Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Patterson-Gimlin Film Plus Forty-Nine Years

It was forty-nine years ago today (to paraphrase The Beatles).  Yes, as far as can be determined, forty-nine years ago Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin took a camera filled with undeveloped film inside and ended up with what to this very day is STILL the best visual evidence ever to support the existence of Bigfoot.  That is both a good and bad thing.  Nearly half a century has passed and we still have not managed to find conclusive evidence that Bigfoot does or doesn't exist.  It really says something for the footage that half a century later it's not only still the best evidence out there, but also that it has never been completely exposed as a fake.  Obviously people on both sides of the issue will argue that it IS real or that it IS a fake, but I've never seen or heard anything that I'd consider definitive either way.

Rather than go into a lot of depth on this matter, I will provide a link to the exhaustive Wikipedia entry on the film and leave it up to the reader to decide how far they want to go in further exploring this matter on their own.  I mostly wanted to commemorate the anniversary.  I think next year (the 50th anniversary!) will be a better time to write a typically long and dry Monster Dad missive about the subject.  For now let's just celebrate the 49th!

I actually have TWO reasons for writing today, but they're very much related.  Not only is today the anniversary of the Patterson film, but tomorrow I will embark on what is the absolutely COOLEST Bigfoot-related event I've had the pleasure to be part of.  Friday and Saturday (October 21 and 22, 2016) The Mahoning Drive-In in Lehighton, PA and Exhumed Films will be having what is being billed as simply "Bigfoot Weekend" (or as the Facebook page for the event is calling it, "Bigfoot Live in-Person")!  Now, I might have a teensy-weensy issue with the fact that they say "in-Person"--as we don't know fer-sur if Bigfoot is a person, animal or whatever--but that's quite the nit-pick.  Other than that, I can't really think of anything to complain about with this show!  Before divulging the details, lemme share a little background about the Mahoning itself.

In an age where drive-ins are rapidly becoming a thing of the past and a dying throwback to a bygone era, the relatively few that still survive have really become important to fans of the medium (such as myself).  It seems like a labor of love to continue operating in a world that sees the drive-in as a passe relic of the past.  But I think that the rarity of drive-ins means that the few that are still around are mainly owned by people with a particular passion for them.  The big digitalization scare of the past few years contributed to even more drive-ins closing their gates forever, but also ensured that the ones that were able to go digital at least had a chance to continue on into the future.  The Mahoning had a very unique (and awesome) response to the digital threat last year (2015).  They switched to an all-retro programming scheme that featured double- and triple-features (and even more in some cases) and great theme weekends based around old 35mm films.  I was only able to attend one of the shows last year, but it was a great one--a "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" double feature, plus great Spielberg and Lucas trailers and a bunch of Raiders merchandise on display in the snack bar!

This year's shows ramped up the awesome factor even further with the shows, but I wasn't able to get to any of them (the Mahoning's in Pennsylvania and I'm in Massachusetts, not a short jaunt by any means).  BUT, a good friend of mine in New Hampshire (who's a big movie and drive-in fan as well) has been making the trip from NH to PA more weekends than not over the past two seasons.  Not only has he been attending most of the shows, he's even become a drive-in employee while there--manning the ticket booth before shows and the snack bar during them!  My friend mentioned this particular late-season show (the drive-in will close for the season one week later after their big Halloween weekend event) and asked if I'd be able to make it.  Naturally this was a MUST and I made sure that it would most definitely happen--after checking in with The Wife of course.  I would have loved to be able to take The Little Monster along (who just happens to have recently asked to watch some Bigfoot movies after I showed her a Bigfoot episode of the 1970s paranormal investigation show "in Search of..."), but there's just no way that was going to be realistic.

From the Facebook page for the event

So, what makes this event so awesome?  Well, first of all, it's a Bigfoot event.  That's pretty much enough right there.  But, they're also promising some good old-fashioned drive-in promotion by saying that Bigfoot himself will be making an appearance and stalking the grounds during the show!  And finally there's the movies.  I've saved this part for last.  They're not featuring a double- or triple-feature of Bigfoot movies each night.  No, they're featuring SIX Bigfoot movies (three per night)!  And these aren't just any Bigfoot movies, these are "real" Bigfoot movies--old ones mainly from the 1970s!  To get an idea of why I consider these kinds of movies to be "real" Bigfoot movies, unlike the slew of new ones that have come out over the past decade or so, check out my recent post about My Top Five Favorite Bigfoot Movies.  Of the six films being screened there's only one that I'd really consider a bit of a clunker, and even that one will be in the so-bad-it's-at-least-interesting category.  Otherwise they're all perfect fodder for a show the likes of which I'd never had imagined would ever be put on.  In fact, a couple of my favorites from the list linked to above are part of the show!  So, here's what will be screened this weekend:

Friday, October 21: "Shriek of the Mutilated" (1974), "Sasquatch: The Legend of Bigfoot" (1976) and "In Search of Bigfoot" (1976)

Saturday, October 22: "Creature from Black Lake" (1976), "Boggy Creek II: And the Legend Continues" (1984) and "The Legend of Bigfoot" (1975)

Note that nearly all of the films are from a very close time frame (1974-76).  This is smack dab in the middle of what I consider to be the "Golden Age" of Bigfoot, which was basically the entire decade of the 1970s.  There's also a lot of "Legends" used in these somewhat similar titles.  The titles were similar, the subject matter was very similar of course and the many of the movies were pretty similar in many ways too.  But if it ain't broke don't fix it, right?  That formula of documentary or pseudo-documentary searches for Bigfoot worked just fine for me in the 1970s and those are still my favorite Bigfoot films to this day!  In fact, my favorite Bigfoot film of all time is included on Friday night, "Creature from Black lake"!  It definitely would have been even better if they could have managed to get another of my favorites for the show, "The Legend of Boggy Creek" (1972), but that might have been TOO much to ask.  The inclusion of "Boggy Creek II: And the Legend Continues" is a great alternate in its place though.  The original would have been awesome to see on the big screen, but in a way just "more of the same" when shown along with all the other 1970s films.  "Boggy Creek II" ups the ante a bit by offering a 1980s take on the legend.  And it was even directed by (and stars!) Charles B. Pierce, the director of the original!  The only "clunker", if I HAD to pick one would be "The Legend of Bigfoot".  Despite being from the same time period and having practically the same name as many of the other films, "The Legend of Bigfoot" probably ranks (and "ranks" might be a good word for it too) as one of my LEAST favorite Bigfoot movies from the "Golden Age".  don't get me wrong, it's STILL a Bigfoot movie, and it's STILL one from the 70s, so I'm still excited to see it's part of the show.  In fact, after two nights of fun and excitement, by the time "The Legend of Bigfoot" comes on as the finale it might give people a chance to nod off a bit and dream about large, hairy creatures roaming the woods.

If I manage to survive the action, adventure and pulse-pounding excitement of this weekend I hope to be able to report back with all the details (and perhaps even some new photographic evidence of Bigfoot to go along with the Patterson film!).  Stay tuned...

Here's a Bigfoot creature that we spotted last year, ironically enough on the way
home from the only other show I've ever seen at the Mahoning Drive-In!

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