This is a documentary from Reality Entertainment that shows the range we can get with documentary filmmaking. Thanks to Reality Entertainment I’ve really gotten into genre documentaries that explore various super-supra-natural phenomena. AMERICAN SASQUATCH HUNTERS: BIGFOOT IN AMERICA deals with one of my favorite North American topics … Bigfoot. AMERICAN SASQUATCH HUNTERS is written and directed by J. Michael Long (who’s also the on-screen narrator), a self-proclaimed Bigfoot hunter. This documentary, though, doesn’t start from square one and try to persuade the viewers that a race of Bigfoot creatures exist. This is already assumed as the documentary begins. What Long focuses on here are the actual Bigfoot hunters and their theories as to what this creature might be.
Early in the feature, Long defines and explains what a “Bigfoot Hunter” is, what they do, and generally how they do it. He then goes on to introduce us to five popular hunters in the Bigfoot community. There’s Stan Gordon, Steve Colt, Tim Cassidy, Eric Altman, and Dr. Jeff Meldrum. We meet each researcher and find out what it was that brought them into this particular field (I can’t help but be reminded by a comedy bit Patton Oswalt does on Bigfoot hunters). For example, Altman became a Bigfoot researcher and dedicated his life to this elusive creature after watching many fictional films about Bigfoot when he was growing up. I’ll say that again … fictional Bigfoot films. I found it curious that the researchers Long highlights here all admit they’ve never seen Bigfoot themselves. A few have had an encounter but never a sighting.
What I found interesting is that each researcher seemed pretty down to earth and didn’t have that crazy look in their eye that usually results from searching for something for so long that just doesn’t exist. Christians and Scientologists have such a look in their eyes. The hunters use the latest technology and always try to keep things in the scientific realm. Dr. Meldrum, for example, has his doctorate in anatomical sciences, with an emphasis in biological anthropology and hypothesizes on what kind of creature Bigfoot could be. Dr. Meldrum believes that Bigfoot is a “great ape” and uses the famous 1967 Patterson film to support his claim.
Let’s talk about The Patterson Tape. This is the one thing I found hard to swallow. It seems all the experts agree on one main point: The Patterson Tape (that old, grainy tape of a ‘Bigfoot’ casually walking across an opening) is real. There’s no debate, there’s no discussion. It’s real. It almost felt as though most of these guys’ research depends on that tape being real. I’m sorry, but I don’t see that 1967 tape as being the smoking gun of Bigfoot research. To me it looks like a big dude walking around in a black ape costume (most likely homemade). But I’m not saying I’m right … I’m not a researcher.
What I liked about this documentary is that the focus wasn’t on trying to convince skeptics that Bigfoot exists. The focus in AMERICAN SASQUATCH HUNTERS is on the people doing the hunting and doing the research, what equipment they use, their personal opinions on what Bigfoot is based on their findings, and their entire approach to the Bigfoot phenomenon. It’d be like watching Shark Week and seeing a documentary on the shark hunters. I’d dig that. This is an interesting look into the world of Sasquatch hunters/researchers. I recommend it if you’re looking for a good overview of the field of Bigfoot research. But I must end this review with a question: Why do all Bigfoot researchers look like aged and burned out amateur porn stars? I’m just saying.
AMERICAN SASQUATCH HUNTERS: BIGFOOT IN AMERICA is now available on DVD.
Director: J. Michael Long (& writer & narrator)
Plot: 3 out of 5 stars
Gore: 0 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer