The Old World has dragons, trolls, and giants, while the New World seemed utterly devoid of anything remotely as cool. Which is why everyone wants to believe that Bigfoot is real.
This statue appeared on the porch of one of our neighboring apartments. I’d seen this figure for sale numerous times in the Sky Mall Magazine that once proved the best in-flight reading material on most airlines. If you cannot tell from the picture, this is the baby Bigfoot statue. Sky Mall also offered an 8 ft. tall one for your backyard or theme park. (My wife said no, no, no…NO!)
For many a young boy growing up in the late 1960s, Bigfoot was a big deal. Each of us wanted to see the Loch Ness monster but knew we’d never make it to Scotland. However, Bigfoot was in our own backyard. We really had a chance.
The connection to Bigfoot, of course, begins with the Yeti. (Not the ice coolers and mugs.) Also called the Abominable Snowman, the Yeti is part of the folklore of Nepal. In 1965, the classic Jonny Quest series presented Monsters in the Monastery. When the Quest team visits their old friend Raj Guru in the high Himalayas of Nepal, they learn that a fierce storm has driven the Yeti from the mountains into the old palace nearby. During the night, Bandit spies a Yeti creeping around and takes up pursuit leading Jonny and Hadji into the old place. If you have not seen this episode, I will not spoil the story for you, other than to say the ending is AWESOME!
During Summer Camp, Friday night was movie night. The boys from Cabin 57 would gather with all the other campers in the main hut for feature films. I loved those movies, The Green Slime, The Canterville Ghost, and of course The Abominable Snowman. Although filled with suspense this film was never really one of my favorites, because (spoiler alert) you never actually see a Yeti. Nonetheless, it was one of those films that further fueled the passion that real life creatures might be lurking in the unexplored corners of the world.
How or when I first saw the 1967 Patterson film that shows a Bigfoot (reported to be female) walking through the woods I don’t remember. The film is shaky as he chases the creature for a better shot, finally seeming to settle. Bigfoot is there in the frame, and it even looks back in the direction of the camera and then disappears into the forest. The impact of that short snip of footage, as bad as it was, made me a believer in Bigfoot. I would scan newspapers, clip articles, watch documentaries and even begin exploring the possibility that other creatures might be lurking in the vast woods of North America.
In 1972, I confess to purchasing a ticket to see The Legend of Boggy Creek in the theater. The docudrama was about a Sasquatch-type creature that terrorized the small town of Fouke, Arkansas. Done in a film style that was new to me, it re-confirmed my belief that Bigfoot and his family were about to be discovered.
By 1976, my interest in Bigfoot had faded. When suddenly the creature was front and center, in a face-off against The Six Million Dollar Man. Two geologist friends of Steve Austin disappear in the California high country while placing earthquake sensors. In the search for the scientists, a giant footprint is found, leading to the speculation of the involvement of a Sasquatch. The Secret of Bigfoot (Parts 1 & 2) would end my fascination with the North American legend. While The Return of Bigfoot (another Six Million Dollar Man encounter) would not shine a favorable light on the big guy.
Then there is Harry and the Hendersons, a 1987 family film that basically substitutes ET with Bigfoot. Its a fun movie with lots of laughs that plays off of the fish out of water scenario. The most redeeming part of the movie is the conclusion when we discover that the Sasquatch has chameleon-like qualities that allow it to disappear within its woody surroundings. Its this cloaking skill that has allowed the creature to hide from man all these years.
I heard about, but never watched Finding Bigfoot the documentary television series on Animal Planet, but I can imagine that each episode concluded with no discovery.
Today when I read the occasional mention of Bigfoot it sparks something inside. That deep little boy hope, that just one Bigfoot, or maybe one of its mythological kin is discovered. It would be the coolest thing ever!!!