Reviews

Mysterious Monsters, The (1976)

I could watch these sorts of documentaries, especially from this time period, all day long. Peter Graves talks and talks. Sometimes they cut to random footage of other people talking. Sometimes he interviews people live. Sometimes they are comfortable interviews. Sometimes the folks being interviewed seem very nervous. (“It’s Peter Graves!”) They repeat the basic Bigfoot information (his height, weight and the fact that he’s smelly) about 10 times. In fact, one excited lady describes her eyewitness sighting of Bigfoot to reporters (or police, I forget which) with the exact same words that everyone else uses, which made me think “She’s been watching The Mysterious Monsters!” I imagine that was a “Dramatization” at work but it was still fun.

I believe this was a theatrical release and, boy, I love the folks of the 70s for going to see something like this in theaters. It starts off with some Loch Ness Monster stuff, floats around the Abominable Snowman and then settles firmly into Bigfoot territory. Lots of people comparing footprints and walks and gaits and pendulous breasts. Is this movie FPPO? (For Primate Pervs Only?) I’m not sure. But, there is a lot to love here.

Some of it I’ve already listed but…We have a man who deliberately makes fake Bigfoot tracks to annoy people. A scientist who is studying Bigfoot sounds and has a beautiful head of hair. We have a very smug scientist who deflects Peter’s questions away in a very smug manner. We have a lengthy hypnosis scene where a woman reenacts (under hypnosis) her meeting Bigfoot. We have a series of kickass re-enactments with folks acting startled in all sorts of ways. But, I’ve always noticed this; no one ever describes exactly what Bigfoot smells like.

I’ve been watching a lot of In Search Of lately and that show and this film have made me sort of dwell on what I think about Bigfoot and UFOS and that kind of thing. Well, I have an answer but some of you might think it’s wishy-washy….and I didn’t actually formulate the answer myself. Jorge Luis Borges did in his 1948 essay on “The False Problem of Ugolino” in the “Nine Dantesque Essays 1945-1951”, which can be found in the superb collection Selected Non-Fictions, pages 277-279. The way Borges describes how Dante must have felt regarding Ugolino and whether or not he became a cannibal mirrors my feelings towards the World of Unexplained Phenomena. (If you haven’t read Dante’s Inferno, you probably should. It’s superb. Then, you should read the entire Divine Comedy.) I need to bring my own fiction writing style in for a moment to describe what he’s talking about…There are times when I know everything that is happening in the world I’m writing about. Then, there are times when all I know about what I’m writing is what I’ve written. Ambiguous moments may have actual outcomes or they may not. I have written pieces that I can’t go back to because I don’t want to re-experience what happened to the characters, especially if I liked them a lot and bad things happen. Or, I have left things up in the air within the narrative itself because I didn’t want to make the final decision on something. The character does this or the character doesn’t do this. At that moment, the moment where I suspend my writing, they can go either way.

That’s how I feel about all of these odd sightings and strange phenomena. They exist and they don’t. They’re here and they’re not. (Borges says it better than I do.) It’s the ambiguous time of hope. Those against say that nothing concrete has been found and use quite a few belittlement tactics against believers. Those for all of it cite the eyewitness evidence and other proof. And, until concrete evidence arrives, neither side will be moved. I say “Why pick a side? Surely the World still has surprises. When concrete evidence arrives for or against, then a decision will be made. But, for now, let me enjoy the ambiguous nature of these beautiful conceits.”

And, I know that Bigfoot smells like Belgian Waffles. Some things you can just intuit.

Slow at times, sure. Repetitive, yes. Crammed with filler? Sure. But, The Mysterious Monsters is still fun to watch if you like this kind of thing. (I know I sure do). Peter Graves leads you through and, hey, it might send you running for “In Search Of,” which is in easier-to-digest chunks. And, in Bigfoot World, they are watching a film just like this, all about us, hosted by James Arness. Awesome.

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