How Kids Films Destroyed Sasquatch Research

Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 3rd, 2010

Every see or hear of this film, Little Bigfoot?

The actor (above) who plays the youthful Bigfoot is little person actor Joseph S. Griffo. He was the stuntman for the character Van Helsing (in the Czech Republic) in Van Helsing (2004) and the Oompa Loompa in Epic Movie (2007). 

The Little Bigfoot director (above), Art Camacho, plays “Logger #3,” by the way, in the film. He is an accomplished martial arts expert, fight choreographer, and stuntman.

The following 2.5 minute summary of the movie Little Bigfoot (1997) is delivered as more evidence for how children’s cinema destroyed Sasquatch public consciousness and research for an entire generation of kids growing up in the late 1980s, through the middle late 1990s!

It is a finding of sociological/media research that the impact of images and films during the critical ages of 10-13 will influence mature individuals’ world views. Therefore, if you figure that 10-13 year olds during the 1987-1997 period are now 23 to 36 years old, no wonder there is a growing wave of silly skepticism regarding the study of Sasquatch. Bigfoot was portrayed during that era with less than serious intent. Intriguingly, most people that grew up with the Patterson-Gimlin footage (1967), as their prime imagery cornerstone, are now 43-56 years old.

For those that wish to debate my theory, as supported with the above example, I give you as Exhibit #1, the film Harry and the Hendersons (1987).

Thanks to Boing Boing’s Xeni Jardin for pointing out that this short clip was just posted. My nightmares will now commence.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

29 Responses to “How Kids Films Destroyed Sasquatch Research”

  1. Peter77 responds:

    Hi Loren,

    I have specifically registered to your site because of this post. I have been visiting your site for quite some time now though.

    I was born in ’77 and indeed grew up with the images you dislike. Instead of ridiculing the subject it actually did the exact opposite, it raised awareness and made me look into what this was all about. So I disagree with your theory completely.

    There are other factors, or lack there of, that make me think that there are no other large bipedals in northern america besides humans. There is always hope though.

  2. Dr Kaco responds:

    I always like the older stuff, “Legend of Boggy Creek” and “In Search of..” TV shows myself. Thanks Mom for the nightmares but also thanks for teaching me to have an open mind. 😉

  3. sharonlee0827 responds:

    I wish they showed that at the Bigfoot Film Festival!

  4. Lu Ann Lewellen responds:

    Naw, no more than Cinderella destroyed my life.

  5. Cryptoraptor responds:

    Did ‘Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp’ shut down Jane Goodall?

  6. BoyintheMachine responds:

    I’m not sure If I follow that line of thought, however I can see how children who saw those films might grow into adults who would be opposed to the killing of such creatures. They would be the ones to argue let the creatures be and not try to “prove” their existance if they run across them. Then again, you never know.

  7. springheeledjack responds:

    I have to agree that movies like that do nothing for Cryptozoology. Personally, I cringe every time something cutesy, crappy crypto movie comes out (Like the Waterhorse).

    On the other end of the spectrum, creepy movies about cryptos (Sasquatch Mountain, Crater Lake Creature, various Sci-fi channel stuff) have the same impact. In both cases, the idea of cryptozoology is relegated to the fantastic and the kid, and more often and not with the “high caliber” of the movies in general, they do absolutely nothing for cryptozoology.

    However, I don’t think it impacts the crypto world all that much. I think there is much more cryptozoloogical awareness in the world than ever there was, and I think the prime culprit for that is the internet. Places like this give interested people a place to discuss such issues and encourage others that it’s okay to think seriously about this field.

    While these movies belittle the idea of BF or just shove it into some fantasy for kids, I think it will always be that way. BF and other cryptids will only become accepted across the board by the general public when we have our body. Movie makers see cryptozoology and use it for either horror or family movies…the Legend of Boggy Creek and other docudramas will almost always be independants, because cryptozoology just isn’t mainstream.

    And that’s okay. I don’t expect the movie industry to get it, or to embrace cryptozoology.

    TV is making that move–with shows like MonsterQuest, Destination Truth (oh brother), and Weird Travels, etc., those programs are taking the objective look at cryptozoology, and those shows are presenting cryptozoology as a legitimate science and field. AND, shows like Monsterquest are going to pull in the next generations of cryptozoologists…my son and I sit down on Wednesday nights to tune in to whatever shows are running on Champ, mothman, or Assquatch (as he’s affectionally called by the boy:). He’s growing up with the idea that BF and other cryptids are legitimate endeavors to investigate.

    I think it’s a waste of our time and energy to fight the movie industry. Better, we put our efforts toward educating the upcoming generations, and bring the next wave of cryptozoologists into the fold.

  8. Kimble responds:

    Two things came to mind when I watched the clip. First, the boy calls himself an “environmentalist.” This seems natural as the film was made in the late 90’s when environmentalism was at its zenith as the “in thing” in pop culture. Along side the local law, in the 70’s and 80’s these films would have Bigfoot Hunters. This boy is a 90’s environmentalist, and in this decade these characters are usually tagged as cryptozoologists.

    Secondly, the “baby” bigfoot’s name is Bilbo, if I heard it correctly. Not Frodo, but Bilbo – a nice fat hobbit who found a magical ring.

  9. cryptidsrus responds:

    I agree with you, Loren, about the Harry And The Hendersons. I know many here love the movie—and I’m NOT trying to start anything—but the movie DID contribute to the “destruction” of Sasquatch research—mostly by positing Ole Hairy as a strictly harmless, pacific hominid who just wanted to be left alone from all those pesky, evil ole humans. It gave out a highly distorted view of Bigfoot that contradicted eyewitness reports and folkloric tales that cast it in a different light.

    Somehow I don’t see “Harry” ever “interacting” with humans the way Sasquatch have sometimes been shown to do—I don’t see “Harry” also kidnapping humans (particularly males) for nebulous purposes with young Sasquatch females.

    “Harry” also would not do some of the “extraordinary” things that Sasquatch have been known to do.

    Also, Sasquatch have been shown to be (occassionally) highly aggressive towards animals and humans and to be able to defend itself quite nicely if provoked.

    “Harry” just never seemed to me to be THAT “tough.”
    Again, I don’t want to start anything—but that is my opinion.
    Great topic and post, Loren… 🙂

  10. Jjm3233 responds:

    As someone born in 1976 I would agree with Peter77’s general point, namely that I doubt Harry and the Hendersons killed the study of Bigfoot.

    If I was going to name a culprit I would have gone with Coast to Coast AM and the Internet. A whole lot more nonsense propagated there than either of the goofball movies mentioned above. And since everyone on the net presents themselves as a serious researcher it is tough to separate the wheat from the chaff.

  11. jhw1701 responds:

    I was born in 1978 and I disagree. All the cheesy and bad crypto themed silliness from the TV and movies that I grew up with has fostered my interest in the subject. While things like the reruns of the bionic man fighting a robot bigfoot that was actually controlled by aliens were just plain dumb it’s the weirdness and fantastically odd nature of the whole thing that keeps it stuck in my mind and has kept me interested in cryptozoology.

  12. magickpumpkin responds:

    I can see that. But I’m not quite sure I entirely agree or disagree. Kids (in my generation) grew up with Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. along with various others and I don’t think it negatively impacted a belief in alien life forms and research into the possibility. Probably quite the opposite.

    Granted, those are not kids films. I personally have a problem with most of the movies made for and geared towards kids from the 90s to today. They seem to be getting sillier and sillier for one thing and that is the view that makes me agree with your idea somewhat.

    To me children’s movies should expand imagination and wonder. Incourage them to think about the world they live in and its possibilities. Not just portray everything as “cutsey”. The films from when I was young didn’t do that. Most kids movies from the 80s for example could be viewed as “real” movies. The Goonies, Flight of the Navigator, etc.

    In the case of Sasquatch I think that the subject has been given a fantasy type treatment in films of the last decade or so. Possibly hurting serious consideration and research some. Giving a very one dimensional view on the subject. As in, “Oh yeah that. That’s known about but not actually ‘real’. Just a fun idea to play with a bit then disregard.” Like I said, squelching imagination and wonder instead of encouraging it. I was asked just this morning to post my favorite Einstein quote. The one I chose was, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” It is imagination that fuels the persuit of the “what ifs” and the unknown. It doesn’t scorn or shun them. It helps keep minds open to the world’s possibilities.

  13. mystery_man responds:

    Well, when I was young I liked Harry and the Henderson’s and I turned out OK. 😉 I hope that admission doesn’t revoke my cryptozoologist cred. I do like karaoke and already Loren has warned me that this is highly anti-cryptozoology behavior. haha. Maybe I’m pushing my luck here. 🙂

    I do agree that these sorts of images effect the world views and shape the attitudes of the young. However, I also think it depends on the predisposition and other surroundings of each individual.

    So just as you can have a certain child watching violent films all of the time and have them NOT grow up to be a violent individual, you can have some young people watch these silly Sasquatch films and still grow up to take this field seriously. It depends on the individual.

    Perhaps generally speaking, these sorts of shows and films have contributed to an overall skeptical view of Sasquatch, but in some individuals they may have actually opened a desire to find out more. When I was around this age, I was subjected to this type of nonsense and actually liked it, however I grew to want to learn more about what I was seeing. It raised my awareness and a desire to dig deeper, whereupon I learned more about what was actually going on. If it were not for drivel like this, some people may have never really been exposed to cryptozoology in any way.

    In my own case, it probably had to do with my already strong interest in science and curiousity about the natural world, but still I can say this kind of stuff probably raised awareness more than anything else for me.

    Besides silly Harry’s prancing around and Little Bigfoot frolicking about, I tend to think that the Bigfoot horror movies do just as much damage. They make these cryptids into a campfire story and a monster of the week.

    I don’t think Hollywood is going to change its approach to cryptids. After all, they want to entertain and in many cases appeal to the lowest common denominator. I may be wrong, but I suspect there are not too many people who would pay good money to watch a movie about Sasquatch peacefully going about their life in the forest. Even if it was in 3D.

    There is a lot of rubbish science out there, yet serious individuals are still drawn to legitimate disciplines. Many, many movies portray garbage science and create misconceptions yet those who want to learn more will. I think Cryptozoology is likely going to be the same way, with those who see past the garbage and look into the matter with a sincere desire to shed light on the subject.

    The general public perception is unfortunate, but just as a popular movie like, say “The Day After Tomorrow” didn’t devastate the science of weather phenomena, I should hope that a craptastic movie like Little Bigfoot wouldn’t destroy the credibility of cryptozoology either.

    So yeah, this stuff is unfortunate, but I probably wouldn’t go so far as to say it is the death knell of cryptozoology or the destruction of Sasquatch research.

    I can see where Loren is coming from and I understand his concern, but I suppose I don’t see it as being as much of an obstacle to cryptozoology as he does.

  14. mystery_man responds:

    I would also add that there are probably other cultural factors at work here when it comes to the public perception of cryptids.

    In Japan for instance (where I live), there have been many similar, often very silly, movies made about not only cryptids native to here, but also “foreign” ones such as the Yeti and Sasquatch. Yet I’ve found that the general attitude towards cryptids and openess to cryptozoology in general is more positive here and open-minded here in Japan than I’ve found to be the case in The United States.

    I am not sure what the exact reasons would be for this discrepancy, but it seems to me that the material and images that children were subjected too is perhaps not the whole story, and that likely some cultural attitudes are at work as well.

  15. PhotoExpert responds:

    Hmmm, you bring up a good point Loren. However, cinema is just one factor in molding these young minds. We have to consider all the factors.

    There exists a saying, that there is no such thing as bad advertisement. In other words, even movies that on the surface would be considered destructive to Sasquatch research, may in fact have the opposite effect.

    Some of those children may have had internet access during that time from the late 80’s to the late 90’s. This can not be discounted. And many of those children may not have seen such films as the one above. Also, there was a big green movement during that time and children were made aware of endangered species in schools. I am certain some teachers may have talked about yet undiscovered creatures and cryptid animals. Bf was probably mentioned in some of those discussions. There were also many well written books on cryptozoology during that time. Contrary to popular belief, many children do read books. So taking all these other “environmental factors” into account, there may not have been any damage done to these children’s developing minds. In fact, it may have worked in reverse.

    Thankfully, today we have a plethera of BF books available. We also have great radio programs like Coast to Coast and others. We have reports and blobsquatch photos fed to us through TV news reports. And although the TV stations often take a skeptical attitude when addressing the subject of BF, many will do more of their own research. They will most likely go to the internet for this information.

    With all that being said, I think the most damaging factors to BF research are profiteers like Tom Biscardi, hoaxers like the Georgia boys, and stupid homemade videos we find on YouTube that are pawned off as genuine. One almost does not want to click on another video posted as “authentic BF video” in YouTube because we know what is coming and will have to click it off.

    In favor of having a positive effect on BF research are some shows that children watch with adults, such as Monster Quest, etc. These give credence to the possibility of a Great American Ape living out there in the forest somewhere. Plus, there are some great authors like Loren Coleman, who give a fair appraisal of the BF legend. And least we forget, we also have the Intenational Cryptozoology Museum where people can see first hand, some of the evidence available today.

    Given all these factors, the impact a movie may have had on some of these children during that period, is probably minimal.

  16. Kimble responds:

    Yow! We almost forgot about Andre the Giant in the Six Million Dollar man!

  17. alanborky responds:

    Loren, as a kid in the ’60s I became fascinated by the Loch Ness monster – and mytholegendary cryptozoa in general – as a result of finding out the the colourful cartoony ‘dragon’ swimming in water on the back of a box of Sugar Puffs was a monster that might actually exist.

    Like many of us, I’ve also gone on to raise kids, and in my experience the one thing guaranteed to turn them off ANYTHING is if you present it to them in a serious form.

    I’d even go so far as to say most adults, even when they’re initially highly intrigued by a subject, will interpret any attempt to present them with anything more than the most superficial skim of pop trivia snippets as tantamount to an attempt to religiously convert them and instantly lose all interest.

    If you mean, though, the likes of Bigfoot and the Hendersons have become the favourite fare of so-called sceptical ‘scientific’ types determined to mock and discredit the anecdotal contributions of ordinary backwoods witnesses then – oh, ye’! – I agree.

  18. korollocke responds:

    Well if thats how you feel Loren then Jack Links put the final nail in the coffin.

  19. charlie23 responds:

    I think that people are generally able to separate the fantasy they see in the media from reality (unless we’re dealing with politics, but that’s another subject) and I could point out that such imagery has existed in one form or another for many, many generations. Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues hardly ended the search for giant squid: hundreds of years worth of mythological dragons didn’t put the kibosh on paleontology and even though we’ve been fed tons of media from Orson Welles to Star Wars, the SETI project is still active.
    If you want to look for a foundation for this generation’s lack of interest in Bigfoot or Cryptozoology in general, I doubt you need to look much further than the general lack of interest in anything that doesn’t provide instant gratification. If it can’t be produced by the X-box, sent in a text message or purchased at the mall what possible value could it have?

  20. Ulysses responds:

    The attention opens up our minds to the impossible being possible. I remember as a kid the stories about monsters and then finding out about Bigfoot seeing that monsters do exist! The attention whether good or bad opens up our minds to these things young and old alike. I loved that Six Million Dollar Man episodes sparked the American conscious to Bigfoot and other things alien and terrestrial such as the use of prosthetics. Again my friends , the possibilities of what may be and what we do to further explore them and find the truth. I’m 44 years old and still believe the stories of a creature walking the woods as do many others. It may be a fairy tale but then again so is a balanced budget for the US within the next few years.

  21. dogu4 responds:

    As interesting as the topic was (is), the comments are even more so as they nicely expand on just what it is about cryptic aspects of the natural world that we find so compelling.
    In some ways a bad, mawkish or poorly executed example of a choice cryptozoological expression brings it to mind and in mulling it over and detailing why the example before me is so poor, I come to realize somethings about how it should really look, or how it would really manage to stay hidden, and in that way instead of reducing my interests it make it more intriguing, counterintuitive though that might seem.

  22. Anakin0993 responds:

    Being born in ’93 I was lucky enough not to see this movie (considering I’d only be 4 at the time and wouldn’t even have a good memory of it today). Seeing that video actually angered me….I’m just glad the first Bigfoot video I remember seeing is the Patterson-Gimlin footage.

  23. JMonkey responds:

    Harry and the Hendersons actually inspired me to learn more, though it was not intellectual in any way. I can guarantee you that I for one would give up many comforts for the truth about the Sasquatch’s existence, or that of many other creatures.

  24. DWA responds:

    I agree with what appear the great majority of posters: those films are harmless.

    They were many years off yet when scientists saw the P/G film for the first time. THAT, in my opinion, is when scientific credibility on this topic took a vertical dive.

  25. springheeledjack responds:

    Woo-hoo….let’s here it for Jack Links!!!

  26. Jjm3233 responds:

    Red Robin – YUM!

  27. kittenz responds:

    You mean Godzilla wasn’t real ????

    Say it ain’t so, mystery_man !!!

  28. mystery_man responds:

    Kittenz- I’ll let you in on a little secret. You may be surprised to know that Pokemon aren’t real either . Yeah I know, shocking isn’t it? 😉

  29. napalmnacey responds:

    Old post, but I just wanted to say that I really loved “Harry and the Hendersons” as a kid. I was already interested in the unknown back then, as my Mum had a vast library about fringe stuff. The movie made me want to know more about them. Were there really sasquatch? I’d never heard that name before the movie, but now I had a name to go on when I went to the library.

    I learnt so much after that point, and kept on learning throughout the years. I learnt that sasquatch research wasn’t so fringe after all, that my hero Jane Goodall was sure that the evidence found so far pointed to something living in the forests of the US. I thought that was terribly exciting.

    And a silly movie with a loveable ape-man brought me there. Of course I learnt in future reading that Bigfoot have a dark side like any ape or hominin, but hey, I doubt John Lithgow would have saved Harry if Harry was pelting him with rocks and kidnapping his son. LOL!

    I agree with someone else – bad media and internet crazies have damaged cryptozoology as a respectable science far more than a couple of kids movies. UFO research has a similar disastrous reputation thanks to the 90s and the rise of conspiracy theories on the internet.

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