Posted by: Craig Woolheater on February 22nd, 2013
Interview from Horrorpedia:
Dave Coleman is the world’s foremost expert on that most misunderstood of sub-genres, the Bigfoot Film. His book, The Bigfoot Filmography, is the last word on these movies – at least until the next edition!
Horrorpedia spoke to him about the book and the films…
Firstly – why Bigfoot? What made you want to write about Bigfoot films?
Mainly I was frustrated that no one else had! I love cinema books and film magazines, but the lack of any proper reference guide to what I honestly considered a “verboten genre” was really annoying me over the years. I self-published a fanzine called Remote Jockey Digest in the early 1990s and published what I believe was the first attempt to do so in an article called “The Essential Guide to Bigfoot Cinema.”
I got a lot of email and letters on that article. Later, when I happened to be corresponding with Loren Coleman asking about some Bigfoot film or other, I asked him: do you know of any guides that classify Bigfoot films, per se? He didn’t, so I set out to do so. I had no idea — I mean, none! — how many films there were until I began the research process in earnest.
Yeti – Curse of the Snow Demon
How long did it take to get the book together?
Maybe two and a half years? I am not really sure, looking back. I mean, on the one hand, I spent that amount of time actually researching, emailing, interviewing, watching, critiquing, collecting photos, etc. each and every Bigfoot movie that I hadn’t seen before. But on the other hand? I’ve been a fan of cryptid hominid cinema since childhood, dating back to The Legend of Boggy Creek in 1972. So in one sense? I’ve been writing it all my life!
And you know, it’s still being written! I receive weekly, sometimes daily, updates from filmmakers and fans who alert me to the latest new film I may or may not yet heard about re: Bigfoot via Facebook or my blog for The Bigfoot Filmography. So if and when there is a revised edition, it threatens to be as massive as the first one.
Bigfoot movies don’t have the best reputation. Was that something that concerned you when writing the book? That perhaps people might not be responsive the the subject matter?
I actually was slightly intrigued by the gutter-level perception. Not that I was new to it. I had tried and failed to make a low-budget scary Sasquatch movie back in the early 1980s while still in film school. I even had special effects artist Tony Gardner, then just a student like myself at USC’s film school, collaborate with me designing a suit, etc.
But I encountered even then a “resistance” to the idea, let alone possibility, of any “good Bigfoot movie” existing. In fact, more folks believed in an actual Bigfoot, I discovered, than do the existence of entertaining Sasquatch movies! I write in my book that it has been, for decades now, a truly “secret cinema” because it has been so verboten to admit one likes it. I equated it with Mexican wrestling movies in my introduction to the book, but I noted even lucha libre has a better rep, is considered legit cult cinema, etc.
To me, it’s not whether or not it’s “good” or “bad,” per se. I like what Tim Burton once said when asked by an interviewer why he liked “bad movies” as opposed to the “good ones.” He basically said they’re all kind of bad, when you really think about it. That’s a sublime answer! I find value as a film lover not only in a film’s historical or critical reputation, but simply by what interests and excites me, as viewer, however admittedly peculiar or off-beat my tastes.
I also rather enjoy “shocking” more staid filmic types who believe everything has been discovered and enumerated with footnotes, by now. Hardly! Such persistent attitudes are partially why I believe filmmaking is such an endangered art form in any genre, Bigfoot always included, anyway. The sad fact is too much of film criticism is academic only in orientation, and not enough is oriented towards critical writings that focus not on box office or paid critical endorsements, but the actual, relevant cultural value of the genre in question. I don’t like the kind of writing in which “surface plasticity versus societal prejudices” are more frequent than, say, “director scrambling to find completion funds” and “zero chance of distribution inside the Hollywood system” as signature search phrases. Call it a personal bias against the prevailing critical bias, if you will.
You cover Bigfoot and Yeti films. How do you see the relationship between the two creatures?
Though many will differ — and rightfully so, from their perspective — I consider them basically a holy trinity of same-minded beings, if you will, at least cinematically speaking: Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti. Of course, one could argue: why even differentiate between Bigfoot and Sasquatch, right? My point is, these three names are the three names most often associated with hominid cinema. I speculate that whatever local name derivation, these three names are the most universally understood, and therefore most commercially exploitable, of all the other sub-names: Fouke Monster; Skunk Ape; Grassman; Skookum; etc.
There are many cryptozoological differences between all hominid sightings and reported encounters, of course. As Loren Coleman has pointed out, Yetis are historically reported as being dark-furred in older sightings, not white-furred. He speculates (and I do so, as well, in my book) that such early films as George Pal’s The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in the early 1960s may have created a public perception that Yetis are significantly different from Bigfoot, when they vary little in actuality, especially given the enormous cultural differences between, say, a Sherpa guide in the Himalayas and a local fisherman in Alabama, in reporting the incidents.
This raises an interesting question, which I again wrestle in the book: how much do the films influence real-world sightings, and then, vice versa? It’s a very fluid line, and it’s constantly being crossed. This is actually why the Bigfoot genre is so incredibly resilient, when you think about it. For over 100 years, it has been around, lurking in the back woods of film studies, and yet, dismissed as unworthy not based on any critical assessment, but sheer prejudice or ignorance, or both.
Read the rest of the interview here.