By Owen Quinn author of the Time Warriors and Zombie Blues
Owen looks back at a classic encounter that helped inspire him and shape his love of writing.
There is something about sci-fi fans that keeps them young, not in a Cliff Richard way but in a Peter Pan way and if you could bottle it you’d make a fortune.
Maybe it’s memories of happier times that make us love what we love or maybe the quality of having that part of us that remains an eternal child helps us stay young. It allows us to excitedly anticipate every new movie and TV show and settle down just as we did as kids.
In this day and age team ups are a dime a dozen. For every Superman vs Alien there’s a Batman vs Predator. Indeed in comic land entire universes crossover.
But count your chickens and hold them close people because I remember a day when such things were a rarity and with no video or DVD or internet, you just saw them the once unless the corporations decided to repeat them to fill a gap in the Sunday afternoon schedules. (Yes, peeps, there was a time when no one worked on a Sunday, swear to God).
And I take my hat off to anyone who dreams of a super team up and in the seventies, the world was captivated by bionic men and women. Steve Austin battled agents, deadly space probes and lots of Russians but who could possibly give him a run for his money?
Well, the legend of Sasquatch aka Bigfoot was big news especially with the Patterson film, which by the way has been proved to be 100% real so the producers decided there was only one thing that would give Steve a run for his money and to take his mind off his girlfriend Jaime Sommers’ memory loss about their love for each other- Bigfoot.
The episode called The Secret of Bigfoot, aired on 1st February 1976 and it proved to be a ratings smash which delighted everyone and Bigfoot came back for two appearances, one of which saw him battle the Bionic Woman who on meeting him did the one thing I would have done, jump into the highest tree, something Steve didn’t think of. And I for one jumped for joy. So if you meet Bigfoot, survival rule number 1; climb the nearest tree. In the Return of Bigfoot, renegade aliens from the previous story were controlling Bigfoot to steal equipment they needed for a deadly plan to take over the world. Steve’s memories are restored, having been wiped at the conclusion of the first story and when none of his friends believe him about the Bigfoot, he is forced to go it alone resulting in nearly being killed by the Sasquatch. Jaime discovers the aliens have a serum that cures anything and goes off to the forests to find them but is attacked by Sasquatch. And by the end of the story all three team up to prevent an exploding volcano by accelerating it through time itself. His final appearance was in Bigfoot V which revealed in had been left behind in stasis by the aliens and had been photographed by a female explorer leading Steve to come to his rescue. In the end, the television version dovetailed into legend as a lone creature that walked the mountains guarding the forests. In many ways it was a tragic end for such a popular character. He had forged a strong friendship with both bionic parties especially Jaime that such an ending seems an easy way out but to keep the legend alive, the only way to end it.
Such was the success of Bigfoot in the show, Sasquatch was forever cemented into the public consciousness and the world exploded with Bigfoot sightings. They even produced an action figure so kids could have their Steve figure battle Sasquatch in their own living rooms. Unfortunately, my Steve figure, dressed in his best red tracksuit, was left on one of those old style shelf radiators and a few hours later, I found him melted. I don’t think I ever got over that.
But anyway there is no one of my generation that have ever forgotten the fight between Steve and Bigfoot, it really was that momentous.
The build-up was similar to the appearance of the T-rex in Jurassic Park, that steady thump thump of huge feet, branches breaking as Steve tries to see what is making them. And when Bigfoot, played by Andre the Giant, is revealed it’s no fist fight. Boulders and tree trunks galore are smashed as they battle. And the reason Bigfoot has bionic sound effects is a shocker when Steve rips his arm off to reveal Bigfoot is actually a cyborg, later shown to be the guard dog of a group of aliens that have been living in the Oregon forests for centuries. They exist in a different flow of time which explains how Bigfoot was seen for centuries explaining Bigfoot’s appearances in Native American folklore.
Bigfoot can jump across a lake even with one arm but Steve barely makes it before he is trapped by the aliens and examined. Needless to say they become friends but no one will forget the moment Bigfoot was catapulted into our physce because he could beat up the Six Million Dollar Man. And for once you can actually believe Steve is going to be defeated.
The build-up cannot fail to impress even to this day as hidden point of views and Bigfoot kept to the shadows in silhouette ramped up the tension along with the deep roar that echoes around the forests. And as silly as it seems, I still cannot fail to be entertained by the showdown which is also helped by the cracking music, a mix of primal sounds mixed with the theme tune. And it actually looks like the fight is rough when Steve is grabbed by the monster and thrown about like a rag doll. And in all sci-fi, unless there’s a realism to such sequences then they will ultimately fail but in this case, the battle has lingered in so many fans’ memories because it really is a classic. It’s right up there with the Hulk facing down the Thing, Batman fighting Bane and that’s where the magic lies.
You can honestly believe that Bigfoot fought the Six Million Dollar Man as sightings continue to this day in that ocean of dark forests that house the legends of time and you will never look at the Oregon forests in the same way ever again.