Monstro Bizarro is a new book from Lyle Blackburn. Its subtitle will give you a good idea of its contents: An Essential Manual of Mysterious Monsters. This is an excellent book, one which covers a wide and varied body of subjects and which is both informing and entertaining. Before I get to the matter of the content of the book, however, there’s the important issue of the layout, style and design. I have to say this is a very skilfully designed book that is filled with photos, paintings, drawings, movie posters, etc. Every single page of the book is lavishly illustrated. Most of the pages contain at least two or three images – and the vast majority of the images are in color, which is a major bonus.
As the author of both The Beast of Boggy Creek and Lizard Man (and of the forthcoming Beyond Boggy Creek) Blackburn knows his subject-matter well. If you are interested in the issue of so-called “Hairy Hominids” – Bigfoot, the Yeti, etc. – then you won’t be disappointed. We begin with “Bigfoot Beasts” and a section titled “On the Track of Sasquatch Cinema,” which is an extremely well compiled summary of all the essential Bigfoot/Yeti-themed movies, such as The Snow Creature, The Abominable Snowman, The Legend of Boggy Creek, and Exists. Of the latter, Blackburn says: “The plausible story, exceptional creature suit and skilled filmmaking set a new mark for Sasquatch cinema.”
In “Bigfoot vs. the People,” Blackburn gives the reader a good, solid summary of the controversial and famous “Patterson Film’ that purports to show a Bigfoot captured on film by Roger Patterson, at a dry creek bed in Northern California in 1967. Blackburn discusses the matter in-depth and presents both sides of the argument: is it a man in a suit or is it a Bigfoot? To his credit, Blackburn remains open-minded and avoids the “I want to believe” approach. He says: “…we are left with conflicting statements, conjecture and a haunting piece of 16mm film stock that simply does not contain enough clarity on its own to conclusively prove or disprove the existence of its infamous subject.”
We are also treated to interviews with the brains behind the Bigfoot-based movies Exists (Eduardo Sanchez) and Willow Creek (Bobcat Goldthwait). And the matter of The Legend of Boggy Creek – and the real reports that inspired the 1972 movie – are also covered skilfully, and again with more than a few excellent photos and drawings. But, there is far more to Monstro Bizarro than Bigfoot. David Weatherly (the author of The Black Eyed Children and Strange Intruders) addresses the matter of one of the weirdest of all cryptids, the Mongolian Death Worm. Weatherly does so in a fine and entertaining fashion, and which ties the legends of the beasts to the popular 1990 movie, Tremors. Weatherly notes that the Mongolian Death Worm was first mentioned in 1926. He adds: “The cryptozoological pursuit of the death worm shows no sign of slowing down, and neither does its long-running cinematic counterpart. Recently, Kevin Bacon signed on as star and executive producer for a new television series based on the Tremors films.”
Ken Gerhard, author of A Menagerie of Mysterious Beasts, has a contribution titled “Shadows in the Forest: A History of Bigfoot Research.” This is a very good overview of how, and under what specific circumstances, Bigfoot research and investigations in the United States began – and continues to this day. Acclaimed researchers such as John Green and Rene Dahinden are mentioned, as are the 1924 incident at Ape Canyon, the Minnesota Iceman, the way in which Bigfoot and UFOs crossed paths in the 1970s, and matters relative to Bigfoot in the 21st Century. Gerhard also share with us his “Best Evidence” for Bigfoot, which includes the aforementioned Roger Patterson footage of 1967, “recorded vocalizations,” and Native American legends that significantly predate the issue of Bigfoot in the 20th and 21st centuries.
There are a couple of contributions from me, too, one of which is titled “Shadow of the Mothman: A Monster, Movies and Men in Black.” It’s an article in which I also tackle Toho Studio’s 1961 Mothra, and Tigon’s production of the 1960s The Blood Beast Terror, which has a few Mothman-like parallels attached to it. We’re nowhere near done, however. There are profiles of Loren Coleman’s International Cryptozoology Museum (based in Portland, Maine), the Austin, Texas-based Museum of the Weird, and Fouke, Arkansas’ Monster Mart – all of which promise and deliver a good time for visitors.
Cryptozoology-themed TV shows, such as MonsterQuest and Finding Bigfoot are covered. Bigfoot- and Cryptozoology-themed games, toys and action-figures are also placed under the microscope. As is the connection between Bigfoot and the Death Metal band, Troglodyte. Add to that “Top 10 Bigfoot Books,” “Reptilian Humanoids from Film to Reality,” and David Weatherly’s giant spider saga, and what you have is an excellent addition to the field of Cryptozoology – an addition that is high on data, reports, great visuals, and spooky tales.