My 7-year old son, God bless him, has recently taken an extreme interest in the paranormal, just like his dad. He’s got a bunch of age-appropriate books on the subject, with Bigfoot and ghosts being his favorite phenomena, but finding appropriate TV shows for him to watch is tough. He loves Finding Bigfoot and MonsterQuest, but some of the other shows (namely Monsters and Mysteries in America) are way too scary for him, mainly due to the realistic recreations. Recently he’s gotten into Mountain Monsters, and I’ve had the unfortunate task of watching these episodes with him. Why unfortunate?
Look, I know that paranormal shows are embellished at best and blatantly faked at worst. And I’ve been diligent on reminding my son of such facts. Creative editing or downright hoaxing, the shows are meant to provide entertainment, and are not an accurate portrayal of investigating such phenomena. And my son gets it. While watching most of the shows, I can see his young brain working, his little bit of critical thinking where he tries to figure out what something could be, rather than what the show is blatantly telling us something is. But he also has a healthy dose of suspension of disbelief. For most of the shows, at leat. But with Mountain Monsters, even the 7-year old is not fooled. Not for a minute.
I’m not even sure where to start with this show. The easiest criticism would be to mock the bearded Hillbillies who “investigate” the aforementioned monsters. But hey, I’m open-minded, and freely accept that backwoods hill folk can be good investigators. Unfortunately, these are not them. And of course most of the team members all have funny nicknames. The leader is John “Trapper” Tice. The rookie is Jacob “Buck” Lowe. Joe “Huckleberry” Lott runs around with a gun (not that that really differentiates him, but he doesn’t seem to have a “thing”). William “Wild Bill” Neff builds the traps and spews Larry The Cable Guy quotes ad nauseam (he must hold the record for saying “Git ‘er done!” the most times in a 44-minute span), with fellow trapper Willy McQuillian (I guess it would have made too much sense for him to be nicknamed Trapper?). Oh and some guy named Jeff Headley pretends to take notes in a tiny notepad while interviewing fellow illiterate hillbillies. Likable fellows they all seem to be, but they are not good investigators. Frankly, the show just perpetuates terrible stereotypes of the Appalachian people. If only that were where the problems ended…
I know the trend these days is for something exciting to happen on each episode of any given paranormal show. Remember when most episodes of Ghost Hunters had Jason Hawes saying they had no real evidence and couldn’t call a place haunted? Yeah, I can barely remember either. Most episodes of Finding Bigfoot find the team hearing some sort of weird knocking or howling. But even these shows don’t claim, in almost every episode, to have been touched or attacked by a Bigfoot. Oh no. Yet the Mountain Monsters team claims to have captured some of these creatures, most notably the chupacabra. Which was then freed from its cage (which was all wooden planks, obscuring the view of the
elaborate puppet elusive creature captured inside) by none other than Bigfoot himself. I kid you not, the team claims, on video, in a very serious fashion, that the captured chupacabra let out a howl, which Bigfoot realized was a distress call, which prompted him to run to the rescue of his pet chupacabra. It was theorized that Bigfoot uses the chupacabras as “scouting dogs.” I am not making this up. In another episode, in which they were hunting a black beast/devil dog sort of creature, they also concluded that Bigfoot was assisting his pet devil dog.
The evidence that is collected on the show…good God. Mostly-obscured puppets, special effects that would make folks at the SyFy Channel giggle, and “eyewitness” videos that are quite obviously faked, and not even with a tried and true gorilla suit. Maybe fur coats? I never thought a blobsquatch could ever looks so fake. Some of the alleged trail cam photos are so poorly PhotoShopped that they are jarring.
As for the actual investigations themselves, what can I say? I’ve seen these armed men (let me reiterate – armed men, like with hunting rifles and shotguns) get attacked by the supposed creatures they are hunting numerous times over numerous episodes, and yet I have not seen a single shot fired yet. Hunters, an ex-Marine (so he says), and not one of them has ever taken a shot. Again, I know it’s a fake show and all, but at least give me a somewhat plausible reason to suspend my disbelief. If you’re using re-purposed Muppets and CGI from the early 90s, why not put some blanks in the guns?
Oh. And when they do find “evidence” of something, they get scared and leave. One episode (and again, I kid you not) shows the team stumbling upon what appears to be a Bigfoot burial ground. Just out in plain sight, on someone’s property. Yes, complete with stone circles and 10-foot long graves. The team starts digging to find bones, I suppose, and then are scared off (so they run about 10 feet away from the burial ground, to go do their interviews) by some clearly faked howling sampled from an episode earlier in the season. Then the show ends. They do not come back during the light of day, with, you know, actual scientists, or anyone useful for that matter. Again, points even my 7-year old son found odd. In the episode I referenced earlier, after “capturing” a chupacabra (and subsequently witnessing its rescue by Bigfoot), the team just shrugs their shoulders and moves on. No suspension of disbelief here. I just can’t believe Destination America is airing this. And still people ask: “Is Mountain Monsters fake?”
If you like shows where stereotypical Hillbillies pretend to chase mythical animals who keep other mythical animals as pets, then this is the perfect show for you. But overall, this program is an all-out assault on the intelligence and sensibilities of any normally functioning, breathing human being over the age of 4. But it does give my son and I a lot of chuckles, so I guess because of it’s absurdity, it is a bit entertaining. Or perhaps my IQ is dropping faster than I thought…