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This is such a great piece of spooky '70's nostalgia!
on December 21, 2009
Oh boy oh boy! Do I remember this one!
And the `70's in general. A time where the paranormal, the Bermuda Triangle, and yes, monsters were very much in vogue.
I will never forget seeing this film at a local mall outside of Richmond, Virginia in 1975.
My dear, dear father, who was/is a devout minister or "elder" in the Jehovah's Witness religion originally didn't want to take me to see this film thinking that it was somehow potentially 'demon possessed'. When we got to the mall movie multi-plex in order to (so I thought) actually see it, he flatly said, "No. I am not seeing that movie!" and instead we saw Robert Wise's "The Hindenburg" with George C. Scott, which I truly enjoyed.
However, I was practically breaking into a cold sweat with the knowledge that just on the other side of the fire wall, in the next mini-theatre, the really creepy wonders of which I lusted over - those of the Yeti, the Loch Ness Monster, and our favorite, native American huge hairy biped, the great Sasquatch, Ohma, or Bigfoot were playing to audiences who must be delightfully scared at the eye-witness accounts, the re-enactments, the tales of the historic sightings, the photographs and those truly awesome plaster casts of the bigfoot prints!
Well, I don't remember exactly how, but my father finally relented on another night and he, my mom and I, at the age 15 and a half, went to see The Mysterious Monsters. I think that a partial reason that my dad gave in was that he liked Peter Graves in the CBS adventure/drama series "Mission Impossible".
The film did not disappoint me. I was hooked from the second Peter Graves introduced the film and said, "This may be the most startling motion picture that you will ever see." Among other wonders of the unknown - such as psychic Peter Hurkos feeling a sealed brief case containing a bigfoot plaster cast and describing the creature in detail and sketching it out for Peter (Mission Impossible) Graves, we have such giants of Bigfoot-dom as adventurer/searcher Peter Byrne, intrepid bigfoot hunter Robert Morgan with his `Mr. Clean' haircut and chilling tale of his personal encounter with a Sasquatch, and the late great Doctor Grover Krantz and his detailed analysis of the famous Roger Patterson film.
Also, we have the rational and highly convincing Tim Dinsdale who captured what is still regarded, even today, as the most authentic cine footage of `Nessie' yet filmed. And, an infirm and perhaps moribund British explorer, Eric Shipton recounts his discovery of Yeti footprints in the Himalayas. As pictures of the prints he discovered are shown, he states, "Then I had this...really, eerie feeling, that here, one was in the presence of something quite...unknown." My hairs still go up on the back of my neck as I recall this scene from the film.
I will never forget the delicious creepiness of the re-enactments! One is the terrifying night encounter by the retired high school football coach who picks up his (really cute) daughter from a baby-sitting job on a lonely road, only to have a near collision with a bigfoot just down the lane. The truly frightening late night encounter of Rita Graham, of upper Washington State, who had a huge, hairy arm reach in through her living room window as she was sipping coffee and watching TV. Or the actual hypnotic regression of Jerilou Whelchell as she shudders and convulses as she re-lives her encounter with a bigfoot creature reaching into her car to injure her arm. This is great entertainment in the finest nostalgic tradition. A true piece of Americana - even if part of it recounts events from the far away cold Himalayas, or the dim waters of Loch Ness in Scotland.
One of the goose bump inducing moments for me is the re-enactment of the three men who are camping and make the recording of the sounds of a bigfoot. Later, when the sounds are analyzed in an actual audio laboratory, Peter Graves asks the sound specialist, "Do you know what made these sounds?" and this technical authority responds with a slight grin and a reverent shake of the head, "No..., I don't." Yep, I still get those goose bumps!
In a decade which saw some truly momentous events such as the subsequent moon landings of the Apollo program, the Watergate scandal, the end of the Vietnam War, the truly horrifying human monsters of John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy, there's something rather pure, innocent and escapist about the Mysterious Monsters and I will always remember this B-grade "documentary" with true affection. It is a light reminder that there yet may still be unknown phenomenon in our vastly advanced, documented and construed culture.
It's interesting to note that others have also recalled this film with some affection. In the episode of "The Simpson's" where Homer and Groundskeeper Willie accompany Mister Burns and Smithers to Loch Ness to capture the famous Nessie, Homer says, "But Mr. Burns, you can't capture the Loch Ness Monster! He's eluded both Leonard Nimoy and Peter Graves!" - these being obvious homages to the "In Search Of..." TV series with Leonard Nimoy and "The Mysterious Monsters" movie with Peter Graves. Get the DVD, make the pop corn, turn out the lights on a Friday night, snuggle up with your wife and children and ENJOY! There may indeed be some unknown beasties that still go bump in the night.
For another great film of this genre, please see "The Legend of Boggy Creek".