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Craig Woolheater Gives Us The Lowdown On The Inaugural “Texas Bigfoot Film Festival”

Tuesday, December 7, 2021 | Interviews


Cryptid culture speaks of birds, bipeds, and other unexplainable entities that have long inhabited the skies and swamps, with perhaps no other mythos grander than that of the Bigfoot. While filmed accounts claiming to have captured the hulking beast in action have, and most likely always will be, heavily scrutinized for their authenticity, tales of ‘squatches terrorizing townsfolk will always have a place in horror hierarchy.

On Saturday, December 11th, Memorial City Hall in Marshall, Texas will celebrate many of those films when it plays host to the inaugural TEXAS BIGFOOT FILM FESTIVAL. Aficionados from around the country will not only get to witness some of the finest standouts representing multiple generations of cryptid filmmaking but will also be educated by Sasquatch savants, including friend of Rue Morgue, Lyle Blackburn. At the helm is Craig Woolheater, a cryptid legend in his own right and founder of the Texas Bigfoot Research Center, who shared details about his upcoming festival with us.

What inspired your lifelong passion for cryptids, and what was the impetus for creating a festival comprised entirely of Bigfoot films?

I’ve been interested in cryptozoology going back to when I was a kid. I grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and back in the ’60s, there was a creature called the Lake Worth Monster. In the summer of ‘69, there was this lake area, now it’s a nature park, but back then it was this place where kids would drink or make out, and this creature was seen by other people, including law enforcement personnel that were out there at the scene. Just like with any of these sightings, some people claimed it was somebody in a suit, but there were armed people out there that were looking for this thing. In my opinion, it would have been pretty careless to be out there running around in a suit in the woods when there were people that were wanting to shoot it. That’s what generated my initial interest. In 1999, we started the Texas Bigfoot Research Center and started taking reports and investigating. We attended a Bigfoot conference in Ohio and when I got there, I enjoyed myself and enjoyed meeting people with a common interest. I decided that I could put on something like that, as there was nothing like it in Texas. I used resources that I had to put an event together and began holding Bigfoot conferences in 2001.

Who are some of your speakers, and what are some of the films they’ll be discussing?

When I dreamed up this event, the first person I talked to, because he and I are good buddies, is Eduardo Sánchez [director of The Blair Witch Project]. I told him I wanted to host this Bigfoot Film Festival and I would love for him to come and screen Exists, which he said he’d love to do. I’ve included Loren Coleman [of the International Cryptozoology Museum] who’s been involved in cryptozoology since 1960. I’m a big fan and he’s an idol of mine. Of course, I wanted to include Pamula Pierce Barcelou to screen the restored and remastered The Legend of Boggy Creek. These are all not only just people in the film or cryptozoology fields, but these are also friends of mine, and I wanted them to be able to come to a cool event.

The horror genre is rife with Sasquatch movies, and Charles B. Pierce’s iconic The Legend of Boggy Creek is obviously quintessential. With such a diverse array of notable cryptids, why do you believe the subject of Bigfoot continues to garner the most attention?

They do make movies about other cryptids, but they certainly aren’t as prolific as those about Bigfoot. I guess it’s just more accessible. Bigfoot has enjoyed a resurgence with TV shows, and I think that has a lot to do with making it more popular with the general public. Personally, I feel that the evidence is there to support a creature of this type; I fully believe that it’s a flesh and blood creature and not some interdimensional extraterrestrial entity of any kind. I think that it appeals to mankind because it appears to be almost humanlike and that makes it interesting to most people. I dare say that the Loch Ness Monster is probably more popular worldwide than Bigfoot and there have been several movies about it, but nothing comparable to the quantity of Bigfoot movies.

Based on the success of this event, could you see yourself potentially branching out and holding festivals centered around other creatures?

I could see doing a cryptid film festival or something similar. I’ve also thought about being a creative consultant for museums because I’ve worked with two different ones. I co-curated a 2000 square foot Bigfoot exhibit with the University of Texas in San Antonio, as well as an exhibit that was at the Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History at Bryan College Station here in Texas. I’ve attended conferences and visited museums across the country so it’s also not out of the realm of doing a film festival elsewhere. I organize and host the Fouke Monster Festival in Fouke, Arkansas, the Texas Bigfoot Conference in Jefferson, TX, and now this event, which I’m hoping is well-received and becomes an annual event in Marshall, TX.

What most do you want attendees to take away from this event?

As with my annual conferences, I like to put on an educational event but also one that’s fun for people to attend. I’m not trying to convert Bigfoot skeptics into becoming believers, I’m just trying to host an event that hopefully people will find educational and entertaining.

For more information on the TEXAS BIGFOOT FILM FESTIVAL and to purchase tickets, click here

Kevin Hoover
Ever since watching CREEPSHOW as a child, Kevin Hoover has spent a lifetime addicted to horror (and terrified of cockroaches). He wholeheartedly believes in the concept of reanimating the dead if only we’d give it the old college try, and thinks FRIDAY THE 13th PART V is the best in the franchise. Aside from writing “Cryptid Cinema Chronicles” for Rue Morgue, he’s been a working copywriter for over a decade and you’ve probably bought something with his words on it. He also believes even the worst movie can be improved with buckets of gore.