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 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 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 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.

bigfoot.jpg

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.