Earliest Sasquatch documentaries from the mid-1970’s:
There has been countless movies about Sasquatch expeditions in the last half a century. In fact, few people know that in 1967, Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin were filming a documentary-fiction about Bigfoot which they had started months before they came up with the world famous, yet highly controversial footage of Pattie. The plot involved a group of men leaving on an expedition with horses in the wilderness in search of the elusive Sasquatch. In that scenario, Gimlin wore a wig and played the Indian guide. The film intended to show wonderful wilderness scenery and rare wildlife scenes.
Several movies with a very similar scenario were released during the 1970’s namely this one from Robert Morgan in 1975 entitled ”In Search of Bigfoot”. In this film the author stayed with the documentary format, with an investigation on the grounds and witnesses accounts. He had had an encounter twenty years prior to making the film, and chose a non-kill approach, forbidding firearms on his research team. He filmed a short conversation with famous Sasquatch researchers John Green and René Dahinden, in which they disagree with his interest in peaceful contacts, claiming it takes a corpse to prove their existence, the same violent approach proposed by countless bigfooters still.
The expedition took place around Mount St. Helens before its historical eruption. However, after finding footprints, the research was interrupted by massive wildfires that burned their way into Ape Canyon, forcing he team to evacuate. If anything, this is one of the earliest documentary on Sasquatch research and as an experiencer, the filmmaker took an objective, sincere and honest look at the clues discovered by research.
This short documentary stands as a historical landmark for its early date of production, but also because it denotes the openness and eager interest of this early researcher.
Another comparable documentary that came out the same year is entitled ”The Legend of Bigfoot”. In this film, Ivan Marx, a professional hunter, relates his account of how from uninterested and skeptic, he began finding clues of Sasquatch which started him on a research and quest around North America that led him to some sightings. Of course, the Sasquatch seen in the footage are actors in ghillie suits. Marx became known in 1969 when announcing the discovery of tracks that attracted many researchers to study the case including Roger Patterson, John Green, René Dahinden, Bob Titmus and Grover Krantz. John Napier and Jeff Meldrum later studied casts taken from those prints.
This launched the last publicized large scale Sasquatch hunt. The footprints were particular as the left foot was crooked, which had the individual nicknamed Cripplefoot. There was a fierce competition and debate between the researchers involved, which turned into bitter confrontations and conflicts. They seemed to all have changed their minds a few times about the entire story. Later, Marx presented fake footage as authentic and fooled some like Dahinden at first, until it was declared a hoax by the ”experts” and Marx discredited. However, despite the whole confusion around him, the Cripplefoot castings were eventually accepted as authentic by most of those famous researchers and they are still commonly quoted today as some of the best evidence.
Wikipedia mentions: ”René Dahinden was also impressed by the tracks, but was suspicious of certain circumstances. One circumstance was that before he and a passenger had seen the tracks, driver Marx pulled over, got out, and walked off, returning shortly thereafter and explaining that they had to leave immediately to retrieve his camera equipment, since he had just found tracks. This was just after they had passed an empty Jeep parked beside the road, whose inhabitants, René considered, might have been in the process of returning from their track-making. The Jeep was gone when they returned. But, ultimately, he accepted the tracks as authentic.”
In his slightly dramatized account of his quest and journey, Ivan Marx alludes to those so-called ”experts” who refused his evidence, but ended up using it for their own sake.
In later years, the sasquatchery movement and the majority of films produced about Sasquatch turned more and more into sensationalism, scare stories and horror fiction movies. It seems like the level of authenticity decreased over the years, as movie producers found out drama and horror sell better at the box office than documentaries on tracking footprints of an elusive unknown being that cannot even be photographed.
As an example, this 1976 pseudo-documentary entitled ”Sasquatch, the Legend of Bigfoot”, reuses pretty much the same scenario Patterson had used nine years earlier for his never published movie, with a team of horsemen going on an exploration of the vast wilderness in a quest for Bigfoot. There is even an actor with a wig playing the Indian scout of an unnamed tribe. They eventually end up meeting an entire clan of Bigfoot, which however attack the team and makes them flee in fear, in a short horror episode concluding the mockumentary. Here, fiction took over the documented research.
This horror genre depicting the Hairy Humanoids as horrible monsters started at least in the 1950’s with The Abominable Snowman, which yet offered a questioning on whether those beings should be killed or left alone in peace as nearly human relatives.
One of the big trigger for the Sasquatch hunters, which became a miracle success at the box office in 1972, was The Legend of Boggy Creek. It intended at first to be a documentary with some witnesses reenacting their own encounters. However, it turned into a fictitious account of the events with inexactitudes and dramatization, a perfect recipe to captivate the public attention and fabricate a money-making industry. Later there were remakes, festivals, paraphernalia and a whole industry born from the legend.
A deeper study of the case reveals that this one overly publicized and dramatized attack took place within the context of hundreds of sightings in the region within decades, that were all peaceful and left no one harmed. As for the Ford family who fought and shot at the Boggy Creek monster, there was more fear than harm and barely a few scratches, showing that it doesn’t take much to start an entire horror show and scare narrative.
Gladly, it seems like the monster scare stories and horror movies about Bigfoot are losing ground in recent years, although still the most popular literature on the subject for the general public. But there seems to be as well a growing number of enthusiasts and researchers who take a non-violent peaceful approach, which proves uncontestably to be the most successful and enlightening prospect to know and understand Sasquatch. The more direct experiencers share their encounters and contacts, the more the truth is revealed about Sasquatch, revealing that the vast majority of contacts are peaceful and the Sasquatch are generally benign and benevolent people if not attacked or stalked…
2 thoughts on “Earliest Sasquatch documentaries from the mid-1970’s”