On October 20, 1967, Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin emerged from a North California forest with a little less than one minute of silent, grainy and shaky 16mm footage that they claimed offered irrefutable proof of the existence of Sasquatch. Neither man had any previous experience in filmmaking or zoology, yet presented their remarkable footage as the first motion picture confirmation that Bigfoot is real.
Not everyone was convinced that the Patterson-Gimlin film was genuine. There was a lot of strangeness behind the film’s creation and plenty of rumors, such as the story of an Academy Award-winning make-up artist’s alleged role in the footage.
In The Weirdest Movie Ever Made, film journalist Phil Hall reveals how the Patterson and Gimlin supposedly wound up in the right place at the right time with their camera, how they got their movie into the hands of scientists and the path that it took to become an integral part of pop culture.
I loved how this book details all the ins and outs of how two cowboys somehow stumbled — or cunningly created — the footage. There’s a lot to learn here, such as how Patterson made an unsuccessful effort a year before the filming to secure the copyright for the word Bigfoot, how Gimlin was cut out of the profits and the lost film Bigfoot: America’s Abominable Snowman, a four-walled piece of exploitation magic that brought Patterson out amongst the public to tell his story.
Hall fills the book with asides on Bigfoot’s influence on culture, the history of cryptozoology, Bigfoot instances and encounters over the past 50 years and brief reviews of the many Sasquatch appearances in film and television. He leaves no stone unturned, giving as much ink to expected films like The Legend of Boggy Creek and Harry and the Hendersons as he does to lesser-known fare like Cry Wilderness and The Geek, a pornographic recounting of a Bigfoot attack.
There’s even a section on John Chambers, the Academy Award-winning special effects artist who worked on the original Planet of the Apes and the man who John Landis claimed created the Bigfoot suit in the Patterson-Gimlin film.
Hall writes the book in a breeze, fun style that makes page turning a pleasure. And I really enjoyed the chapter where several critics, scholars, and creative artists gave their views on the footage, including Troy Howarth (So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films and Splintered Visions: The Films of Lucio Fulci).
The book stops short of revealing the author’s true opinion as to the truth of the footage, although you can infer that he’s a skeptic. Whether or not you believe it yourself, you have to agree that it’s an amazing bit of filmmaking and that one minute has garnered way more debate and fame than movies made with more budget and pedigree.
You can grab the book at Bearmanor Media and come back tomorrow to read an exclusive interview with the author!