The Creature Files – Episode Fourteen: "A Bluff Creek Briefing"
Sightings Desk: Beast of Exmoor Footage in England
Creature Feature: The Patterson-Gimlin Film
Special Guest: Bill Munns
It has been 55 years since one of the most famous – and controversial – pieces of film in history was captured. There was a reason I chose Six Rivers National Forest as my background today – because that is where Bluff Creek is, a small tributary of the Klamath River in Del Norte County, California – the very famous of site of what has become known as the Patterson-Gimlin film.
It was On October 20th, 1967 that two former rodeo cowboys Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin headed into Six Rivers National Forest to check out an area that had been noted as having bigfoot tracks. They came upon an area where they spotted something and started filming…And we’ll play the film for our video viewers…But it shows what Patterson and Gimlin claimed was a large, hairy, bipedal, apelike figure with short brownish hair covering most of its body.
Patterson said he was only about 25 feet away from the creature and that his horse reared up. He finally got himself off his horse, grabbed the camera, and ran to capture footage of the creature. The resulting film is about fifty nine and a half seconds long and is initially shaky until Patterson got about 80 feet from the figure. At that point, the figure glanced over its right shoulder at the men and Patterson fell to his knees. Shortly after glancing over its shoulder on film, the creature disappeared behind a grove of trees for 14 seconds, then reappeared in the film's final 15 seconds after Patterson moved 10 feet to a better vantage point, fading into the trees again and being lost to view at a distance of 265 feet as the reel of film ran out.
They filmed the prints of the creature than tried following it 1 to 3 miles, but lost track of it. They headed back to camp, picked up plaster, returned to the initial site to make casts of the tracks. The creature would later come to be known as “Patty.” A female bigfoot.
Over the years, the film changed hands quite a bit. It went around the world. It was analyzed by scientists. And the prevailing belief was it was just another man in a suit. But the fact remained that it could not be totally debunked or proven.
Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum is a professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University who believes it is the real thing. He points to the quality of costuming and special effects in Hollywood at the time the film was shot. He also points to the muscle movements of Patty, which make the idea of a man in a suit increasingly unlikely. Of course, there were individuals who emerged claiming to have created a costume for Roger Patterson. But there is also a story about how the film was taken to special effects experts at the time who cast serious doubt on whether such a costume could have been created at the time.
Some of the most telling evidence comes from the prints that Patty left. As we heard from Cliff Barackman in the episode “Finding Bigfoot…Evidence” – I recommend going back and watching that or catching his “Creature Cut” the science of Bigfoot – the prints carry a characteristic that Meldrum has discussed at length. That is…a very distinctive pressure ridge. A push-off that comes about as a result of the very flexible mid-foot.
So what should we make of the Patterson-Gimlin film all these years later. We know there have been some efforts to clean up and increase the definition of the clip…Are we any closer to proving its authenticity or otherwise? That brings us to today’s guest...
William “Bill” Munns has been an accomplished makeup and special effects artist in Hollywood for decades, and a filmmaker in general. He has also worked with museums and around the world creating realistic animal figures, like prehistoric cats, primates, extinct hominids and others. Intrigued by the prospect that the creature in the Patterson-Gimlin film could be a man in a suit, he applied his unique perspective to analyzing the clip. Using state-of-the-art analysis technology, Munns examined the film over seven years, presenting his analysis in his book “When Roger Met Patty.” Which also contains material from Dr. Jeff Meldrum and provides a detailed analysis in both an academic and technical format. He created a website, www.themunnsreport.com, that summarizes his findings.