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Media Article # 410

Sunday, August 1, 2004

There's a monster in Mentor Marsh!

By Maggi Martin
Cleveland Plain Dealer

Mentor- The towering cattails sway in the summer breeze, parting as a lumbering sasquatch emerges from the soggy marsh.

Bigfoot has been sighted in the Mentor Marsh slashing through phragmites in search of food. The scary beast has taken temporary residence among the deer and birds who frequent the 800-acre nature preserve.

But this Bigfoot won't come after you - unless you're in his movie.

Indie film producer Bob Gray is filming his first horror flick after 20 years directing television shows in Los Angeles for Home Shopping Network, Financial News, E! Entertainment and free-lancing for ESPN and Fox Sports.

"I grew up in the Headlands. I wanted to shed some light on the Mentor area. It really is a gem," Gray, a 1984 Mentor High School graduate, said during a break in filming. "It has the beach, the marsh and the lagoons. We've been able to film some sweeping panoramas."

Gray returned to Mentor after 15 years in Los Angeles, after his father left him property near the marsh. He brought with him the makings of a movie.

"I sat on the story idea for 10 years, but one day I was watching a herd of 10 deer running out of the woods," he said. "With all those cattails everywhere, I figured you could definitely hide a monster in there. I got to thinking - maybe we could create a Bigfoot who is losing his home because of urban sprawl."

Gray's version of Bigfoot is a 7-foot predator who is more monster than the meek ones seen in past movies.

"It is a scary film. He kills everybody. But the comedy offsets the horror," Gray said.

While Gray is not a Bigfoot believer, there are those who still comb the rural countryside looking for it. The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, which tracks sightings across the country, has posted 155 from Ohio. Only the states of Washington and California have logged more sightings, according to the Web site,

"I got one e-mail from a Bigfoot supporter who was very angry that my movie monster is a killer and not the nut-munching oaf that most believe it is," Gray said. "Mine is a demonlike, cunning monster."

Gray will not permit any photos of Bigfoot, preferring to keep the mystique for the theater.

"We don't want to lose the luster," said Gray, who in the movie has a role as Headlands Sheriff Bob Perkins, one of Bigfoot's first victims.

More than 100 actors and extras fill the movie, which Gray hopes to debut in the fall. He expects to wrap up filming next month and hit the indie and horror film festivals. A premier is planned in the Mentor Marsh on an outdoor screen.

"We will win some festival even if I have to stage my own," he said.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:, 440-602-4782

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