September 28, 2010
Philip Spencer (The Wildman of Kentucky)
O.H. Krill (The Wildman of Kentucky), Jay Michael (Bigfooting in Oklahoma, Tale of the Honey Island Swamp Monster, Swamp Apes)
Esther Schritter as Herself (Bigfooting in Oklahoma)
Jay Michael as Narrator/Himself (Bigfooting in Oklahoma, Tale of the Honey Island Swamp Monster, Swamp Apes)
Matt Clark as Himself (Wildman of Kentucky)
Philip Gardiner as Himself (Wildman of Kentucky)
O.H. Krill as Himself (Wildman of Kentucky)
Philip Spencer as Himself (Wildman of Kentucky)
The first disc of the two-disc Bigfoot is Real set features three short documentaries by filmmaker Jay Michael. The first, “Bigfooting in Oklahoma”, centers on a woman named Esther Schritter recounting various incidents when she came upon Bigfoot-like creatures. It also features various other people’s experiences and testimonials. The problem with Bigfoot is Real is NOT the people giving testimonials. I’d like to make it very clear that I’m sure these people saw SOMETHING whether I actually believe it was Bigfoot or not and am not about to denigrate them for their beliefs. Instead, the piece is painfully low-budget with overused transitions that definitely cut the overall work’s professionalism. Secondly, the “proof” in this is anything but. You’d expect something like grainy Bigfoot photos or videos… instead, you get a testimonial in which a guy claims he has a photo THAT THE MOVIE NEVER SHOWS (you apparently would have to go online to see it). One man pulls out a bag of hair he took from a tree which, apparently, he’s never gotten tested? Most gallingly, Bigfoot is Realbuilds to some video Esther supposedly took in the forest that she says had some form of creature in it. The movie rewinds, loops, zooms, and enhances some area where a figure is supposedly visible, but I could not see a single thing. And if that’s the best “proof” you have, you’re not proving a thing.
Secondly, in a shorter piece, Jay Michael appears on camera to discuss his short “The Tale of the Honey Island Swamp Monster”. This particular piece is the second best in the set… but also completely undercuts the point of the Bigfoot is Real box set! In it, Michael talks about traveling down to Louisiana to film a documentary about the famed “Honey Island Swamp Monster”. Originally setting out to document where the creature had been sighted, Michael and his crew find a family who discovered a shoe with a foot mold on it that matches the footprints the monster left. In essence, in this set about how Bigfoot is real, the second documentary COMPLETELY DISPROVES A BIGFOOT’S EXISTENCE. It’s a great piece, but what is it doing here?
Third, the best piece in Bigfoot is Real, is Jay Michael’s “Swamp Apes”. This short discusses the possibility that Bigfoots, Sasquatches, and other such creatures do exist, but that they can be explained as evolutions of monkeys that may have migrated to America along the Bering Strait. Very informative and factually based, the documentary is the closest the set comes to actually convincing a viewer that the idea of Bigfoot is plausible. There are still a few issues though. For instance, there’s still a few of those painfully hokey low-budget text effects. Also, the documentary is divided into questions that the narrator (Michael) is answering. The questions, presented as subtitle screens, sometimes feature misspellings that, again, hurt the overall piece’s professionalism. Overall, though, these second two documentaries far exceeded my expectations. That said, if they were trying to “prove” Bigfoot is real, they seriously failed.
The second disc doesn’t get much better on that front as it features the available separately 2-hour documentary “The Wildman of Kentucky: The Mystery of Panther Rock”. In it, in grand “Ghost Hunters” style, a group of filmmakers travel around Kentucky trying to find the legendary “Wildman of Kentucky”. They interview various people for testimonials and stay overnight in woodland hotbeds the creature is said to frequent. The minor problem here is that the piece is painfully staged at times. In particular, a scene in a library in which a member of the team brings a book to the leader to research almost comes off like a hilariously bad episode of Antiques Roadshow. Bigfoot is Real also has abysmally bad CGI transitions that look like they’re 10 or more years old.
The far larger problem is that this film seems to be trying to prove the Wildman is a completely different kind of creature than Bigfoot. They focus on Native American legends and talk about seeing strange lights that appear and disappear, thereby painting the being as a supernatural creature (compared to Bigfoot, usually seen as a woodland being of some sort). This would be okay if the filmmakers proved a single thing. During their first night in the woods, they freak out over sounds around them and strange lights they see… yet the viewer sees almost none of this. They just have to take it as hearsay. At one point, they discuss seeing a light WHILE A TRAIN WHISTLES 4 TIMES IN THE DISTANCE. I know it probably wasn’t a train, but the only thing I could think was “gee, maybe you guys were near train tracks seeing the light on the train’s front?” This problem isn’t helped later when they go to a second location and freely admit they didn’t see a single thing (to the point of showing virtually no footage from the expedition). To be fair though, at least Bigfoot is Real has a nice, generic metal-rock soundtrack.
If you’re trying to prove the existence of Bigfoot or Sasquatch, I strongly advise AGAINST gettingBigfoot is Real. The better two of the four documentaries are worthwhile, but either debunk a giant creature or present a rational explanation that shows the Bigfoot to not be “monsters”. The other two, making up the vast majority of the Bigfoot is Real set, present almost no tangible evidence of the creature short of hearsay and testimonials. Maybe if they’d called it “Swamp Apes Are Real”, I might be a touch more forgiving.