Paul Vella, a forensic expert witness on computers, gave a talk at the CFZ’s Weird Weekend on 40 years of the Patterson/Gimlin film, the definitive Bigfoot film. This year is the 40th anniversary of the Patterson/Gimlin film of Bigfoot. In forty years there hasn’t been a better film, which is ammunition for the sceptics. If it’s there, why isn’t there a better film?
It’s a good quality 16mm in the right place in the right time film. To put this in context, there were over 590 drive-by shootings in LA last year, and only one of them was filmed.
The Bluff Creek sighting wasn’t a one off, there were many sightings in the area before. In 1958 there was a sighting and a lot of disturbances, huge oil drums were being thrown over the side of a gulley where they were building a bridge. Casts made in concrete by the the crew, and that’s around the time the term ‘Bigfoot’ was coined when it made the local paper.
In 1964 a forestry worker found similar tracks on a forestry road in the same area. Al Hodgeson found more prints the following year in nearby Willow Creek while hunting.
Roger Patterson died in 1972 of Hodgekinson’s disease, at the time he made the film he was in remission, but he knew he was ill. He had the reputation for being a bit of a drifter, funded by his brother-in-law.
Bob Gimlin is still alive, works in a garage in Yakima, Washington State, and if drunk will tell you about his work with stunt motorcyclist ‘Evil’ Kenevel. He made very little money from the film, just a $10,000 pay-off from Mrs Patterson.
On Friday October 20th 1967 they filmed Bigfoot at about 1.30 pm. They shot a total of 59.5 seconds of film of the Bigfoot (if we have the film speed right), part of a documentary they filmed when they had been in the area for three weeks.
They’d seen three sets of tracks earlier on the day of the sighting. After the sighting they went back to their truck a mile away to get casting material, and changed the film. A second film was lost by the BBC, which shows the tracks that they cast.
Patterson and Gimlin drove back with the truck and the horsebox. They got the film to Eureka to mail the film to be processed, and rang the Yakima Times. Gimlin rang some people over the Canadian border in British Columbia he knew, trying to get tracking dogs, they refused.
The next day it kept raining, Gimlin went to the site again, ripped bark off the trees to protect the tracks, he was ill, he’d been up at 5am and he was exhausted.
On Sunday, Patterson and his friends Green, Dahinden and McClarin viewed film over and over again, knackering it in the process.In 1967 it cost a fair bit of money to process a film, while most Washington shops closed in the afternoon. How do you process it on a Saturday? Patterson’s brother in law may have thrown money at it and got it done out of hours? The film ran out after 59 seconds, only 26ft left.
There was other stuff on the film, footage of themselves, trees, from the previous few days. It was a very sandy area at the time. You can see footprints in the film behind the thing they filmed.
There are bulging calf muscles in several frames. Gorilla suits don’t have muscles. The sand’s been washed away over the years, there’s gravel now. People still find footprints in the area, although not so many. It’s an unbelievably dusty drive from Willow Creek to Bluff Creek. It takes three hours to do thirty miles.
The first few minutes of the film is very shaky. The camera’s got no zoom, and Patterson is running after the thing.
John Green’s height calculation have used Patterson’s height, the prints, the camera angles to calculate the height of the creature in the Patterson-Gimlin film, between 6 ft 6 and 7ft.
The distance between your middle finger to middle finger arms outstretched pretty much gives your height if you’re a human.The arms of the Patterson/Gimlin film are too long. They don’t fit that ratio.
On the film you see a flexing hand – if the arms are too long for a human, how can there be a man in a suit with a hand in the glove that’s flexing? It flexes its hand in several frames.
The Kodak K-100 Patterson and Gimlin used has film speeds. He said he always used Said he always used 24 frames per second, but that after filming the Bigfoot he found it was on 18 frames per second, which isn’t a setting (16 is). At 24 frames per second, many people say the creature is moving too fast for a human.
Some surviving stills from the second reel – the one shot after the reel in which they filmed Bigfoot - show Patterson and Gimlin casting Bigfoot prints. Looks at half past five at the time, judging by the light.
Film director John Landis says what Patterson Gimlin shows is a suit made by Chambers, the make-up artist on Planet of the Apes. Chambers denied it, saying his suit wasn’t that good. Filming on Planet of the Apes finished a month before the Patterson-Gimlin film. The alleged suit would have been Hollywood cutting edge, but in Planet of the Apes there were no actual ape suits, only heads and hands.
The Bigfoot never locks his knees, humans always do. Possible bald patches you can see on the Bigfoot in the film,
Sceptic Karl Korff – claimed in his documentary, World’s Greatest Hoaxes – that Jerry Romeny was the man in the suit, that an insurance agent conned Patricia Patterson, that it was all a Mormon conspiracy to portray their version of the Bible. He says apes don’t have a hairline down his back, but gorillas do, as Vella demonstrated with photos.
Greg Long wrote a book called The Making of Bigfoot, in which he said there was a Patterson contract to make a a Bigfoot film. There was – it was a badly typed document about lending $500 to make their documentary. Patterson did work in an old ghost train before the film.
Patterson knew he was ill, but still ploughed all the money from the film back into Bigfoot research.
In Greg Long’s book – Bob Heironymous – who is supposed to be the man in the suit – describes a completely different suit to the one the man who made it described. Bob describes a leisurely five-mile drive and a dry Bluff Creek, but Vella has been to Bluff Creek and it’s never dry. Bob is just over 6ft, an not broad shouldered enough to be the creature in the film.
Philip Morris claims he made the suit, but he describes a differently-made suit to the suit Bob describes putting on.
And why, in America in 1967, would you put breasts on a kid’s film if you’re hoaxing it?
We normally see a third generation poor quality copy on TV.We’re told at the time that you’d need to have sent off the film to Kodak, but we believe there were copycat processors around that could have done it.
Cliff Cook said he saw the end of a zip on the creature in the film. It could be a clump of mud dried to the coat. The colour of the foliage in the film suggests it’s around October.
Vella first saw the Patterson-Gimlin film on the BBC in 1972 and really wanted to see one. He was disappointed that there wasn’t one at London Zoo on his fifth birthday, but he’s been obsessed by Bigfoot ever since.
Nobody knows where the original film is, there were five copies made, Vella knows where two are and suspects where the third is. The other two are missing.