Saturday October 14th, 2006
‘It’s time for your close up, Mr. Du Pont monster’
By Charles Stanley
People who have heard of the Du Pont monster, the Seneca area’s version of Bigfoot, but have never seen him may not have much longer to wait.
The creature may soon be on the silver screen in a film in preproduction.
Plus, some of the filming is planned for the Seneca area, and local residents may have a chance to participate.
” ‘The Du Pont Monster” is, in fact, the name of the movie,” says Dave Childress, the movie’s mastermind, who lives in Kempton.
Kempton is a small town of a couple of hundred people about midway between Pontiac and Kankakee.
“They don’t get much smaller than Kempton,” says Childress.
Once a larger railroad town, among the few businesses remaining there are a bar and a book shop — the bar being Childress’s Sgt. Pepper’s Bar and Grill and the book shop being his Adventures Unlimited Bookstore.
“The bookstore is really quite well know,” says Childress. “We sell kind of unusual nonfiction books. Books on the Knights Templar, UFO books, real life X-files books, mind control, conspiracy, paranormal and cryptozooology books.” That last category includes Bigfoots.
Last year, a Times story about Seneca area Bigfoot sightings spawned a story in the Chicago Tribune, which Childress read.
Stan Courtney, of Pawnee, an investigator for the California-based Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization has researched Bigfoot sightings in the Seneca area. Two of the encounters took place in June of last year, while the others happened in 1983 and 1979.
But what is popularly called Bigfoot, Seneca locals have for decades been calling the Du Pont monster. Over the years sightings have placed the “monster” on Du Pont Road south of the Illinois River.
“These animals are everywhere where there’s adequate habitat,” Courtney said Friday. “There’s nothing unusual or special other than that perhaps people in Seneca talk about it. There was a sighting last spring at Starved Rock State Park, but the guy is a businessman and he doesn’t want a report written up.”
Courtney estimates that only 10 per cent of all Bigfoot sightings are researched.
Courtney said around Kankakee is another area where he suspects there is a Bigfoot population.
“Anywhere there is water and a big deer population. They have to eat something in the winter.”
There have been no new Bigfoot sightings in the Seneca area, Courtney said. And as far as the film is concerned, he worries the attention may drive Bigfoots away.
“The sad thing is these animals are not monsters, and that’s what’s always played. The animal part and the fear part.”
Childress said he is a Bigfoot believer.
“However, to tell the truth, the Du Pont monster stories seemed a little bit far-fetched,” said Childress.
But last year, he and his wife drove to Seneca and ended up doing their field research with the bartender and patrons of Jack and Lovey’s tavern on Main Street.
“We were convinced that something was going on there. The stories they told were cautious, but credible. It all made sense. I mean, I went there a skeptic but left a believer.”
Earlier this year, Childress and friend Steve Zagata, a Chicago filmmaker, decided to make a movie staring the Du Pont monster. About a month ago preliminary filming was done in Seneca to get some footage together for a seven-minute promo demo of the film to screen at an upcoming film festival in Chicago.
Childress’s plan is to do the majority of filming in spring.
“It will be a 90-minute movie with special effects. Of course, we have a Bigfoot costume all ready.
“I’m not going to tell you the whole plot, but the Bigfoot’s not going to be the bad guy — he turns out to be a good guy. There will be a bad guy. There’s an element of the script like the ‘Blair Witch Project’ and there’s a little bit of a ‘King Kong’ aspect. There’s also this cabin in the woods that they find and in it are some kind of weird cult things. I think that’s all I should say right now.”
He plans to use his bar in Kempton as a stand in for Jack and Lovey’s, but other filming will take place near Seneca and Kankakee.
For one part he would like some documentary style interviews with locals who have had Du Pont monster experiences.
“We would like to hear any real stories.”
People who want to be in the movie also are being sought.
“We would like locals. We have a couple of tall people to be the Du Pont monster, but we still have not cast the main players, one of which will be a young actress that will be the star. We realize that we need a cute girl in a tank top running around screaming with Bigfoot after her, so we’re looking for that gal.”
Childress can be phoned at (815) 253-6390 or e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Web site for his bookstore is www.adventuresunlimitedpress.com.