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RUNNING TIME: 15 hours and 40 minutes of Cryptozooilogical Awesomeness
- Assorted featurettes on Bigfoot, Dragons, Hybrids, Lake Monsters, Sea Monsters, Thunderbirds, Cryptozoology, and the Cryptozoology museum.
In addition to possibly real beings such as Nessie, Bigfoot, the Yeti, and El Chupacabra there are dozens of small-town creatures that are either figments or denizens that have eluded capture for untold years. MonsterQuest aims to remedy that. It doesn’t.
Cast: Bigfoot. The Black Beast of Exmoor. The Boneless Horror. China’s Wildman. Chupacabra. Ghosts. Giant Bear. Killer Snakes. Giant Squid. Sharks. Lake Monster of the North. The Hairy Beast. Mega Hog. Monster Spiders. The Ohio Grassman. Dragons. Super Rats. Vampires.
The people who believe in some of these beasts and devote their lives to them.
MonsterQuest is an amazingly polished television program with some very good technique at play. It just happens to be about creatures who fuck livestock up and one featuring talking heads who for the most part… are loons.
Of course it’s hugely entertaining.
There is a series of things that happen in nearly every episode of MonsterQuest, aside from the truly extraneous episodes devoted to ghosts and vampires and shit like that which seems to belong in a different show altogether. I mean, seeing ghosts get one episode is silly. This is something huge and worldly and to devote the same resources and energy to ghosts as The Ohio Grassman is disrespectful in my opinion. Ghosts have much more merit.
Vampires, not so much…
Ohio Grassman, if you’re reading this I applaud your savvy as you are a fictional primordial beast of the forest and unlikely to be approved for a T-Mobile HotSpot account and therefore your internet access is even more astounding than your ability to elude mankind for a century.
Just about every episode of the show features the reveal of some possible creature out there who is either lurking in the forest, swimming around in the sea, or nestled in a cave somewhere that has been spotted by a large variety of people who seemingly need something interesting to happen in their lives. I’m not putting the people down who live in these rural settings and whatnot, but as is the case with UFO sightings a lot of times the believability of sightings is damaged by the witnesses. It’s never a vacationing Yale scholar who is prancing about in the marshland when the Omaha Bone Devil rears its ugly head but rather a dude whose life revolves around feeding chickens whose idea of a metropolis is Phenix City, Alabama. Some would say the the reasons these beasts are unfound is because they live in remote areas and only humans who live in these areas have access to them. I agree, but I also posit that when you live in Elk’s Forehead, Mississippi you need something to pass the time or some fantastic event to happen to attract the big city newspeople. Typically the choices are as follows:
Kill everyone around you with a carving knife and arrive at the local Denny’s covered in blood and matted hair.
Become the next big race car driver.
See an alien and share that experience with live television.
Anyhow, every episode features an eyewitness account or a few. People whose dogs were devoured by an unseen beast of the night or folks who woke up to eat an entire bag of Cheetos only to see a gigantic hairy animal staring at them longingly through the dining room window. Or a person who was swimming and discovered a giant octopus had started kicking their ass. Things like that. With the bell sounded, the MonsterQuest folks arrive on the scene with experts and technology to get to the bottom it. This usually involves someone poking around at remains [once where the owner of the unearthed dog corpse had to excuse himself on account of sadness!], tests being done on hair or bones, and the most important aspect of the entire show: affixing a video camera to an animal.
If you are wise enough to purchase this glorious box set (and I say that with no irony, this is a must-own) you will see the following beings affixed with a video rig as they are sent into their habitat as spies for mankind:
A Ghost (sorta).
The most dangerous species of all, MAN.
Usually the camera rigs are met with disastrous results. Which is funny, because who is surprised when a rat, one of history’s most resourceful and resilient animals, is able to slip out of a harness created with foam and rudimentary straps? You put a piece of scotch tape on my cat’s forehead and he’ll try to climb under it for an hour before freezing in place until it’s removed and he is a domesticated animal. I put a video camera on him and he’ll die instantly of old age. These are wild animals with plans, very few of which including the live capture of candid photos of their friends. For all the phenomenal editing technique and production value of this show I expect a little more than interviews with homeless people and the decision to entrust important filmmaking tasks to a tentacled sea dweller.
But I love the show. To death. It’s great.
As a youth before the internet and before running water I used to spend many days at the library combing through their books about The Loch Ness Monster and Unexplained Phenomena. I ate shit like In Search Of up like crab legs. It’s fascinating stuff, and who among us doesn’t want this stuff to end up being true. We need to know that there’s stuff out there, anything to keep our mind’s eye blinking. If a dinosaur can live in Scotland, the world’s a better place. If Lizzie Borden’s parents are pissed that they were slaughtered their ghosts should be screaming bloody hell.
Anyone with an imagination benefits both from a show like this and the hope that the subjects is covers could possibly be grounded in reality.
And that’s all MonsterQuest is at the end of the day. In Search Of for the new generation. And I applaud it for that. Nothing is ever proven. No beasts are actually revealed and more often than not their sober approach to the subjects and the questionable legitimacy of some of the people who have sighted the animals makes the skeptic in us take the fore, but it’s a good ride. And there’s just enough real-life stuff (saltwater sharks that go upstream in freshwater rivers, giant squids, etc.) to keep the viewer on their toes.
Which makes me wish that they did one April Fools episode a year filled with mayhem, like where the diver goes down to explore and they find his knee washed ashore the next day or someone goes into the forest to find a creature only to have it sitting Indian-style waiting for him. They find the camera the next day covered in blood and matted hair and there’s footage of the creature rummaging through the explorer’s bowels looking for shiny items.
Television Studio Heads: Hire me to create a show where I take this approach and totally make it great with faked real footage of these creatures kicking ass like the Signs alien birthday party crasher. It’s already better than everything featuring Ty Pennington and Paula Abdul.
If viewed strictly as entertainment this is a stellar and fun show to have on while you’re relaxing on the couch, cooking, or shooting heroin with the neighbors. For kids it’s glorious, full of stuff that fires the synapses of the imagination. My daughter watched two episodes with me and was a mile a minute with the questions about giant spiders eating us and sharks getting her at the swimming pool at our gym. This means that MonsterQuest is achieving that most hard task: to entertain and engage us in this era of distractions and short-attention span geared entertainment.
It’s serving the same need those books in the library in 1980 filled for me as a kid. It’s wide-eyed, somewhat gullible, and absolutely in love with its somewhat thankless job.
We should all be able to be so lucky.
Each disc features a couple of featurettes but in all honesty their short and uninspiring. They’re fun complements but not the kind of supplemental material to sell someone whose on the fence about the magnificence of MonsterQuest.
But I think almost sixteen hours of hardcore monster searching ought to be enough for most people.
One cavaet: The packaging is not as it is in the image at the top of this article but rather a much more boring old-school 2-DVD pack. Not the metallic kind that fits better on a shelf and is much more sturdy and attractive.
But since the Ohio Grassman is featured, you better not be complaining.
7.5 out of 10
7.5 out of 10