'The Weirdest Movie Ever Made'
By: Phil Hall - BearManor Media - $19.99
Description: On October 20th, 1967, Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin emerged from a forest in Northern California with 59 seconds of grainy, shaky, silent 16mm film that supposedly offered documentary evidence of the Sasquatch, a creature of Native American folklore.
Although neither Patterson nor Gimlin had any previous experience in filmmaking or zoology, they presented their remarkable footage as the first motion picture confirmation of the existence of the elusive Sasquatch.
However, not everyone was convinced by the imagery on the Patterson-Gimlin Film.
Verdict: Reading this book is, and please know that I actually recall this "filmed fact" from back in the day rather all too vividly, without a shadow of a doubt, a guilty pleasure for us "believers."
The footage shot in 1967 in Northern California has since been subjected to many attempts to authenticate or debunk it, of this we all know, and yet, mysteriously, nobody has managed to disprove Bigfoot's existence in any way, (big) shape or form.
As we learn from reading Phil Hall's new book, 'The Weirdest Movie Ever Made: The Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot Film,' the footage was filmed alongside Bluff Creek, a tributary of the Klamath River, about 25 logging-road miles northwest of Orleans, California, in Humboldt County.
Indeed, the film site is roughly 38 miles south of Oregon and 18 miles east of the Pacific Ocean, but for decades, the exact location of the site was lost; primarily because of re-growth of foliage in the stream bed (a segment of the creek informally known as "the bowling alley") after the flood of 1964. It was rediscovered in 2011.
So now we get Hall, the author of The History of Independent Cinema, The Greatest Bad Movies of All Time and In Search of Lost Films, giving his own thoughts on this still most wondrous of short films.
The book kicks in immediately re: 2012, when in Cornwall, Pennsylvania-based residents Jesse L. Wenrich and Robert E. Zimmerman II were minding their own business one night; until they collectively hear something strange coming from an adjacent forest.
For me, I think the best line of the entire book is right there on the opening page, for Zimmerman explained to all that would subsequently listen that the noise sounded like, and I can't even begin to make this up (although, sure, he might have done, of course), "Jennifer Love Hewitt being stabbed in a horror movie!"
Come on now, how brilliant is that of a verbal description of a supposedly animalistic sound! It's made even more profound when you learn that straight after Zimmerman made that statement, Wenrich added that the source of the noise HAD to be a Sasquatch! Of course it did. Stands to reason.
Filmed on location by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin, we learn from Hall that neither had any professional training or experience in film production. Indeed, they were both simply military veterans who first chose to be rodeo riders, before getting tired of being tossed from their saddles each night.
But after filming this entity, lurking, then walking, nay striding past them, even turning to look them in the eyes, the final 59.5-second film, which the men would airmail back home to be developed, would soon become the world-famous film Hall discusses so adeptly in this book.
Indeed, and arguably, one of the most scrutinized pieces of video footage ever made.
Back to the story itself, and sure, additional doubt was generated by the strange story behind the film’s creation and over the years, odd rumors emerged about the film; including the story of an Academy Award-winning make-up artist’s alleged role in assembling the creature seen on camera!
As Hall winds his way through the facts and figures of the story, the meat and potatoes, if you will, he ultimately concludes that if these two men were indeed fabricating the whole thing, and faked the Bigfoot itself, why? What had they to gain from such a stupid, and easily-caught-out venture?
And therein lies the true undercurrent to this film, to this tale: What had either Patterson or Gimlin to gain from making this short film? Did Patterson go to his grave knowing he was a big, fat liar or did he go sad, knowing that he still hadn't managed to convince any one of what he truly believed he had really seen that day?
While the debate over the authenticity of the Patterson-Gimlin Film continues to percolate, few would question the effectiveness of how this piece of celluloid brought forth an unlikely sensation, lovingly dubbed the Bluff Creek Sasquatch.
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