Bigfoot was at its height in the 1970s. It was the coolest decade to be a Bigfoot fan, following the release of the 1967 Patterson hoax film (you know, the blurry one of a Bigfoot pausing mid-stride to glance at the camera to her right with one of those mildly condemning runway model stares), which elbowed aside flying saucers to cement Bigfoot as the most plausible cryptid of the era.
It was also arguably the most thematically appropriate time, if you want to interpret America's interest in Bigfoot as a sign of its longing for a vanishing sense of wilderness and all the magical innocence they projected onto it. Earth Day, the Clean Air Act, and the EPA all kicked off in 1970.
First, one of the more thoughtful articles online on the 70s Bigfoot craze. It takes a look at the Bigfoot media that ensued. I particularly like all the crytozoology crossover: The Six Million Dollar Man turns Bigfoot into a robot created by aliens, and a (serious!) 1974 documentary on mythical monsters throws in the Loch Ness Monster before going on to consult a police psychic.
Sasquatch in The Seventies: A Bigfoot Movies Primer
Stefan Blitz, Forces of Geek
Far from symbolizing the coming of a new age of monsters, Bigfoot seems to symbolize the passing of an old age of wilderness. Folk music, nature footage, wild animals, autumn leaves, bubbling streams: these, and not monster fights, are the hallmarks of the Bigfoot movie.
Here's another take on Bigfoot media, complete with a list of impressive Bigfoot-themed movie poster art.
The 1970s: The Decade of Bigfoot
Titans Terrors and Toys
Say what you will about cryptozoology, but one thing is unquestionably true: it's a great source of monsters for novels, movies, TV shows, and ancillary merchandising. In this case, it seemed that the Patterson film's appearance in the late 60s helped to spur a wave of Bigfoot-mania in the 70s. Plenty of Bigfoot stuff has been produced in the decades since then; in fact, Fisher-Price recently released a remote-controlled Bigfoot toy complete with a footprint-shaped controller. Yet none of this other Bigfoot stuff is nearly as goofy or bizarre as what was done in the 70s (then again, what is?). Read on for a list that highlights some of the more notorious Bigfoot-flavored pop culture cheese that was popular during the polyester decade.
Here's a review of a specific 1977 Yeti film that, in a stroke of genius, makes the eponymous monster 100 feet tall in order to better rip off King Kong. Don't miss the clip at the end of the article. It's, uh, odd.
Yeti: Giant of the 20th Century – Italy, 1977
If you thought Dino De Laurentiis had cut corners with his much-derided 1976 version of King Kong, you must prepare yourself for a cinematic vision whose utter incompetence challenges brave new frontiers of rubbish, to such an extent it may even amount to genius. More accustomed to helming gunslinging flicks, director Gianfranco Parolini pulls out all the stops and then drops them on the floor in this ‘challengingly-budgeted’ attack on the senses.
While we're on the subject of crytzoology, here's a fun reflection I've always enjoyed:
Remember Inside UFO 54-40, the Unwinnable "Choose Your Own Adventure"?
Ed Grabianowski, io9
Trapped aboard a huge alien spaceship, you wander the corridors and meet weird aliens for all eternity, endlessly seeking a utopia you can never reach. Kind of heavy stuff for a 1980s Choose Your Own Adventure book. But it was real — and you could only win by cheating!
An article on an enduring film trope that classical music fans hate:
The Sound of Evil: How did classical music in movies and television become synonymous with villainy?
Theodore Gioia, The American Scholar
“You don’t like Beethoven?” demands Norman Stansfield in Luc Besson’s film Léon: The Professional, as he interrogates a trembling man about classical overtures after slaughtering two of his roommates with a shotgun. “You’re a Mozart fan?” It’s a question chosen to show the inner workings of a disturbed mind. The culprit has the mental capacity to make musical distinctions (Mozart vs. Beethoven) but not moral ones. His intellect—so the logic runs—leads him to vice, entices him to place art above ethics. Evil is a byproduct of brainpower. The implication is that aesthetic sophistication and psychopathic violence spring from the same mentality, a decadent hyperintelligence that becomes so cultivated that it savors homicide as a refined pleasure like Baroque cello. Slaughtering civilians and appreciating Vivaldi are depicted as two forms of the same psychosis, a connection hammered into the popular imagination in film after film, scene after scene, for the past quarter century.
It's a great article, but I'm also compelled to include the MetaFilter thread I found it on, where commenters came up with a handful of additional points, including: "I figured it was because classical music is cool and interesting, and movie makers want their villains to be cool and interesting," "Also, classical music is in the public domain [...] If we had a properly functioning public domain like we used to, filmmakers could have picked all sorts of songs to have their villains rock out to," and "it's as if we repressed the politics of class difference and are compelled to surface it in bizarre obsessive ways that are detached from its meaning."
Finally, here's a review of a movie that I definitely don't care about, but enjoyed reading about. When it comes to Vulture's film reviews, I'm more of an Emily Yoshida fan than a David Edelstein one, but I really enjoyed how he swerves into self-interrogating, introspective territory in the last paragraph here. I've done that myself in one article (that I'm not linking to :P), and it's a refreshing, satisfying/scary confessional move.
Dragged Across Concrete Is Your Basic, Boneheaded Right-Wing Action Movie
David Edelstein, Vulture
I’ll see anything Zahler does because I was weaned on the same junk he was and find his mix of amateurism and genre smarts appealing. That’s not a sign of my integrity — a man’s gotta watch what a man’s gotta watch — but of my fundamental laziness and corruption. I hate that I can settle for Dragged Across Concrete.
Thing I'm listening to: This music video. Great for if you need something to get Baby Shark out of your head.
Next Time on Maddd Science: Lovecraft in Pop Culture
Header image: “I call him Chip. He lives on my shoulder,” by Daniel Williams.
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