It goes without saying that I get a little giddy whenever I come across a new Bigfoot movie. Which seems odd, since most of them are so terrible. If horror is the red headed stepchild of cinema, Bigfoot is the redheaded step-beast of the genre.
That being said, there has been an upswing in Squatch movies the past few years. In fact, one of my favorite flicks was Exists, the found footage Bigfoot thriller by Eduardo Sanchez.
Ever since I saw just the poster for HUNTING GROUNDS, I’ve been dying to see it. I even saved it on my Instagram account to remind myself to watch it as soon as it came out. Well, the time is nigh!
This latest foray into Squatch Horror is brought to us by Uncork’d Entertainment, the company that has released cool flicks like It Watches and After Death. Hunting Grounds centers around a father and son (played by Jason Vail and Miles Joris-Peyrafitte) down on their luck, recovering from the loss of their wife/mother. Dad’s drinking has cost him his job and now their house. They have nowhere else to go but the family’s dilapidated cabin in the woods.
Little do they know, the cabin is smack in the middle of the infamous Ape Canyon. Squatch devotees like myself will be giddy over the reference. You see, back in 1924, a group of miners were attacked in their cabin by a band of highly pissed off Bigfoot who rained rocks and fists on the small structure for an entire night. In the world of Bigfoot stories, this is right in the top 5. Kudos to the filmmakers for doing some research! Also, once you know the true story, you have a pretty good idea what’s going to happen here.
The family dynamics are at times uncomfortable to watch, and that’s a good thing. Dad is a bit of an ass, a man lost in his grief. His teenage son absorbs his abuse because he knows there’s a good guy deep down inside. Things get even worse for the kid when his father’s absolute asshole of a friend shows up at the cabin to do some drinking. This friend, Sergio (David Saucedo), is possibly the biggest jerkoff I’ve seen in a movie in a long time. You want this schmuck to get it in the worst possible way.
The cast, though small, is filled with familiar faces in the horror scene. You’ll be like me, checking IMDB and going, “Oh yeah, that’s where I saw him!”
The father’s brother-in-law also comes to visit, and the foursome go out hunting. Let’s just say, things go downhill from there.
Look, I know Bigfoot movies aren’t going to be high art…yet. That’s what they used to say about comic book movies. What I want is to be entertained and to see some Squatches. Hunting Grounds gives us a glimpse of Bigfoot within the first few minutes. Score one in the win column. Too many of these movies wait for the reveal in the last couple of minutes.
Also score one for no CGI. The Bigfoot creatures are all practical effects, which were decent. I will say, they are huge. I would have liked a little articulation in their faces so they didn’t look so much like masks, but that’s quibbling. What I got was a trio of enormous Squatches wreaking havoc on the cabin and the puny humans inside.
That’s not to say that Bigfoot is the bad guy here. On the contrary, they’re more curious than anything else. It’s only when they’re provoked that they strike back, and in some pretty cool ways. There is some good gore in the final act, which was pleasant to see as well.
If you have lazy Saturday and you’re tired of watching the dreck on the SyFy channel, definitely fire Hunting Grounds up. Or have some friends over for a booze n’ Bigfoot night and have a ball.
Give a Squatch a watch!
We recently interviewed Lyle Blackburn on the Monster Men to discuss his new movie, Boggy Creek Monster, and book, Monstro Bizzaro. If you’re obsessed with cryptids like I am, Lyle is one of the best investigators in the field today. His previous books, The Beast of Boggy Creek and Lizard Man have prominent positions on my bookshelf.
When all was said and done, I realized I still had a few more questions I’d wanted to ask. So, here is the original video interview along with the bonus questions Lyle was kind enough to answer. Now let’s go squatchin!
We’re very much alike in that we grew up fascinated by tales of Bigfoot and other creatures (as well as a fondness for The Creature from the Black Lagoon!). How did you take the leap from being a rocker in Ghoultown to cryptid reporter?
LB : In addition to being a musician, I’ve always worked as a writer. Among other things, I wrote for a rock magazine and then for Rue Morgue (www.rue-morgue.com) as their cryptozoology-meets-horror columnist. I’ve always wanted to write a book, so I decided to take some time off from the band to pursue that. I ended up choosing one of my favorite subjects, The Legend of Boggy Creek. Once I started investigating these sort of cryptid cases and writing the books, I really enjoyed it so I continued. I always thought the job of a professional writer sounded boring, but this brought me to interesting places and I met interesting people as part of the writing process – not to mention it involved my fascination with cryptids. My band Ghoultown still plays and records, but we don’t tour like we used to.
One of the best things you bring to the field of cryptozoology is your straightforward, journalistic approach to researching and educating people about creatures like the Boggy Creek Monster and the Lizard Man of Bishopville. You report the stories and the facts as they are without dramatization for the sake of titillating your readers. What made you decide to go in this direction and do you think the field needs more level headed reporting so it can be taken more seriously by the mainstream media and public?
LB: I think these stories are fascinating unto themselves without trying to sway people toward a certain point of view. I just tell the story, report the facts, and let whatever evidence speak for itself. I like to take the reader along as I investigate and give them credit to make up their own mind.
Who are some of your biggest influences and why?
LB: As far as writing and cryptozoology, I would say John Green and Loren Coleman. Green always had a level-headed approach to Sasquatch research and presented the stories in an engaging way. He also paid attention to details and getting the facts correct as best he could. Coleman, of course, paved the way for the modern cryptozoology researcher and has investigated so many of the seminal cases. Many times as I’m doing research, when I trace an investigation back to its original source, Coleman was there first. I’m honored that he wrote the Foreword for my first book, The Beast of Boggy Creek. It’s like having one of your heroes endorse your efforts. So cool.
Out of all the photographic and video evidence for Bigfoot, which to you is the most compelling evidence that it is real? And with just about everyone having a camera/videocam in their pockets, why aren’t we getting more solid evidence? Could it be we are but because it’s so easy to fake now, the real deal might be hiding in plain sight?
LB: To me, the footprints represent the most compelling evidence. Examples such as the Elkins Creek cast from Georgia stand out, especially when I’ve been able to interview the police officer who originally discovered the track.
As far as all the photos and videos, it’s really hard to discern between what might be real and what is a possible case of pareidolia or just outright fake. All the blurry shots don’t do us any good. We need something much clearer in this day and age, and even that is suspect since modern technology allows for such amazing CGI. Most people do carry a smart phone camera these days, but the lack of a clear photo shouldn’t be used as a basis to completely rule out the possibility of these creatures. Chance encounters typically last only a few moments, making it hard to pull out a phone, open the camera app, aim, and take a photo.
I’m sure you’ve heard the Sierra Bigfoot recordings taken back in the 70s. What are your thoughts on it and other similar recordings? Most of them are downright chilling.
LB: They’re definitely creepy and very compelling. In my opinion the Sierra Sounds are legit. And if it’s not a hoax, then that leaves very few possibilities beyond an undiscovered creature such as Bigfoot. I’ve heard recordings from other places which sound very similar; sent to me by credible individuals. They just don’t sound like any known animal.
Do you have any plans to investigate the Skunk Ape in Florida? I have the Fate Magazine with the famous Skunk Ape picture on the cover and keep waiting for someone to hunker down and do some serious research in that corner of the country.
LB: Earlier this year I visited the Ocala National Forest in Florida where there’s been a good amount of Skunk Ape sightings over the years. This was part of the research for my upcoming book, “Beyond Boggy Creek: In Search of the Southern Sasquatch” in which I document the history of Bigfoot sightings all over the Southern U.S. I dedicate an entire chapter of the book to the Skunk Ape, although there’s so much to this cryptid’s history and so many sightings, that I could write an entire book on it. Perhaps in the future.
Follow Lyle Blackburn at http://www.lyleblackburn.com
In the mood for a good cryptid book? Check these out…
You all know how much I like to get my squatch on. I’m always on the lookout for new flicks about Bigfoot…and aliens. Well, here’s one that hits DVD and VOD on March 8th. It’s called STOMPING GROUND and it looks like a hell of a ride. Hellions, start your squatches!
First, the elevator pitch – “A young couple on a weekend trip in the American south embark on an impromptu “Bigfoot hunt” that threatens both their relationship & their lives.”
Ben & Annie are a young couple living in Chicago, on a weekend trip to Annie’s small North Carolina hometown. At the local bar they run into Paul, a charming old friend of Annie’s, and Ben learns something he never knew about his girlfriend: She believes in Bigfoot. In fact, she and her friends used to “hunt” for the creature when they were kids. Before Ben knows it, he’s off on an impromptu Squatchin’ trip deep in the Carolina backwoods. Amidst the Squatch calls, campfire stories and beers, Ben quickly realizes that Paul may have an ulterior motive in bringing Annie to the woods. And something else out here seems to be after her as well. Everyone but Ben thinks its Bigfoot. But it can’t be, can it? After all, Bigfoot isn’t real…
And as an added bonus, the film features a cameo performance from Theresa Tilly, best known as one of the original “Ladies of the Evil Dead” from Sam Raimi’s horror classic, The Evil Dead.
Check out some of the early reviews –
“Successful in warming the hearts and chilling the bones, Stomping Ground is a whole lot of fun to watch.” – Ain’t It Cool News
“A cast that delivers… Terrific use of the natural settings… A step above most Bigfoot films…” – All Things Horror
“It’s not easy to find a creature feature where the characters are as relatable and believable as they are in Stomping Ground.” – Film Bizarro
Get your best tree knocking bat and deer pheromones and join me in the forest, won’t ya?
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I just got this ‘Mail a Bigfoot’ postcard with my delivery of squatchy goods from the International Cryptozoology Museum. You can cut out the Bigfoot parts to make your own little hairy guy. I’m going to mail my squatch to one lucky winner. All you need to do is drop a comment on this post with a way for me to reach you. I’ll do a random drawing in a week and announce who gets to adopt Mr. Foot. 🙂
If you can’t get to the museum in Portland, Maine, you can visit it online, check out the curiosities, shop the gift shop or simply donate to keep the wonder alive. Visit their website for more!
Meanwhile, my new Bigfoot has made some fast friends here in the Shea compound. BFFs already!
It’s the heart of winter here in the north east, judging by the snow and preponderance of heavy jackets and wool hats. One of my favorite places in the world is the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine. Let me tell you about Maine in winter. It’s cold. I mean spit freezing before it hits the floor kind of cold. Portland is right by the Atlantic Ocean. Brrrrr.
Needless to say, Portland is not a big tourist destination in January and February. Sure, plenty of interior parts of Maine get a ton of visitors because of all the skiing. In Portland, there are no slopes. Just cool joints to eat and frozen water.
The Cryptozoology Museum is owned and operated by Loren Coleman, the man I call the godfather of modern cryptozoology. I wrote an article about meeting him at the museum in the summer of 2013 that you can read by clicking here. If you’re a fan of Bigfoot, The Jersey Devil, Mothman, sea serpents, The Dover Demon and a host of other strange and unusual beasties, this place was designed just for you.
Winter months are lean months in Portland, which is why Loren needs your support. Please visit their website and either make a donation, in any amount, or purchase something from their gift shop. Every dollar goes to keep the museum running. There is no other place like it on earth. I went and bought a Bigfoot action figure and signed copy of Fate Magazine today. This way, Loren and I are both happy.
Squatch above soon to be on the Monster Men set!
Some time ago I posted a slew of Bigfoot movies where you could settle down and get your squatch on. Well, it’s time for an update because there is no shortage of cryptid interest out there and a whole lot of fiction books about our hairy cousins…at least by marriage. Here are some of the books and movies I’ve devoured over the past couple of months.
DEEP DARK WOODS BY TY SCHWAMBERGER
Of the Sasquatch books I’ve read and downloaded lately, this has my favorite cover. And the story inside doesn’t disappoint. Yes, there are folks trapped in the woods being hunted down by one pissed off BF, but the plot twist at the end is a huge, sick payoff. Ty is a very good writer and obviously loves his subject. This one did win kudos for mentioning the big guy’s dong several times. One of the hornier squatches you’ll ever want to meet. I give it 3 1/2 out of 5 squatch prints.
THE LAST GUNFIGHTER : SUDDEN FURY BY WILLIAM W. JOHNSTONE
OK, I know this seems like a strange one. It’s also proof that Bigfoot and I are somehow psychically connected. I was in the bookstore one day specifically to buy a couple of western novels. If you’ve read my book HELL HOLE, you know I dig a good western yarn. Amazingly, the first one I pick up concerns a logging company being driven out of the forest by what appears to be a Bigfoot. Well, I had to get it. I won’t give away whether there’s a cryptid or not stalking the woods, but damn this was fun. Gun slinging and searching for Sasquatch? Count me in. 4 out of 5 squatch prints.
SKOOK BY WILLIAM R. BURKETT JR.
I literally got this book because I liked saying the title – over and over again. Drove my kids crazy. Turns out this is a damn fine story about a man and his young son and the terrifying encounters they have with a posse of Skooks – which, of course, are squatches. There’s actually a generations-old agreement between the skooks and ‘chosen’ humans who live in relative peace, but sometimes lines are crossed. There is an attack at a cabin that actually left me breathless. Worth it for that scene alone. 4 out of 5 squatch prints.
HUNTING THE LEGEND
Moving on to movies, I’ve found at least a dozen squatch flicks that have been made over the past 15 years. I’ve got a lot of squatching-watching to do! I started with this one on a cold morning with time to kill. For some reason, Bigfoot leads itself to found footage. Not sure why. This one has some kid bent on revenge because Bigfoot killed his daddy when they were on a hunting trip years earlier. The acting is what you’d expect. I’m not going to say to run out and see this one, but if it’s free and you have some downtime, check it out. There are parts by the end that are a bit creepy. 2 of 5 squatch prints.
I have been dying to see this Bobcat Goldthwait movie ever since I heard about it well over a year ago. Again, found footage. But this time it’s done right. A couple goes to the site of the famous Patterson-Gimlin film to see if BF is still lurking about. There’s a slow build up with some genuine laughs. Of course, they’re warned not to go there, which they ignore. Once they settle into their tent for the night, things go ape shit. It’s just the camera trained on them reacting to the sounds outside. I was tense as hell – and I’m one jaded old horror fan. I dug it, and now I have to find a way to own it. 4 1/2 out of 5 squatch prints.
Do you have any Bigfoot gems I may have missed? Share it with the class. You never know. If I like it, I may just give you a reward.
Man, was I thrilled to interview Lyle Blackburn on the Monster Men. He is fast becoming a legend in the field of cryptozoology, and he’s a damn fine writer to boot. We spent over an hour talking monsters, so we broke the interview up into 2 parts. Enjoy!
This episode of Monster Men is such a big event, we had to present it in two parts. This time out we interview renowned monster hunter Lyle Blackburn, author of THE BEAST OF BOGGY CREEK and LIZARD MAN. His books are must reads for fans of cryptozoology, urban legends and monsters.
Lyle Blackburn Part 1: The Lizard Man
Lyle Blackburn Part 2: The Beast of Boggy Creek
In part one of our interview we focus on the Lizard Man, the mysterious monster of Bishopville, NC. Lyle investigated this case firsthand and his stories and accounts from actual witnesses will astound you. He’s got every angle covered and his book is fascinating.
In part two of our interview, we discuss Lyle’s true passion, the legendary Fouke Monster of Boggy Creek. Ever since Lyle saw the movie “The Legend of Boggy Creek” as a kid, he has been fascinated by this Bigfoot-like creature…
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