Definitions

intermembral

Patterson-Gimlin film

The Patterson-Gimlin film (also referred to as simply the Patterson film) is a short motion picture of an unidentified subject filmed on October 20, 1967 by Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin who claimed the film was a genuine recording of a Bigfoot. The film has been subjected to many attempts both to debunk and authenticate it. Some qualified scientists have judged the film a hoax with a man in an ape suit, but other scientists contend the film depicts a cryptid, or animal unknown to science.

Both men have always dismissed allegations that they had hoaxed the footage by filming a man wearing an ape suit; in fact Patterson, who died of cancer in 1972, swore on his death bed that the footage was authentic and he had encountered and filmed a large bipedal animal unknown to science. Allegedly Patterson had confessed to the owner of Yakima camera store that he hoaxed the film to generate money for his wife, since he was dying of cancer. His friend and business associate, Gimlin, has always denied being involved in any part of a possible hoax with Patterson and claims that that he and his partner had encountered a real Bigfoot. However, he avoided publicly discussing the subject for many years until about the year 2000 when he began giving interviews and making appearances at Bigfoot conferences.

Background

Patterson said he became interested in Bigfoot after reading an article about the creature by Ivan Sanderson in True magazine in December 1962 (Perez, 6). His movie Do Abominable Snowmen of America Really Exist? was self-directed in 1966. The movie has been characterized as "little more than a collection of newspaper clippings laced together with Patterson's circus-poster style prose." (Hunter and Dahinden, 113) It did, however, also include 27 scenes of previously unpublished interviews and letters, 17 drawings by Patterson of the encounters described in the movie, five hand-drawn maps (rare in subsequent Bigfoot books), and almost 20 photos and illustrations from other sources. It was reprinted in 2004 under the title The Bigfoot Film Controversy, with additional material by Chris Murphy.

Some decades after the Patterson-Gimlin film's publicity, Greg Long interviewed people who described Patterson as a liar, a conman, and sometimes worse. Pat Mason, Glen Koelling, Bob Swanson and Vilma Radford claimed Patterson never repaid loans they made to him for various Bigfoot-related ventures. Radford alone had corroborative evidence: A $700 promissory note "for expenses in connection with filming of 'Bigfoot: Americas Abominable Snowman. (sic)'" (Long, 300). Patterson agreed to repay her $850, plus 5 percent of any profits from the film. Also, records show Bob Gimlin sued DeAtley and Patterson's widow Patricia, in 1975, claiming he wasn't receiving his share of the film's proceeds. In addition, Roger Patterson's own brother-in-law, Bruce Mondor, has come forward and admitted that Roger showed him how he hoaxed bigfoot tracks. No one doubted the sincerity of Patterson's belief in Bigfoot; he was consumed by the search for it.

After securing funding for his Bigfoot documentary from his brother in-law DeAtley, Patterson and his friend Gimlin set out for the Six Rivers National Forest in northern California. Patterson chose the area due to intermittent reports of the creatures in the past and of their enormous footprints near there since 1958. The most recent of these reports was the nearby Blue Creek Mountain track find, which was investigated by journalist John Green, Rene Dahinden, and archaeologist Don Abbott on and after August 28, 1967 (Perez, 8). This find was reported to Patterson soon thereafter by local resident Al Hodgson.

Though Gimlin says he doubted the existence of Sasquatch-like creatures, he agreed to Patterson's suggestion that they should not attempt to shoot any such creatures they might see. According to Krantz (Krantz, 1992) years later, Patterson and Gimlin agreed they should have tried to blow up the creature, both for financial gain and to silence naysayers.

Patterson's expensive 16 mm camera had been rented on May 13, but he had kept it longer than the contract had stipulated, and an arrest warrant had been issued for him on October 17 (Long, 167). This charge was ultimately dismissed after Patterson returned the camera in good working order. (Long, 169)

The encounter

As Patterson and Gimlin were allegedly the only human witnesses to their brief encounter with a Sasquatch, theirs are the only testimonies available in studying the account. Their statements agree in general, but Long notes a number of inconsistencies. In an article in Argosy magazine, Ivan T. Sanderson gave the time of the encounter as 3:30 p.m., which differed from the 1:30 p.m. time in other articles and in interviews by Patterson and Gimlin. They offered somewhat different sequences in describing how they and the horses reacted upon seeing the creature. Patterson in particular increased his estimates of the creature's size in subsequent retellings of the encounter (Long, 162-165). In a different context, Long notes, these discrepancies would probably be considered minor, but given the extraordinary claims made by Patterson and Gimlin, any apparent disagreements in perception or memory are worth noting.

In the early afternoon of October 20, Patterson and Gimlin were at Bluff Creek. Both were on horseback when they "came to an overturned tree with a large root system at a turn in the creek, almost as high as a room" (Gimlin, quoted in Perez, 9). When they rounded it they spotted the figure behind it nearly simultaneously, while it was "crouching beside the creek to their left" (Krantz, 85). Gimlin later described himself as in a mild state of shock after first seeing the figure.

Patterson estimated he was about away from the creature at his closest. Patterson said that his horse reared upon seeing (or perhaps smelling) the figure, and he spent about twenty seconds extricating himself from the saddle and getting his camera from a saddlebag before he could run toward the figure while operating his camera. He yelled "Cover me" to Gimlin, who thereupon crossed the creek on horseback, rode forward awhile, and, rifle in hand, dismounted (presumably because his horse might have panicked if the creature charged, spoiling his shot).

The figure had walked away from them to a distance of about before Patterson began to run after it. The resulting film (about 53 seconds long) is initially quite shaky until Patterson gets about from the figure. At that point the figure glanced over its right shoulder at the men and Patterson fell to his knees; on Krantz's map this corresponds to frame 264 (Perez, 12). To researcher John Green, Patterson would later characterize the creature's expression as one of "contempt and disgust...you know how it is when the umpire tells you 'one more word and you're out of the game.' That's the way it felt."

At this point the steady middle portion of the film begins, containing the famous frame 352 (see accompanying photo above). Patterson said "it turned a total of I think three times" (Wasson, 69), the first time therefore being before the filming began. Shortly after glancing over its shoulder, the creature walks behind a grove of trees, reappears for awhile after Patterson moved ten feet to a better vantage point, then fades into the trees again and is lost to view as the reel of film ran out. Gimlin remounted and followed it on horseback, keeping his distance, until it disappeared around a bend in the road three hundred yards away. Patterson called him back at that point, feeling vulnerable on foot without a rifle, because he feared the creature's mate might approach.

Next, Gimlin rounded up Patterson's horses, which had run off before the filming began, and "the men then tracked it for three miles (5 km), but lost it in the heavy undergrowth" (Coleman and Clark, 198). They returned to the initial site, measured the creature's stride, made two plaster casts (of the best-quality right and left prints), and covered the other prints to protect them. The entire encounter had lasted less than two minutes.

A few hours after the encounter, Patterson telephoned Donald Abbott, whom Krantz described as "the only scientist of any stature to have demonstrated any serious interest in the (Bigfoot) subject," hoping he would help them search for the creature. Abbott declined, and Krantz argued this call to authorities the same day of the encounter is evidence against a hoax, at least on Patterson's part.

Forestry worker Lyle Loverty happened upon the site a day later and photographed the tracks. Taxidermist and outdoorsman Robert Titmus went to the site with his brother-in-law nine days later. Titmus made casts of the creature's prints and, as best he could, plotted Patterson's and the creature's movements on a map.

Patterson initially estimated its height at six and one-half to seven feet (Patterson & Murphy, 195), and later raised his estimate to about seven and one-half feet. (Some later analysts, anthropologist Grover Krantz among them, have suggested Patterson's later estimate was about a foot too tall.) The film shows a large, hairy bipedal apelike figure with short black hair covering most of its body, including the figure's prominent breasts. The figure's head is somewhat pointed; some have argued this feature is a sagittal crest, a type of ridge also found on gorillas. The figure depicted in the Patterson-Gimlin film generally matches the descriptions of Bigfoot offered by others who claim to have seen the creatures.

Aftermath

Krantz writes (Krantz, 1992) that "Patterson had the film developed as soon as possible. At first he thought he had brought in proof of Bigfoot's existence and really expected the scientists to accept it. But only a few scientists were willing to even look at the film, and most of them promptly declared it a fake. It was then incorporated as the centerpiece of the documentary film that Patterson had set out to make in the first place." This film was a modest financial success after it was shown in local movie houses around the Pacific Northwest. This was a muted triumph, however: Patterson sold overlapping distribution rights for the film to several parties, which resulted in costly legal entanglements.

Though there was little scientific interest in the film, Patterson was still able to capitalize on it. Beyond the documentary, the film generated a fair amount of publicity. Patterson appeared on several popular talk shows to show the film and promote the documentary: on Merv Griffin's program, with Krantz offering his analysis of the film, and also on Joey Bishop's talk show (Long, 258).

While Patterson sought publicity, Gimlin was conspicuous by his absence. He only briefly helped to promote the film (Long, 265) and avoided discussing his Bigfoot encounter publicly for many subsequent years. He would later report that he'd avoided publicity after Patterson and promoter Al DeAtley had broken their agreement to pay Gimlin a share of any profits generated by the film (Long, 159-160).

Krantz reports that "[a] few years after the film was made, Patterson received a written letter from a man in Thailand who assured him a Sasquatch was being held in a Buddhist monastery. Patterson spent most of his remaining money preparing an expedition to retrieve this creature" only to learn it was a hoax. Patterson died of Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1972, still swearing to the authenticity of the film.

Filming speed

One fact which complicates discussion of the Patterson film is that Patterson says he normally filmed at 24 frames per second, but in his haste to capture the Bigfoot on film, he did not note the camera's setting. His Cine-Kodak K-100 camera had markings on its continuously variable dial of 16, 24, 32, 48, and 64 frames per second and was capable of filming at any frame speed within this range. The speed of the film is important because, as Napier writes, "if the movie was filmed at 24 frame/s then the creature's walk cannot be distinguished from a normal human walk. If it was filmed at 16 or 18 frame/s, there are a number of important respects in which it is quite unlike man's gait" (Napier, 94 [2nd printing]). Unfortunately, the film is so shaky that it is difficult to be certain which speed is correct.

Krantz argues, based on an analysis by Igor Bourtsev, that since Patterson's height is known, a reasonable calculation can be made of his pace. This running pace can be synchronized with the regular bounces in the initial jumpy portions of the film that were caused by each fast step Patterson took to approach the creature. Based on this analysis, Krantz argues that a speed of 24 frames per second can be quickly dismissed and that "[w]e may safely rule out 16 frames per second and accept the speed of 18."

Dahinden stated that "the footage of the horses prior to the Bigfoot film looks jerky and unnatural when projected at 24 frame/s" (Perez, 21). And Dahinden experimented at the film site by having people walk rapidly over the creature's path and reported: "None of us ... could walk that distance in 40 seconds [952 frames / 24 frame/s = 39.6], ... so I eliminated 24 frame/s" (Perez, 21).

Others (including primatologist John Napier, who published before Dahinden and Krantz--see Bayanov, 70) have expressed a different opinion, contending it was "likely that Patterson would have used 24 frame/s" because it "is best suited to TV transmission," while conceding that "this is entirely speculative" (Napier, 94 [2nd printing]). More recently, skeptic and University of Florida anthropologist David Daegling has asserted that even at 16 frame/s the creature's odd walk could be replicated: "Supposed peculiarities of subject speed, stride length, and posture are all reproducible by a human being employing this type of locomotion [a "compliant gait"]" (Daegling, 127).

Legal status

Henry Franzoni reports that "Mrs. Patterson, Roger Patterson's widow, who still lives in Yakima, Washington, has the TV and movie rights to the actual film. René Dahinden had the rights to the 953 still frames from the film." Franzoni also reports that "The original film no longer exists. Five known copies were made of the original film. The five copies were once in the possession of René Dahinden, John Willison Green, Dr. Grover Krantz, Jon-Erik Beckjord, and Peter Byrne. René Dahinden possessed one of the copies up until his death. The film now is in possession of Dahinden's family. It is no longer known who possessed the other four original copies, or if they still exist."

Analyses

The Patterson-Gimlin film has seen relatively little interest from mainstream scientists. As anthropologist David Daegling writes, "[t]he skeptics have not felt compelled to offer much of a detailed argument against the film; the burden of proof, rightly enough, should lie with the advocates." Yet without a detailed argument against authenticity, Daegling notes that "the film has not gone away" (Daegling, 119). Similarly, Krantz argues that of the many opinions offered about the Patterson film, "[o]nly a few of these opinions are based on technical expertise and careful study of the film itself" (Krantz, 92).

The figure shown in the Patterson-Gimlin film appears to possess both a sagittal crest and pendulous breasts (as in human and chimpanzee females). Neither humans nor chimpanzees have hairy breasts as does the figure in the film, and critics have argued these features are evidence against authenticity. Napier has noted that a sagittal crest is "only very occasionally seen, to an insignificant extent, in females" (cited in Wasson, 74). Supporters speculate that a sagittal crest might be related to Bigfoot size or maturity, not to sex, and caution against applying established standards to what may be an unknown creature.

David J. Daegling and Daniel O. Schmitt

When anthropologists David J. Daegling and Daniel O. Schmitt examined the film, they concluded it was impossible to conclusively determine if the subject in the film is nonhuman, and additionally argued the flaws in the studies by Krantz and others. They noted problems of uncertainties in subject and camera positions, camera movement, poor image quality, and artifacts of subject. They concluded: ”Based on our analysis of gait and problems inherent in estimating subject dimensions, it is our opinion that it is not possible to evaluate the identity of the film subject with any confidence.”

On the Bigfoot episode of Is it Real? on the National Geographic Channel, the two furthered their statement claiming that, due to poorly-duplicated copies of the film, claims about muscle movements, arm proportions, proper finger/wrist flexion, and the like in the film's subject are questionable.

Daegling notes that in 1967, movie and television special effects were rather primitive when compared to the more sophisticated effects in later decades, and allows that if the Patterson film depicts a man in a suit that "it is not unreasonable to suggest that it is better than some of the tackier monster outfits that got thrown together for television at that time" (Daegling, 112).

M.K. Davis

New developments in computer technology have permitted enhancements of the Patterson-Gimlin films to be made. M.K. Davis has created a version that removes the shakiness of the camera, permitting the creature to be seen from a stable perspective.

Some observers contend that the result can make the creature in the Patterson-Gimlin film look like a human being in a suit. However, Davis himself argues otherwise, claiming that there are subtle indications of muscles moving under the hair and movements impossible for a human, such as the calf bulging on foot-impact and mid-foot flexion off the ground. Skeptics, however, argue that an actor's muscles would also show if the suit was tightly-fitted.

Davis has produced a second stabilized version incorporating enlargements of these specific indications that he notes.

Dmitri Donskoy

A formal academic study of the Patterson film was conducted by Dmitri Donskoy, Chief of the Dept. of Biomechanics at the USSR Central Institute of Physical Culture, and later associated with Moscow's Darwin Museum (Daegling, 45).

Donskoy concluded the creature was non-human based on its weight, and especially its gait, which Donskoy judged would be difficult if not impossible for a human to replicate. He inferred the film's subject was weighty from the ponderous momentum he observed in the movements of its arms and legs, in the sagging of the knee as weight came onto it, and in the flatness of the foot. Its gait he considered non-artificial because it was confident and unwavering, "neatly expressive," and well-coordinated, and yet non-human because its arm motion and glide resembled a cross-country skier's. Krantz describes Donskoy's conclusion as being that the film depicts "a very massive animal that is definitely not a human being" (Krantz, 92).

D.W. Grieve

Anatomist D.W. Grieve of the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine studied a copy of the film in 1971, and wrote a detailed analysis. He notes, "The possibility of a very clever fake cannot be ruled out on the evidence of the film" but also writes that his analysis hinges largely on the question of filming speed (see above).

Grieve concluded that "the possibility of fakery is ruled out if the speed of the film was 16 or 18 frames per second. In these conditions a normal human being could not duplicate the observed pattern, which would suggest that the Sasquatch must possess a very different locomotor system to that of man." If filmed at the higher speed, Grieve concluded that the creature "walked with a gait pattern very similar in most respects to a man walking at high speed."

Grieve noted, "I can see the muscle masses in the appropriate places... If it is a fake, it is an extremely clever one" (Hunter and Dahinden, 120). Like Krantz, Grieve thought the figure's shoulders were quite broad. Also like Krantz, Grieve thought Patterson's estimate of the figure's height was inaccurate. Grieve concluded the figure in the Patterson film revealed "an estimated standing height for the subject of not more than . (196 cm)." He notes that a tall human is consistent with the figure's height but also notes that for a tall human "[t]he shoulder breadth however would be difficult to achieve without giving an unnatural appearance to the arm swing and shoulder contours.

More personally, Grieve notes that his "subjective impressions have oscillated between total acceptance of the Sasquatch based on the grounds that the film would be difficult to fake, to one of irrational rejection based on an emotional response to the possibility that the Sasquatch actually exists. This seems worth stating because others have reacted similarly to the film" (cited in Byrne, 157).

Bernard Heuvelmans

Bernard Heuvelmans — a zoologist and the so-called "father of cryptozoology" —thought the creature in the Patterson film was a suited human.

Grover Krantz

Anthropologist Grover Krantz offered an in-depth examination of the Patterson film (Krantz, 87-124). He concluded that the film depicts a genuine, unknown creature, citing the following factors, among others:

  • Primarily, Krantz's argument is based on a detailed analysis of the figure's stride, center of gravity, and biomechanics. Krantz argues that the creature's leg and foot motions are quite different from a human's and could not have been duplicated by a person wearing a gorilla suit.
  • Krantz pointed out the tremendous width of the creature's shoulders, which (after deducting 1" for hair) he estimated at 28.2 inches, or 35.1% of its full standing height of 78". (Or a higher percentage of its 72" "walking height," which was a bit stooped, crouched, and sunk into the sand (Krantz, 106-08).) The creature's shoulders are almost 50% wider than the human mean. (For instance, André the Giant had a typical human ratio of 24%. Wide-shouldered Bob Heironimus (see below) has 27.4%. Only very rare humans have a shoulder breadth of 30%.) Krantz argued that a suited person could not mimic this breadth and still have the naturalistic hand and arm motions present on the film.
  • Krantz wrote, "the knee is regularly bent more than 90°, while the human leg bends less than 70°." No human has yet replicated this level lower leg lift while maintaining the smoothness, posture, and stride length (41") of the creature.
  • Krantz and others have noted natural-looking musculature visible as the creature moved, arguing this would be highly difficult or impossible to fake. Hunter and Dahinden also note that "the bottom of the figure's head seems to become part of the heavy back and shoulder muscles... [and] the muscles of the buttocks were distinct" (Hunter and Dahinden, 114).
  • Krantz also interviewed Patterson extensively and, as noted below, thought Patterson lacked the technical skill and knowledge needed to create such a realistic-looking costume.
  • Krantz reports that in 1969 John Green (who at one point owned a first-generation copy of the original Patterson film) interviewed Disney executive Ken Peterson, who, after viewing the Patterson film, asserted "that their technicians would not be able to duplicate the film" (Krantz, 93). Krantz argues that if Disney personnel (among the best special effects experts of their era) were unable to duplicate the film, there's little likelihood that Patterson could have done so.
  • More recently, Krantz showed the film to Gordon Valient, a researcher for Nike shoes, who he says "made some rather useful observations about some rather unhuman movements he could see" (ibid.).

Jeffrey Meldrum

Jeffrey Meldrum of Idaho State University cites efforts by John Green as important in his own studies of the Patterson film. "It has been obvious to even the casual viewer that the film subject possesses arms that are disproportionately long for its stature." Meldrum writes that "Anthropologists typically express limb proportions as an intermembral index (IM)" and notes that humans have an average IM index of 72, gorillas an average IM index of 117 and chimpanzees an average IM index of 106.

In determining an IM index for the figure in the Patterson film, Meldrum concludes the figure has "an IM index somewhere between 80 and 90, intermediate between humans and African apes. In spite of the imprecision of this preliminary estimate, it is well beyond the mean for humans and effectively rules out a man-in-a-suit explanation for the Patterson-Gimlin film without invoking an elaborate, if not inconceivable, prosthetic contrivance to account for the appropriate positions and actions of wrist and elbow and finger flexion visible on the film. This point deserves further examination and may well rule out the probability of hoaxing.

John Napier

Prominent primate expert John Napier (one-time director of the Smithsonian's Primate Biology Program) was one of the few mainstream scientists not only to critique the Patterson-Gimlin film but also to study then-available Bigfoot evidence in a generally sympathetic manner in his 1973 book, Bigfoot: The Sasquatch and Yeti in Myth and Reality.

Napier conceded the likelihood of Bigfoot as a real creature, stating, "I am convinced that Sasquatch exists" (Napier, 205--2nd printing). But he argued against the film being genuine: "There is little doubt that the scientific evidence taken collectively points to a hoax of some kind. The creature shown in the film does not stand up well to functional analysis."

He adds, "I could not see the zipper; and I still can't. There I think we must leave the matter. Perhaps it was a man dressed up in a monkey-skin; if so it was a brilliantly executed hoax and the unknown perpetrator will take his place with the great hoaxers of the world. Perhaps it was the first film of a new type of hominid, quite unknown to science, in which case Roger Patterson deserves to rank with Dubois, the discoverer of Pithecanthropus erectus, or Raymond Dart of Johannesburg, the man who introduced the world to its immediate human ancestor, Australopithecus africanus" (Napier, 95).

Janos Prohaska

After viewing the Patterson-Gimlin film, costume designer Janos Prohaska (noted for his work on the late '60s television program Star Trek) concluded the film's subject could be a man in a costume. If the film was hoaxed, Prohaska thought it was remarkably realistic and sophisticated, and the only plausible explanation was that someone might have glued false hair to a costume. Prohaska, in fact, had used this technique himself on his own costumes.

Other Analyses

In a first season episode of the History Channel series Monster Quest focusing on the bigfoot phenomenon, two separate tests are performed on the Patterson-Gimlin film in an attempt to verify its authenticity. The first test, which attempts to recreate the movement of the creature captured on the Patterson-Gimlin film, enlisting the aid of a professional athlete and utilizing motion-capture technology, suggests that the movement of the creature on the film is outside the human range of motion. The second test examines the actual film microscopically and, through digital enhancement, reveals details on the film that were previously unknown, such as possible facial movements. Both tests, it should be noted, examined the film on a frame-by-frame basis.

Hoax allegations

Patterson and/or Gimlin

When considering the possibility of a hoax, many critics immediately suspected one or both of the men who witnessed the figure depicted in the film. Patterson and Gimlin both denied that they had perpetrated a hoax, but in a 1999 telephone interview with television producer Chris Packham for the BBC's The X Creatures, Gimlin said that for some time, "I was totally convinced no one could fool me. And of course I'm an older man now...and I think there could have been the possibility [of a hoax]. But it would have to be really well planned by Roger [Patterson]." (Long, 166)

Patterson and Gimlin sought various experts to examine the film. Patterson claimed to have screened the film for unnamed technicians "in the special effects department at Universal Studios in Hollywood ... Their conclusion was: ‘We could try (faking it), but we would have to create a completely new system of artificial muscles and find an actor who could be trained to walk like that. It might be done, but we would have to say that it would be almost impossible'"(Hunter and Dahinden, 119). It is important to note that the authenticity of that quote has never been verified, and the special effects technicians who allegedly said it have never come forward.

Anthropologist David Daegling writes that the "more cynical skeptics" see Patterson's luck as "more than a little suspicious: He sets out to make a Bigfoot documentary, then almost literally stumbles across a Bigfoot." Daegling, however, offers the benefit of the doubt, noting that Patterson's reasoning is sound: In seeking something elusive, he went to where it had been reported (Daegling, 78).

Krantz thought Patterson might have perpetrated such a hoax, given the opportunity and resources, but he also argued that Patterson had "nowhere near the knowledge or facilities to do so--nor for that matter, did anyone else ... When I talked about some of the more technical details of biomechanics, he (Patterson) showed the familiar blank look of a student who had lost the drift of the explanation, but was still trying hard to pay attention. Yet he must have known all these details to create a hoax. For instance, he could see the anterior position of the front of the shin, but how that related to foot leverage was quite beyond him".

Similarly, Daegling writes that "Most acquaintances of Patterson volunteered that neither he nor Gimlin were clever enough to put something that detailed together" (Daegling, 112).

John Chambers

Rumors circulated that the creature seen in the Patterson-Gimlin film was a suit designed by movie special effects expert John Chambers, who designed the ape costumes seen in many of the original Planet of the Apes films, and was reportedly an acquaintance of Bob Gimlin and Bigfoot researcher Ray Wallace.

Film director John Landis (who had earlier worked with Chambers on Beneath the Planet of the Apes) certainly helped spread such rumors, if he didn't invent them outright. Coleman and Clark cite a 1997 Sunday Telegraph story where Landis says, "That famous piece of film of Bigfoot walking in the woods that was touted as the real thing was just a suit made by John Chambers" (Coleman and Clark, 56). The allegation has been repeated by pioneering makeup artist Rick Baker. (Rick Baker comment said by William Dear on the DVD commentary for Harry and the Hendersons.

Shortly after Landis's story was published, stimulated by inquiries from cryptozoologist Loren Coleman, Bigfoot researcher Roberta Short interviewed Chambers, who was living in a Los Angeles nursing home. Chambers asserted he did not know Patterson or Gimlin, was not involved in making the film, and had no knowledge of the Patterson-Gimlin film before its public exposure. Short states that Chambers added "that he was 'good' but he 'was not that good' to have fashioned anything nearly so convincing as the Bluff Creek Bigfoot" (Coleman and Clark, 56). Chambers also reportedly told Short he had once helped create a Bigfoot sculpture and speculated that this fact may have started or fueled the rumors that he was involved in the Patterson film.

Chambers' innovative Planet of the Apes make-up relied primarily on expressive masks, not on body suits, and whatever seams or "zippers" would have appeared on the Planet of the Apes suits were covered up by clothing. Clothing was also used to cover up certain folds and seams on the Ewok costumes in Return of the Jedi (1983). Even when the costumes became more elaborate in the 1970s, the titular creature in the 1976 film version of King Kong still had a clearly-defined separation between the body of the suit and the head mask. Folds in the material have appeared in every film in which there was human costumed as an ape up until Gorillas in the Mist (1988), and they can be identified as such either in close-up or at a distance.

The theory that the costume was designed by John Chambers was reviewed by fellow special effects makeup artist Dick Smith. He reached the conclusion that it was not indicative of his work and any relationship between the video and Chambers was highly unlikely.

Other costume designers

However, very convincing full body suits were being used in the filming of another science fiction masterpiece, 2001:A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick. The suits were designed and created by the makeup artists of MGM Studios. Less elaborate ape costumes were used in the original Star Trek series, most notably in the episodes "The Galileo Seven", "The Man Trap" and "A Private Little War".

This fact demonstrates that somewhat lifelike ape suits were not only possible but available and reasonably affordable at the time Patterson and Gimlin were filming. Since home-movie stock does not clearly record details at a distance, it is argued that if the film was faked, the ape suit did not have to be unusually elaborate.

Philip Morris and/or Bob Heironimus

Philip Morris

In 2002, Philip Morris of Morris Costumes (a North Carolina-based company offering costumes, props and stage products) claimed that he made a gorilla costume that was used in the Patterson film. Morris says he discussed his role in the hoax privately in the 1980s but first admitted it publicly on August 16, 2002, on Charlotte, North Carolina, radio station WBT-AM. (Long, 444) Morris claims he was reluctant to expose the hoax earlier for fear of harming his business: giving away a performer's secrets, he said, would be widely regarded as disreputable. (Long, 453)

Morris said that he sold an ape suit to Patterson via mail-order in 1967, thinking it was going to be used in what Patterson described as a "prank" (Long, 446). (Ordinarily the gorilla suits he sold were used for a popular side-show routine that depicted an attractive woman changing into a gorilla.) After the initial sale, Morris said that Patterson telephoned him asking how to make the "shoulders more massive" (Long, 448) and the "arms longer" (Long, 447). Morris says he suggested that whoever wore the suit should wear wide football-type shoulder pads and hold sticks in his hands within the suit. His assertion was also printed in the Charlotte Observer.

As for the creature's walk, Morris said:

The Bigfoot researchers say that no human can walk that way in the film. Oh, yes they can! When you're wearing long clown's feet, you can't place the ball of your foot down first. You have to put your foot down flat. Otherwise, you'll stumble. Another thing, when you put on the gorilla head, you can only turn your head maybe a quarter of the way. And to look behind you, you've got to turn your head and your shoulders and your hips. Plus, the shoulder pads in the suit are in the way of the jaw. That's why the Bigfoot turns and looks the way he does in the film. He has to twist his entire upper body.

Morris' wife and business partner Amy had vouched for her husband and claims to have helped frame the suit.

However, Morris offered no evidence apart from testimony to support his account.

Bob Heironimus

Bob Heironimus claims to have been the figure depicted in the Patterson film, and his allegations are detailed in Long's book. Heironimus was a tall (6 ft), muscular Yakima, Washington native, age 26, when he says Patterson offered him $1000 to wear an ape suit for a Bigfoot film.

Long uncovered testimony that he contends corroborates Heironimus's claims: Russ Bohannon, a longtime friend, says that Heironimus revealed the hoax privately in 1968 or 1969 (Long, 414). Heironimus says he did not publicly discuss his role in the hoax because he hoped to be repaid eventually. In separate incidents, Bob Heironimus and Heironimus's relatives (mother Opal and nephew John Miller) claim to have seen an ape suit in Heironimus' car. The relatives say they saw the suit two days after the film was shot (Long, 362). No date was given by Long for Hammermeister's observation, but it apparently came well after the relatives' observation, as implied by the word "still" in the justification Heironimus gave Hammermeister for requesting his silence: "There was still supposed to be a payola on this thing, and he didn't have it" (Long, 398).

Long argues that the suit Morris says he sold to Patterson was the same suit Heironimus claims to have worn in the Patterson film. However, Long quotes Heironimus and Morris describing ape suits that are in many respects quite different from one another; Long speculates that Patterson modified the costume, and offers colloborative evidence and testimony to support this idea. Among the notable differences are:

  • Heironimus says he was told by his brother Howard that Patterson manufactured the suit from a "real dark brown" horse hide (Long, 344). This point is repeated several times, and is amplified by Heironimus' recollections: "[The suit] stunk: Roger [recently] skinned out a dead, red horse" (ibid), and Heironimus makes no mention of synthetic fur or hair.
  • Morris reports that the suit was a rather expensive ($450) dark brown model with fur made of Dynel, a synthetic material. Long writes that Morris "used Dynel solely in the sixties--and was using brown Dynel in 1967".(Long, 449)
  • Heironimus described the suit as having no metal pieces and an upper "torso part" that he donned "like putting on a T-shirt" (Long, 344–45). At Bluff Creek he put on "the top" (Long, 349). Asked about the "bottom portion," he guessed it was cinched with a drawstring.
  • Morris made a one-piece union suit with a metal zipper up the back, and into which one stepped (Long, 449).
  • Heironimus described the suit as having hands and feet that were attached to the arms and legs.
  • Morris made a suit whose hands and feet were separate pieces. Long speculates that Patterson riveted or glued these parts to the suit, but offers no evidence to support this idea.
  • Morris suggested to Patterson to add football shoulder pads if he wanted to "bulk up" the costume; Heironimus also recalled the costume having shoulder pads.

Ray Wallace

After Wallace's death in 2002, following a request by Loren Coleman to Seattle Times reporter Bob Young to investigate, the family of Ray Wallace went public with claims that he had started the part of the Bigfoot phenomenon with fake footprints (made from a wooden foot-shaped cutout) left in California sites in 1958. In addition, David Daegling stated that Wallace "had a degree of involvement" with the Patterson-Gimlin film, and that this gave grounds for suspicion of it (Daegling, 117).

The evidence for this involvement is Wallace's alleged statement, "I felt sorry for Roger Patterson. He told me he had cancer of the lymph glands and he was desperately broke and he wanted to try to get something where he could have a little income. Well, he went down there exactly where I told him. I told him, 'You go down there and hang around on that bank. Stay up there and watch that spot.'" This quote is debated, however, as others suggest that Wallace made no such claims during his lifetime.

Coleman has written that Patterson was an early Bigfoot investigator, and that is was only natural that he sought out and interviewed older Bigfoot event principals, which included Wallace, due to the 1958 Bluff Creek incidents. Coleman has asserted that Wallace had nothing to do with Patterson's footage in 1967, and has argued in an analysis of the media treatment of the death of Wallace that the international media inappropriately confused the Wallace fake films of the 1970s with the Patterson-Gimlin 1967 film.(Coleman, 2007)

Robert B. Stein

Robert B. Stein, an expert on hoaxes in general and trick photography in particular, argues that the Patterson-Gimlin creature's apparent size is due to a photographic trick called forced perspective. This is an elaborate set of special effects used to make film characters look larger or smaller than usual, compared to their surroundings. It has been used to good effect in many recent fantasy movies, including The Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series. He notes that at no point in the Patterson-Gimlin film is any recognizable human form in the frame for size reference. He also asserts that the apparent "muscle movement" in the film was probably the result of a tight-fitting costume that enclosed the feet.

Stein comments on Patterson's incredible good luck. "Roger Patterson set out to make a Bigfoot documentary," he says. "He immediately stumbled upon a Bigfoot. Not only that, he stumbled upon a Bigfoot that was out in the open in bright, clear sunshine, perfect weather for filming. He didn't just beat the odds. He gave the odds a royal whipping."

See also

References

Sources

  • Loren Coleman Darklore Volume 1. Brisbane, Australia: Daily Grail Publishing.

Further reading

  • Robert Todd Carroll (2003). The Skeptics Dictionary: A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions, John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 0-471-27242-6, page 55-57

External links

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