Roger Patterson Bigfoot Film Target for UFO Parody

Nov. 28, 2006 – In 1967, Bigfoot hunters Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin filmed an unidentified subject they claimed to be proof of the existence of “Bigfoot.” Some believe the footage is real, most believe it to be a hoax.
And the so-called authentic film is a target for satire in “The Top Secret UFO Project,” filmmaker R. J. Thomas’ spoof of UFO documentaries.

Billed as “the movie the government doesn’t want you to see,” “The Top Secret UFO Project,” sends up the 1970s documentaries or pseudo-documentaries such as those by Sunn Classics, a low-budget film company which pursued, in a somewhat corny, melodramatic fashion, the answers to myths like UFOs, the Bermuda Triangle, and Bigfoot. Some of the Bigfoot films included the Patterson-Gimlin footage of the mysterious creature.

“Patterson took footage for fifty-three seconds of a Bigfoot-type creature walking through a forest,” Mr. Thomas said. “People have been debating ever since over whether it was true or not, though most people rule it out as a hoax People say that it’s just a guy in a gorilla suit.”

In “The Top Secret UFO Project,” a documentary filmmaker discovers (by accident) some 1956 footage of a spacecraft that may or may not be a flying saucer from outer space. The truth-or-hoax footage is, in part, Mr. Thomas’ playful spoof of (and tribute to) Mr. Patterson’s notorious film.

Based on Mr. Thomas’ 2004 novella of the same name, “The Top Secret UFO Project” chronicles the UFO-related events experienced by Jasper, a tiny Colorado hamlet some 75 miles south south of Denver. According to the film, the town dealt with one unusual event after another in the summer of 1956. After a farmer spotted a spaceship zipping across the sky over his property, scientists rushed into Jasper to investigate, reporters rushed in looking for stories, and government officials rushed in to keep it a secret from the world.

Patterson’s story took place in Bluff Creek, California, where, on October 20, 1967, he and Gimlin spotted a mysterious figure crouching beside the creek. Patterson grabbed his rented 16mm camera and began shooting footage of the creature as it walked away. At one point, the figure glanced over its’ right shoulder at the men with a look of, as Patterson later described it, “contempt and disgust.”

The footage became the centerpiece of a Patterson documentary, but only a few scientists were willing to look at the film, and most of them quickly declared it a fake. Nevertheless, Patterson became something of a celebrity, appearing on several popular talk shows to tell his story and to promote the documentary.

“Patterson went to his grave in 1972 claiming that his Bigfoot footage was authentic,” Mr. Thomas said. “As for the mysterious footage found in my film? I’ll leave it up to the audience to decided whether it’s true or not.”

“The Top Secret UFO Project” is available on DVD at

“The Top Secret UFO Project (DVD Promo)” is available for viewing on

— End —