“Goatman” Returns Sunday in Silver Spring

Local myth gets life on big screen

The "Goatman" -- a man-beast roaming the woods of Prince George's County, Md., devouring those caught alone in the woods -- is a local bogeyman for many in the D.C. area, and now a local filmmaker is bringing the legend to life.

No one can quite pin down the day the Legend of the Goatman was born, but by the late 1960s and into the ‘70s it was thriving.

“Experiments took place back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, and animal genes mixed with human genes created a concoction and it became a Prince George’s County legend, which was called the Goatman,” filmmaker Derrick Parks said.

One of the places the Goatman was said to frequent was the grounds of the old Glenn Dale Sanatorium, wielding an axe and exacting an evil toll for his misfortune upon hapless pets, wild animals and the occasional county resident, but he was borne out of an experiment gone wrong at the USDA research center in Beltsville. That's where Parks was bitten, so to speak, while working as a contractor.

“Once we started cleaning out one of the buildings and talking to a couple of the professors and scientists, that’s when I actually found out about the myth of the Goatman,” he said.

But from myth to movie plot is no short trip, especially for a filmmaker’s first time.

“The biggest thing is budget and if you’re working on a shoestring budget and trying to put together a Class A movie, it’s an extreme challenge, but we came into the project with a business sense and really organized, so we had a vision in mind, so it made it a little easier doing the story," Parks said.

The biggest challenge was special effects, Parks said, and he was surprised at how much movie-related business there is in the area and how much help.

“It was really a good feeling that so many people that are in the art of making movies don’t mind stopping what they’re doing and giving you a hand," he said.

Some of his actors had previous experience in other locally based movies, such as the Civil War epic “Gods and Generals,” while some were just folks with the will to play a part.

The film got completed and got some buzz at a few festivals

Parks said he wants people to go away from the movie entertained, not thinking about how much the movie cost to make.

The local premiere of "Return of the Goatman" will be Sunday at the AFI Theater in Silver Spring.

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