Posted by: Loren Coleman on July 8th, 2006
I was asked earlier this week, what Bigfoot non-fiction films would I recommend? As the extremely well-educated adult who understood his own learning style honestly noted: “I am not a very fast reader. Please direct me to anything I can purchase and view on DVD.”
Okay, basically, that’s a fair request, as some people are visual learners and much can be said for good documentaries as teaching tools. I taught a documentary course for almost 15 years. What I discovered was that it was worthwhile for some students to learn about topics through the study of moving images beyond what could be captured in their books.
It only makes sense that the same would be true in cryptozoology. Therefore, here’s my top picks for an educationally-aware list of hominological documentaries that are easily obtainable.
(1) First, let me mention the DVD that a majority of viewers, in the last few years, have always recommended highly: Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science. In Mysteries Magazine #8, I wrote the following review of Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science right after it first appeared:
In January, 2003, the Discovery Channel broadcast an hour-long documentary on the evidence for Bigfoot. Now available in both VHS and DVD, the documentary does not match the broadcast program, but is instead an enhanced Director’s Cut by Doug Hajicek of Whitewolf Entertainment.
This video is a complete version of what was shown on the Discovery Channel, including the analysis of the Patterson footage (1967, Bluff Creek, CA), the Memorial Day footage (1996, Okanagan National Forest, WA), and the Freeman footage (1994, WA). It also contains John Green’s comparative film taken of Jim McClarin at the site of the Patterson-Gimlin footage, obtained a few months after the October 20, 1967, filming of a Bigfoot at Bluff Creek. The film also includes a new segment not shown on television—that of Dr. John Bindernagel discussing Sasquatch behavioral patterns.
In a time when technology and forensics are catching up with the mounting evidence for the existence of Bigfoot in North America, Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science captures the ground-breaking advances that are now being made. The almost exclusive use of doctoral-level authorities in anthropology, biology, and zoology—some who began as skeptics—makes this a credible addition to any educational course plan or any Bigfoot lover’s library.
As a note for what future book should be on your short “to purchase” list, as well, I have to recommend Jeff Meldrum’s companion volume to this DVD, his September 2006 book, Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science.
(2) Next, for a variety of technical and content reasons, the best biographically-based Bigfoot documentary in existence is Sasquatch Odyssey: The Hunt for Bigfoot (1999), directed by Peter von Puttkamer. This doc is most famous as the one that details the “Four Horseman of Sasquatchery”: Rene Dahinden, John Green, Grover Krantz, and Peter Byrne. The personal profiles are excellent, and considering that two of the four have since passed away (Dahinden in 2001, Krantz in 2002), this has become all the more valuable for understanding these men. Many of us, of course, felt Bob Titmus was deserving of a spot in this film, but it must be remembered that Titmus had long been ill and died of a heart attack on July 1, 1997, before the production of this film. Other “founding fathers,” such as Ivan T. Sanderson, George Haas, Jerry Crew, and Tom Slick had also long been dead.
Nothing quite like Sasquatch Odyssey: The Hunt for Bigfoot exists. It exhibits the best in filmmaking among all others on this list. I had my university buy the rights to show it in my film course, because I found it to be such a well-made documentary.
(3) Another important documentary film on Bigfoot that I absolutely love and used in my course is Scott Herriott’s funny Journey Toward Squatchdom, which is now sold together with his recent more semi-serious film Squatching.
Scott Herriott has been a stand-up comedian for over a dozen years, as well as a host of Tech TV’s Internet Tonight and a stringer for CNN News. He brings to his Sasquatch DVDs a sense of humor that has not been out-done by anyone. Journey Toward Squatchdom is his insanity unleashed, and is an all-time favorite of most people who have seen it. You will not help but laugh your way through this one, and hominology needs a Scott Herriott among us.
Squatching includes Jonathan Winters, Herriott’s parents, and other so-called “actors,” identified as Loren Coleman, John Bindernagel, Craig Woolheater, and Ed Marques. LOL.
(4) Intriguingly, A&E has for sale two separate or two differently boxed versions of the next selection.
Ancient Mysteries: Bigfoot carries a date of 1993 on it.
And Ancient Mysteries: Bigfoot has 1998 as the date of production.
Both seem to be the same production of the “Ancient Mysteries” program with narrator Leonard Nimoy, and focus on what one reviewer called “the eccentric Peter Byrne” apparently during the time he headed “The Bigfoot Research Project” (1993-97). It also includes footage of Dr. Grover Krantz discussing his theories and views on the Patterson-Gimlin footage.
The A&E television documentary reminds me of the wide range that one does find in old Bigfoot nonfiction narratives. For example, The Mysterious Monsters was a fascinating 1975 Sunn Classic Pictures documentary that was hosted by Peter Graves, and did a fine job with the topic. On the other end of the spectrum, you have The Hunt for Bigfoot, hosted by Clu Gulager, which I have to agree with one critic who called it “the most preposterously shameful excuse of a so-called documentary ever created.”
(5) Some new DVDs may be being created from old programs and repacked to imitate the success of Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science. While doing research for this list, I ran across one I’ve not seen, but the name of which indicates an obvious copycat: Sasquatch Science: Searching for Bigfoot
This 2005 DVD describes itself as a “two part program [that] presents the worlds (sic) leading Sasquatch / Bigfoot researchers and features 40 years of serious in-depth scientific exploration of the Sasquatch Bigfoot phenomenon. Includes detailed historical background, anthropological controversy, footprint investigation, film and photo analysis, and features researchers; D. Jeffrey Meldrum, Ph.D, John A. Bindernagel, Ph.D, Gordon Strasenburgh, Ph.D, and John Green, Ph.D.”
I’m not certain who is behind this or who wrote the liner notes, but I figure John Green would be surprised to discover he has a new Ph. D.
(6) and (7) Last and perhaps least, I see there are two collections of mostly fictional Bigfoot motion pictures that contain at least one docudrama each. Docudramas are strange hybrids, of course, not really being documentaries and yet not really being high quality fiction films either.
To start with, there’s the Sasquatch Horror Collection.
This DVD contains three individual films: Sasquatch – The Legend of Bigfoot , Snowbeast , and The Snow Creature.
Sasquatch – The Legend of Bigfoot is a cult-classic in its own right among some in the Bigfoot community, and this set is probably worth being purchased for that one film. The film was made in 1977, so it contains some of the earliest attempts at dramatizing various well-known Bigfoot encounters, with the most notable one being the Ape Canyon-Fred Beck incident. Some might call Sasquatch – The Legend of Bigfoot a docudrama.
Finally, with some strange links to an alleged trickster among us today, we have Bigfoot Terror.
This DVD contains the following four films: Search for the Beast (1997), Shriek of the Mutilated (1974), The Capture of Bigfoot (1979), and The Legend of Bigfoot (1976).
Don’t be fooled by the last film’s supposed “Startling new motion picture footage of the elusive creature.” No, The Legend of Bigfoot “documents” the “evidence” for Bigfoot thanks to Ivan and Peggy Marx, including what apparently was Peggy inside of Ivan’s funny gorilla/Bigfoot suit. The link to recent events is that this docudrama’s legacy continues in 2006, via Tom Biscardi and Peggy Marx promoting some of the same photographs and incidents, may of which were obvious alleged deceptions back in the 1970s. It is as if the lessons that we should have learned via the Ray Wallace fiasco are right here, in living color, straight from this archival 1976 footage.
That’s my list. What’s yours? BTW, please pass the remote.