The Man Who Killed Bigfoot
I'm a big fan of Bigfoot and everything he represents. I don't necessarily believe in Bigfoot but I want to believe in a world where Bigfoot can exist because that world, where there are still things left to be discovered, is an exciting place to live.
A few years ago, I organized an event at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Houston, TX that celebrated Bigfoot in all its majesty - specifically, by shining a spotlight on a man who claimed to have killed the creature.
It began when I read an article in the Houston Chronicle about Rick Dyer, a hunter who claimed to have shot and killed Bigfoot and was planning to tour the body around Texas. Dyer had previously been in the news when he held a press conference a few years earlier claiming to have caught Bigfoot. That claim was debunked when it was revealed that Dyer had put raw meat inside a gorilla suit and tried to pass it off as Bigfoot's corpse.
But this time, Dyer, claimed, he was telling the truth!
Dyer had been tipped off about a Bigfoot encampment outside of San Antonio by a homeless community. He had gone to Wal-Mart, bought a bunch of ribs, and nailed them to trees. Laying wait in the darkness, Dyer bided his time until Bigfoot showed up looking for meet nailed to foliage, as Bigfeet are prone to do. With a hunter's instinct, Dyer made his kill and now he finally had it - proof that Bigfoot existed. Or had existed and was currently encased in a glass coffin that Dyer would only be too happy to show curious people, for the price of an admission ticket.
To help sell the idea that he was actually telling the truth this time, Dyer actually released a video in which he claimed to have recorded footage of Bigfoot from inside his tent. You can track down versions of this video on YouTube if you want. Here's a screenshot.
Yep, Dyer was up to his old tricks again.
My interest in hosting Dyer at the theater was immediate because it combined my love of cryptozoology and my love of fiascos. I immediately tracked Rick down. Dyer and his team agreed to do a show at the Alamo Drafthouse in Katy and, in a little under a week, I had teased the show, planned out all the logistics, and put it on sale. Within forty-eight hours, the show had sold out and I had added a second event at our Northwest Houston location.
Not long after the event was put on sale, the theater began to receive a lot of Tweets and emails from a group I began to call the Illumayeti. These folks were PISSED off that we were legitimatizing Rick Dyer and his antics. They even tried to rat us out to the FBI and Dean Cain!
If you're wondering why Dean Cain was dragged into this, it's because he had been involved recently with a public bounty put on Bigfoot as part of his hosting duties for RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT.
The Illumayeti did everything they could to try and get the event shut down. They made YouTube videos trying to expose Dyer as a fraud and the theater as his enablers. They sent emails to the location that verged on being bomb threats with vague warnings that "something bad will happen if the Alamo Drafthouse puts on this event." The group actually really dug the Illumayeti name I gave them and began to claim it. They also used a lot of Photoshop.
A few days before our event, another theater in another city tried to do a similar screening with Rick Dyer. They saw the success of our screenings and thought they could pull it off themselves. Dyer, of course, didn't make it easy for them. He had the Bigfoot corpse's feet and hands covered and, when people asked why they couldn't see them, he claimed he had sold the exclusive rights to these appendages to the Houston Alamo Drafthouse location. He had not. At all.
I was starting to get nervous. The event was bigger than I ever thought it was going to be. I had programmed the first night as a goof but now I had two sold-out shows on two consecutive nights. More importantly, I had people who were planning to attend the event who were not fans of Dyer. I needed help. I needed Owen Egerton.
Owen is one of the funniest people I have ever met. His razor-sharp wit and incredible improv skills are only matched by his talent as a writer, novelist, and filmmaker. Owen is a hero of showbusiness and without his involvement, I am positive that An Evening With Bigfoot would have gone down in flames. Thankfully, Owen agreed to come out to the event and emcee the evening.
With Owen on board, I moved full steam ahead. That first night in Katy, we had almost every single news station in Houston at the theater covering the event. It was a carnival - with over a hundred people showing up, all happy to be there, and to take in the craziness.
To pay tribute to the method in which Dyer caught Bigfoot, I even nailed some (fake) meat to our trees at the theater.
Owen took the stage and immediately had the audience pumped up and ready to hunt down the truth like Rick Dyer had hunted Bigfoot. Here's a video of him doing his introduction at the very beginning of the event.
One of the weirdest things that happened during the event was that it turned into a pro-America rally, with the audience chanting USA! USA! USA! at several points during the evening. In a weird way, I think this might have been a precursor to Donald Trump's run for president. It's scary to watch now.
The way our event worked was that Owen would come out, hype the audience up and then we would show the first episode of that famous SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN two-parter in which Steve Austin fights Bigfoot. After the first episode ended with a cliffhanger, Owen would do a Q&A with Rick and then we would show the second episode.
Now you might be asking yourself: Why the SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN? In retrospect, I wish we had played THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK. I tried to get an advance screening of Bobcat Goldthwait's WILLO CREEK and the studio had originally agreed to participate but they very quickly changed their mind. They claimed the film wasn't ready to be seen even though it had played a couple of film festivals already. I think it was because they didn't want to be involved in this particular fiasco. Either way, it was fine because I quickly found out a bunch of people had planned to bring their kids to the event.
We had promoted the screening as featuring a mystery Bigfoot movie so, all the way up until a week before the event, I was scrambling to figure out what, exactly, that movie would be. It had to be something relatively family-friendly and the TV show episodes, I felt, were kitchy enough to be fun. What I didn't realize, though, was that Dyer had been teasing his fanbase that we would be showing a BBC documentary that had been made about his Bigfoot hunting exploits, a movie that apparently confirmed proof of Dyer's claims.
The film was called SHOOTING BIGFOOT and was from filmmaker Morgan Matthews. I tried to get the movie but Matthews and his team never responded to my requests. Dyer was unable to pull any strings himself.
After the first episode of THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN played and the audience had a great time with it, Owen came out to introduce Rick, and immediately you could tell that Dyer was eating up the attention with a spoon. He walked on stage, recording the audience's cheers on his giant iPad.
Owen's interview with Dyer is one of the best things I've ever experienced.
In this clip, Dyer talks about how killing Bigfoot was a symbolic gesture made in the pursuit of redemption. You know, to make up for the fact that Dyer had gone on CNN with a gorilla costume stuffed full of roadkill.
In this clip, Owen talks to Rick and his claims that the roadkill body he took on CNN was actually a decoy needed because the Men in Black (yes, really) came and stole the actual dead Bigfoot that Dyer had found on the side of the road. Dyer was a master of lying out of his ass. It was all so glorious.
"No matter what I did, I couldn't get no respect from the Bigfoot community. Even though I was doing more for Bigfoot before eight o'clock in the morning than they did all year." - Rick Dyer, American Hero.
"And that led me to find redemption and I found it in San Antonio on September 26 in 2012." - Rick Dyer. How has this man not been immortalized in a movie? Somebody get Pete Berg and Mark Wahlberg on the phone STAT!
The audience was allowed to ask questions. A lot of questions were from people playing along with Rick. This guy starts his question by condoning the murder of baby seals, which turns to Owen uncovering the truth about a baby Bigfoot Dyer claimed to have befriended.
Here's the rest of the Baby Bigfoot story.
Dyer claimed to have killed two Bigfoot in San Antonio in 2012, despite bringing the body of a single Bigfoot with him to our theaters. In this clip, Dyer recounts the horrifying encounter with the second Bigfoot, a monster that could apparently detach its jaws like a snake.
In this clip, somebody from the audience asks why Rick Dyer didn't just try and capture Bigfoot than outright kill him. Dyer's answer involved a lot of excuses, most of them involving how expensive tranquilizer guns are.
Owen was amazing the entire event. Watching him interact with Rick Dyer was like watching a cat play with a mouse, if the mouse was the Joe Exotic of the Bigfoot hunting world.
One of the highlights of the evening was when a little girl got up to ask a question - specifically, why mean old Rick Dyer killed the beloved Sasquatch. Dyer's answer, delivered with a completely straight face, is the stuff of legend.
Later Rick Dyer would double down on his claims to be protecting the children of the world from Bigfoot. In this clip, Dyer reveals the dark secret cryptozoology doesn't want you to know about. Bigfoot is actually a child molester. Seriously. Dyer was unstoppable.
Considering this event took place in Katy, Texas, there were, as expected, at least one question about what kind of guns and ammo Rick Dyer used to fell the mighty Bigfoot.
Dyer would actually go as far as challenging the people in the audience to rush out and buy as many guns and ammo as they could get their hands on and immediately search out any remaining Bigfoot specimens out there in the wild and kill them. Think of the children!
When asked to provide proof - be in DNA, forensics or even things like naming the college he had allegedly sold the second Bigfoot corpse to - Dyer would duck and weave like a champ. Nobody was going to corner him in his lies. Nobody.
Rick Dyer wasn't shy about revealing his motivations beyond the tour and beyond charging people money to see the dead body. He had two priorities and one of them was clearly about redemption. He wanted to silence all the haters who gave him shit after the last hoax he pulled.
And the punchline to that story. Spoiler: It's exactly what you think it is.
Money was another big factor behind Rick's tour, obviously. Owen asked Dyer why, if Bigfoot were child molesting predators that Americans should fear, was he not providing the proof of their existence and ensuring they'd be immediately exterminated. There's no money in that.
In one of my favorite clips, Rick Dyer compares the Bigfoot to a possum and why it's so important for him to keep people guessing whether or not he's full of shit.
Owen: "What are you going to do after hunting and capturing Bigfoot?"
Rick: "I'm still trying to find Elvis."
Owen: "You're going to shoot Elvis too?"
Even as the Q&A wrapped up, Dyer continued to drop bombshells, like how he had recently been involved in a mass Bigfoot attack in which a pack of Bigfeet (?) tried to flatten a house he and his team were staying at by throwing rocks at it.
Now I want to make it clear. I absolutely thought Rick Dyer was full of crap. There's no way he killed Bigfoot and I never once tried to sell the event as a way to actually see Bigfoot's corpse. It was camp fun of the highest degree and the first night, I felt, achieved that.
After the Q&A, people lined up to see Bigfoot in his glass coffin within a trailer Rick had parked outside our theater. People would go in, one at a time, pay their respect to Bigfoot's corpse and take pictures. Guys, Dyer gave the fake Bigfoot he made a micro-penis!
Inside the trailer were giant pictures Rick had printed out on foamboard and taped up, most of them of him without his shirt and posing with guns. Here’s my friends Meredith Borders and Henri Mazza posing with Rick’s nipples, the actual nipples thankfully obscured.
So the first night was a success. One of the best experiences in my professional career. The second night though? It was pure hell.
Because the first night had sold out from Alamo faithful looking for a fun time, all the Rick Dyer haters had been funneled into night two. They showed up looking for blood. I was so busy trying to keep them from tearing the theater apart in anger, that I didn't have time to take any pictures or any footage. Almost immediately, the audience was ready to rip apart Rick, rip apart Owen and rip apart me. There were children standing up and calling Rick a liar to his face, people in the audience jeering at Rick the entire Q&A, and families complaining about how much Rick was cursing. Because Rick did curse. A lot. Confronted by an angry mob, Rick went into full heel mode.
There was a point in the second night's Q&A where Dyer bragged about his fancy cars and the millions of dollars he made from selling the corpse. Somebody asked why, if Dyer had a million, did he need the guest's $15 for the event ticket. Dyer responded that now he had $1,000,015.
By the time the Q&A was over, the event was in utter chaos. People did not stick around in the theater to watch the second episode of THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN, instead they streamed into the lobby to demand refunds and/or see the corpse immediately. I was in over my head. I will never forget the kindness that Owen showed at that event. He was the emcee, but he took responsibility for making sure everybody had a good time. He went down the line of angry guests and talked to every single one of them, to try and win them over and make them happy. Owen would come and check on me, see how I was doing, and offer words of encouragement that everything was going to be OK. I have blocked out most of the memories of that second night. It was bad, people were ANGRY. But Owen as a guardian angel is something I'll always remember.
If you want to learn more about Rick Dyer and his Texas Tour, Texas Monthly wrote an amazing article about the whole adventure. Please read Jeff Winkler's article, if only for the fun way he quoted Owen and me.
So what happened to Rick after the tour? A few months after those two nights, Rick's tour manager, a weird dude from Australia, was fired by Rick and subsequently sent a confession about how the whole thing was faked to his entire address book. Duh, dude. Of course, it was fake.
Rick would later admit it was a hoax and, for a while, Rick tried to sell himself as some kind of hoax buster, offering up his services to reality television and promising he'd go around proving other people were as full of shit as he was. Nowadays he seems to be flipping cars.
I look back at my two EVENINGS WITH BIGFOOT with great fondness. They are easily the events I am the proudest of being a part of at the Alamo Drafthouse. They were wild, raucous nights in which some left extremely happy and some left extremely pissed. In the end, though, we put some money in the wallet of a modern P.T. Barnum, allowed people to look at a paper mache Bigfoot corpse inside a glass coffin and, most importantly, offered up the brief possibility that the world was a stranger, more exciting place than it ordinarily seemed to be.