. I doubt I could do what he did in the end, but after reading Finn’s story, I’d definitely think about it.

NEXT UP: Chapter Thirty-Four: Exists. I review the 2014 horror film directed by Eduardo Sánchez.

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Thirty-Two: ‘The Oregon Sasquatch’

“The Oregon Sasquatch” features one of the most believable witness interviews about a Bigfoot encounter that I’ve watched. The interview and reenactment aired on Episode 3 of the Syfy show Paranormal Witness in 2011.

The encounter happened in the Cascades of Oregon in 1997. The location of hundreds of Bigfoot sightings, the Cascades are a sprawling mountain range in western North America, extending from Canada through Washington and Oregon to Northern California.

The witness is Jess Boiler, a deputy sheriff who decided to take a hike after working his shift. After walking for two hours, he looked through his compass to take a measurement.

“I saw a person standing there, but it was clearly not a human being,” Boiler said.

With the Sasquatch looking directly at him, Boiler involuntarily cocked his head to one side.

“He mimicked me exactly,” Boiler said. “He was smart.”

The deputy sheriff reached for his weapon, and the Sasquatch fled the scene. With fear overcoming curiosity, Boiler eventually headed back to his vehicle. The sound of snapping trees and the sight of a frightened deer heightened the tension on his return trip.

“The idea I couldn’t see him, but he could see me made me very uncomfortable,” Boiler said. “I was convinced that I was going to die and that I was going to die in a very bad way.”

“The Oregon Sasquatch” is an eerie five-minute-long segment, effectively capturing the fear of a Bigfoot encounter by cutting to realistic reenactment scenes during the Boiler interview.

Watch the interview and share your thoughts in the comment section. What do you think of Boiler’s story?

NEXT UP: Chapter Thirty-Three: Bigfoot: A Short Story. I review the 2018 short story by D.L. Finn.

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Thirty-One: The Red Book

The brazenly titled short story, The Red Book: The Final Word on Sasquatch, by Jill Hedgecock, employs a fictitious journal to reveal the truth behind the iconic Patterson-Gimlin film.

Shot in October 1967, the Patterson-Gimlin film allegedly shows a female Sasquatch walking along Bluff Creek in Northern California. It’s the most famous image of Bigfoot and remains a source of controversy more than 50 years later.

A Bigfoot enthusiast herself, Hedgecock expresses her personal doubts about the film in the framework of her story. She also shares what she thinks is the most compelling evidence proving the Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot is fake.

Published by Goshawk Press in June 2020, The Red Book starts with a man named Cole cleaning his deceased grandfather’s cabin in preparation to sell it. While reminiscing alone, Cole finds a box with a Bible and a red, leather-bound scrapbook/journal. He starts reading a note wedged between the two books as well as the journal and a letter addressed to him all written by his grandfather.

“Before opening the red book, please place your right hand on the Bible and state the following: ‘As God is my witness, I will not speak of the facts documented herein until after the death of all of the implicated parties.’ … I have lived a lie and it has weighed heavy on me. … What I did, what I agreed to, has made for a difficult life.’”

Concerned but intrigued, Cole dives into the journal, which chronicles a chance encounter at a gas station in Orleans, California, between his grandfather and Roger Patterson around the time the Patterson-Gimlin film was shot. Patterson approached Cole’s grandfather about a role in a Hollywood film. Standing six-foot-eight, Cole’s grandfather was a prime candidate to don the infamous Bigfoot costume.

The journal details Patterson’s plot for filming the Bigfoot footage. Hedgecock is well-versed on the subject and effectively includes actual reports linked to the Patterson-Gimlin film.

After reading the journal, Cole wrestles with the moral dilemma sparked by the remarkable admission of his late grandfather. In the end, Cole makes his decision about what to do with the journal, understanding Bigfoot will remain real to the true believers even if the Patterson-Gimlin film is fake.

The Red Book reimagines the controversy of the Patterson-Gimlin film, and I think Bigfoot enthusiasts will enjoy the short tale as well as the Author’s Note at the end.

NEXT UP: Chapter Thirty-Two: “The Oregon Sasquatch.” I review the 2011 segment on Episode 3 of the Syfy show Paranormal Witness.

THE BIGFOOT FILES\ Chapter Thirty: Bigfoot Horror Stories

Bigfoot Horror Stories is the first in a series of books by author Steven Armstrong, a native of Washington state.

“Having grown up in Tacoma, Washington, the subject of Sasquatch has been a somewhat familiar topic of discussion ever since I can remember,” Armstrong writes in his Foreword. “Although I have never had the presumably terrifying experience of running into a Sasquatch, the possibility continues to keep me on high alert while trekking through the desolate woods of the Pacific Northwest.”

Armstrong has released five volumes of Bigfoot Horror Stories in 2021, and they’ve garnered more than 260 reviews on Amazon with an average rating of 4.2 stars (out of 5).

“I’ve spent close to two years gathering Sasquatch sighting reports and putting them into my own words,” he writes.

The first volume, Bigfoot Horror Stories, describes six sightings throughout North America. The stories don’t read like horror tales per se but more like eyewitness reports. However, a common thread of fear ties all the Sasquatch encounters together. As an avid Bigfoot enthusiast, I enjoyed Bigfoot Horror Stories.

Told in the first-person point of view by the eyewitnesses, the stories are straightforward and unembellished, which gives them a semblance of authenticity. They range from Bigfoot snatching a boy’s backpack to killing a girl’s horse.

The first story, “The Stolen Backpack,” is set in Oregon on an October day about 20 years ago when the witness – 11 years old at the time – describes an incident where a Sasquatch stole a backpack from his friend and disappeared into the woods.

“I still can’t believe how close that creature got to town,” the witness reported.

In “Tree Knocks near the Garden,” a Massachusetts woman describes an encounter three years ago. While working in her garden, she heard three knocks, which eventually led to an actual Bigfoot sighting. It scared her so much that she hid in her bathtub until her boyfriend returned home. He joined her in the bathtub after seeing the Sasquatch. The police responded to their 9-1-1 call and told the couple to vacate the property.

“They claimed they had found signs of wolves in the area and needed to call specialists to transport them elsewhere before they could harm anyone. The story felt very odd,” the woman reported.

Adding to the oddness is that the federal government funded their stay in a hotel.

“My gut tells me that a Sasquatch was either apprehended or killed at the site,” the woman said.

“The Rooftop Creeps” is a story set during a 1998 family Christmas in Anchorage, Alaska. The witness said his terrified sister claimed she saw “a big monkey” while building a snow fort in the yard. Their father investigated and discovered strange tracks but nothing else. Later, a skirmish on their rooftop “sounded like two large people started wrestling atop the roof and sliding down one side of it.”

“Since I never saw the animals myself, I’m unable to verify whether it was a couple of Sasquatches that were on our roof that night, but my sister insists that was the case,” the witness reported. “There’s not a single doubt in her mind that it was a Sasquatch that approached her while she was building her snow fort all those years back.”

The next two stories feature Bigfoot and other animals.

In “The Turkey Snatcher,” a young boy joins his uncle on a turkey hunt during a Thanksgiving in Ohio. He witnesses what his uncle called a “wood booger” during the trip.

In “The Runaway Horse,” Sasquatch allegedly spooked and then killed a girl’s horse during a ride in Northern California. The witness reported her cousin said, “There was a wild gorilla in the woods.”

The final story, titled “The Ridge Crawler,” happened in 2004 during a camping trip about an hour inland from San Diego. The witness and three other college students heard a scream and noticed a pair of eyes in a tree.

“I thought it was some strange person who had climbed up there unnoticed,” the witness reported.

The college students followed the animal to a ridge where it appeared to issue a warning with a bluff charge. They returned to their vehicles and waited until sunrise before retrieving their tents and camping gear.

“We quickly agreed that it had to have been a Sasquatch that we encountered,” the witness said.

Click HERE to check out Armstrong’s Bigfoot Horror Stories on Amazon.

NEXT UP: Chapter Thirty-One: The Red Book. I review the 2020 short story by Jill Hedgecock.

INTERVIEW: Podcast host Brandon A. Lane

Rants From The Black Lodge host Brandon A. Lane delivers one of the best openers of any horror podcast.

“Recording live from the Black Lodge, it’s me. The freewheel burnin’, head turnin’, ass-kicking, machismo-dripping master podcaster and mouthpiece of the Southeast Brandon A. Lane.”

The fact his beginning is preceded with a kicker from Anthrax’s “I Am the Law” only adds to the heavy metal heart of Lane’s passion for horror movies.

Lane’s Rants From The Black Lodge is “a cult film commentary audio podcast” that debuted in August 2017 with his favorite film of all time, 1984’s Ghostbusters. Since then, the monthly podcast has dissected nearly 50 movies, including Frankenhooker and The Toxic Avenger. Lane’s podcasts often open with an introduction by one of the stars in the film he’s reviewing. He’s had actors from Miko Hughes, who played Gage Creed in 1989’s Pet Sematary, to Felissa Rose, the star of Sleepaway Camp, to open his show.

Lane with Sleepaway Camp star Felissa Rose

Available on the Project Louder network, Lane’s podcast is based out of his home in Sevierville, Tennessee, amidst the Smoky Mountains. The Black Lodge is the nickname for his home, a nod to the Twin Peaks TV series.

Here’s an exclusive HorrorAddicts.net interview with Lane.

Q: Ghostbusters was your first show. I know it’s your favorite movie of all time. What about that film still captivates you nearly 40 years after its release?

LANE: Ghostbusters is more than just my favorite movie; it’s my favorite thing period. Often, in an effort to explain how much I love Ghostbusters, I’ll use this framework: “I like the worst aspects of Ghostbusters more than you love the best aspects of your favorite thing.”

Some people take that as a joke, but I really do mean it! It would be too time-consuming to yammer on about the many reasons I love the film, but in broadest terms Ghostbusters persist in my life because I’ve been able to reevaluate it throughout my life. As a child, it was appealing on a surface level – eye-catching special effects, cool costumes and memorable theme song.

As a teenager, I came to appreciate the biting snark of the comedic performances (most of which flew over my head as a kid). The “this man has no dick” line alone warrants consideration of one of cinema’s greatest insults.

As an adult, I’ve become cognizant of how truly off the film is in terms of its structure. Nobody has a character arch, the villain (Gozer) doesn’t show up to the last 20 minutes of the movie and the main obstacle of the film isn’t ghost or interdimensional demigods, it’s governmental bureaucracy in the form of the EPA.

When people refer to something as a once-in-a-lifetime, lightning-in-a-bottle scenario, I would equate that sentiment to Ghostbusters – a perfect film.

Q: As a teen during the ‘80s, I love that you review older horror movies. How do you choose the films you review for your podcast?

LANE: The boring answer is that I reach out on social media and see who from the film world wants to participate in either a podcast introduction or interview and that will guide me towards a particular film.

I suppose the more interesting answer would be tracking down how many of our existing podcast segments would be applicable for a given movie. For instance, does this film have an interesting backstory or production? Have any of the principal players, in front or behind the camera, had careers beyond the film? Was the film released in a year where there was a lot of competition in its genre? Does the film have subtext? Can elements of the film be debatable, such as casting, performance, relevance, and legacy? There are other considerations, but if a film can check all or most of those boxes, it ends up on my short list.

Q: You have a huge collection of horror movies and memorabilia. What is the most cherished item in your collection?

LANE: My life previous to hosting the Rants From the Black Lodge podcast was spent as a copy editor and graphic designer in the newspaper industry. In addition to my designing duties, I also would write a bi-weekly column called “Welcome to My Nightmare” which served as a prototype of sort for the podcast I host now. Because of this column I caught the attention of Shane Marr who had directed a film about the infamous Tennessee legend, the Bell Witch.

It just so happens that the voice of the titular witch of his film was none other than the legendary Betsy Palmer. For the 1 percent of you who don’t know who Betsy Palmer was, she was the killer in the original Friday the 13th, which just happens to stand as my second favorite film of all time. Shane reached out to me to do a review of his film, which I happily did and was lucky enough to get to interview Mrs. Palmer herself for my column.

The column comes out, it’s well received, and life goes on normally until one day I received a call asking me to come down Shane’s studio because he had a package for me. I stroll down there on my lunch break and am floored to find not only an autographed 8-by-10 but more specially a handwritten letter from Betsy thanking me for the column. I have a lot of things in my collection, that if I were to lose would devastate me but the only one that I would be crying over would be that letter because it’s irreplaceable.

Q: You review a lot of sequels and classics. Many of those classics have been remade or reimagined. What are your feelings about rebooting franchises like Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street?

LANE: One of the long-running gags on the podcast comes courtesy of my co-host, Fat Tony, who would continually give me shit for refusing to watch the Evil Dead remake. For the benefit of those of you out there who don’t know, I grew up in Morristown, Tennessee, where the original Evil Dead was filmed. Growing up Evil Dead wasn’t a movie to me; it was a badge of honor. Our little nothing town was known for two things: Davy Crockett lived there for a short time and this little splatter film the city likes to ignore was filmed there.

Eventually, I relented and saw the film and it was okay. That being said, remakes are not a foregone conclusion of bad quality, but it is more likely they will be. There are tons of exceptions like David Cronenberg’s The Fly or John Carpenter’s The Thing, but generally we end up with dreck like the remake of Prom Night. If you’re looking for recommendations for a couple of really good remakes in the past few years, I’d check out Suspiria and Maniac.

Q: You must love the Shudder channel and the fact Joe Bob Briggs is back. How much has Joe Bob influenced you?

LANE: To fans of cult films, Joe Bob Briggs isn’t just an authority, he’s a god. A good deal of the affinity I have for many of my favorite films comes from late nights of my youth spent watching MonsterVision on TNT which was hosted by none other than the man himself. Many of things we do on the podcast are directly ripped off from his schtick, and if you’ve gotta steal, you might as well steal from best.

Q: You do deep dives into the background of the movies you showcase. Has any of the behind-the-scenes facts you discover surprised you and changed your opinion about a movie or an actor?

LANE: We as viewers only see the finished product and rarely understand the sheer difficulty that goes into making a film. Budget cuts, actor conflicts, schedule mishaps … it’s amazing that movies of any quality get made. 

That being said, some things about what makes a film great are objective and others are subjective. Objective qualities include lighting, editing, sound, etc. But the subjective elements are harder to define. Subjective qualities, oftentimes, simply come down to personal taste. 

A particular film that we’ve covered that I’m not a fan of is Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween. I have an appreciation for Rob Zombie as a director … just not as a writer. On a personal level I despise some of his choices he made in the film, but I can’t deny his perspective of there being no point in doing a remake without justifying it with its own flavor. Just so happens it’s a flavor I couldn’t stomach, but I’d be foolish not to acknowledge that some people love it. If films were universally loved, there would be no cult films, so I welcome everyone’s opinion. I might not agree with your viewpoint, but I’m also open to a good old-fashioned film debate.”

Visit https://projectlouder.net/rants-from-the-black-lodge to listen to Rants From The Black Lodge.

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Twenty-Nine: Primal Rage

Primal Rage is a B movie creature feature with an interesting take on the Bigfoot myth streaming free on Tubi. Released in 2018 by Blue Fox Entertainment, the horror film is directed by Patrick Magee who boasts an extensive background in special makeup effects. Magee’s talent is on display here as Primal Rage presents one of the most wickedly cool Bigfoots to hit the screen.

Reminiscent of the alien in the 1987 movie Predator, Magee’s Bigfoot is a warrior who wears bark armor, swings axes like Jason Voorhees, and uses a bow and arrow with deadly accuracy.

The storyline is basic. A married couple, Max and Ashley Carr face danger after a freak accident strands them in the forest. A former substance abuser, Max is fresh out of prison, and the film opens with Ashley picking him up. During their drive through the Pacific Northwest, the couple reveals the tension between them and the fact they have a child together.

Once lost in the woods, Max and Ashley encounter a group of local yokel hunters packing rifles and rape vibes for Ashley. However, Bigfoot is stalking the couple and is preparing to launch an attack on the humans.

About halfway through the one-hour and 45-minute film, the killings start in full force as Bigfoot’s arrows puncture throats and his axes decapitate heads. The practical special effects are top-notch.

Like the hunters, Bigfoot is focused on Ashley, and he snatches her up during his rampage and carries her to his cave. Meanwhile, a sheriff (played by the late Eloy Casados) is on the case, tapping into Native American myths about the Oh-Mah legend to develop a plan to rescue Ashley.

An act of redemption packs a bit of an emotional punch during the climax, but the fun of Primal Rage is watching Bigfoot fearlessly bound around the woods and wreak havoc. As a fan of Sasquatch and low-budget creature features, I enjoyed Primal Rage and applaud the director’s effort to try a new twist on an old legend.

NEXT UP: Chapter Thirty: Bigfoot Horror Stories. I review the 2021 book by Steven Armstrong.

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Twenty-Eight: The Kiamichi Beast Expedition

The Kiamichi Beast Expedition is like watching two men fish for an hour without ever catching a fish. Sound boring? It may be, but in all fairness, most Bigfoot expeditions are probably exactly like the one depicted in this 2021 amateur documentary streaming free on Tubi.

Led by Bigfoot investigator Master Hughes with assistance from tracker Victor Inman, The Kiamichi Beast Expedition chronicles a two-week trip in 2019 to the Kiamichi Mountains, which extend from southeastern Oklahoma to western Arkansas.

Billed as the oldest Bigfoot in Oklahoma, the Kiamichi beast has apparently terrorized the region for more than 200 years according to newspaper reports and Native American stories.

“Many of the locals claim when they find a dead deer or a hog and the liver’s missing, it’s the Kiamichi beast that did it,” Hughes tells us at the beginning.

As amateur documentaries go, Hughes does a serviceable job of giving viewers an accurate account of his adventure. The problem is nothing really happened on the trip. While Hughes and Inman find an 18-inch-long footprint and hear strange sounds in the distance, the expedition was dampened by rain and limited the duo’s ability to track the beast.

The highlight is listening to the howls of what Hughes claims is the only known recording of the Kiamichi beast. Even though the expedition failed to yield any irrefutable evidence, Hughes believes the beast exists. He also makes some boldly specific claims about Bigfoot’s abilities and behavior that justify the lack of evidence.

“They have the ability to hear sounds that me and you can’t hear,” Hughes explains. “They can hear the click of a camera 300 yards away because of their hearing. You can’t get within a mile of Bigfoot with a firearm. He can smell the powder a mile away.”

Ultimately, I credit Hughes for venturing into the Kiamichi Mountains and showing us what he found. But other than hearing the wails of what may be the Kiamichi beast, the documentary doesn’t offer any compelling new evidence for believers. The film is geared more toward enthusiasts interested in Bigfoot expeditions the same way anglers will watch a fishing show even when no one catches a fish.

NEXT UP: Chapter Twenty-Nine: Primal Rage. I review the 2018 film directed by Patrick Magee.

THE BIGFOOT FILES / Chapter Twenty-Seven: Bigfoot in the Bronx

Bigfoot in the Bronx is another rip-roaring creature feature by the king of cryptid fiction, Hunter Shea. Released in March by Severed Press, Bigfoot in the Bronx takes the concept of the 1987 film Harry and the Hendersons to the next manic level, although the story has a closer kinship with King Kong.

Friends since childhood, Shay and Vito head to the Catskills for their annual deer hunt. The men are struggling financially and feel the pressure of bagging a deer to help feed their families.

When they witness a Bigfoot kill a deer and then drop to the ground apparently dead, Shay’s financial desperation overtakes his common sense. “We have proof of Bigfoot right in front of us. We’re going to be rich!”

The men load the Bigfoot’s body in their truck and store it in a shed in Shay’s backyard. Of course, Bigfoot isn’t dead; it was merely incapacitated by tranquilizer darts from a hidden shooter.

Bigfoot wakes up inside Shay’s shed and goes on a rampage that starts in a cemetery and spills over onto playgrounds, golf courses, subway cars, and the Bronx streets. Add in the day of the year – it’s Halloween – and the confusion escalates as Bigfoot is often mistaken for a man in a costume.

Shay and Vito feel responsible for introducing the monster into civilization, and their deer hunt transforms into a Bigfoot hunt. At one point, the men dress up as Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny to justify carrying guns in public. Yeah, it that’s kind of crazy adventure.

Amidst the chaos and destruction, Shea includes some unexpectedly heartfelt scenes, much like Peter Jackson did in his 2005 film adaptation of King Kong. I felt Shea was rooting for his Bigfoot from the get-go.

While Shay and Vito are not the most likable duo to headline a creature feature, they grew on me by the end because of their empathy and familial motivation. Ultimately, though, Bigfoot in the Bronx is pure madness and mayhem that would make a perfect Saturday night movie on Syfy.

NEXT UP: Chapter Twenty-Eight: The Kiamichi Beast Expedition. I review the 2021 documentary.

THE BIGFOOT FILES / Chapter Twenty-Six: ‘Monsters Among Us’

The third and final episode of Hulu’s true-crime documentary Sasquatch brings its mythic metaphor full circle with the conclusion of an investigation into a 1993 triple homicide allegedly committed by Bigfoot.

If you haven’t read my reviews of the first two episodes, here are the links to EPISODE 1 and EPISODE 2.

Investigative journalist David Holthouse

The finale is titled “Monsters Among Us.” Unfortunately, for us Bigfoot enthusiasts, the monsters are not Sasquatches. They’re cannabis farmers in the Northern California region known as the Emerald Triangle.

Episode 3 continues the murder investigation conducted by journalist David Holthouse, who interviews suspicious cannabis farmers and law enforcement officials. Holthouse discovers hopeful leads and frustrating dead ends in his search for the truth.

When one of the more colorful characters named Ghostdance says he recalls a cannabis farmer nicknamed Bigfoot, I begin to see where the trail is leading. And when a law enforcement official confirms it, saying “that sounds like Bigfoot Gary,” I’m like you have to be kidding me.

Holthouse starts to question himself.

“I was thinking back to that night in the cabin in 1993,” Holthouse said. “And did I hear them say a Bigfoot killed those guys, or did I hear them say Bigfoot killed those guys? Because memory’s tricky like that.”

Holthouse focuses on finding Bigfoot Gary. He also ponders the high rate of missing person cases in the Emerald Triangle region.

“You hang out in these dope towns, and all around you are signs about missing people,” Holthouse said. “I mean, just dozens, hundreds of them. And all those missing person fliers are literally signs that there are monsters among us.”

After hitting another dead end with Bigfoot Gary, Holthouse finally tracks down the man who owned the cannabis farm where Holthouse originally had heard the Bigfoot triple-murder story back in 1993.

The farmer explains what happened, and whether you believe him or not is up to you, but the farmer’s tale is the most interesting part of the documentary. Did the story satisfy me? Not really, but it gave Holthouse some closure.

“There is this elusive truth that I glimpsed through the trees,” Holthouse said. “And it’s like the same obsession that drives Squatchers to spend half their lives in the woods. At least I have a story that I tell myself makes sense now.”

For Sasquatch enthusiasts, though, the story continues.

NEXT UP: Chapter Twenty-Seven: Bigfoot in the Bronx. I review the novel by Hunter Shea.

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Twenty-Five: ‘Spy Rock’

“Spy Rock,” the Episode 2 title of Hulu’s true-crime documentary Sasquatch, takes you deeper into the dangerous cannabis farming region of Northern California called the Emerald Triangle and further away from Bigfoot’s involvement in a triple homicide.

If you haven’t read my review of Episode 1, you can check it out HERE.

Episode 2 opens with an interesting interview featuring Bob Heironimus. He claims he wore the Bigfoot suit for the famous 1967 Patterson-Gimlin film in exchange for “a thousand bucks.” He offers a detailed description of the experience. Bob Gimlin counters the claim, but Heironimus says, “Have him look at my right hip. I had my jeans on. It was my wallet. He knows it was me.”

And that’s it as far as Sasquatch goes.

The documentary returns to David Holthouse, the journalist investigating a 1993 triple murder allegedly committed by Bigfoot. Picking up where Episode 1 left off, “Spy Rock” focuses more on the violent history of the Emerald Triangle region.

After a fruitful interview with a cannabis farmer named Razor, Holthouse learns the three murder victims are Mexicans and the scene of the crime is near Spy Rock Road. Media coverage of the region shows past coverage of stabbings, shootings, and murders.

The narrative then shifts to the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), a multi-agency law enforcement task force formed in 1983 to eradicate cannabis cultivation and trafficking. The campaign wiped out cannabis farms, increasing the costs of marijuana and heightening paranoia in the region. The cannabis farmers who remained started protecting their crops with firearms and booby traps. In the 1990s, the violence escalated, and harder drugs increased in popularity.

Holthouse sets up a meeting with a cannabis farmer and uses a hidden camera during a tense drive into the forest. During the meeting, he learns about the tension between whites and the Latinos who were often hired as laborers.

Holthouse briefly addresses his own past demons, including when he was sexually assaulted at age seven. He said the incident left him with a diminished sense of self-worth, enabling him to take risks without much fear. However, Holthouse appears nervous as he gets closer to the truth.

Another meeting with a different confidential source surprisingly reveals the name of the prime murder suspect, a man who worked on a farm affiliated with the Hells Angels motorcycle gang. However, Holthouse decides against releasing the suspect’s name out of fear for his personal safety. Even the intimidating Razor is afraid to discuss the suspect.

Holthouse manages to acquire the suspect’s phone number and makes the call. The episode ends with the suspect answering the phone.

NEXT UP: Chapter Twenty-Six: Sasquatch. I review the final episode of the 2021 Hulu series.

THE BIGFOOT FILES/Chapter Twenty-Four: ‘Grabbing at Smoke’

Hulu’s true-crime documentary, Sasquatch, begins its three-episode arc with a story “about a Sasquatch wasting three dudes in dope country.”

The series title feels like a bait-and-switch because it invokes the creature’s name to empower a metaphor rather than expose the mythic monster.

Titled “Grabbing at Smoke,” the first episode follows investigative journalist David Holthouse on a wild goose chase through his memory and the dangerous cannabis farming region of Northern California called the Emerald Triangle.

In the fall of 1993, Holthouse worked on a cannabis farm with a friend. The second night there, his friend received an intense phone call before two men arrived saying that a Bigfoot dismembered and killed three other men.

Twenty-five years later, Holthouse decides to return to the scene and investigate the triple murder.

Holthouse is a credible and compelling subject, and director Joshua Rofé effectively blends in creepy animation and an eerie soundtrack to create an atmosphere of anxiety and paranoia.

The first episode finds Holthouse at the start of his investigation and provides an interesting lesson on the dark history of the Emerald Triangle, including Native American massacres and the timber industry’s wanton destruction of ancient redwood trees.

However, the arrival of the hippies and back-to-the-landers in the 1970s fuels thriving cannabis farms off the grid and sets the stage for murder and mayhem in the shadows of the dense forest.

Back to the investigation, Holthouse fails to find any links to the 1993 Bigfoot murder story and hires a private investigator, hoping his connections will locate a lead.

The episode sprinkles in interviews with Bigfoot hunters and witnesses, including James “Bobo” Fay of Finding Bigfoot and Jeff Meldrum, a professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University.

“I’m convinced Sasquatch exists,” said Meldrum, who estimates 300 Bigfoot live in Idaho. “It’s the evidence that convinces me.”

The most interesting interview is Bob Gimlin, the gentleman forever associated with the famous Patterson-Gimlin film of 1967.

The documentary shifts back to the investigation when Holthouse’s private eye provides an intriguing lead.

A cannabis farmer named Razor recalls a similar story about three Mexican nationals killed around the Spy Rock Road area in 1993.

The episode ends with Holthouse planning to meet the mysterious Razor in person followed by a texted warning from the suddenly skittish private investigator.

“You. Please be careful.”

NEXT UP: Chapter Twenty-Five: Sasquatch. I review Episode 2 of the 2021 Hulu series. 

THE BIGFOOT FILES : Chapter Twenty-Three/ ‘The Mystery of Bigfoot’

“The Mystery of Bigfoot” is a 2013 episode of the History channel series titled America’s Book of Secrets. It begins with the 2012 death of Randy Lee Tenley on a highway in Montana. The 44-year-old man reportedly tried to create a Bigfoot sighting by appearing on the side of the highway dressed in a ghillie suit, but two motorists accidentally struck him with their vehicles.

After opening with the tragedy, the episode hits the high points of the Bigfoot phenomenon with interviews of eyewitnesses and anthropology professors before asking if the elusiveness of the cryptid is part of a U.S. government cover-up. The evidence of a conspiracy is thin, although the episode offers an interesting theory.

Citing the negative impact on the timber industry after the northern spotted owl’s addition to the endangered species list, the episode posits a similar aftermath if Bigfoot is discovered, legitimized, and added to the list. So, in order to protect the logging industry, the government tries to erase Bigfoot evidence. I’ve heard crazier hypotheses.

However, “The Mystery of Bigfoot” avoids a deep dive into the cover-up speculation and veers into the more familiar territory of following a Bigfoot hunt with high-tech equipment. It also features the Falcon Project, a nonprofit research endeavor using “an unmanned aerial vehicle outfitted with cutting edge videography equipment and deployed over ‘hot spots’ of reported activity.”

The episode mentions the 2008 Montauk monster corpse that washed up on a shore in New York. From there, it speculates that the nearby Plum Island Animal Disease Center is believed to conduct secret experiments on animals. The episode then jumps to the question of whether Bigfoot is an animal created in a government laboratory.

“The Mystery of Bigfoot” also covers the 2010 discovery of a finger bone in Denisova, Siberia, from which DNA testing indicates Neanderthal-like hominids apparently bred with modern humans thousands of years ago.

With a runtime of 43 minutes, “The Mystery of Bigfoot” asks interesting questions but fails to deliver any meaningful answers. For the believers, it does not offer any compelling new evidence. As one skeptic said in the episode, “We just need a body.”

NEXT UP: Chapter Twenty-Four: Sasquatch. I review Episode 1 of the 2021 Hulu series.

THE BIGFOOT FILES / Chapter Twenty-Two: On the Trail of Bigfoot: The Search

The second half of Seth Breedlove’s On the Trail of Bigfoot documentary, The Search, is a solid follow-up to The Legend. Where The Legend mired itself in Bigfoot’s familiar history, The Search transports us to the present as Breedlove explores hot spots in the forests of Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and Ohio on his personal quest to justify his own belief in Bigfoot.

Both documentaries are available on Amazon Prime. You may read my review of The Legend HERE.

Like The Legend, The Search is heavy on interviews, but Breedlove includes some compelling audio recordings while effectively spotlighting diehard Bigfoot researchers.

The documentary begins on Chestnut Ridge outside Collinsville, Pennsylvania, where Breedlove spends a few hours learning about the experience of one local investigator. After introducing a few of the talking heads with their take on the Bigfoot legend, the film shifts to the UFO and paranormal connections to Sasquatch. Author Stan Gordon posits an interdimensional theory with Bigfoot traveling through portals.

Thankfully, The Search spends the majority of its 84-minute runtime on Area X, a heavily forested area in the Ouachita Mountains of southeastern Oklahoma. Area X is also base camp for the North American Wood Ape Conservancy (NAWAC), formerly the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy. The goal of its members is to basically kill a Bigfoot, present the body for scientists to categorize as a legitimate species, and thus preserve the cryptid’s habitat.

The Area X segment of the documentary was the highlight for me. Breedlove visited NAWAC in June 2018, interviewing key members and joining an expedition there. NAWAC shared audio recordings of rock throwing, vocalizations, and wood knocks. NAWAC’s Brian Brown reported tracking an animal for miles using an electronic tag. Daryl Colyer provided the best interview, recalling July 3, 2011, when he reported shooting a Bigfoot. The Sasquatch escaped, but a photograph showed bloodstains on rocks near a creek.

The final third of The Search moved to southern Ohio near the Kentucky border in Adams County. Breedlove interviews founders of the Ohio Night Stalkers who shared vocalization recordings.

Ultimately, the documentary doesn’t prove anything about Sasquatch. However, it shows the passion of dedicated Bigfoot researchers is as intense as ever. I think Breedlove needed to see and feel that passion for himself, hoping it would reignite the embers of his dwindling belief in Bigfoot. In the end, On the Trail of Bigfoot isn’t Breedlove’s quest to find Sasquatch. It’s a quest to rediscover his own passion for the frustratingly complex subject of Bigfoot.

NEXT UP: Chapter Twenty-Three: “The Mystery of Bigfoot.” I review the 2013 episode of America’s Book of Secrets.

THE BIGFOOT FILES : Chapter Twenty-One / On the Trail of Bigfoot: The Legend

Fresh from watching the outstanding 2020 documentary Track: Search for Australia’s Bigfoot, I was thrilled to see another recently released documentary titled On the Trail of Bigfoot: The Legend appear in my Amazon Prime “Movies we think you’ll like” list.

Unlike Track, On the Trail of Bigfoot is more a brief history lesson than a search for the mythic creature. I had hoped the 2019 documentary would reveal more evidence and footage of the elusive cryptid. However, On the Trail of Bigfoot simply details the beginning groundwork of a filmmaker’s search for Sasquatch. The documentary focuses heavily on interviews with researchers who share their takes on some of the benchmark Sasquatch stories of the past. The film works for a Bigfoot novice but doesn’t provide much captivating content for experienced enthusiasts.

Director Seth Breedlove is passionate about the unexplained. The Ohio filmmaker has helmed a dozen documentaries about cryptid sightings and unexplained events in small communities largely forgotten by the media. His films have covered subjects ranging from the Minerva Monster to The Bray Road Beast.

On the Trail of Bigfoot is an introduction – Bigfoot 101, if you will – with Breedlove setting the table for a future expedition. Most of the interviews rehash stories already well known to Bigfoot researchers like the Ape Canyon incident and Albert Ostman encounter of the 1920s, and the Jerry Crew footprint discovery in the 1950s.

Breedlove talks to several credible researchers like Loren Coleman of the International Cryptozoology Museum, The Olympic Project’s Derek Randles, documentary filmmaker Peter von Puttkamer, and author Stan Gordon. Subjects range from the Four Horsemen of Bigfoot hunting to the regional behavioral differences among Sasquatch. While the interviews are interesting, they lack the suspense that a dramatic new revelation provides.

With his journalism experience, Breedlove is an effective interviewer. I admire his passion for the subject matter and for pointing his camera at small-town legends. However, without new and compelling footage of Sasquatch, On the Trail of Bigfoot only offers informed enthusiasts the hope suggested in the final frame of the documentary, which reads: “To Be Continued.”

NEXT UP: Chapter Twenty-Two: On the Trail of Bigfoot: The Search. I review the 2019 documentary directed by Seth Breedlove.

THE BIGFOOT FILES/ Chapter Twenty: Track: Search for Australia’s Bigfoot

Track: Search for Australia’s Bigfoot is one of the best Sasquatch documentaries I have ever seen. Released by Moonlark Media in 2020, Track follows producer/director Attila Kaldy on an expedition to find evidence of the Yowie, Australia’s version of Bigfoot. Kaldy takes viewers into an uncharted region of Australia’s vast Blue Mountains to investigate a dense forest known for unidentified howls and guttural screams.

Track delivered for me what is lacking in the glut of cryptid documentaries: compelling footage that I have never seen or heard before. It is available on Amazon Prime Video.

The director Kaldy shares his own encounters with the Yowie along with other researchers and investigators. Their testimonies are brief and to the point and do not halt the momentum of the production.

Track quickly introduces Yowie Dan who plays chilling audio called the Marramarra howls. Then, he shares a clip of video that briefly shows a tall, shadowy figure moving behind a rock ledge. Yowie Dan claims he accidentally caught the image as he set his video camera down, only seeing it later when he reviewed the footage. Whether real or not, it is compelling.

Author and university lecturer Tony Jinks was not impressed by the video clip initially. When he visited the site with Yowie Dan, his mind changed. After comparing the image to the actual location, they estimated the figure in the footage had to be at least 10 feet tall.

Track also follows Rob Gray and Rob Venables of the paranormal and cryptid research group Truth Seekers of Oz on a nighttime expedition. Their video evokes an eerie Sasquatch version of The Blair Witch Project as the men see signs, hear sounds, and smell odors attributed to the Yowie. The ominous atmosphere serves to increase their paranoia that “something” is tracking them.

Track interviews Mathew Crowther, an associate professor at the University of Sydney, who injects a bit of legitimate skepticism into the documentary. Other interviews with cryptozoologists Gary Opit and Neil Frost offer interesting perspectives on the Yowie, including the possibility of a marsupial cryptid with a pouch like a kangaroo.

The only aspect of the documentary I failed to understand is why field investigators were not shown meticulously searching for hair and scat evidence, especially when they appeared to enter a full-blown Yowie nest area.

Overall, Track is how I wish all Sasquatch documentaries were made. It clocks in at an efficient 57 minutes and promptly introduces its most compelling footage. I must mention the haunting and immersive musical score by Daljit Kundi. It elevated the documentary to another level and made me feel like I was watching an episode of The X-Files (which is always good).

I think Track earns its place as a must-see documentary for Sasquatch enthusiasts.

NEXT UP: Chapter Twenty-One: On the Trail of Bigfoot: The Search. I review the 2019 documentary directed by Seth Breedlove.

THE BIGFOOT FILES : Chapter Nineteen/ Sasquatch

Released in 2014, Sasquatch by K.T. Tomb is Book 1 in her five-book Sasquatch Series. It’s a throwback adventure story about a motley crew of investigators hired by a wealthy cryptozoologist to find the legendary creature.

Tomb Sasquatch.jpg

The team is led by a conflicted but strong female character named Lux Branson. Lux is a professional tracker who’s talented but broke and needs the money offered for the job. Her task is to guide a group of four people, including an anthropologist and a biologist, deep into the Piney Woods of Texas and return with proof of Sasquatch.

Lux is not a believer in cryptids, but once in the forest, she starts to see proof of something lurking in the woods. However, she can’t shake the feeling the trip may be a hoax even as the evidence piles up.

When the team’s anthropologist commits an overzealous act in the name of science, Lux must face the shocking truth and rely on her instincts to survive.

Lux is the heart of the story, and I liked her. She was tough but not invincible, and she showed the fear of a normal human. Lux reminded me of a less tech version of Sanaa Lathan’s guide character Alexa Woods in the 2004 film Alien Vs. Predator.

With a couple of surprising encounters in the second half, including a stunner near the end, Sasquatch is a memorable series opener sure to please readers of Bigfoot fiction.

NEXT UP: Chapter Twenty: Track: Search for Australia’s Bigfoot. I review the 2020 documentary.


OTHER BOOK REVIEWS FROM THE BIGFOOT FILES

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Seventeen: Bigfoot Trail

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Fifteen: Night of the Sasquatch

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Five: Wood Ape

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Four: ‘The Road Best Not Taken’

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Three: Swamp Monster Massacre

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Two: Dweller

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Eighteen: The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot

bigfootfiles

(Editor’s note: This review contains major spoilers.)

I don’t know if a movie could live up to a title like The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot, so I wasn’t too disappointed when it fell short. I expected an epic action film based on the trailer, but what I watched was a dramatic character study about an aging man grappling with his past.

the man who killed hitler

The 2018 movie was written and directed by Robert D. Krzykowski and starred Sam Elliott as the man of the title. Elliott plays the world-weary Calvin Barr, an honest but lonely codger when we meet him in the 1980s.

We learn in flashbacks how young Calvin (played by Aidan Turner) assassinated Hitler, and we meet a woman named Maxine who Calvin loved way back then. The flashbacks are efficient but lack emotional heft.

As an old man, Calvin lives a solitary existence with his dog and his regrets. Maxine’s absence is never really explained. Calvin visits his younger brother, a barber named Ed played by the affable Larry Miller. As a child, Ed gave Calvin his favorite toy dinosaur when Calvin left for military service. So, while the brothers aren’t close, we can tell Ed loves and respects Calvin.

The story picks up the pace when government agents appear at Calvin’s door one night. A Bigfoot is on the loose in Canada and carrying a “nightmare plague” with the potential to wipe out humanity. The agents explain that Calvin’s experience tracking Hitler and his immunity to the virus make him the only viable option to hunt and kill the Bigfoot.

The best part of the film is Calvin’s too-brief Bigfoot hunt. The Bigfoot is savage and one of the more realistic ones on film thanks to an awesome job by the costume designers and makeup department. I wanted a lot more Bigfoot, hoping for a twist of some kind. But no, the story is as straightforward as Calvin’s demeanor.

The movie maintained my interest through the end, but it felt incomplete. We learn about young Calvin as Hitler’s assassin and the woman he loved, and we experience old Calvin as the crusty, old-school Bigfoot hunter. And that’s it.

What’s missing is the middle to Calvin’s story, and I need the middle like I need the crème filling between my two Oreo wafers.  I would still recommend the film just like I would still eat the Oreo wafers minus the filling. It’s just not as sweet.

In his room, Calvin keeps a box under his bed that’s vitally important to him, but the contents are never revealed. Maybe it represents the part of someone that we never really know, the part that truly defines a person. After all, Calvin was not just the man who killed Hitler and Bigfoot. He was more, but we’re barely allowed a glimpse of that part.

For example, when Calvin returned Ed’s toy dinosaur to him near the end, the gesture let Ed know that his taciturn brother always loved him. It resonated emotionally. I needed more of those kinds of scenes.

In a film with Hitler and Bigfoot in the title, I thought how odd that the most powerful moment featured a tiny toy dinosaur.

 

NEXT UP: Chapter Nineteen: Sasquatch. I review the 2014 novel by K.T. Tomb.


Lionel Ray Green is a horror and fantasy writer, an award-winning newspaper journalist, and a U.S. Army gulf war veteran living in Alabama. His short stories have appeared in more than two dozen anthologies, magazines, and ezines, including The Best of Iron Faerie Publishing 2019; America’s Emerging Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers: Deep South; and Alabama’s Emerging Writers. His short story “Scarecrow Road” won the WriterWriter 2018 International Halloween Themed Writing Competition, All Hallows’ Prose. Drop by https://lionelraygreen.com/ and say hello.


MORE BIGFOOT MOVIE REVIEWS …

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Nine: Stomping Ground

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Eight: Abominable

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Seven: Willow Creek

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Six: Big Legend

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Seventeen: Bigfoot Trail

bigfootfiles

(Editor’s note: This review contains major spoilers.)

Bigfoot Trail is a horror novel by Eric S. Brown released in 2019 by Severed Press. Brown is an author who loves writing about Sasquatch, and Bigfoot Trail is another entry into his lengthy catalog of cryptid fiction.

Bigfoot Trail

Bigfoot Trail is a grisly tale about campers, hikers, and forest rangers who are slaughtered in the woods by a group of Sasquatch. The only wrinkle in the story is caused by one of the hikers, a Wiccan named Jade. She convinces the other hikers to participate in a summoning ritual to call forth the “spirit of the trail.”

Flames shoot up from the campfire during the ritual, but Jade is not sure what she summoned. The Sasquatch and the hikers find out soon enough as another mythic creature from Cherokee folklore joins the fray.

Bigfoot Trail is basically a B-movie creature feature, heavy on gore and action and light on exposition and character development. The book gave me a Friday the 13th vibe with the Sasquatch attacks reminiscent of a Jason Voorhees killing spree. Like Friday the 13th, the only question left to answer in Bigfoot Trail is who, if anyone, will survive the night?

NEXT UP: Chapter Eighteen: The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot. I review the 2018 film directed by Robert D. Krzykowski.


Lionel Ray Green is a horror and fantasy writer, an award-winning newspaper journalist, and a U.S. Army gulf war veteran living in Alabama. His short stories have appeared in more than two dozen anthologies, magazines, and ezines, including The Best of Iron Faerie Publishing 2019; America’s Emerging Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers: Deep South; and Alabama’s Emerging Writers. His short story “Scarecrow Road” won the WriterWriter 2018 International Halloween Themed Writing Competition, All Hallows’ Prose. Drop by https://lionelraygreen.com/ and say hello.


MORE BIGFOOT BOOK REVIEWS …

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Fifteen: Night of the Sasquatch

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Five: Wood Ape

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Four: ‘The Road Best Not Taken’

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Three: Swamp Monster Massacre

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Two: Dweller

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Sixteen: Something in the Woods

bigfootfiles

(Editor’s note: This review contains major spoilers.)

The Bigfoot movie Something in the Woods is a low-budget, independent film produced by GodZone Ministry and Saving Oscar Productions. The movie is available on Amazon Prime with a respectable rating of 3.5 stars out of 5.

Based on true events, the 2015 film chronicles a blue-collar family’s encounters with Bigfoot in the 1960s. Starring David D. Ford (who also directed with Tony Gibson), Something in the Woods is old-fashioned filmmaking with a deliberate pace and no-nonsense style. None of the characters are flashy, but they are relatable. Ford plays John Hartman, a God-fearing husband and father of two sons, who faces an unknown threat to his family.

something in the woods

Something in the Woods foregoes any hint of mystery near the beginning and totally embraces the Bigfoot plot. For much of its runtime, the movie focuses more on the family’s fears and reactions to the threat rather than the Bigfoot itself. Still, it is a creature feature and delivers all the typical Bigfoot signs: strange hair caught in a barbed-wire fence, nasty odors, vocalizations, missing farm animals, and the footprints.

The Bigfoot in the film looks like a classic Bigfoot, and its motivations are unclear. John’s motivations are clear. He’s concerned about Bigfoot hurting his family and resolves to hunt and kill it.

The scenes I enjoyed most in the film all involved Bigfoot and all of them escalated the eeriness and suspense. In one scene, John is looking for Bigfoot in the woods with his oldest son. When he realizes Bigfoot is stalking them, John tells his son to run home. Then, Bigfoot runs toward the boy. Intense.

My favorite scene involves the youngest son and an unseen Bigfoot outside his bedroom window. It illustrates the contrast between how the innocence of youth reacts to Bigfoot versus the more aggressive response of adults.

Something in the Woods adds an interesting twist during the climax but earns the moment with its consistent, practical storytelling. I enjoyed the movie and recommend it to Bigfoot enthusiasts interested in a story based on real encounters.

NEXT UP: Chapter Seventeen: Bigfoot Trail. I review the 2019 novel by Eric S. Brown.


Lionel Ray Green is a horror and fantasy writer, an award-winning newspaper journalist, and a U.S. Army gulf war veteran living in Alabama. His short stories have appeared in more than two dozen anthologies, magazines, and ezines, including The Best of Iron Faerie Publishing 2019; America’s Emerging Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers: Deep South; and Alabama’s Emerging Writers. His short story “Scarecrow Road” won the WriterWriter 2018 International Halloween Themed Writing Competition, All Hallows’ Prose. Drop by https://lionelraygreen.com/ and say hello.


MORE BIGFOOT MOVIE REVIEWS …

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Nine: Stomping Ground

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Eight: Abominable

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Seven: Willow Creek

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Six: Big Legend

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Fifteen: Night of the Sasquatch

bigfootfiles

(Editor’s note: This review contains major spoilers.)

Night of the Sasquatch by Keith Luethke is a horror story about a family’s encounter with a clan of Bigfoot. The interesting wrinkle in this entry into cryptid fiction is Luethke tells the story from the points of view of the family and the Bigfoot.

night of the sasquatch cover.jpg

Night of the Sasquatch begins as the typical cabin-in-the-woods trope with newly married couple Wein and Stacy traveling to a mountain cabin for a honeymoon weekend with their five-month-old daughter Valery. During a grocery stop on the way, a stranger appears just long enough to warn Stacy to “stay out of the woods.”

The story soon shifts to the clan of Bigfoot alarmed by the arrival of humans. Living in a nearby cave, the Bigfoot characters have names and distinct personalities, and the males are engaged in a power struggle for leadership of the clan.

Members of the Bigfoot clan watch the human family in the cabin and try to warn them off with rocks. Their action prompts a call to police and a detective’s decision to watch the cabin for the remainder of the night.

The Bigfoot clan members argue over what to do about the humans. Should they leave or attack? Their decision fuels the action-packed climax, ending with acts of self-preservation and humanity in the pulse-pounding finale.

Night of the Sasquatch is an entertaining break for Bigfoot fans and takes less than an hour to read.

NEXT UP: Chapter Sixteen: Something in the Woods. I review the 2015 film directed by Tony Gibson and David D. Ford.


Lionel Ray Green is a horror and fantasy writer, an award-winning newspaper journalist, and a U.S. Army gulf war veteran living in Alabama. His short stories have appeared in more than two dozen anthologies, magazines, and ezines, including The Best of Iron Faerie Publishing 2019; America’s Emerging Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers: Deep South; and Alabama’s Emerging Writers. His short story “Scarecrow Road” won the WriterWriter 2018 International Halloween Themed Writing Competition, All Hallows’ Prose. Drop by https://lionelraygreen.com/ and say hello.

THE BIGFOOT FILES| Chapter Fourteen: ‘Bigfoot Research and Evidence’

bigfootfiles

(Editor’s note: This review contains major spoilers.)

The fifth and final episode of Chasing Bigfoot: The Quest for Truth is titled “Bigfoot Research and Evidence” and focuses on what investigators claim as proof of Bigfoot’s existence. The episode tries to answer two questions: What does science have to say about Bigfoot and why are many so sure they exist?

Once again, interviews are conducted with the same players from previous episodes, so the finale seems a bit repetitive if you’re binge-watching the series. Overall, Chasing Bigfoot: The Quest for Truth is a solid primer for people newly initiated to the Bigfoot phenomenon. However, without introducing any compelling new evidence, the series lacks the revealing content likely to interest a seasoned Sasquatch enthusiast. Here are the links to my reviews of the first four episodes: Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3, and Episode 4.

One takeaway from Episode 5 is Bigfoot investigators are optimistic that advancing technology will improve evidence collection in the future. Another bonus: the episode shares examples of possible evidence.

A couple of impressive footprint casts are shown as well as an unusual handprint on a truck.

“Evidence comes in many forms,” said Cliff Barackman, a Bigfoot field researcher. “Footprint casts are some of the most compelling types of evidence.”

Recorded vocals of possible Bigfoot are also presented.

“We have a lot of audio that just you just can’t identify,” said Robert Swain, co-founder of the Arkansas Primate Evidence Society. “It’s not coyotes. It’s not fox. It’s not barred owls, It’s not deer blowing. Animals in the woods make some really weird noises and if you’re not careful, you’ll say this is Bigfoot. Recordings by far are probably the most evidence we have.”

Investigators play a few recordings of vocalizations heard in the wild. It’s exciting to think the sounds could be Bigfoot, but it’s far from proof of existence.

Hair samples are a third form of evidence. Wildlife researcher Doug Hajicek analyzes the morphological characteristics of hair samples.

“One of the first things that I look for is a tapered end,” Hajicek said. “The other thing about Sasquatch hairs is the fact that they have very little or no medulla.”

Scat, or droppings, is another example of Bigfoot evidence.

“There have been strange piles of scat found in the wilderness that do not correspond to any known animal,” said John Kirk, president of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club.

Finally, the photographic and video evidence is examined.

“When it comes to photographic evidence of Sasquatches, you need some scale items,” Barackman said. “You need to know a little bit about the background and credibility of the witness.”

Of course, the most famous and controversial image of Bigfoot is found in the Patterson-Gimlin film from the late 1960s.

“You can see the muscles moving,” Hajicek said. “There are breasts on the creature. The hairline makes perfect sense. You can tell the muscles in the back, the legs, the calf, the tendons are all moving. There was no technology back in 1967 to do that kind of thing.”

Derek Randles, a co-founder of the Olympic Project, is dedicated to documenting Bigfoot evidence.

“When it started, it started out as a comprehensive and aggressive camera-trap program,” Randles said of the Olympic Project. “It’s morphed into this study project now.”

Randles shared a thermal imaging video he thinks could possibly depict two Bigfoots.

“I think as we move forward into the future, Sasquatch research is definitely going to get more technical,” Randles said. “Just in the last 10 to 15 years, it’s taken a huge leap with thermal imagery especially and the quality of the recording devices.”

The footprints, the recorded vocalizations, hair samples, scat, and photos and videos presented as evidence do not equal proof for most in the scientific community.

“The physical reality of Bigfoot has never really turned out,” said primatologist Esteban Sarmiento. “There’s no body, no hair, no feces.”

Kirk thinks the scientific community should take the subject more seriously.

“Ever found a bear skeleton out there? No,” Kirk said. “Ever found a wolf skeleton out there? No. Ever found a cougar skeleton? No. People don’t find the skeletons and bones very often of animals that we do know about.

“One of the great difficulties in the life of Sasquatch has been the negative attitudes of scientists toward this,” Kirk said. “The scientific community has to realize that there is an enigma out there that requires resolution. You can’t hide your head in the sand. You can’t shrink away from it because it seems so preposterous. It’s not at all preposterous.”

The episode ends with the Chasing Bigfoot team following three separate investigations, two in Colorado and one in Missouri. The results included tree knocks, footprints, and a vanishing bowl of strawberries. Perhaps the most interesting find was strands of hair among the branches of a possible Bigfoot nest in the Colorado Rockies. Naturally, the analysis of the hair was inconclusive.

“Eventually, since they are real, one will be killed undoubtedly,” Barackman said. “Some logger will roll one over on the way to work one morning in his truck, or some testosterone-starved hunter will take one down and think he’s the man or some scientist will say okay here’s the bullet … this is going to do it. They are real and eventually, one will be brought in on a slab. Unfortunately, that’s what it’s going to take for academia or the public at large to accept the reality of a Sasquatch.”

NEXT UP: Chapter Fifteen: Night of the Sasquatch. I review the 2019 book by Keith Luethke.


Lionel Ray Green is a horror and fantasy writer, an award-winning newspaper journalist, and a U.S. Army gulf war veteran living in Alabama. Lionel writes a column for HorrorAddicts.net titled The Bigfoot Files. His fiction has appeared in more than two dozen anthologies, magazines, and ezines, and his short story “Scarecrow Road” won the WriterWriter 2018 International Halloween Themed Writing Competition All Hallows’ Prose. Visit his website at lionelraygreen.com and say hello.

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Thirteen: ‘The Bigfoot Adventure Weekend’

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(Editor’s note: This review contains major spoilers.)

Episode 4 of Chasing Bigfoot: The Quest for Truth is titled “The Bigfoot Adventure Weekend” and simply follows the organizers and the folks attending the 2016 event at Salt Fork State Park in Ohio.

It’s more informal and less informative than the previous episodes, which I reviewed. Here are the links for the reviews on Episode 1, Episode 2, and Episode 3.

This episode is an introduction for anyone interested in what happens on a family-friendly Bigfoot Adventure Weekends expedition. The event is a three-day, two-night camping trip and attracts Bigfoot enthusiasts from as far away as Canada, New York, and Florida.

“We started out with 12 to 15 the first year,” said Alan Megargle, one of the event’s three co-founders. “This year we’re close to 50. We have people here that have claimed to see Bigfoot and people here that have never been camping before. We have a whole mix of people. That’s what we take pride in this event. It’s for everyone.”

“Our expectation every year is that people come away and talk about it and realize it’s just a little more than about Bigfooting,” said co-founder Jesse Morgan. “It’s more about you can come out and have a good time. It doesn’t have to be so serious.”

“I think it was the third year we did it, and the group came back from the night hike and they were just freaking out because they had so much activity that was happening,” said co-founder Sharon Lomurno. “And they all came back to the campfire, and they were all chatting. That’s what makes us feel good.”

The episode features brief interviews with a few of the attendees from first-time families to more serious Bigfoot researchers like Robert Webb. Webb said he’s seen Bigfoot twice and shared photographs of his evidence (a twisted tree and a track at least 16 inches long). Webb leads us to the park’s Bigfoot Ridge and shows us the location of his first sighting, where he used a night vision device to see half the head, a shoulder, and the left arm of a Bigfoot behind a tree. He says he’s had more success with his “passive observation” technique than using howls and wood knocks.

The event also included a presentation on casting a Bigfoot print and a class about video and audio evidence. I have to admit hearing the audio playback of the howls of a possible Bigfoot was the highlight for me.

The centerpiece of Bigfoot Adventure Weekends is the night hikes where groups venture into the woods, using howls and wood knocks to try and stir up a Bigfoot.

“Ninety-five percent of the time nothing ever happens,” said Bigfoot investigator Marc DeWerth. “It’s just being persistent in your location.”

While nothing happened on the Bigfoot front, the night groups did hear sounds and movement, most likely an owl and coyotes. Trail cameras didn’t produce any interesting photographs over the weekend.

Anyone watching Episode 4 hoping for new evidence of Bigfoot will be disappointed. But if you’re interested in attending a Bigfoot Adventure Weekends event, the episode does give you an extended snapshot of what it’s all about.

I checked the website, and the next Bigfoot Adventure Weekend in Salt Fork State Park is scheduled August 28-30. It costs $140 for adults and $60 for children. There’s another one at Glen Isle Resort in Bailey, Colorado, from Aug. 7-9 for $150. Click here to go to the website.

Don’t expect to encounter Bigfoot at these events, though. But as one attendee said while gesturing to the other campers, “It really doesn’t matter if Bigfoot exists. This is what’s fun.”

NEXT UP: Chapter Fourteen: Chasing Bigfoot: The Quest for Truth. I review Episode 5 in the 2015 documentary series titled “Bigfoot Research and Evidence.”


Lionel Ray Green is a horror and fantasy writer, an award-winning newspaper journalist, and a U.S. Army gulf war veteran living in Alabama. Lionel writes a column for HorrorAddicts.net titled The Bigfoot Files. His fiction has appeared in more than two dozen anthologies, magazines, and ezines, and his short story “Scarecrow Road” won the WriterWriter 2018 International Halloween Themed Writing Competition All Hallows’ Prose. Visit his website at lionelraygreen.com and say hi.

THE BIGFOOT FILES : Chapter Twelve | ‘The Bigfoot Phenomenon’

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(Editor’s note: This review contains major spoilers.)

Episode 3 of Chasing Bigfoot: The Quest for Truth is titled “The Bigfoot Phenomenon” and focuses on how the cryptid became so popular by interviewing investigators, researchers, and people in the business of selling Bigfoot merchandise.

While the first two episodes concentrated more on the actual cryptid, this episode is more about the media that propelled Bigfoot to popularity. You can read my reviews of the first episode here and the second episode here.

While sightings of Bigfoot were first reported in 1811, the phenomenon didn’t take off till the latter half of the 20th century.

“When Bigfoot was brought to TV, it really took off,” said Cliff Barackman, a researcher and a member of Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot team. “I think that popular television programs have really played a role in kind of getting the subject out there. There was a surge in the 1970s. In the 1970s you had things like In Search Of …, but really the 1980s kind of shut that surge down.”

What happened in the 1980s? The tabloids turned Bigfoot into fodder for trashy stories.

“The tabloids would blast on the front page ‘Bigfoot ate my baby’ … or all those nonsense things, and we all saw them while waiting in line at the grocery store,” Barackman said.

Today, many in the Bigfoot “business” feel the cryptid is a legitimate mystery.

“I think Bigfoot moved from tabloid … to something the majority of people think there may be something out there,” said Robert Swain, a co-founder of the Arkansas Primate Evidence Society.

Episode 3 mentions TV shows and movies like Bigfoot and Wildboy (1977), The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972), Harry and the Hendersons (1987), The Sasquatch Gang (2006), Fishing Naked (2015), and Willow Creek (2013) for helping popularize the elusive legend.

Of course, with the Internet now, anyone can share an encounter – or a hoax – the moment after it happens.

One of the more interesting parts of Episode 3 is the interviews with the people who have used the phenomenon for business. Consumers can pay to go on Bigfoot hunts, attend conferences, or buy merchandise.

“The number of people interested has grown,” said John Pickering, core member of the Olympic Project. “And with that, you have economic things become involved.”

In Episode 3, you meet Jim Myers who owns The Sasquatch Outpost in Bailey, Colorado, where you can tour a museum and meet Boomer, a seven-foot-tall Bigfoot figure; and Michael Johnson who’s co-founder of Sasquatch Investigations of the Rockies and the Bigfoot, Yowie & Yeti store in Denver, Colorado.

“A lot of people come to our store, and they’re looking for answers,” Johnson said.

Snuffy Destefano, of Pennsylvania, specializes in Bigfoot chainsaw carvings.

“I make a living off carving Bigfoot,” said Destefano while at an Ohio Bigfoot Conference where he was trying to sell his work to the more than 2,000 attendees.

The Bigfoot phenomenon has spawned a community of thousands of investigators and researchers, and many are part of organized associations.

“It’s become quite a hobby looking for more evidence,” Pickering said. “It’s becoming more a social affair.”

“The Bigfoot community at large is like this big dysfunctional family,” said Derek Randles, co-founder of the Olympic Project. “There’s a lot of infighting. There are a lot of politics in Bigfoot research. It would shock you.”

Whether or not Bigfoot is real, the phenomenon certainly is. There’s even a $1 million reward out there for someone who can produce a Bigfoot.

“You’re getting more sightings because now Bigfoot’s mainstream,” said Bigfoot investigator Marc DeWerth of Ohio. “Twenty-five years ago, if you said you saw a Bigfoot, you wouldn’t even tell your own family because nobody would believe you. I think the mystery is going to be solved very soon.”

Perhaps primatologist Esteban Sarmiento summed up the impetus of the Bigfoot phenomenon best.

“If you live long enough, you’ve seen things that you can’t explain.”

NEXT UP: Chapter Thirteen: Chasing Bigfoot: The Quest for Truth. I review Episode 4 in the 2015 documentary series titled “The Bigfoot Adventure Weekend.”


Lionel Ray Green is a horror and fantasy writer, an award-winning newspaper journalist, and a U.S. Army gulf war veteran living in Alabama. Lionel writes a column for HorrorAddicts.net titled The Bigfoot Files. His fiction has appeared in more than two dozen anthologies, magazines, and ezines, and his short story “Scarecrow Road” won the WriterWriter 2018 International Halloween Themed Writing Competition All Hallows’ Prose.

Five Good-Bad Horror Movies Set in the Louisiana bayou

Review by Lionel Green

A Louisiana bayou. Is there a creepier setting for horror? A marshy wetland shrouded by fog-covered cypress trees and beset by creatures lurking unseen amid the muddy swamp.

Yet the murky waters are strangely shallow in the pool of quality swamp horror movies set in Louisiana bayous. Many take a cheesy action-comedy approach to the story, while others simply fail to take full advantage of the surroundings, probably due to budget constraints.

What you end up with is a glut of films mostly mired in mediocrity. However, some are fun enough to watch if you’re a fan of low-budget horror that’s good-bad … or is it bad-good?

I grew up in the 1980s, so I don’t mind when movies mix in a little cheese with the gore. Sometimes it adds just the right amount of flavor.

Here’s a list of five of my favorite good-bad horror films set in the Louisiana bayou:

1. Hatchet (2006): This one’s a straight-up swamp slasher, and it’s just a good old-fashioned horror movie. A group of tourists embarks on a haunted swamp tour and runs into Victor Crowley, a disfigured freak of a man who’s back from the dead and wielding a hatchet. Crowley’s an awesome villain who’s played by Kane Hodder (who once played Jason Voorhees in a few Friday the 13th films).

2. Frankenfish (2004): A not-so-classic creature feature, Frankenfish is a fun ride when genetically altered snakehead fish are accidentally released into the bayou, prompting an investigation. The special effects are probably better than they should be for a 2004 movie, and the cast gives it their all.

3. Venom (2005): A combo slasher/creature feature, Venom follows a group of teenagers terrorized by Mr. Jangles, a man possessed by 13 unlucky and evil souls. Mr. Jangles is another awesome villain, plus the plot includes voodoo.

4. Creature (2011) “Best watch your step. There’s worse things than gators, you know,” warns Chopper, played by the late Sid Haig in Creature, which introduces the legendary half-man/half-gator known as Lockjaw. Unfortunately, Lockjaw’s backstory was a little “out there” for mainstream audiences, and most critics trashed the movie in an epic way. Creature was actually released nationwide and scored one of the lowest opening weekends in history for a film released in more than 1,500 theaters, earning just $327,000 in ticket sales. It deserved better than that.

5. Snakehead Swamp (2014): I need more snakehead like Christopher Walken needs more cowbell. What can I say about this one? It doesn’t quite rise to the level of Frankenfish on the Snakehead-O-Meter (which is a totally scientific piece of equipment I just made up for this column). But at least there aren’t any sharks swirling around in tornadoes. That’s reason enough to watch Snakehead Swamp.


Lionel Ray Green is a horror and fantasy writer, an award-winning newspaper journalist, and a U.S. Army gulf war veteran living in Alabama. Lionel writes a column for HorrorAddicts.net titled The Bigfoot Files. His fiction has appeared in more than two dozen anthologies, magazines, and ezines, and his short story “Scarecrow Road” won the WriterWriter 2018 International Halloween Themed Writing Competition.

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Eleven: Chasing Bigfoot: ‘Bigfoot Encounters’

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(Editor’s note: This review contains major spoilers.)

Episode 2 of Chasing Bigfoot: The Quest for Truth is titled “Bigfoot Encounters” and is a mixture of historical accounts of sightings from the past interspersed with interviews of people who say they’ve seen Bigfoot.

Like Episode 1, the historical bits are the best parts. You can read my review of Episode 1 here.

The historical accounts are interesting enough to make Episode 2 worth a watch, including stories of a Bigfoot killing a trapper and a Bigfoot abducting a prospector. However, the interviews of modern Bigfoot witnesses do not add much to the Bigfoot canon.

The historical accounts start with a story in The Antioch Ledger from 1870 when an anonymous correspondent published the story of a Bigfoot encounter near Mount Diablo in California titled “The Wild Man of Crow Canyon.” The correspondent reportedly hid and observed two Bigfoots visiting his camp and wrote: ”It was in the image of man, but it could not have been human.”

In a book published in 1890 titled The Wilderness Hunter, future President Theodore Roosevelt recounts a trapper’s story at a pass near Montana’s Wisdom River. The trapper’s camp was destroyed twice, causing his partner and him to leave. The two split up to gather their traps before leaving, and when the trapper returned, he found his partner dead with a broken neck and fang marks on his throat. The trapper named Bauman reported seeing a strange figure before fleeing the area.

The wildest historical Bigfoot encounter happened in British Columbia, Canada, in 1924. That’s when a prospector named Ostman reported hearing “man-beasts” roaming the woods. Ostman said he was abducted by a Bigfoot. The Bigfoot carried Ostman for three hours before dropping him onto a plateau where he was held captive for six days by a family of Bigfoot. Ostman escaped by feeding snuff to the male Bigfoot, which made it groggy. Ostman did not tell his story to a newspaper until 1957.

Again in British Columbia in October 1955, a highway worker named Roe scouted an area for a future hunt and saw a female Bigfoot covered head to foot in dark brown, silver-tipped hair.

Of course, the most famous of the historical encounters occurred in 1967 near Bluff Creek in California when the iconic Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot was filmed.

The interviews of recent witnesses are tame and not filled with a lot of details.

Dr. Russ Jones, a Bigfoot researcher and author, said he’s spoken to many Bigfoot witnesses.

“I’ve had witnesses where it was traumatizing, witnesses that had to get counseling for post-traumatic stress, and people that have moved from wilderness areas,” Jones said in the documentary. “Witnesses tell me they think about their experience almost every day.”

Bigfoot investigator Ron Boles said as a young man he saw Bigfoot behind a tree 15 to 20 feet away while walking through the woods near Springfield, Missouri.

“To this day, that still affects my dreams,” Boles said.

Scott Barta, co-founder of Sasquatch Investigations of the Rockies, believes he saw the silhouette of a Bigfoot outside his tent one night when he found a print the next morning.

Bigfoot investigator Marc DeWerth said he came across a Bigfoot in 1997 while in the forests of Ohio.

Perhaps the strangest interview was with Bigfoot hobbyist Shane Carpenter who claims he’s been closely studying a family of Bigfoot since 2013 after he discovered them on a hike in southern Missouri. The documentary shows some of Carpenter’s photographs, but none of the pictures clearly show Bigfoot. Carpenter’s son and a youth pastor friend also claim to have had Bigfoot encounters.

Derek Randles, co-founder of The Olympic Project, said the most common way statistically to encounter Bigfoot is having one cross the road while you’re driving.

What should you do if you encounter Bigfoot? Wildlife researcher Doug Hajicek suggested investigating the area, document any evidence like footprints with photographs, and do not hesitate to report it to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization.

NEXT UP: Chapter Twelve: Chasing Bigfoot: The Quest for Truth. I review Episode 3 in the 2015 documentary series Chasing Bigfoot titled “The Bigfoot Phenomenon.”

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Ten: Chasing Bigfoot: ‘The Nature of Bigfoot’

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(Editor’s note: This review contains major spoilers.)

Episode 1 of Chasing Bigfoot: The Quest for Truth is titled “The Nature of Bigfoot” and delves into the history and legend of the Sasquatch. While Bigfoot enthusiasts will likely know most of what the episode covers, I certainly learned a couple of interesting tidbits of Bigfoot lore.

Not to be confused with Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot, Mill Creek Entertainment’s Chasing Bigfoot: The Quest for Truth is a documentary with five episodes of Season 1 streaming on Amazon Prime. It’s not following the adventures of hunters but rather is focused on examining the history of reported encounters and the phenomenon of Bigfoot. Episodes are only 24 minutes long and move along at a brisk pace.

Episode 1 features interviews with a number of Bigfoot researchers, including the usual players like wildlife researcher Doug Hajicek, Finding Bigfoot field researcher Cliff Barackman, and primatologist Esteban Sarmiento.

The interviews are mostly speculation and don’t reveal any earth-shattering insight.

For example, Hajicek estimates a minimum of 4,000 Bigfoots roams North America. Barackman says Bigfoot is a species of higher primate up to 9 feet tall. Sarmiento says if Bigfoot exists, it likely migrated from Asia across the Bering land bridge and has the same distribution as other animals that crossed the Bering Strait from Asia.

Okay. Those guesses are as good as any. After all, who can prove them right or wrong?

I was more interested in the accounts of history reported by the documentary, which are mostly well known to Bigfoot enthusiasts.

For example, Bigfoot first showed up in North America via the rock art and folklore of Native Americans.

The documentary also speculates Bigfoot could be a relative of prehistoric ape Gigantopithecus, citing fossil records and examination of scat.

The first report of Bigfoot by a white man happened in 1811 in Jasper, an alpine town in Alberta, Canada. A trader named David Thompson reported footprints 14 inches long and 8 inches wide in the snow.

The term Bigfoot was first used in a Humboldt Times newspaper report about Jerry Crew finding 16-inch long footprints at a construction site in California. However, after the construction company owner died, his family revealed it was a hoax.

But Bigfoot was born forever into pop culture.

Despite the hoaxes, the hundreds of Bigfoot reports over the years are seemingly credible enough to keep researchers interested in the cryptid.

Based on all the sightings and evidence, some researchers think Bigfoot’s appearance is somewhere between an adult gorilla and a human being, and the cryptid is shy and nomadic, living in small family groups that have spread all across North America.

However, the speculation is all over the map. The most interesting parts of the interviews are when researchers talk about Bigfoot’s lifestyle.

For example, British Columbia investigator John Kirk said one report indicates Bigfoot sleeps facedown with his hands tucked under his head and butt in the air. Huh?

“We don’t know where they go to die,” Kirk said, addressing the mystery of why no dead bodies have ever been found.

The documentary addresses other questions like the nocturnal-versus-diurnal debate and whether Bigfoot is dangerous to humans.

The final six minutes of the documentary briefly discuss the other possibilities of Bigfoot’s nature.

For example, some say Cain, the one from the Bible who killed his brother Abel and was doomed to a life of wandering, could be the first Bigfoot. Others say Bigfoot is extraterrestrial. And there’s a paranormal contingent who believes Bigfoot perhaps travels interdimensionally through portals.

Rockies Bigfoot researcher Michael Johnson puts a lot of stock in the stories of the Native Americans.

“The Lakota Sioux call Bigfoot chiye tanka, and I love that name,” Johnson says. “They’re not calling Bigfoot an animal. They’re calling Bigfoot their brother. I think it tells us to a certain degree that Bigfoot isn’t necessarily an animal, but it may be a type of people.”

Many tribes of North America describe a giant, hairy creature who dwells in the forest, sometimes possessing supernatural powers. Johnson cites a Miwok Indian saying, which alludes to either the spiritual or the supernatural aspect of Bigfoot.

“The Miwok Indians say wherever Sasquatch walks, a lantern follows,” Johnson says. “We’ve seen this light phenomenon when they’re around. I think that’s what the Miwok Indians of Yosemite Valley were talking about.”

Native American Sasquatch investigator Winona Kirk says an elder told her a story that Sasquatch takes children who are ill but returns them healthy.

Overall, “The Nature of Bigfoot” is an effective introduction to Chasing Bigfoot: The Quest for Truth and a quick refresher course on Bigfoot’s history.

Bonus: You get to hear a recording of an eerie vocalization that could possibly be a Bigfoot, which made the whole episode worth my time.

NEXT UP: Chapter Eleven: Chasing Bigfoot: The Quest for Truth. I review Episode 2 in the 2015 documentary series Chasing Bigfoot titled “Bigfoot Encounters.”

 

 

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Nine: Stomping Ground

(Editor’s note: This review contains major spoilers.)

The 2014 independent Bigfoot film Stomping Ground is more romantic melodrama than Bigfoot creature feature, yet I found myself enjoying the movie more than I expected.

Directed by Dan Riesser, Stomping Ground uses the Boojum legend of Haywood County, North Carolina, as the backdrop for a story about a modern-day couple taking a major step in their relationship. The Boojum, by the way, is a voyeuristic Southern Bigfoot who fell in love with a human woman named Annie.

The couple in Stomping Ground features Ben, a city slicker from Chicago, and Annie, a Southern transplant living in the Windy City. John Bobek portrays the sometimes condescending Ben as a nerdy fish out of water in the rural South. Tarah DeSpain portrays the feisty Annie as a Southern girl with daddy issues related to a childhood incident involving Bigfoot.

While Ben visits Annie’s hometown in the South for a nostalgic Thanksgiving visit, he learns from Annie’s friends that she hunted Bigfoot in her younger days. It’s not long before Ben, who thinks the Bigfoot legend is nonsense, follows Annie and two of her childhood friends into the woods on a Bigfoot hunt.

The two friends include Annie’s former high school boyfriend Paul, who still carries a torch for Annie, and lovable lug Jed, a Bigfoot enthusiast. Jeramy Blackford plays macho jerk Paul to a T, and Justin Giddings is genuinely likable as redneck Jed.

Ben is jealous of Paul’s subtle attempts to win back Annie, while Annie is initially content to ignore the men’s posturing. It’s an interesting enough dynamic that fuels the film’s tension, overshadowing the Bigfoot hunt for most of the movie. Still, the most compelling scenes are the ones where Annie reveals a couple of family secrets to Ben, which explain her belief in Bigfoot and why she moved to Chicago.

Once in the woods, the usual Bigfoot horror tropes start. On the first night of camping, Ben steps to the edge of the camp to relieve himself and has a rock thrown at him from the darkness followed by a menacing grunt. The next day, the hunters find a tree structure and a familiar footprint. It all seems too convenient, making the possibility of Paul pulling a prank to spook Ben plausible. When Bigfoot attacks the cabin where Ben, Annie, Paul, and Jed are hiding, the true natures of the characters are revealed.

The Bigfoot creature is well done, looking quite prehistoric. The film’s banjo-inflected musical score is notable and complements the movie perfectly.

Of course, I’d like to see more Bigfoot than what Stomping Ground briefly shows, but the film is a fun romp through the woods.

NEXT UP: Chapter Ten: Chasing Bigfoot: The Quest for Truth. I review the 2015 documentary series Chasing Bigfoot.

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Eight: Abominable

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(Editor’s note: This review contains major spoilers.)

A heartfelt performance by Matt McCoy as Preston Rogers and a virtuoso soundtrack by Argentinian composer Lalo Schifrin elevate the 2006 film Abominable above the average creature feature.

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McCoy is best known to horror fans as husband Michael Bartel in 1992’s nanny horror-thriller The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and to many others as gum-chewing mental patient Lloyd Braun on Seinfeld. However, his performance as Preston Rogers ranks among the best on the list of lead actors in Bigfoot horror films.

Abominable follows Preston after being paralyzed six months ago in a mountain-climbing accident. As a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair, Preston returns to his cabin in the mountains as part of his rehabilitation in dealing with the tragedy of his last climb.

Preston is accompanied by a creepy male nurse named Otis who leaves his crippled patient alone in the house for hours to drive into town. Left on his own, Preston uses a pair of binoculars to check outside where a group of girls arrives at the cabin next door to celebrate an upcoming marriage.

Preston’s spying fuels the most intense and horrific scenes in the film. Preston hears noises and sees a downed phone line, making the lack of cell phone reception even more isolating. When Preston watches one of the girls walk outside to find cell phone reception, he notices movement in the trees behind her. The girl disappears but her cell phone remains behind on the pavement. One of the eeriest shots in the movie is when Preston uses a flashlight with his binoculars to scan the trees and Bigfoot’s eyes appear for the first time.

The best moments of Abominable show Preston as he watches Bigfoot break into the girls’ cabin and kill them one by one. Hampered by his disability, Preston tries to warn the girls, but the relentless Bigfoot is on a mission of mass murder. It’s an intense sequence.

A scene in the bathroom after one girl showers is particularly brutal. Horror scream queen Tiffany Shepis plays the victim. As well done as that practical special effect was, nothing compares to the Bigfoot face-bite to come later. Kudos to the special effects team.

Only one of the five girls, Amanda, survives Bigfoot’s attack. Haley Joel plays Amanda to perfection as the final girl who flees to Preston’s cabin. The most powerful scene in Abominable is when Preston delivers an inspirational speech to the terrified Amanda where he shares the heartbreaking details of his mountain-climbing accident.

“I’m scared to death right now,” Preston tells Amanda.

“Me too,” Amanda replies.

“That means that we want to live,” Preston says. “I was given a gift that day. And I don’t know why. I mean, it was a miracle that I lived. And I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that I don’t waste that gift.”

Galvanized by his courage, Amanda starts helping Preston implement his plan to escape the cabin and the rampaging Bigfoot. I especially liked how director Ryan Schifrin incorporated Preston’s use of his mountain-climbing skills to fuel their flight. Of course, their escape is only short-lived, but the final face-off with Bigfoot is intense and satisfying.

Like many horror movies, Abominable features veterans of the genre in small roles. Lance Henriksen (Pumpkinhead, Aliens) makes a brief appearance as a hunter. Henriksen was also in another Bigfoot film I reviewed for The Bigfoot Files, Big Legend. The always solid Dee Wallace (The Howling, Cujo) is a farmer’s wife under attack by Bigfoot in a chilling opening scene.

Other actors of note in Abominable include the late great Paul Gleason as the sheriff. You may remember him as disciplinarian/assistant principal Richard Vernon in 1985’s The Breakfast Club. Phil Morris, who played Kramer’s lawyer Jackie Chiles on Seinfeld for three seasons, is a sheriff’s deputy.

The Bigfoot itself in Abominable is suitably savage enough to deliver the goods and passes the quality test of this Bigfoot enthusiast.

Abominable is a low-budget film that originally aired on SyFy back when it was still called SCI FI Channel. However, thanks to McCoy’s stellar performance, wicked special effects, and superb soundtrack, Abominable stands the test of time as a good old-fashioned Saturday night popcorn fright flick.

NEXT UP | Chapter Nine: Stomping Ground. I review the 2014 horror film Stomping Ground directed by Dan Riesser.

 

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Seven: Willow Creek

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(Editor’s note: This review contains major spoilers.)

The 2013 found-footage horror movie Willow Creek is basically The Blair Witch Project with Bigfoot instead of the witch. Directed by comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, Willow Creek follows couple Jim and Kelly filming their visit to the site of the iconic Patterson-Gimlin video clip that allegedly captured Bigfoot on film in 1967.

Willow Creek

Jim is passionate about Bigfoot, and his girlfriend Kelly goes along for the ride to help him chronicle the adventure. They interview locals before finally entering the famous stretch of forest about halfway through the 80-minute movie.

“Babe, this is a dream I’ve had since I was 8 years old,” Jim says.

Jim’s dream is about to become a nightmare as the couple ventures deeper into the woods. Jim and Kelly set up camp and explore the forest, discovering some unknown scat, before returning to their campsite and finding their tent in shambles.

When darkness falls, Willow Creek spends 20 minutes inside the couple’s tent as Jim and Kelly listen to the strange sounds outside like wood knocks, vocalizations, and heavy footsteps. The extended tent sequence shows Jim and Kelly running the gamut of emotions, from romance to disappointment to terror.

When daylight arrives, the spooked couple decides to return to civilization. Disoriented in the woods, Jim and Kelly hear more vocalizations en route to a frantic and frenetic climax.

I enjoyed Willow Creek because I related to Jim’s enthusiasm for Bigfoot. Bryce Johnson and Alexie Gilmore do an outstanding job of portraying Jim and Kelly as a couple in love but without a lot in common.

Like The Blair Witch Project, Willow Creek is 99 percent setup with a quick, chaotic ending. If you’re expecting to see Bigfoot in action, then you’ll be disappointed. But if you’re a fan of found-footage horror, Willow Creek executes it better than most.

NEXT UP | Chapter Eight: Abominable. I review the 2006 horror film Abominable directed by Ryan Schifrin.

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Six: Big Legend

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(Editor’s note: This review contains major spoilers.)

The 2018 horror film Big Legend, written and directed by Justin Lee, is a no-frills creature feature, meaning diehard Bigfoot fans should enjoy the 89-minute ride. I know I did.

Big Legend

Set in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Big Legend opens with couple-in-love Tyler and Natalie about to embark on a camping trip. Tyler (Kevin Makely) is a former soldier and hopes to make the excursion extra special for sweet Natalie (Summer Spiro).

However, romance transforms into tragedy during the first night. Natalie hears wood knocks and guttural growls outside their tent. Tyler leaves to investigate, a decision he’ll regret for the rest of his life. Some kind of beast grabs the tent and drags it along with Natalie into the darkness where she disappears.

Twelve months later, Tyler is dealing with survivor’s guilt on his final day in a psychiatric ward. He tells psychiatrist Dr. Wheeler that he believes Natalie was attacked by a bear although her body has never been found. Amanda Wyss portrays Dr. Wheeler. You may remember her as the iconic Tina Gray in the body bag, Fred Krueger’s first victim in the 1984 horror film A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Tyler doesn’t really believe Natalie’s disappearance is bear-related, and the anguished soldier discusses his decision to search for Natalie with his mother Rita. It’s the most heartfelt scene in Big Legend. Rita is portrayed beautifully and too briefly by another horror icon, Adrienne Barbeau. You may remember her as radio DJ Stevie Wayne in the 1980 horror film The Fog.

The authorities drop off a box of items, including Natalie’s digital camera, left behind at the campsite after the attack a year ago. Tyler starts flicking through the photographs and stops at a random picture with a shadowy figure lurking in the background. That was my favorite moment in Big Legend. It was perfectly eerie.

His suspicions almost confirmed, Tyler loads up his gear and returns to the scene of the Bigfoot crime. During his search for answers, Tyler encounters another hunter named Eli, portrayed by character actor Todd A. Robinson.

Bigfoot is protective of his territory, and the human duo faces off against the beast in a tense showdown that had me flashing back to the 1987 sci-fi horror film Predator when Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) tires of being the hunted and decides to challenge the alien.

The most important feature of a Bigfoot movie is the Bigfoot, and I’m pleased to report the makeup department of Angela Bulmer and Jill Colwell do a commendable job. Bigfoot looked suitably savage and realistic enough to me.

I recommend Big Legend to those of us who enjoy an outing with Bigfoot. It’s a gritty little movie with big aspirations. Seeing Wyss and Barbeau on the screen again after so many years was an unexpected delight. There’s even a cameo by horror icon Lance Henriksen (Pumpkinhead, Aliens) who drops by at the end to introduce an interesting twist to the story.

 

NEXT UP | Chapter Seven: Willow Creek. I review the 2013 horror film Willow Creek written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

LINKS TO PREVIOUS CHAPTERS OF THE BIGFOOT FILES:

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter One: The Idea of Bigfoot

THE BIGFOOT FILES| Chapter Two: Dweller

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Three: Swamp Monster Massacre

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Four: The Road Best Not Taken

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Five: Wood Ape

 

Author Interview: Horror author Jeff Strand | My Pretties

Horror author Jeff Strand delves into the ugly darkness of a serial kidnapper with his latest book, My Pretties, a gripping novel filled with twists that get more twisted as the climax approaches.

My Pretties.jpg

My Pretties is about a restaurant server named Gertie, who believes her cousin is the victim of a serial kidnapper. To try and save her, Gertie uses herself as bait and wanders the streets at night, hoping to lure the kidnapper into the open. When Gertie tells her co-worker Charlene how she spends her nights, Charlene agrees to trail her in a car as backup.

Of course, this is a Jeff Strand novel, so nothing goes according to plan, and the vigilante waitresses go from the hunters to the hunted.

Strand introduces readers to a sick, soulless man named Ken who abducts women and locks them in cages that hang from the ceiling in a soundproofed basement. Ken’s thrill is simply to sit quietly in the room and watch the women slowly starve to death. However, Ken is husband to a wife who wonders why he’s late all the time and father to a son who doesn’t respect him.

While Ken’s family dynamic provides most of the twists and some darkly comic moments, My Pretties is ultimately a grim tale of torture and survival.

Jeff Strand

Jeff Strand

In an exclusive interview for HorrorAddicts.net, Strand discusses My Pretties and what he thinks of a recent social media thread where people listed their top five Strand novels.

HORROR ADDICTS: Where did your idea for My Pretties originate?

STRAND: The process was similar to Mia and Rusty in Ferocious, where I had my lead characters (in this case, Charlene and Gertie) before I had a story to put them in. I’d written their meeting scene and not much else, and did nothing with it for a couple of years.

The idea of a serial killer who puts his victims in small cages dangling from a ceiling, giving them water but no food, watching them for hours at a time, came separately and much more recently. I pulled Charlene and Gertie into that idea and that’s where it became My Pretties.

HORROR ADDICTS: At some point, your villain Ken becomes the focus of the story more so than your heroines, Charlene and Gertie. Was that the idea from the start or did Ken just keep developing as you wrote the story?

STRAND: I changed some of the details as I wrote, but the broad strokes of the story were always there. I did try to be very conscious of keeping the balance — you get more of Ken’s story than you may have been expecting, but I didn’t want to tip the scales too far toward his side of things.

HORROR ADDICTS: Do you prefer writing villains more than heroes or vice versa?

STRAND: I don’t actually have a preference. It can be fun to write a really nasty villain, but I also enjoy writing likable heroes. Ken in My Pretties posed a bit of a challenge because he’s a complete garbage human being, and I didn’t want the reader to like him at all. He’s not Hannibal Lecter or Hans Gruber — he’s a piece of crap. So, he needed to be somebody who could convincingly persuade women to trust him a little, but I didn’t want him to be witty or charming or have any of those “the villain you love to hate” characteristics. Of course, my natural instinct is to try to write witty, clever dialogue, and I had to pull back on that for this guy.

HORROR ADDICTS: You’re active on social media, and I noticed a thread where readers were posting lists of their top five Jeff Strand novels. Where would you rank My Pretties among your 40-plus books?

STRAND: I love threads like that because there’s always a wide variety of titles represented. I’d hate for it to be, “Okay, here’s the one or two books that everybody likes, and then the rest.” It’s always fun to see something like Fangboy (which I always knew was going to be divisive, and I was correct) represented, or that people are championing The Sinister Mr. Corpse. It’s too early for me to rank My Pretties. What happens, 100 percent of the time, is that the book I wrote is not as good as the book I’d planned to write. There are no exceptions. So, no book is published with me thinking, “My God, this is my masterpiece!” It doesn’t take long for the Written Book vs. Book In My Head disparity to fade, but My Pretties is brand new.

HORROR ADDICTS: Dweller is my No. 1 Jeff Strand novel, but I was surprised when I read your personal top five and neither of your Bram Stoker Award-nominated novels, Pressure or Dweller, made your list. In fact, you said Blister and Cyclops Road flip-flop between your favorite. What makes those two novels resonate with you more so than your more traditional horror novels?

Cyclops RoadBlisterPressureDweller

STRAND: I almost never revisit my work after it’s published, so it’s possible that if I wiped my memory and read my entire backlist, the rankings would change. As it is, I’m going to naturally lean toward my most recent titles. I certainly don’t think every book is better than the last, but I do like to think that the last third of my output is better than the middle third, which is better than the first third, overall.

There’s just a lot of stuff I love about Blister. It’s a weird and quirky love story on top of a mystery on top of a horror story with lots of humor thrown in. Cyclops Road is a bigger story than I usually do (it’s my longest solo novel), and I really like the cast of characters. It’s got action, laughs, heartbreak, scares — I think it’s my most entertaining novel. I’m also partial to Bring Her Back, Sick House, and Kumquat.

If I asked all of my fans to rank their favorites, it’s safe to say that the No. 1 spot would go to Dweller. I’m proud as hell of that book. It just doesn’t make the list of my all-time favorites of my own work.

HORROR ADDICTS: Lastly, I always like to ask if you have any breaking Jeff Strand news for us Strand fans and Horror Addicts?

STRAND: Well, I just did a really dark psychological thriller, so I’m shifting tones with the next one. This one will be very blatantly horror/comedy and a lot of fun. Monsters are included.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

RELATED LINKS:

Horror Author Jeff Strand gets Ferocious in 2019

THE BIGFOOT FILES| Chapter Two: Dweller

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Five: Wood Ape

A husband and a town both with secrets propel the drama and mystery of the Bigfoot novel Wood Ape by C.G. Mosley.

Wood Ape.jpg

“Actually, Wood Ape was inspired by a friend that is obsessed with Bigfoot,” Mosley said in an exclusive interview for The Bigfoot Files. “He is always reading books and listening to podcasts on the subject. Severed Press, the publisher I write for, has a lot of fiction available on Bigfoot. Knowing this, I began prodding my own personal Bigfoot expert for information and before long, Wood Ape came to fruition.”

Set in the small Baker County town of Dunn, Mississippi, Wood Ape begins with an intense prologue describing a violent confrontation between Bigfoot and a man named Cliff.

Flash forward thirty-five years later, the Schrader family – Harry, Lacey and seven-year-old daughter Alice – is settling into a new home secluded outside Dunn following a move from Atlanta. Harry, a school administrator, harbors a devastating secret. Lacey, a paralegal, is deeply troubled by Harry’s defensive and distant behavior of the past three months.

Lingering in the background is a cloud of suspicion hanging over the Schraders’ new residence. Many locals believe the house is haunted, a rumor perpetuated by the inexplicable disappearance of the previous occupants.

Lacey’s first trip to the grocery store ramps up the tension when she encounters an old man with a dire prediction:

The old man paused and glanced at the stock boy and then to the other patrons in the store. “You all know it to be true,” he said. “You all know she and her family is in danger … why don’t you tell her?”

More strangeness ensues when Harry finds a decomposed carcass in the woods, and his daughter Alice is spooked by something tapping on her window. Lacey’s drifter brother, Dwight, drops by for a brief stay but soon vanishes, mysteriously leaving his motorcycle behind.

The sheriff, Travis Horne, investigates Dwight’s disappearance, while Lacey investigates what happened to the previous owners, setting up the dramatic second half of Wood Ape.

While Wood Ape is a Bigfoot novel, Mosley manages to add an interesting wrinkle to the cryptid subgenre, particularly with Harry’s secret.

Baker County Bigfoot Chronicle

Most of Mosley’s other books are creature features, and the author even revisited Sasquatch in his follow-up novel, Baker County Bigfoot Chronicle.

“I do believe that Bigfoot is real,” Mosley said. “I’ve really researched and explored the subject in depth, and when you see all the many reported sightings that there are across the U.S. alone, there is just too much evidence there to dismiss it as only legend and fable. Sure, there are hoaxes out there too, but in my opinion, those are given much more attention than the actual, unexplainable encounters. It seems to me that society, in general, would rather not believe these things to be true and will take every opportunity to make it seem as though they are not.”

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C.G. Mosley

I asked Mosley why Bigfoot remains so prevalent in pop culture today.

“Bigfoot is a mystery, and everyone loves a good mystery,” Mosley said. “Not only that, it is a mystery that exists right outside most people’s back doors. I read a study one time that said almost three-quarters of Americans have paranormal beliefs. Obviously, Bigfoot is a part of that, and those beliefs will be projected in film and books for many years to come.”

NEXT UP | Chapter Six: Big Legend. I review the 2018 horror film Big Legend written and directed by Justin Lee.

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LINKS FOR C.G. MOSLEY

Social Media Links:

Twitter | Facebook |  Instagram |  Goodreads

Buy Links:

Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | SeveredPress | Amazon

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

LINKS FOR THE BIGFOOT FILES:

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter One: The Idea of Bigfoot

THE BIGFOOT FILES| Chapter Two: Dweller

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Three: Swamp Monster Massacre

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Four: The Road Best Not Taken

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Four: The Road Best Not Taken

“The Road Best Not Taken” by horror author and video game writer Richard Dansky is a treasure I discovered during the Georgia Bigfoot Conference in April. It’s a riveting short story propelled by the eyewitness testimony of a Bigfoot encounter.

“I’ve always been a Bigfoot fan ever since I saw the Bigfoot episode of ‘In Search Of …’ way, way, way, way, way back in the day,” Dansky said in an exclusive interview for The Bigfoot Files. “It’s always been something I’ve been interested in …  reading about encounters people have had with Bigfoot. The story was actually inspired by an account I heard. Reading about that encounter I saw the seeds of a good story in there if I just expand it a little bit.”

snowbird gothic“The Road Best Not Taken” is one of nineteen short stories in Dansky’s collection titled Snowbird Gothic. Dansky is also a video game writer at Ubisoft, and his credits include work on Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Outland, and Rainbow Six: Black Arrow. He also wrote the novel Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands: Dark Waters.

Tom Clancy Dark Waters

While Dansky’s short story “The Road Best Not Taken” is a far cry from the world of Tom Clancy, his tale is a compelling illustration of how a traumatic encounter can alter the path of someone’s life. Narrated in the first person by a second-grade teacher named Barry, “The Road Best Not Taken” is a dramatic eyewitness account of Bigfoot with a twist.

The setting is a beach bonfire where four old college friends – Barry, Sam, Harris, and Jeremy – reunite and catch up on each other’s lives. However, the only real information Barry’s friends want to know is the reason for his breakup with a redhead named Jaimie nine years ago.

“I could tell you what happened, but I don’t think you’d believe me.”

His friends push Barry to explain what happened.

“If I tell you, will you let it go? It’s not a story I want to tell twice.”

And just like that, Dansky expertly hooks the reader, and you feel like one of Barry’s college friends sitting around the bonfire. Like Sam, Harris, and Jeremy, you have to know what happened between Barry and Jaimie.

And what happened was Bigfoot, but not in the way you’d expect.

Barry’s account starts with him driving from Chapel Hill to Elizabeth City to visit Jaimie during his college days. He hits construction an hour east of Raleigh and makes the fateful decision to take a shortcut. He gets lost on the backroads leading to his Bigfoot encounter.

Barry struggles at times to tell the story to his friends because they can’t relate to his experience. He’s like a soldier trying to describe the frontlines of a war zone to civilians who’ve never served in the military.

What elevates “The Road Best Not Taken” is Dansky’s earnest description of the Bigfoot encounter and his empathy for the narrator. Dansky seems to understand how a Bigfoot encounter would affect an eyewitness emotionally and psychologically.

Dansky is a Bigfoot believer himself and knows people who say they’ve seen the cryptid, which may be why “The Road Best Not Taken” feels so authentic.

Richard Dansky.jpg

Richard Dansky

“I have eight friends who have seen Bigfoot, so I’m not inclined to call them liars,” Dansky said. “I have never seen Bigfoot myself. I’m a city boy.”

I asked Dansky why Bigfoot remains so prevalent in pop culture today.

“I think part of it is the mystery of ‘Is it really out there?’ There’s a little bit of realism to it you don’t get from vampires and zombies,” Dansky said. “And part of it is Bigfoot stands for the untamed wilderness, which is still a big part of this country’s psyche, I think.”

“I believe Bigfoot is out there,” Dansky added. “I believe Bigfoot is a large primate, and I hope he continues to confound and amaze us for many years.”

NEXT UP | Chapter Five: Wood Ape. I review the horror novel Wood Ape by C.G. Mosley, featuring an exclusive interview with the author about how the Bigfoot legend inspired his story.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

RELATED LINKS:

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter One: The Idea of Bigfoot

THE BIGFOOT FILES| Chapter Two: Dweller

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Three: Swamp Monster Massacre

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Three: Swamp Monster Massacre

Horror author Hunter Shea admittedly owes a lot of his success to Skunk Apes, the Everglades version of Bigfoot.

Swamp Monster Massacre cover.jpg

Shea’s fast-paced, action-packed horror novel, Swamp Monster Massacre, is a crowd-pleasing creature feature about a criminal on the lam alongside a group of Everglades tourists trying to survive a pissed-off family of Skunk Apes.

Swamp Monster Massacre is also the book that helped launch Shea’s career as a writer of cryptid fiction.

In an exclusive interview for The Bigfoot Files, Shea said a popular TV show sparked the idea for Swamp Monster Massacre.

“The entire novel literally came to me fully formed while watching an episode of Bar Rescue,” Shea said. “I knew I wanted to write a Bigfoot book, but I had to take a different angle. And I wanted the heat of summer to be a character of its own, so my mind immediately went to the Florida Everglades. Settling on Skunk Apes, those smelly beasties of the swamp, I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to strand a bunch of tourists in a fan boat in the middle of the Everglades?’ And what better way to do that than have them kidnapped by a criminal named Rooster. It was one of the very few times a story popped into my head fully formed. I wrote the book over the course of three weeks in a kind of fever dream. Little did I know how much that crazy little book would change my life.”

While evidence of the Skunk Ape’s existence is lacking, Shea’s discovery is based on clear proof of his unique writing talent in the horror genre.

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Hunter Shea

“I was discovered by my editor at Kensington/Pinnacle when he read the book,” Shea said. “That turned into a three mass market paperback deal and other books that have followed. It also set me on my cryptid course. I’ve now written about the Jersey Devil, Orang Pendeks, the Loch Ness Monster, the Dover Demon, and so many more. In fact, I kind of combine the beasts and many of the characters from those standalone books into my Patreon only choose-your-adventure story, Clash of the Cryptids. That book led me to meeting and befriending real cryptozoologists, including Loren Coleman. I’ve even had some of my books on display at the International Cryptozoology Museum. It’s kind of crazy to think how so much has come from a book called Swamp Monster Massacre. It’s a dream come true in a very weird way.”

Swamp Monster Massacre begins with a hot-under-the-collar criminal named Rooster Murphy prying his knuckle from the shattered eye socket of a Cuban named Cheech after a gun deal gone wrong. Rooster soon finds himself on the run from three vengeful Cubans and commandeers an airboat of tourists to escape.

On the boat are pilot Mick and seven passengers. The passenger list includes two Jersey Shore-type guys Angelo and Dominic; identical twin blonde college girls Liz and Maddie; older married couple John and Carol; and businessman Jack.

Rooster doesn’t want to hurt anybody. He just wants to reach a safe house hidden in the Everglades that his father showed him when he was old enough to learn the family business. However, the passengers don’t know Rooster’s intentions and attempt to disarm him, resulting in a boat wreck that strands everyone in the middle of the swamp, miles away from the safe house.

Unfortunately, the boat happened to hit a young Skunk Ape standing on the shore, killing it and sending the other Skunk Apes into a bloodlust of vengeance. The rest of the story follows Rooster, Mick, and the tourists into the Everglades where the family of Skunk Apes hounds the group, picking off the humans one by one.

Shea writes the action at a breathless pace but doesn’t forget to include details of the swamp’s heat and mosquitoes, which makes the setting a character of its own. Despite the gory nature of the book (Massacre is in the title), Shea provides a kind of comedy relief with some of his dialogue and descriptive metaphors.

He saves some of his best descriptions for the Skunk Apes:

  • “Four hairy monsters, the smallest at just about seven feet, the largest over eight, stood side by side on the shore, bellowing with murderous intent. All had broad, muscular chests, and one sported a pair of drooping, furred breasts. The hair on their heads was long, like an 80s glam band gone rogue. Their immense, talon-like hands hung low, almost to their knees. A small amount of bronze flesh was visible on their faces, but the rest of them just looked like bipedal woolly mammoths. And their eyes! Eight flaming eyes bored out from under all that hair and filth.”
  • The Skunk Ape’s smell? “It was like a combination of gasoline, body odor, wet dog, and the inside of a baby’s diaper.”
  • The Skunk Ape’s sound? “Suddenly, there was a loud roar, like what Rooster would imagine a tiger caught in a bear trap would sound like.”

One of my favorite lines is when Rooster tries to convince the pilot that they need to get moving: “It’s either that, or sit here like a corn dog on a dinner plate.”

The climax of Swamp Monster Massacre is brutal as the story dips into extreme elements of horror for the finale, but what a wild ride at the end. The tone of the book reminded me of the 1987 film Predator starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, where the tension of a possible surprise attack at any moment keeps everyone on edge.

Shea’s interest in and ability to write about cryptids is legit, and among his many cryptid titles is Savage Jungle, a novel about Sumatra’s version of Bigfoot, the Orang Pendek.

Savage Jungle cover.jpg

I asked Shea if he believes in Bigfoot.

“I believe there is a high probability that Bigfoot is real, but perhaps not in the way that people think and hope,” Shea explained. “I’m not on board with the interdimensional Sasquatch theory, nor do I think they are aligned with extraterrestrial interlopers. I think that whatever they are is something beyond our modern comprehension. That goes for ghosts and ETs as well. Somehow, they are all connected and have always been throughout time, with different names given to them by succeeding generations of man. Are they physical beings? I tend to think they are ultra-physical, a form of life we’re not equipped with at this time in our development to even fathom. Anyone trying to explain Bigfoot is like the Buddha telling people how a cellphone works. No matter what, belief makes the world a much more fascinating place.”

I also asked Shea why he thinks Bigfoot continues to remain so prevalent in pop culture today.

“Bigfoot is fun for the city dwellers, a monster myth that makes for cool TV specials, bad movies, and some bizarre books,” Shea replied. “For the woodsy folks, it’s a killer campfire story that adds an element of excitement to a night in the deep, dark forest. I once took my daughters on a nature hike in Maine that was basically a trail that wrapped around Main Street. You could even hear cars from time to time. But when they heard what sounded like a wood knock, they nearly beat feet and ran the hell out of there. Fear is good. It’s a rush. It makes us feel alive. In a time where it seems like everything is at our fingertips, it’s nice to think we don’t have everything figured out. The possibility that our long lost cousin or the missing link is still out there, ready to redefine our notions of ourselves, is downright fascinating.”

NEXT UP | Chapter Four: “The Road Best Not Taken.” I review the horror short story “The Road Best Not Taken” from the collection Snowbird Gothic by Richard Dansky, featuring an exclusive interview with the author about how the Bigfoot legend inspired his story.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

RELATED LINKS:

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter One: The Idea of Bigfoot

THE BIGFOOT FILES| Chapter Two: Dweller

THE BIGFOOT FILES| Chapter Two: Dweller

Oddly enough, Bigfoot was not the original creature that author Jeff Strand had in mind for his Bram Stoker Award-nominated horror novel Dweller.

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“The concept of ‘the story of a lifetime friendship between a boy and a monster’ came to me before the actual monster,” said Strand in an exclusive interview for The Bigfoot Files. “I’d originally thought it would be a reptilian creature that lived at the bottom of a well. But that was too limiting for a book that covered sixty years, and I wanted the readers to fall in love with Owen, so I switched to Bigfoot. Well, something like Bigfoot. There’s a scene where they watch the Patterson-Gimlin film and try to figure out if Owen is the same type of animal. That gave me the whole forest to play around in and made the monster much more cuddly.”

Of course, since Dweller is a horror novel, Owen the Bigfoot is not as cuddly as Strand would have you believe.

Released in 2010, Dweller is a tragic tale of friendship between one lonely human named Toby and one lonely cryptid that Toby names Owen. What makes Dweller a cut and a slash above the average creature feature is that the novel chronicles a heartfelt relationship between human and beast over a period of six decades, starting with their first encounter in 1953.

Dweller is quite a remarkable feat of storytelling because of the time frame, but also because Strand’s tale is as tender as it is terrifying. Eight-year-old Toby initially encounters the creature (who he later names Owen) in the woods behind his home, but their friendship doesn’t begin until seven years later when Toby is a bullied, socially awkward teenager. Their ensuing encounters spark a relationship that Strand is able to ground in reality.

To me, one of the most poignant aspects of Dweller is why Toby chooses the name Owen for the Bigfoot creature. Strand writes:

“Owen – the human Owen – was the closest Toby had ever come to having a real friend.”

Toby had met a boy named Owen in sixth grade, and for about three months they played together every day until an incident ended their friendship. So, Toby has no friends now. How sad is it that the boy turns to a monster just to have a friend and then names it after the only human friend he ever had?

Owen’s story is even sadder as illustrated in the prologue of Dweller. A runt offspring, Owen is orphaned after watching humans kill his family. Owen runs from the killer humans, and Strand writes:

“When he stopped running, he wept.”

That last line of the prologue always gets to me. Can you imagine a young Bigfoot weeping — not crying, but weeping — after humans kill his family? It’s a heartbreaking moment.

One of the more interesting techniques employed in Dweller is Strand’s use of chapters titled “Glimpses,” which cover years of time in the lives of Toby and Owen in just a few pages. For example, in Chapter Eleven, Strand chronicles 1964 to 1972 in eight pages by describing a moment or two during each year. The glimpses are a surprisingly effective way to show time passing and to develop the characters.

One of my favorite glimpses in the book is when Toby is showing photographs from the iconic Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot film to Owen. Toby thinks that Bigfoot shares a resemblance to Owen, but Owen disagrees. It’s such a “real” moment.

Dweller is among my top ten favorite novels of any genre, not just horror. I became an instant fan of Strand after reading it and have followed his eclectic career ever since. Known as a master of blending horror and comedy, Strand has written more than forty books, but Dweller remains my favorite (and probably always will). Strangely, his one mainstream romantic comedy Kumquat is my second favorite of his novels followed by the devastatingly dark Pressure.

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Jeff Strand

I asked Strand if he believes in Bigfoot.

“I think the overwhelming majority of Bigfoot sightings are hoaxes or just mistakes,” Strand replied. “When I see a shaky video of an indistinct blur viewed through thick forest and the cameraman is saying, ‘That’s Bigfoot! Oh my God, that’s Bigfoot!’ I have to be skeptical. It’s easy to see what you want to see, and it’s easy to fool people, so I believe that very few Bigfoot sightings are legitimate. But ‘overwhelming majority’ doesn’t mean ‘all.’ As with aliens, I don’t believe or disbelieve either way — I’m open to the possibility. But I have not seen anything to make me say, ‘Yes! They exist!’”

I also asked Strand why he thinks Bigfoot continues to remain so prevalent in pop culture today.

“It’s just a fascinating idea, that there’s a creature living out there that may or may not be real,” Strand explained. “It’s mysterious and a little scary. Bigfoot is credible enough that you don’t have to be a complete whack-nut to think, ‘Well, maybe ….’ There’s way freakier stuff living in the oceans. So, he could be out there, and yet nobody has ever caught one or provided conclusive evidence that they exist. Even if you’re a hardcore skeptic, it’s a fun mystery.”

NEXT UP | Chapter Three: Swamp Monster Massacre. I review the horror novel Swamp Monster Massacre by Hunter Shea, featuring an exclusive interview with the author about how the Bigfoot legend inspired his story and how the book changed his life.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

RELATED LINK:

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter One: The Idea of Bigfoot

 

Short Film Review: LION

Film Review by Lionel Ray Green

Horror short film Lion is a powerful condemnation of domestic violence against children packaged as an atmospheric nightmare.

LION - Official Poster

Released in 2017 and written and directed by Davide Melini, Lion is touted as the most honored horror short film in history with more than 260 awards, according to the director’s IMDb biography.

Lion is set inside an isolated chalet during a heavy snowfall in a dark forest. A family of three lives in the chalet. The scene is simple. An angry, alcoholic father drinks and channel-flips the television. A helpless mother lingers in the gloomy shadows of the kitchen. Their eight-year-old child, bearing a nasty facial bruise, sleeps in a bedroom, its walls adorned with posters of lions.

The child clings to a stuffed lion and prays unconsciously, “Help me. Don’t let them hit me again.”

When the father wakes up from his drunken stupor, the television is on a nature channel showing lions in the wild. The father clicks the remote control, but the channel doesn’t change. The parents are about to receive a dose of reality TV.

While Lion is a pure message movie about the deadly consequences of domestic violence against children, Melini still manages to deliver an effective horror short, packing a feature film’s worth of suspense and tension into his twelve-minute nightmare.

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter One: The Idea of Bigfoot

The Idea of Bigfoot by Lionel Ray Green

I believe in Bigfoot. Or rather I believe in the idea of Bigfoot.

I’m not an expert on Bigfoot, although I have studied the legend intensely. I’m merely a fan intrigued by how the stubbornly persistent legend has inundated itself into American pop culture, specifically horror film and fiction.

Bigfoot is everywhere. In films. In books. On television in Jack Link’s Beef Jerky commercials and Saturday Night Live. On T-shirts and coffee mugs.

Bigfoot’s everywhere in my life, too.

Bigfoot-shoesMy favorite place to satisfy my sweet tooth is Bigfoot’s Little Donuts, where the cryptid is featured prominently on the sign and in the décor inside the eatery. I plan to attend the First Annual Georgia Bigfoot Conference in Clayton, Georgia the weekend of April 26-28. I have a Bigfoot crossing sign on my door. A Bigfoot keyring keeps my keys secure. My favorite hat displays a silhouette of Bigfoot surrounded by the words “I Believe.” My favorite T-shirt features the legendary silhouette of the creature. I even have my Bigfoot socks and slippers.

So, while I’m not an expert, I’m a diehard fanatic. I love the idea of a legendary monster roaming the wild, instinctively knowing to avoid contact with humans. While humans often portray Bigfoot as a monster in film and fiction, the legendary cryptid seems smart enough to avoid what it thinks are the real monsters of the world: humans. Bigfoot understands discovery means death.

Whether Bigfoot is real or fake never mattered to me because the legend inspires me nearly every day. I remain mesmerized by the definitive Bigfoot moment. Of course, I’m referring to the Patterson-Gimlin film clip that briefly shows a lumbering bipedal creature walking along Bluff Creek in northern California on October 20, 1967. Allegedly.

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It might surprise you that I think the film is a hoax, but an inspired hoax fueled by the idea of Bigfoot. Real or not, the film inspired me to delve deeper into the Bigfoot legend and sparked my imagination like no other pop culture phenomenon. Bigfoot is a top-five inspiration for my fiction writing alongside the books The Lord of the Rings and Boy’s Life and the movies Halloween (1978) and Babe (1995).

The name Bigfoot didn’t appear in the media until a 1958 newspaper article in the Humboldt Times, but stories of hairy bipedal humanoid creatures have been reported in folklore and history throughout the world. The most well-known of these reports are Sasquatch (an anglicized form of a Native American word) and Yeti (a likely Sherpa form of a Tibetan description).

While the 1958 article introduced the name Bigfoot to the American public, the Patterson-Gimlin film brought the legend into pop culture full force — and it has never left. The iconic frame 352 of the Patterson-Gimlin film shows the legendary creature glancing back at the camera. It foreshadowed a future of Bigfoot in the movies, where it remains a fixture in film and fiction.

Usually, Bigfoot is depicted as a savage beast with predatory tendencies who kills humans. Bigfoot is rarely cast as a gentle giant. Harry and the Hendersons (1987) and Smallfoot (2018) are the exceptions, not the rule.

The result? Bigfoot is as much a horror icon in pop culture today as vampires and werewolves. That’s what this column, The Bigfoot Files, will explore. I’ll review the movies, books, and other media where Bigfoot is featured. Thanks for joining this expedition with me. Hopefully, I’ll introduce you to some movies and books about Bigfoot worth watching and reading.

NEXT UP | Chapter Two: Dweller. I review the 2010 horror novel Dweller by Jeff Strand, featuring an exclusive interview with the author about how the Bigfoot legend inspired the Bram Stoker Award-nominated book.