Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Is Hollywood Responsible for the Patterson -Gimlin Bigfoot Video?

You've all see it, by now.  The famous Patterson-Gimlin video is a source of great debate for Bigfoot enthusiasts and debunkers, alike.  (You can watch it here.)  If it's not real, then it must be a guy in a suit, right?  And rumors abound that one person or another in Hollywood is responsible for the suit.  Case closed, for the skeptic.  But it's just not that simple when you do your homework.

Let's examine the video just a bit before looking at those claims, and bear in mind that this thing was filmed in 1967. has a wonder .gif file that stabilizes the shaky image from the film.  People love to complain about the film quality, but Bigfoot enthusiasts actually spent a lot of time working on these videos to make them as clear as possible.  Here it is:

Now, we can see what we're working with.  Does it look like Hollywood's work?  Before you answer, let's consider Hollywood's work.  In 1968, on year after this video was made, Planet of the Apes would be nominated for an academy for costume design.  There's a good photo of one of these costumes here (I can't find a royalty free image, otherwise I would post one on my site.)  As you can see, it's a good mask with a leather jacket, long pants, boots, and hairy gloves.  It's good costume work, and certainly deserves the nomination it received.  But it's not as good as the Bigfoot costume, above.  A big-budget Hollywood film ought to have better effects than a homemade film done by amateurs.

Moving ahead a decade or so we meet the mighty Chewbacca.  Here we finally have a full body suit of an ape-like creature.  However, take a good look at Bigfoot, up there.  Chewbacca had a human-sized suit covered in hair.  If the Patterson-Gimlin film is a man in a suit, then he's in one sophisticated suit.  It's got a greater range of motion than a Hollywood suit, and you can see that Bigfoot has flex in his hands and feet, and the muscles in his face move when you look closely.  Chewbacca's feet look like hair boots rather than actual feet.  (I'm not knocking Star Wars, mind you.)  Also, it has often been pointed out that the subject of the Patterson-Gimlin film has ridiculously long arms.  It would take a circus freak to fit into that costume.

The point?  If this is a man in a suit, it's the most advanced suit ever filmed in its time.

There are claims that this person or that person in Hollywood made the suit.  The problem?  There's no proof.  Phillip Morris claims that HE made the suit back in the day, but his story is full of holes.  He says that he made the arms long so that an actor could hold a stick in his hand to control the entire arm.  That sounds nice, but it doesn't make since.  In the video, you can see the individual fingers moving, and that's not possible if the hand doesn't actually fit the glove.  It may be possible to set up some sort of rig that moves the fingers independently, but we are talking about some serious technological sophistication for a suit made on a small budget in the 60's.  We're talking about a real contortion act mixed in with a suit more advanced than anything Hollywood ever did until the 90's (if at all).  Not to mention, Phillip Morris runs a costume business, and this sort of thing would be really good for sales - and his business partner is the only person to corroborate his story.  (Lots of people have claimed responsibility for the suit; if I listed them all we would be here all day.  Bottom line?  None of them have even the most superficial proof.)

One last thing.  Let's take a look at Brian Dunning's words on the matter.  For those of you who don't know, Dunning is a skeptic who takes great pride in not believing in anything.  I'm not sure if he's a nihilist, but he abhors any belief in the supernatural or things like UFOs or monsters.  However, his words on the Patterson-Gimlin film are interesting:

I'm not a Bigfoot believer but I will give credit where credit is due. The Patterson-Gimlin film looked like a real animal to me. The Discovery Channel's "duplication" of it looked ridiculous. It looked nothing like a real animal, and certainly didn't remotely resemble the subject shown in the Patterson-Gimlin film. Chewbacca looked more real than the Discovery Channel's Bigfoot suit. Hollywood's state of the art in gorilla suits in 1967 were Planet of the Apes and The Galileo Seven episode of Star Trek. Two loggers with no previous gorilla suit experience made a suit that was better than today's state of the art, and certainly light years ahead of the 1967 state of the art. I'm not saying the film's real, I'm saying give credit where credit is due, and admit that if it is a fake, it's astounding. If you disagree then go through a stabilized version frame-by-frame as I have.

The half dozen or so Hollywood special effects artists who have since "come forward" to claim that they were responsible for the Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot suit, and the dozens of guys who have "come forward" to claim that they were the guy wearing the suit, are no more evidence against the film than Ray Wallace's wooden feet are evidence that no real Bigfoot footprints exist.

Critics of the film also say that the creature's behavior is unrealistic. I have no knowledge of what a real Bigfoot's behavior might be, but I have encountered bears half a dozen times, and they acted exactly like the Patterson-Gimlin creature: just walked away, unconcerned, with maybe only a look or two back.

The Patterson-Gimlin film is not an open-close case.  It's an impressive film no matter what the truth behind it turns out to be.  Did two guys with a tiny budget make the world's most advanced special effects costume?  Or did they capture an image of an unknown creature?  Patterson spent a lot of money looking for further evidence of Bigfoot, and when he died he was still telling people it was real.  Gimlin, his partner, can be found attending Bigfoot conferences also claiming the video is the real thing.  This video is a real mystery - not something that can be written off easily.


  1. Sir, may I say: You have no idea about special effects at all, do you? "the world's most advanced special effects costume"... LOL ... You obivously weren't very interested in good old sci-fi and horror? Flabbergasting costumes and make-up work had already been done in the mid 1920s... And your only comparison is Chewbacca? That is so stunningly stupid that I won't waste my time taking another look and your "blog" ever again.

  2. You might be surprised at what I know of the special effects industry. There's no costume from the golden age of cinema that had such advanced design. You obviously didn't read that part of my post very well.