Giving Cryptozoology a Bad Name: MOUNTAIN MONSTERS on Destination America

MOUNTAIN MONSTERS


(2/5)


Pros: Has its amusing moments

Cons: Absolutely ridiculous

Just when I was starting to believe that, between shows like Destination: Truth, Monster Quest, and Finding Bigfoot, the genre of “monster hunting” television shows had about been played out, a program has come along and raised the bar of implausibility to an unheard of level. Airing on the Destination America channel, Mountain Monsters follows the exploits of a group of ‘investigators” working for The Appalachian Investigators of Mysterious Sightings organization (AIMS for short) as they track down and attempt to capture various unknown creatures running amok through the American South. This hour-long program plays out in a manner that’s remarkably similar to that of Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot show – during the course of each episode, the history of the region and creature being investigated is examined and interviews are conducted with alleged eyewitnesses who occasionally provide some “evidence.” A pair of night investigations are the obvious highlights of the show, but there’s a twist on the usual “let’s go prowling around in the woods” routine established by Finding Bigfoot. You see, since one of the goals of this program seems to be to highlight hillbilly ingenuity, every episode of Mountain Monsters features the gang putting some sort of oversized and patently absurd trap into play. Taken straight out of a Looney Tunes cartoon, these devices seem completely incapable of actually capturing anything, but they certainly add to the spectacle of the program.


Now in its second season, Mountain Monsters debuted in 2013, with a run of six episodes in which the AIMS gang – namely leader “Trapper,” lead researcher Jeff (whose main purpose is to operate the obligatory FLIR night vision-type gear), burly “security” officer named “Huckleberry,” chief trap-builder Willy, the morbidly obese “rookie” named Buck, and a wildcard, ex-Marine named “Wild Bill” – stalked through the woodlands of Kentucky, the Virginias, and Tennessee in search of such creatures as the Mothman, Lizard Demon, Bigfoot, and Devil Dog. Inevitably (and obviously) the gang never captured any of these creatures – hell, with this obnoxious and loud gang of clowns stomping around in the woods with shotguns, ANY wildlife in the area was likely to split in record time – but this doesn’t stop the AIMS “investigators” from unanimously declaring that every creature they try to find is in fact real.

buck

And that’s about where the show begins to lose any and all credibility.


For one thing, there’s positively nothing scientific about the methods used by the AIMS gang – for example, despite finding hair samples and foot prints, the investigators never make any attempt to cast any tracks nor really even take such (apparently, hard) evidence seriously. Their main – and only – goal seems to be to shoot and kill whatever monstrous beast they’re looking for – not exactly how one would ideally want to approach looking for previously unknown, potentially endangered animals. Say what you want about the sometimes outlandish methods employed by Matt Moneymaker and the gang on Finding Bigfoot, but that program seems positively methodical and commendable when compared to the overt outrageousness of Mountain Monsters. Without exception, each episode of this program features the sketchiest batch of evidence one would ever hope to see: grainy cellphone videos (which frequently look mighty suspicious with regard to their use of CGI), blurry, indistinct trail camera images (that again, look doctored to me), and first-hand eyewitness accounts provided by persons with names like “Fish” and “Wolfie” who seem to fall into line with the most stereotypical descriptions of what one would expect “rednecks” to look like. To make matters worse, Trapper jumps to wild, ludicrous conclusions about the creatures he and his associates are looking for: there’s no skepticism whatsoever since the program seems to assume all these creatures are absolutely real right off the bat.

The icing on the cake however is the fact that the producers of this program want any viewer to believe that the buffoonish AIMS investigators just happen to waltz into various areas of the country and actually locate a monstrous creature each and every time. This seems highly improbable (if not downright impossible) – regardless of their “hunting, tracking and trapping skills,” it’s tough to believe that these investigators would be able to nearly instantly locate mythological beasts in the course of a few days “investigation.” Still, we’re led to believe that during every episode, Trapper and the gang do get darn close to killing or capturing an unknown and supposedly elusive animal. It’s worth pointing out that Finding Bigfoot, Destination: Truth and Monster Quest – shows that each have/did run for several seasons – NEVER came up with conclusive, substantial evidence suggesting that any of the creatures they investigated were real – yet we’re to believe that AIMS finds hard evidence EVERY SINGLE TIME to the point where the investigators come under attack from these creatures?

Verisimilitude in Mountain Monsters is achieved through the best (or is it worst?) use of manipulative camerawork and editing this side of The Blair Witch Project. There’s constantly something scurrying around in the underbrush, with the AIMS reporters doing their darnedest to act scared as they sludge around in various forests, swamps, and mountain regions. The seemingly constant exclamations of “Right there, Right there, Dat Dere!” is indicative of the fact that the creature in question is always (conveniently) just out of camera view and just out of reach of the investigators. And then there’s the sounds these creatures make: as much as the video evidence seems faked and played up for the camera, the obviously manipulated growls, screeches, and screams of the various monsters is completely preposterous. In one episode I was watching in which the gang was on the trail of the West Virginia “Yahoo,” a sort of Bigfoot-type creature, the Yahoo’s whooping and hollering played like an airhorn blasting on the episode’s soundtrack. It’s honestly sad to think that some people would be convinced by the sorry sack of hogwash that this show offers up to its viewers: even the “conspiracy crowd” out there (a crowd that admittedly, I exist on the fringes of) would have to admit that this program pushes the envelope of believability a bit too far.


Perhaps the one legitimate positive quality this show has going for it is that it’s undeniably entertaining (in a head-shaking kind of way), exploiting public fascination with the unknown. The gang of admitted hillbillies that makes up the AIMS team does have a good rapport with one another, and it’s fun to see the obligatory “let’s laugh at Buck” moments and witness the sheer insanity that is the “Wild Bill” character. Hell, I just like to listen to Wild Bill (who constantly seems to have a mouth overflowing with chewing tobacco) delivering manic, whacked-out statements. Simply put, these fellows just aren’t right in the head. A viewer is frequently left dumbfounded at the ideas behind some of the traps constructed for these hunts let alone by the finished devices themselves. When Willy is left to construct a 20×20 foot bamboo cage trap suspended in a tree that’s set off by a lever being baited with a proverbial carrot, it reminds one of the Roadrunner cartoons: how in the hell do they expect any of this to work?

I can’t deny that shows like this are fascinating in a way, drawing on the public’s desire to believe that there are potentially dangerous monsters and unknown beasts out there. Production during the program is pretty slick, with most episodes having some threat and/or evidence of violent behavior stemming from the beast being hunted. Inevitably, each episode resorts to a sort of showdown between the investigators and the creatures, sometimes resembling a war film (“they’re all around us!”) as Trapper and the gang frantically point their firearms into the darkness.

All things considered, I can’t in good conscience give this program an honest recommendation – at least as a legitimate, factual kind of program. You’ll notice in the course of this review that I’ve used quotation marks in many instances in describing aspects of the show – and probably should have used even more. That really should tell you everything you need to know about Mountain Monsters: in my opinion and estimation, most everything contained in this show is absolute malarkey, though for what it is, the show is entertaining. There’s a crowd out there who would eat this up irregardless of its veracity, though I’d like it if a program like this provided a more level-headed approach. Mountain Monsters seems to suggest that the first response to encountering any sort of animal is to threaten and/or shoot at it with a firearm, a particularly unfortunate way to conduct business considering the AIMS gang here is searching for unknown creatures. Certainly, this show does have some jaw-dropping moments during each and every episode (often for reasons I’d have to suspect were not entirely intentional on the part of the producers), but whatever you do, don’t take it all that seriously.


Would you believe these guys?
mountain monsters crew

8 thoughts on “Giving Cryptozoology a Bad Name: MOUNTAIN MONSTERS on Destination America”

  1. I don’t get the ‘Destination America’ channel – and it sounds just as well. I was really enjoying the ‘Bigfoot’ series, but I can only watch just so many ” We were this close” testimonials. . . and still no verifiable tracks, scat, hair, photos, recordings, or Sasquatch Snack litter ( they must be more environmentally conscious than we messy humans. )

    On my very own, brand-new, banana score pad, this review is a four-banana review! ( I just have to find one on my keyboard) 🙂

    Nj

    1. You probably are better off not watching this show. I’d have to call it one of the worst monster/crypto related shows on TV these days.

      It’s almost so bad, it’s good, but like I mentioned in the review – there’s probably people out there gullible enough to think it’s entirely real, a fact that probably is more scary than any of the monsters created by camera gimmicks and imagination…

      Thanks for the comment; Cheers!

  2. I’ve watched those Destination America “house hunter” style shows where city-folk who’ve never seen snow suddenly decide they want to live in the wilds of Alaska with no electricity or running water – at least for the first winter. There’s also one where swamp-lovers house-hunt in the Louisiana bayou.

    Looks like they’ve gone outdoors and into the realm of Bigfoot bumpkinism with Mountain Monsters. Plenty of mountains around these-here parts, but moose and bear don’t quite possess that Yeti, Loch Ness monster mystique. If a real Mountain Monster should happen-by, I will be sure to snap a photo and use it as my avatar – with due attribution.

  3. I’m not even sure one could write off what actually is sneaking around the woods during this show as bears, coyotes, moose, mountain lions, wolverines, the chupacabra, or Bear Grylls. Most likely every “monster” in this show is merely a group of production assistants trying to “make good television” by “scaring” the main cast members. It’s impossible to believe there’s one lick of truth to anything seen in the program.

    Meanwhile, I remain hopeful that one day something unknown will creep out of the woods in the American South – and that the bunch of trigger-happy hillbillies featured on this show won’t be the ones that inevitably document the thing.

    Thanks for the comment and “keep watching the woods…”
    Cheers!

  4. Well, at least the show’s good for an entertaining review! Imagine if the show’s DVD were found in a time capsule what people of the future would think of us….!

    1. **shudders** One can only imagine how future societies would go about explaining and/or writing off this or numerous other television shows; descriptions about “primitives” or “savages” would only explain so much…

      Cheers!

  5. you said, -it’s undeniably entertaining (in a head-shaking kind of way), -, that it is

    any squatch out there has got to be sitting in a tree shaking with laughter during every taping,

    the ‘hunters’ make so much noise etc there can’t be a critter of any kind left within a 100 miles of the taping

    enjoyed your review

    Husband, old lrrp, turns the program on each airing just to see what kind of mishap the fellows will end up in this time

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