Small Town Monsters has quickly become King of the Mountain when it comes to documentaries on cryptids. Each offering from Seth Breedlove and company has been a breath of fresh air in the era of schlock shows like Ghost Adventures and Mountain Monsters. Tight pacing, stunning cinematography, brilliant musical scores, and pitch-perfect narration are all hallmarks of the team’s productions. But the one thing that truly sets them apart from their contemporaries, even more than all of that, is their serious and measured take on the subject matter. Unlike most of what is making the rounds these days, Breedlove and the STM crew fully understand that these topics are fascinating enough on their own and don’t need to be sensationalized. Their newest look at my favorite cryptid, On the Trail of Bigfoot, changes their typical format a bit, but retains all of the strengths that I mentioned earlier. And I was lucky enough to be able to view the first three of the six episodes.
Unlike previous STM entries, On the Trail of Bigfoot is more of a boots-on-the-ground investigative series rather than a self-contained documentary. Instead of focusing on one specific monster as they have done in the past (“The Minerva Monster,” “The Bray Road Beast”, “The Flatwoods Monster,” “Boggy Creek Monster,” etc.), this new series features Seth Breedlove in front of the camera, chronicling the Bigfoot legend in episodic style.
Episode 1 “Creatures of Legend”
A fantastic first episode, introducing the viewer to a bit of the behind the scenes methods of Small Town Monsters, and leading into an exploration of the origins of Sasquatch. Native American lore regarding forest giants and mountain devils is discussed, with cryptozoologist Loren Coleman lending his expertise. The “Wildman” legends of the 1800s, the famed Ape Canyon attack, and the Albert Ostman kidnapping incident are all detailed, stories that will intrigue the uninitiated but will feel like old friends to those of us already familiar with them. This one was quite a nice overview of Bigfoot in history before the modern craze. Marc Myrsell, who actually found the Ape Canyon cabin that was attacked, contributes here. Cool stuff.
Episode 2 “The Birthplace of Bigfoot”
With the early history now established, this episode takes a deeper look into more modern cases and the researchers that made Bigfoot a household name. Without the expeditions to the Himalayas in search of the Abominable Snowman (or yeti), the Jerry Crew footprints (which spawned the “Bigfoot” moniker), and the infamous Patterson-Gimlin film, Bigfoot would never have captured the imagination of people around the world like it did. And those sightings gave us the so-called Four Horseman of Bigfoot research: René Dahinden, John Greene, Peter Byrne, and Dr. Grover Krantz. The episode gives a great synopsis of these men, their differing methodologies, as well as the famous events that inspired them. But the overarching focus here is how the Pacific Northwest has now become forever intertwined with the Bigfoot phenomenon. Shane Corson and Derek Randles of the Olympic Project are the featured guests on this entry.
Episode 3 “Rise of the Monsters”
The third episode continues the historical overview of the Bigfoot mythos, moving from the Pacific Northwest and examining sightings from the east coast and the southern states. The Minerva Monster, the subject of Small Town Monster’s first documentary, is heavily featured here, as is the bizarre Bigfoot-UFO connection from the 1970s in Chestnut Ridge, Pennsylvania. Experts such as Loren Coleman, Stan Gordon, and Don Keating discuss how Bigfoot in the east, as well as the Skunk Ape and Boggy Creek monster and other swamp creatures, seem to differ in appearance and temperament from their cousin in the Pacific Northwest. While Bigfoot in the PNW is bulkier and more on the shy and docile side, the creatures down south are lankier, stinkier, and more aggressive, with the creatures appearing in a wider variety of colors in the east. Some lesser-known (but utterly fascinating) reports are detailed, and like most Small Town Monster productions, they left me wanting more. The episode ends with a foreshadowing of a change in tone for the series, moving from a review of the history to more of an in the field investigative stance, and is the only episode thus far to end with “To be continued…” I, for one, am very excited to see where the series goes from here.
Some more interesting notes about the production, from the STM team:
All told, the series includes footage from at least 14 different states including Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Oregon, Washington, California, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Illinois, South Carolina, Florida, and Arkansas.
The project originally did not include Seth on-camera. There is a very early cut of the first episode that is told by his narration but avoids actually showing him. The project morphed heavily toward the final stages of editing and all of Seth’s scenes were shot between late November and mid-December.
On the Trail of Bigfoot contains an interview with Ohio Bigfoot investigator Don Keating, who gave up doing interviews and investigating a few years ago. This could potentially be his final interview on the subject.
So when can you watch On the Trail of Bigfoot? Starting at midnight tonight! Official release is Friday, March 29th, 2019. Platforms: DVD, Amazon (split into two movies titled On the Trail of Bigfoot: The Legend and On the Trail of Bigfoot: The Search), Vimeo OnDemand, VIDI Space.
If you’re looking for something spooky yet thought-provoking to watch this weekend, On the Trail of Bigfoot has to be it.