The Skunk Ape Experiments opens with a warning that it depicts “graphic imagery and drug use” and that “Some of the things done in this film are not recommended and shouldn’t be tried by you!!! Seriously. You could die.” Certainly not what I’m used to seeing before a paranormal documentary. I hoped that was a sign I was in for something different than the typical Sasquatch hunter documentary. I should have known better.
Documenting the experiences of OutKast Paranormal in and around Myakka City, Florida The Skunk Ape Experiments is split into three segments. The first, “To Catch A Skunk Ape” follows the team, led by director Stacy Brown Jr. (The Pit, The Skunk Ape Lives) and including Ryan Golembeske (Finding Bigfoot, Expedition Bigfoot), Bill Brock (Roswell: 70 Years Later, Monsters Underground) and James Brost into the Myakka River State Park as they look for the creature.
This segment is fairly generic and feels like it could have come from any number of Bigfoot-themed reality shows or documentaries. The Skunk Ape Experiments tries to be a little edgier by sneaking into the park rather than getting permission. But it’s all the same talk about dangerous wildlife, in this case, alligators, and a lot of dull wandering around in the dark. There’s no footage captured and the one alleged sighting happens off camera.
Mr. Roger’s Paranormal Neighbourhood is an interview with a man identified only as Roger who claims not only to have had numerous encounters with Skunk Apes but to have been cursed by them. We also hear from a couple of his neighbours who claim to have seen them as well. Looking at Roger it’s hard not to believe the health issues he claims were caused by this curse are the results of too much meth, moonshine and other unhealthy habits. His claim to be able to understand some of what the creatures say just strengthens that feeling.
The other folk whose stories are told in this segment seem a bit more normal but their stories are fairly typical “I was walking on my property and saw one” stories and once again there are no pictures, footprints, etc.
The Skunk Ape Experiments’ third segment, Thinning the Veil takes place at the Crowley Museum and Nature Center and is a full-on supernatural piece. While two of the team recite Aleister Crowley’s Ode to Pan while one of the others takes hallucinogenics and gazes into a mirror hoping to see something besides his own face.
This segment is, to put it bluntly, a total waste of time. First of all, if you take psilocybin and stare into a mirror you will see weird shit whether there are spirits involved or not. We get a lot of red-tinted footage of a goat, someone performing some kind of ritual and then it abruptly ends with no follow-up. I’m not sure if it’s to be continued in another film or if they just ran out of time and money.
The Skunk Ape Experiments uses a Creepshow like framing device, moving between stories as the pages of an animated comic book turn. That film however had the good sense to finish one story before starting another. This one bounces back and forth between them which would have made it impossible to maintain any atmosphere or interest they managed to work up.
For something that runs just under an hour, The Skunk Ape Experiments feels very long. Nothing of any consequence happens and even the recreations of people’s experiences are dull. Even one of Seth Breedlove’s weaker releases like On the Trail of UFOs: Night Visitors is miles ahead of this fiasco. IMDB lists the film as The Skunk Ape Experiments: Issue #1 tying in with its comic book gimmick, but I can’t see anyone wanting to collect a full set of these editions.
The Skunk Ape Experiments Debuts on Cable VOD and Digital platforms from 1091 Pictures on August 2nd. You can check their website or that of Outkast Paranormal for more information. You won’t have to wade through a swamp to find a similar film, just check with FilmTagger.