A little over a month ago, Facebook and other social media blew up with a photo showing a strange, crab-like humanoid standing by the side of the road between Lybrook and Counselor, NM...very close to the Jicarilla Apache reservation.
The story that accompanied the creepy photo was that a geologist working in the area noticed something strange, and decided to take a heat signature of it. The geologist promptly quit the next day under mysterious circumstances and the photo of the alleged skin walker surfaced on the internet, causing a huge sensation, being shared thousands of times within mere hours. Many believed that the creature was indeed a Skin Walker, or a magical person with the ability to transform into an animal-like creature. It is interesting to point out that the general area where the photo was allegedly taken is in the vicinity of the Skin Walker Ranch, a property with a long history of high strangeness, including UFOs, cattle mutations, and...skin walker beasts.
However, it didn't take long for the web warriors to put an end to the speculation! It was quickly discovered that the photo in question was actually a still from a MOVIE!
That movie would be the 1982 low-budget gruesome British sensation, Xtro. Released in the U.S. in 1983 and directed by Harry Bromley Davenport, Xtro is a sci-fi horror involving a man who was abducted by aliens, only to be returned three years later. Only...he wasn't the same when he returned.
Xtro became somewhat of a cult classic, spawning two sequels that had nothing to do with the original plot. As late as March 2011, Davenport claimed to be working on the next movie in the installment, Xtro IV. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find anything past that date confirming whether or not the movie was ever made...but it seems like this mysterious picture that no one is taking credit for posting might have been the perfect viral marketing ploy! It's definitely sparked an interest in the original movie with a generation who wasn't even born when it came out.
It's also an example of something I blogged about awhile back; the importance of cinematic research! As researchers, its SO important to keep up with pop culture...and how people can use pop culture to relate to, or in this case mimic, a paranormal event! So, go watch some horror films...even some really bad, cheesy 80s gems...and don't feel guilty about it; you're doing legitimate research.
*Theresa's Note: I feel like I shouldn't have to dedicate a blog post to the subject of the Skin Walker hoax since its already been debunked, but I've noticed that these things have a habit of making a comeback...and I wanted to be prepared! Plus, it was kinda fun looking up clips and information about this movie. It's uh, definitely not for those with a delicate constitution! *