This past weekend, I once again got to experience THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK in the theater. It’s always magical, and, as there were only two other people in the auditorium and they were seated way across the room, I honestly don’t see how it could have been much safer for me, in terms of possible ‘Rona exposure. I was wallowing in all the nostalgia. Even having seen these movies numerous times, I still find little things to appreciate, things I’ve not noticed with prior viewings. This time, an intriguing thought presented itself: was the Wampa meant to be a Sheepsquatch? For those who might be new to this, a Sheepsquatch is a West Virginia cryptid that is basically a mix between an albino Sasquatch and a sheep. In other words, it look’a like’a Wampa.
Did George Lucas base the design for the Wampa on the Sheepsquatch? It has long been suspected (even though Lucas supposedly denied it) that Lucas based the design for Chewbacca on Bigfoot. Back in the 70s, Bigfoot was seriously over (wrestling terminology), saturating pop-culture in the wake of the release of the Paterson-Gimlin film in 1967, so it would make sense. The Sheepsquatch is a more obscure cryptid, but if Lucas knew about it, he might easily have taken it for inspiration for the Wampa.
Luke cutting off the Wampa’s arm with his lightsaber, in addition to prefiguring Darth Vader cutting off Luke’s hand later in the film, puts me in mind of Beowulf tearing off Grendel’s arm, and, in another example of Bigfoot being over in the 70s, the Six-Million Dollar Man tearing the arm off the robot Bigfoot in the popular TV show.