My neighbors are mythical creatures.

I finally got to see Willow Creek the other day. Normally I hate found footage and fake documentary movies with the fiery passion of a thousand suns, but I made an exception here. Also, I’ve recently enjoyed both Creep and The Conspiracy, so maybe my stance is changing, like how suddenly in my early twenties asparagus wasn’t my archnemesis anymore. I’d been meaning to watch Willow Creek since it came out, though, because it was filmed here where I live. I could take you to almost every spot in the movie. I wouldn’t, but I could. There are some locals in it, which is cool. And it’s directed by Bobcat Goldthwait who has done some outstanding work lately (World’s Greatest Dad, God Bless America, and a bunch of episodes of Maron). They even did the west coast premiere in Arcata instead of Los Angeles, which I thought was a really classy move.

So, if you’re unfamiliar, a very brief rundown: a somewhat doofy dudebro and his very accommodating girlfriend drive up from somewhere in southern California to north Humboldt because he is a Bigfoot enthusiast and this is the place to try to spot the beast (although I’ve heard that there are actually more sightings in Canada, they’re just more spread out). They putz around the area, filming as they go. I couldn’t really tell if they were legit trying to make a documentary or just aggressively filming their adventure. Anyway, after talking to Steve at Bigfoot Books (who is just as awesome and weird as he is in the movie, and an expert in “Sasquatchanalia”), they head out to Bluff Creek where the famous Patterson film was shot. You know the one. And that’s when shit goes all Blair Witch, with lots of screaming mountain people and getting lost in the woods and being scared in tents.

Now, were we in the real world and not a horror movie, the explanation of what happened to them is probably pretty simple. I want you to click on this link and not ask any further questions.

Otherwise, hey, maybe it was Bigfoot. I don’t think Bigfoot would be an asshole, though. Like everyone else up here, I like to think he’d be pretty chill as long as you stay out of his space. Seems like a quiet homebody type. I don’t know if I really believe in Bigfoot. I can’t think of a reason not to. Sure, they’ve never found any remains, but they don’t find remains of much of anything in these woods. The bears and other toothsome fauna would take care of a body with a quickness. Seriously, I can’t even put chicken bones in my trash. A whole dead thing? Doesn’t stand a chance.

Me and my personal Tyler Durden at the Bigfoot Museum in Willow Creek. Oh, yes, that's a real place.
Me and my personal Tyler Durden at the Bigfoot Museum in Willow Creek. Oh, yes, that’s a real place.

All the Native American tribes in these parts talk about Bigfoot like they talk about the weather, it’s just a given fact of life. Just because no one can find one right this second doesn’t mean they were never here in large numbers. The same as wolves and moose and fucking brontosauruses, right? They’ve also got some pretty great stories about river monsters. Can’t you just see it? Bigfoot and the Kraken, hanging out, maybe munching on some salmon, kicking it in the sun on a beautiful afternoon? Man, that makes me happy.

Um, anyway. Moving on.

I don’t see why skeptics have to shit on people who believe in these sorts of silly things. What harm does it do you if someone believes in Bigfoot or ghosts or fairies? Absolutely none, as far as I can see. (And what you really need to focus on is the slow erosion of the First Amendment and America becoming an oligarchic theocracy because that’s where belief actually is getting really dangerous – but that’s a conversation for another time.) Personally, I suffer from this horrible condition where my mind is way too open. I don’t believe in a lot of that oogy boogy stuff, but I definitely don’t have the evidence to categorically say it’s not real. That’s not my job, and weird shit does happen all the time. “Impossible” is a word I try to avoid. I just don’t think we’ve figured a lot of stuff out yet.

Take ghosts, for example. When I was a kid, I was into spooky stuff, like a lot of kids. Anything with monsters or vampires or bumps in the night, I loved it. Still do. But ghosts were my jam. I wrote ghost stories, read everything I could about sightings and hauntings, watched Ghostbusters about fifty thousand times. I even wanted to study parapsychology when I grew up. Basically, when I was about seven I wanted to be Egon Spengler (may he rest in peace). Anyway, point is, I was also really scared of ghosts (plasmophobic – such a great word). I still get the creeps when I think about the thing that scared me the most: looking up to see fingers curling around a doorframe when I’m the only person in the house. They’re long, white, sort of Nosferatu fingers? Bluh. I had that nightmare until college, you guys. But now that I don’t believe in them anymore, I think what I was scared of was seeing something that wasn’t supposed to be there, that couldn’t be there. That makes sense to me, and seems like a reasonable instinct. That prickle up the back of your neck when you think someone’s behind you? I know there’s a word for that. Pretty useful, right? Thanks, evolution.

And now that I’m not afraid of them, I think all the different things that can make people think there are ghosts are so damn cool. Sounds and vibrations that our ears can’t register, changes in blood pressure, misunderstanding the quirks of old buildings, all sorts of psychological phenomena (like the micro movements that move ouija board planchettes). Brains are fucking crazy. On the other hand, now I have a lot more time and energy to be scared of things I know are real. Like serial killers. And cancer. So, there’s that. Barring the discovery that they’re some sort of interdimensional intrusion that our physics doesn’t grasp yet, I don’t really have room in my life for believing in ghosts.

But I can see Bigfoot being or having been real. More in line with a giant squid than, say, the Loch Ness Monster (although Loch Ness is creepy as fuck, even birds fly around rather than over it and it’s super eerie). There are tons of weird and/or elusive animals, and even ones that we thought were extinct until one of them wandered up on some humans one day. Bigfoot isn’t, to me, out of the realm of possibility. So why do we talk about his existence like we talk about ghosts or vampires? Put his believers in the same category of whackadoo? What is it about this one animal that stirs our interest and our ire so much? More than Nessie or the giant squid/Kraken or el chupacabra? I think it’s because he looks like us. We can’t stand to think of one of our relatives living out in the forest, in our own country, unstudied and undissected. It would be like discovering that gorillas are real by finding one in the vast wastelands of Detroit. The gall of that ape!

Evolutionists want Bigfoot to be the missing link (he’s probably not). Hippies want him to be peaceful and wise and an example to humanity of how to live in harmony with nature (again, probably not, but there are worse role models to hope for). Conspiracy theorists and cryptozoology enthusiasts just want an answer. I get that. But I’m happy to not know, too. I’m sure if Bigfoot or any of his kin (yeti, wendigo, mothman, wookiee, etc) are out there, they’re pretty good at avoiding us by now, and I’m not really gunning to tip the balance of that relationship. And I’m damn sure not going to go crashing through the woods of the Pacific Northwest like an idiot looking for him. That’s how people get shot. So long as Bigfoot doesn’t scare my dogs and stays out of my garden, we can totally be neighbors.