Like Agent Mulder and countless others, real and imagined in fiction, I want to believe in things beyond my own understanding. I want to hope for and find some hidden truth or uncover some ancient mystery to bring a bit of magic and wonder back into this world. As a skeptic, however, this is nothing short of a Herculean effort and I find myself picking apart most documentaries, books, and videos exploring the unknown. So when I received a link for Seth Breedlove and Small Town Monsters' On The Trail of Bigfoot, I prepared myself for all the banal rehashings and unsubstantiated lore that comes from any tale of the great, mysterious ape creature. I have to say, I have been pleasantly surprised.
Breedlove is a documentary filmmaker who has a passion from cryptozoology and lore, especially that connected to the myths, legends, and documented historical accounts of the Bigfoot. On top of this, he has an incredible eye and has captured some truly amazing footage of the American Northwest. Unlike most documentary series about topics like cryptids, On the Trail of Bigfoot has strayed away from the needlessly hokey reenactments and theatrical portrayals that so many others tend to do. As well as that, we also aren't bombarded with a host of experts whose credentials are more questionable than the information they supply. Rather, this series has chosen to carefully select people who have devoted a considerable amount of time and effort into searching for the elusive creature without hazarding their own careers and reputations. None of the people involved in this series feels like a plant or a showboat looking for fame.
I've watched a lot of documentaries on the paranormal, the unexplained, and cryptozoological phenomenon over the years. On the Trail of Bigfoot easily surpasses most of what you'll find out there for it's attention to detail, it's exploration of the subject matter, and its consistency. It seems almost trifling but there was artwork commissioned specifically for this series that creates both a very real and, at times, terrifying view of these mysterious beasts and it sets the imagination ablaze. In the very first episode Breedlove details his own interest in the creature, the stories of his childhood, and explains how this being has appeared for centuries in the folklore of so many cultures across the world.
The Native American connection to the creature, in particular, is brought up and discussed as being relevant and necessary to understanding the phenomena that is bigfoot. Most documentaries only bring up that aspect of the tradition in the same way that zombie movies like to mention Haitian voodoo; as an exploitation of culture to serve a narrative end. This series, however, seems a bit more keen in understanding the roots of this beast in lore even explaining that unlike crows or coyotes, other animals common in the storytelling traditions of the indigenous groups, these ape men --stone men in some traditions-- don't seem to serve the same sort of narrative purpose that the more recognizable animals do. They aren't connected to our journey as human beings or as an expression for some element of human nature, rather as something wholly outside of it.
In total, On the Trail of Bigfoot is about 3 hours long and divided up into 6 half hour episodes for form the miniseries. It is a comprehensive exploration of the search through folklore, history, and the wilderness itself looking for evidence of the mysterious monster. There are several bizarre encounters recorded during the series and, like any good documentary on the topic it will leave you asking questions and wanting to explore for yourself whether or not this mythic creature stalks the woods at night.
On the Trail of Bigfoot is available now on DVD and streaming services including Amazon Prime, Vimeo On Demand, and VIDI Space.
Dan is an author, editorialist, podcaster, and horror culture & lifestyle correspondent from the Southeast. You can find Dan's stories at Danno of the Dead Blog and through PDI Press.