The so-called Patterson-Gimlin film has been studied by many experts, and its authenticity remains officially unresolved. As such, if a hoax, it ranks among the best on record -- and if authentic, it seems to demonstrate the existence of an otherwise unknown giant hominid. Roger Patterson reportedly insisted to his death in 1972 that his encounter, and his film, were entirely real.
However, in recent years there have been several different claims purporting to explain how the film was hoaxed. In May 1996, CNI News ran a story circulated by the "X Chronicles" which said, in part: "Harry Kemball, Director and Screenwriter at Golden Eagle Productions told 'X' CHRONICLES researchers that he was at the CanWest 16mm Film Editing Room in 1967 when Roger Patterson and his friends put together his BigFoot Hoax on 16mm film... According to Kemball, they all laughed and joked about the rental of the gorilla costume and the construction of the Big Feet... One of Kemball's extra tall buddies played the role of Bigfoot."
Now, on the 30th anniversary of Patterson's alleged encounter, a very different hoax theory has been put forward, in which Patterson is portrayed as an innocent and unwitting dupe. CNI News thanks Dave at the United Kingdom UFO Network (firstname.lastname@example.org) for sending this story, which appeared in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper on October 19, 1997. CNI News takes no position on the veracity of this latest hoax claim. Undoubtedly, the Bigfoot controversy will continue.]
By Mike Lewis and Tim Reid
A piece of film, which for 30 years has been regarded as the most compelling evidence for the existence of Bigfoot, is a hoax, according to new claims.
John Chambers, the man behind the Planet of the Apes films and the elder statesman of Hollywood's "monster-makers," has been named by a group of Hollywood make-up artists as the person who faked Bigfoot.
In an interview with Scott Essman, an American journalist, the veteran Hollywood director John Landis revealed "a make-up secret only six people know." Landis said: "That famous piece of film of Bigfoot walking in the woods that was touted as the real thing was just a suit made by John Chambers." He said he learned the information while working alongside Mr. Chambers on Beneath the Planet of the Apes in 1970.
The claims contradict the findings of a forthcoming study by the North American Science Institute that the creature is real. [The Institute] has analysed the footage and detected the movement of skin over muscles which could not be duplicated by the wearing of an artificial costume.
But Howard Berger, of Hollywood's KNB Effects Group, said it was common knowledge within the film industry that Mr. Chambers was responsible for a hoax that turned Bigfoot into a worldwide cult.
Mike McCracken Jr., a make-up artist and associate of Chambers, said: "I'd say with absolute certainty that John was responsible. A gorilla-suit expert, Bob Burns, said that the alleged Bigfoot shows evidence of a water bag in the stomach area -- a trick used to make a gorilla suit move like real flesh. This liquid-stomach technique was developed by Charlie Germora, with whom Chambers worked at Paramount."
Mr. Chambers, 75, who won an Academy award for his ground-breaking ape masks in the Planet of the Apes feature film in 1968, is now in frail health and lives in seclusion in a Los Angeles nursing home. He has refused to confirm or deny the reports, yet experts say that only he possessed the know-how to create a suit which several examining experts have termed a masterpiece.
October 20 marked the 30th anniversary of the day that Bigfoot hunters Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin emerged from the wilds of northern California with the celebrated film, perhaps the only footage of unexplained phenomena which has stood up to rigorous scientific examination. Patterson died in 1972 convinced that he had filmed a real Bigfoot.
But Howard Berger told a Bigfoot investigator, Mark Chorvinsky: "It was like a gag to be played on the guy who shot it. The guy never knew it was a hoax his friends played on him."
Chorvinsky, editor of Strange magazine, who studied the background of the Patterson film for a year, said Chambers created monster suits for the Lost in Space television series of the mid-1960s which look very similar to the creature in Patterson's film.
Chambers was also known to have participated in another Bigfoot hoax: the Burbank Bigfoot, a 7ft 4in carcass painstakingly built over a plaster cast of the actor Richard Kiel, best known as Jaws in the James Bond films.
The subject of the Patterson film -- a large, hairy, upright walking creature with wobbling breasts -- is seen walking left to right, turning briefly to glare in the direction of the cameraman before disappearing into the trees.
The film was hailed as proof of Bigfoot's existence by British and Russian scientists and expeditions were organised to try to capture the creature. The episode turned Bigfoot into the world's favorite monster and even spawned the popular Harry and the Hendersons television comedy series.
But Chorvinsky believes that the scientists have followed a false trail. "Every make-up artist I have spoken to believes it is a guy in a fur suit," he said.
Bigfoot enthusiasts disagree. Christopher Murphy [email@example.com], a Bigfoot researcher, said: "Very high computer enhancements of the film show conclusively that, whatever it was, it was not wearing a suit. The skin on the creature ripples as it walks."
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