Critically Examining….Small Town Monsters “Minerva Monster” (Movie Review)

 

Movie Poster for Small Town Monsters "Minerva Monster"

Movie Poster for Small Town Monsters “Minerva Monster”

Small Town Monsters “Minerva Monster”

 

Directed by; Seth Breedlove

 

 

There’s something special, endearing, nostalgic, even, about a small town.

A close knit community of individuals, almost like a large family, who live together for generations. Everyone knows everyone. Everyone has a story.

In some towns, there are more than simple stories, however. More than  tales of local high school football stars who go on to NFL fame. More than next-door-neighbor musicians who once played in  local watering holes and now play for stadiums of thousands.

Every now and again a small town shares something more than the usual. .

Some towns have a monster.

Minerva, Ohio, is one of those small towns.

I recently had the opportunity to view Seth Breedlove’s “Minerva Monster” documentary before it was released to the public at large. Being the bigfoot nerd that I am, I jumped at the opportunity to review the movie for my site, searchthewoods.com.

In full disclosure, I must admit that I am NOT a professional film critic and my review will resemble an actual movie review about as much as Todd Standing resembles a credible Sasquatch researcher. If you’re not sure who Todd Standing is, you just need to know he proclaims the muppet creature below to be an actual living, breathing, bigfoot.

Really, Todd? Really?

Really, Todd? Really?

 

I digress, back to the movie.

View Minerva Monster trailer below…

Brief Overview;

A family in small town, Minerva, Ohio, claim to be visited by a large, bipedal creature, numerous times, which sparks investigation, controversy, and ridicule by their small town Ohio friends and neighbors.

My Review;

If you love tales of savage sasquatches, sasquatchie, ,bigfoots, bigfeets, monsters terrorizing campers in National Parks, stealing women and children, cloaking in and out of view, and traveling between dimensions then…

This movie is not for you.

I must say THANK GOODNESS for that!

If I hear one more government conspiracy theorist, attention seeking, date forgetting, moon phase “misremembering”, bigfoot story I may just scream.

I may be in the minority but I’m not a fan of “dramatic reenactments”, eery voice over narration persuading you to hear what they want you to hear, see what they want you to see, and believe what they want you to believe. I like to make my own decisions. I like my encounter stories to be no nonsense, as close to eyewitness testimony as I can get them. Minerva Monster is my kind of movie.

Breedlove and company actually allow the people who experienced the monster firsthand to tell the tale. Minerva Monster is narrated solely (100%) by people directly involved with the actual Minerva Monster incident (s) which, as I stated earlier, is unbelievably refreshing compared to the scripted, “actor portrayal”, which has become commonplace for both bigfoot movie and television.

Make no mistake, there is a real difference between listening to an eyewitness retell an encounter and a “this person almost looks like the actual person who encountered the creature”…retelling.

The movie is perfectly “unflashy”. I originally thought of describing MM as “beautifully unpolished” but that’s not quite right. Unpolished indicates a less than “finished” product and that certainly isn’t the case with Minerva. It is “unflashy” by necessity because, more often than not, legitimate bigfoot encounter stories are anything but flashy. Credible witnesses, believe it or not, don’t typically see a bigfoot cloaking, talking, flying, or eating humans.

On the technical side (again, I’m not a movie maker so take this little section for what it’s worth), the story telling is incredibly well done, especially considering the fact that it is completely narrated by eyewitness and/or persons involved testimony. Never once did I feel something was “missing” from the story without dedicated narration. I can only imagine the interviewing process was tedious and required hours of interview to get certain sections of the story in such a way that it could be placed together as seamlessly as the resulting finished product. This is likely the most impressive and unexpected aspect of this film. I thought I may “miss” the narration but after a few minutes I completely forgot that traditional documentaries have a single voice guiding me through.

I felt the story was told in enough detail that a picture could be painted without the need for reenactment. I often find this more enjoyable, to let the imagination paint the picture, rather than have a picture given.

To wrap up my (non-technical) technical part of the review, I found the sound to be more than adequate and never noticed any section of the film to be difficult to hear or understand. Everything seemed clear on that end.

Wrapping up…

I thoroughly enjoyed MM. I found the movie to be honest, unassuming, and refreshing. Personally, I wish more bigfoot television shows, podcasts, and movies would go the route of MM and focus on the people involved and the unique vantage point they bring to their own story.

The bigfoot community is rife with hoaxers, storytellers, and (harsh, I know) outright liars, looking to make a buck off of a fantastic (however fabricated) story.

Minerva Monster shows that a good monster movie needs only two things;

A monster and…

The people who saw it.

Thanks for reading.

Adam

Shining a Light on Eye Shine

Isn’t it interesting that the more you learn, the more you find out how much you don’t know?

I’ve always considered myself a very critical thinker. In fact, that’s the driving motivation behind this blog, to bring a level of critical thinking to the world of Bigfoot (there are others that share the desire for logical conclusion and rational thinking and they will be highlighted in a post upcoming).

I’ve long taken pride in being able to listen to (or read) an encounter and, clearly and concisely, weave and spin between the lines of story and phantasm to reach a verdict as to the accuracy of all or parts of a story. This could be misconstrued as looking for an opportunity to call someone a liar, of which I can assure you, is not the case. I badly want to believe every single encounter I read or hear. I so terribly wish that I could mute certain outrageous pieces of stories so that the rest of the story, which seems possible, would not be tainted. Alas, I can’t. For this reason I’m often “that guy” who responds to recordings of most “calls” as “Coyote….fox….mountain lion….dog…”

I’m that buzzkill who chalks just about 90% of encounter stories up to misidentification, attention seeking, or pure and simple inebriation.

I don’t want to. Really.

All of that being said, there has always been one piece of an encounter story that I could not dismiss and would often look at as a “plus” in the “possible” coloumn” when trying to seperate fact from fiction in bigfoot eyewitness encounters.

Eye shine.

Eye shine, put simply,  is the reflected glow in the eyes of some animals in darkness.

Now, that definition leaves a lot to be desired but it will work to get us started here.

Eye shine is a mainstay in many sasquatch encounter stories. After all, many stories take place after dark and one would be inclined to believe that eye shine would be a viable tenant of a credible story. There is nothing inherently “weird” about eyeshine. It is a physiolgical process/mechanism known to exist in some species of animals who possess the necessary infastructure within the eye to reflect an outside light source. Most animals that posess the necessary pieces within the eye to emit eyeshine are nocturnal. Now, we don’t know if bigfoot is truly nocturnal, diurnal, or simply whenever…urnal. What we do know, however, is that many bigfoot encounters happen at nightime. So, at least we have that.

Unfortunately, that’s where a lot of the plausible correlation between bigfoot and eyeshine begin and end.

Applying Critical Thinking A.K.A. Here comes the Buzzkill..

As is in the spirit of this blog that we must now dissect and apply what we know to about eyeshine to the subject of sasquatch.

READ THIS BEFORE PROCEEDING-

As in all cases, we are applying something that we know (the physiological processes required to emit eyeshine and the animals that pocess the necessary mechanisms to do so) to something that we literally know nothing about (factually speaking; Bigfoot). You can respond to any of these arguments (or my articles in general) by saying something along the lines of, “Well yea, but bigfoot is completely different. Bigfoot could have eaten a special flower that used to exist 20,000 years ago and that flowers nectar began to mutate Sasquatch on a genetic level so now they have eye shine and stuff… You don’t know.”

You know what?

You’re right.

Sasquatch could also be so elusive because they stole fairy dust from Tinkerbell and mixed it with unicorn hair to create a super potion that makes them totally invisible to humans and smell like pixie sticks.

Both arguments possible. Both highly unlikely.

But, I digress..

In my usual manner, I’m going to look at eyeshine and sasquatch through my particular “filter” which is assuming that sasquatch is simply an animal, likely a primate, and assess the situation from there.

With the above statement, we need to first establish what eyeshine is on a biological level

Here’s what we’ve got, documented scientifically;

1) Eyeshine is caused by a layer of tissue in the eye, lying behind the retina, called the tapetum lucidum.

The tapetum lucidum /təˈptəm/ (Latin: “bright tapestry”, plural tapeta lucida)[1] is a layer of tissue in the eye of many vertebrates.[2] Lying immediately behind the retina it reflects visible light back through the retina, increasing the light available to the photoreceptors, though blurring the initial image of the light on focus. The tapetum lucidum contributes to the superiornight vision of some animals. Many of these animals are nocturnal, especiallycarnivores that hunt their prey at night, while others are deep sea animals.

Definition pulled from Wikipedia and Dictionary.org

Sasquatch are often considered nocturnal or at least opportunistic hunters that seem to be active at night. The tapetum lucidum is often found in nocturnal animals. Awesome. This makes sense.

2) The tapetum lucidum is found in a great many animals including;

Dogs (both wolves and domestic), cats (again, both domestic and wild), cows, horses, sheep, sharks, rays, skates, crocodiles, marsupials, and bats.

Noticeably absent?

Primates. Great apes, specifically.

In fact, the only primates that have tapteum lucidum are several species of lemur (Strepsirrhini and Eulemur) 

Before you go all Melba Ketchum on me and begin the “Sasquatch could be a lemur…ask Melba. She knows. DNA samples, you know. She has DNA that shows lemur”, remember this;

You’re arguing for Melba Ketchum.

Think about it.

Think..

Think…

Ok. Good. Now that you’ve come to your senses…Let’s continue…

The fact that there is no precedent of tapetum lucidum in any prmate who’s characteristics even slightly resemble sasquatch should be enough to give us pause when using eyeshine as a “plus” while deciphring the crediblitiy and/or accuracy of a suppossed encounter.

As mentioned earlier, however, there is no definitive in this situation. Until a specimen is found, alive or dead, we honestly have no idea what we are dealing with when it comes to Bigfoot.

All we can do is critically analyze the situation using what we do know to be true, within the context of our current scientific understanding, and apply this knowledge to our study of an unknown.

Sadly, I have had to rethink the value I placed on the presence of eyeshine in supposed bigfoot encounters. With no precedent in the known animal kingdom, specifically in great apes, I find it unlikely that sasquatch would posses the necessary structures to display such a thing.

In conclusion there is no conclusion and there will not be any conclusion until we have the creature to study.

 

 

 

 

 

A Note on Anecdote

I foresee a trend in many of the posts I have in the “pipeline” and feel a need to write this post as a prerequisite entry before diving further. This post may be a bit on the bland side but should make future articles more cohesive and concise (Which, for you the reader, means less time reading and more time available to argue about bigfoot scat on Facebook).

With that being said, let’s dive in to the fascinating world of Anecdotal Evidence…(I promise I tried to make that sound exciting. Didn’t work.)

First things first, like my earlier post on critical thinking, I like to define exactly what I’m talking about so that we’re all clear and can go at this thing from the same direction…

anecdotal evidence

noun

non-scientific observations or studies, which do not provide proof but may assist research efforts

 

Ah, so much to dive into in a simple definition.

Let’s break this down into sections and discuss the benefit and and unfortunate shortcomings of anecdote. 

First, and likely most obvious, is that anecdote is non-scientific. Keep in mind, and we’ll discuss later, non-scientific does not mean unusable or worthless. It simply means that absolute, 100 percent, cold, hard, truth cannot be extrapolated from purely anecdotal evidence. Truth, as it relates to science, is gathered via the scientific method. The scientific method requires a hypothesis be tested to be proven or not supported. With no type specimen of a Sasquatch, no hypothesis may be tested via the scientific method. This certainly does not keep “experts” from speculating, but in the end, speculation is just about as useful as an assumption (and we all know what “assuming” does to you and me…)

As stated previously, anecdotal evidence does not provide proof. It simply does not. No matter how many “Sas” are seen, heard, or even “felt” (let’s not get into that…), proof cannot be garnered from pure anecdote. A howl of an unknown origin in the middle of the Pacific Northwest is not proof of a Sasquatch in the vicinity. Even rocks being tossed from a nearby treeline cannot, and will never be, accepted as absolute proof of  bigfoot presence.

However, notice how I ever-so-fancifully italicized “pure” in the above paragraph. This brings us gracefully into the final part of the definition, and a welcome “positive” attribute of anecdote for all the many (including myself) bigfoot enthusiasts.

Anecdote can,  and often does, assist research efforts into things that one day are found true by empirical, scientific methodologies.  Anecdote is an integral part of proof. Oftentimes it is anecdote that spurs the scientific process into action.

Not too long ago, the Ivory Billed Woodpecker was thought to be completely gone. Extinct. Until a kayaker, trekking through an Arkansas waterway, reported seeing the bird alive. Later, because of this non-scientific experience, video footage and audio recordings were obtained and the bird was recognized, scientifically, to still exist.

The kayakers story was complete anecdote. Eyewitness testimony, at that. Yet it led to an incredible discovery.

I use this particular anecdote turned proof because of its striking similarity to the subject of this blog and the interest of its readers.

The woodpecker (though admittedly MUCH smaller), existing in incredibly small numbers (relatively speaking) was discovered through the help of a non-scientist enjoying the the outdoors, away from human civilization. The animal was eventually caught on camera and identified audibly with its distinctive “pecking”.

Now, I know it’s not the same thing. 800 lb primate compared to 3 ounce bird..I get it. That’s not what I want you to take away from this post. Please don’t let that be what you take away….

I want you to understand and acknowledge the limitations (and there are MANY) of anecdotal evidence. No matter the witness credibility, distinctiveness of “dermal ridges”, depth of howls in the night, anecdote cannot and never will be proof.  However…

Anecdote can be the spark to ignite real scientific inquiry into a subject such as ours. Anecdote is integral and in most cases, a necessary step in encouraging real scientific inquiry to take place. In fact, it is very likely that anecdote, whether witness sighting or footprint, will be the catalyst for the official documentation of the creature we know as Sasquatch.

Anecdote is not and will never be enough. However, it is enormously important, and at the moment, all we have..

 

A Case for Critical Thinking…

The world is full of “larger than life” characters, claims, and stories.

It is human nature to want to be found fantastic, unusual, extraordinary, and unique.

We long to be set apart from one another. We all long to stand out.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be “special”.

To a point.

Now, let’s extrapolate that innate, human desire to be found interesting and apply it to an already very unique subject.

Sasquatch.

Likely, if you’re reading this site then I don’t have to persuade you to be interested in the subject or even go so far as acknowledging the possibility of the existence of such a creature.

To some, the idea of “bigfoot” is about as far from reality as you could possibly get.

To others, however, it is not only plausible and possible, but likely or, to those who have seen this creature, definite.

I can argue plausible and possible, though cannot argue definitively to the animals existence, since I have never had my own “encounter”.

“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence…” – Carl Sagan

I cannot make an extraordinary claim because I have no evidence, mundane nor extraordinary.

I can make assumptions based on critically analyzing claims and stories, gathering information from eyewitness testimony and investigating what is scientifically reasonable given what we know, what we don’t, and everything in-between.

These, however, remain assumptions. Nothing more. Nothing concrete. Certainly nothing definitive.

Herein lies the problem.

There are some individuals in the ever growing world of bigfoot that feel they can make claims with no evidence, anecdotal or empirical, to stake their claim upon.

Claims vary wildly from “expert” (a term that should be used in the loosest since; I cannot justify calling anyone an expert regarding a creature that has yet to be documented in any capacity, scientifically speaking) to “expert”. These claims range from the mundane assertion that Sasquatches have their own form of language to bigfoot is actually an alien species that travels dimension to dimension to avoid human contact.

One claim is reasonable based on what we can observe in supposedly similar species (often primates great apes, etc. are compared to Sasquatch) to something that is so far outside the mind of a reasonable person that no amount of critical thinking could ever justify to any extent, whatsoever.

Speaking of critical thinking, for the purposes of this site and many future articles that are on their way, we need to define exactly what I mean by critically thinking…

Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness 

-definition from http://www.criticalthinking.org

In this particular definition I’d like to pull out the following for emphasis…

“In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness.”

In other words, no matter the subject, the traits listed should apply. Critical thinking is the same process whether we are talking about a court case, political issues, and yes, even Sasquatch.

In short, we cannot apply a different set of standards when applying critical thinking across broad domains. We cannot act “unreasonably” and make grandiose claims that support our personal beliefs (though we often do) in political discussions nor in discussions about an 800 lb, undocumented, bipedal ape wandering the forests of North America.

Critical thinking necessitates being reasonable and making assumptions based on what we know or do not know or what is comparable or not comparable.

However, the situation gets even trickier when you attempt to critically think about something that is, in itself, quite unreasonable to some.

When discussing the creature, one must decide if (after critically thinking about the evidence supporting/not supporting the creatures existence) if you believe the animal itself to exist or not.

If you determine that the creature cannot possibly exist by applying critical thinking to the subject, then your arguments will reflect that. You can argue the lack of documentation via photo, video, etc. You can argue the admittion of hoaxers and scam artists. You can argue probability or lack thereof. You can argue that by reasonable, unbiased, universally accepted measures, the creature cannot exist.

If you determine, by critical analyzation, that the evidence supporting the creature is compelling,  your arguments can reflect that, as well. You can argue the thousands of witness sightings, track casts, etc. You can argue that by reasonable, unbiased, universally accepted measures, the creature exists.

Here’s an example of being reasonable and critically thinking regarding a particular “claim”;

“Witness ‘A’ claims to have seen Sasquatch no less than 23 times in the last 5 years. He knows where the creature will be, within one hundred yards accuracy, at any given time. The witness claims to have interacted with the creature on multiple occasions and that the animal has bonded with him. When asked for any evidence to corroborate their claims, Witness A says the creature doesn’t like his picture taken or the creature jumps into another dimension to avoid being photographed.”

A reasonable person, assuming they believe Sasquatch exists in the first place, will have several problems with this story.

Problem #1-

Witness A claims to have seen a creature so elusive that it has avoided actual scientific documentation for the entirety of its species existence, almost two dozen times in five years. This is unreasonable by most.

Problem #2-

Claims are being made that could be easily substantiated by photographic evidence, which a reasonable person would imagine, should be easily attainable due to the number of appearances Witness A has been privy to on a regular basis. A picture should not prove difficult to obtain with the number of different cameras available to anyone. The creature would not even know a camera was in use in most cases. This claim is unreasonable by most.

Problem #3-

Is there any scientific proof to the existence of other dimensions? Furthermore, even if there was, has any animal ever shown the ability to travel between them?

Obviously, a reasonable person would do well not to laugh at such claims.

By critically thinking through the above example, you can see that most reasonable people would find this story to be flawed in several areas and not worthy of further investigation.

Critical thinking requires that tough questions be asked and that unbiased opinions need to be formed based on what is reasonable.

Let’s look at this example;

“Witness B was driving down an old, rarely driven, Northern California road one night when something walked in front of his car. It appeared to be 8 feet tall (far taller than a human) and roughly 800 lbs (based on what the witness could see). The creature appeared to be covered in hair, with broad shoulders and an almost gorilla like appearance and gait. The creature hurried over the road as the witness drove closer.

The witness does not have any connection or previous experience with Sasquatch, nothing to gain by the sighting, and no family with any association to the creature. In other words, the witness has nothing to gain.

Again, if you have determined that the existence of bigfoot is reasonable, then this story passes a basic “critical thinking” test.

The witness has nothing to gain, has made no extraordinary claims, has no prior involvement with the subject of bigfoot nor does anyone close to the witness.

The creature acted the way a reasonable individual would assume a large animal would act and the location of the sighting was not overly populated and could potentially allow the creature to move, eat, and live relatively undisturbed.

Again, if the subject of Sasquatch is found reasonable by an individual, then this sighting would also display the traits of a reasonable person.

The reason for this post is not to promote diehard  skepticism and distrust but to encourage an open, reasonable mind, that can critically analyze a claim and determine for oneself if it holds water.

Tough questions need to be asked.

Hopefully, through this site, this can finally happen.