Not Rated / Color / 82 minutes
Directed by Seth Breedlove
Purchase it: (Digital) | Smalltown Monsters (DVD)


Growing up, I was more open to believing in paranormal phenomena, cryptids, and things that go bump in the night. Loch Ness had Nessie, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR was a true story, and Bigfoot roamed the forests of the United States. I avidly watched Unsolved Mysteries and reruns of In Search Of…, and devoured books filled with ghost stories and eyewitness accounts of Bigfoot, UFOs, and sea serpents.

As an adult, I’ve become more skeptical. In an age where everyone has a camera and satellites monitor us from space, it’s harder to believe in such creatures. However, it’s still fun to speculate and hear tales of legendary creatures like MOMO: THE MISSOURI MONSTER.

Momo, short for MissOuri MOnster, hails from Louisiana, Missouri, a small town along the Mississippi River. In the summer of 1972, numerous people allegedly saw the creature, embedding it into local legend. The foul-smelling, three-toed, seven-foot-tall hominid especially terrorized the Harrison family near Marzolf Hill (Star Hill). Their tales of a hairy beast and strange lights in the sky caused mass hysteria in the town.

To calm the populace, Chief of Police Shelby Ward led armed men to search Star Hill but found no trace of the creature. This didn’t stop outsiders from visiting, hoping to catch a glimpse of Momo. Cryptozoologists and UFO experts descended on Louisiana, but the mysterious beast vanished as quickly as it appeared, leaving many to wonder if the Harrisons had lied, were victims of a prank, or if Momo was real but otherworldly.

Nearly fifty years later, Lyle Blackburn, an author and cryptid enthusiast, visits Louisiana for his “Cryptid Casefiles” series to explore the Missouri Monster’s short-lived invasion. Blackburn’s documentary-style portion of MOMO includes interviews with locals sharing their experiences and opinions. The film alternates between these interviews and a “previously unreleased” 1975 film entitled MOMO: THE MISSOURI MONSTER.

Directed by Seth Breedlove, MOMO is a nod to “Bigfoot-sploitation” classics like THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK and THE CREATURE FROM BLACK LAKE. Despite its estimated $16,000 budget and small cast and crew, Breedlove created an entertaining narrative about a hairy alien invader. The film’s digital footage is edited to look grainy and scratched, giving it a 70s grindhouse feel, complemented by Brandon Dalo’s atmospheric soundtrack.

Though the production values are impressive, there isn’t much substance to MOMO: THE MISSOURI MONSTER, partly due to the finite number of Momo stories and the fact that many firsthand witnesses are deceased. Still, Lyle Blackburn makes do with his interview subjects, including Momo skeptics, Matt Huntington (Chronicler of the Strange), and Snookie Ward, daughter of the former Momo-hunting police chief. The most interesting interviewee is Gail Suddarth, who claims to have created the infamous three-toed Momo print on her family farm, which fooled experts.

While the documentary portions are well-done, Seth Breedlove’s simulated creature feature is the highlight. MOMO: THE MISSOURI MONSTER suggests an extraterrestrial origin for the beast, which is curious and aggressive. The creature stalks the Harrison family, assaults picnickers, and offends noses with its stench.

As MOMO concludes, Edgar Harrison (Adam Duggan) and Chief Ward (Cliff Barackman) venture to Marzolf Hill with armed volunteers to confront Momo. Undaunted by strange phenomena, Edgar encounters Momo alone, leading to a final confrontation.

Though I haven’t seen other Small Town Monsters documentaries, if they match MOMO: THE MISSOURI MONSTER’s quality, I’ll gladly watch them. Seth Breedlove’s documentary/docudrama combo is polished and offers interesting historical perspectives on the town and its furry claim to fame. Will it make you a Momo-believer? Probably not. But it’s fun to speculate!

While I’m unlikely to revisit MOMO: THE MISSOURI MONSTER soon, I recommend it to cryptozoology enthusiasts and fans of Bigfoot cinema. I give this indie documentary a rating of 3 out of 5