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The Legend

of Boggy Creek

     "I reckon there's a lot of folks that won't believe anything until they see it for themselves. And if they're like me, they'll wish they hadn't seen what they did. You know, that thing is gonna up and kill someone one of these days, sure as the world." 

-- An Eye-Witness Testimonial     




Gonzoid Cinema




"Cut. Cut. CUT! Dang it, Roy ... We can still see the eye-holes!


Watch it!



Sights &
The Legend
of Boggy Creek
 P&L Productions /
 Howco International

Folk, Faux
or Fake?
The Fouke
Monster Saga

The Legend of Boggy Creek

The Docu-Films
of Charles
B. Pierce.

The Legend of Boggy Creek



The Norseman

Gone Amok:

Shriek of the Mutilated

The Legend of Boggy Creek

Sasquatch, the Legend of Bigfoot

The Capture of Bigfoot


Revenge of Bigfoot


Our film today opens with a disclaimer, warning us that what we are about to encounter is based on a true story with the majority of the people in the picture portraying themselves, and, in most cases, at the actual locations. Wait ... Where are you going? No! Come back. There's a monster! See. And he, uh, attacks people! ...Well, he eats some chickens. No! Really! It's true! Sit down and we'll tell you all about. Comfy. Good. Pssst. Lock the theater doors...

When the camera comes to life, giving us a swooping, pan-sweep of some water-logged marshlands, all we hear are the ambient noises of the wetlands; cicadas, nutrias, frogs and lots of birds, doing what cicadas, nutrias, frogs and lots of birds do. And as our tour continues, an ominous wind starts to blow ... Then the natural, almost-droning animal symphony is shattered by a strange, guttural howl that doesn't really fit any of these indigenous critters, bringing all other noise to an abrupt stop. Was that the wind? The howl sounds again, scaring all the animals off. No. It wasn't the wind...

We then spy a young boy, running hell bent for the horizon, away from the marshes and those strange noises. He pauses to scan the tree line, keeping a watchful eye out for something. Nothing. Yet. More running, then, and the boy runs, and runs, and runs, until finally making it to a filling station, where he finds Willie Smith inside, gabbing with a few other locals. Told that his mom sent him to get help because there's a "wild man" prowling around their house, Smith and the others laugh at the boy and send him back home with a promise to check out the place tomorrow; seems it's the third time this week that his mom has seen "a monster" lurking about. With that, the boy shrugs and beats feet back the way he came, racing the setting sun, to get home before dark. He barely makes it back in time, but before he gets inside, he hears those primal screams again. And as those unnatural sounds reverberate through the surrounding bogs and marshes, an older narrator finally chimes in, claiming to be that boy, and that was his first encounter with the legendary Fouke Monster, a Sasquatch like creature, back when he was seven years old. The encounter scared him then, and it still scares him now as the narrator (Vern Stierman) continues, giving us some background information and the nickel tour of Fouke, Arkansas; the setting for our tale. A small agricultural community, with barley 300 people (-- and everyone of them owns a gun), Fouke is surrounded by wetlands, creeks and rivers that often flood and inundate the surrounding woodlands, making them almost impenetrable. And that, he says, explain why Fouke is a nice and peaceful place to live -- until the sun goes down...

Back in the summer of 1971 it was a slow news day at the offices of the Texarkana Gazette and Daily News, when reporter Jim Powell received a phone call from his friend, Dave Hall. Hall was the news director at Texarkana's KTFS radio station, who had received word that something strange was going on up the road a ways in the little town of Fouke, Arkansas. With nothing else to cover, after both newsmen made their way to Fouke, the news trail led them to Bob Ford's house, where he and his family were quickly packing all their belongings into a U-Haul, determined to vacate the area as soon as possible. Obviously, the family was scared. But why? Well, seems that the night before, some thing had come out of the swamp and attacked them!

Powell went on to report that while Ford was out hunting, he was drawn back to the house because of his wife's sudden cries for help. Moving quickly, he arrived in time to take a few shots at a large, hairy creature, with "eyes as big as silver dollars that burned coal red" prowling around the yard, driving it off into the trees. But the creature kept coming back, and this time it tried to break into the house until Ford, despite injuries received battling the creature, including crashing through a door to escape it, managed to drive the creature away again. Abandoning the house, the family took him to a hospital in Texarkana, where he was treated for shock and abrasions. The next day, the only evidence found around the house were some strange footprints and a few broken off saplings. Ford swears he hit the creature, several times, but no evidence of blood was found. The reporter didn't know if he believed the fantastic story, but Powell wrote it up and filed it anyway. Amazingly enough, both the AP and UPI wire services picked up the newsflash and the tale of "The Fouke Monster" soon became a national sensation, and the little town of Fouke was soon overrun with monster hunters, hoping to catch a glimpse of America's newest folk legend. But like its cousin, the Sasquatch, the creature remained maddeningly elusive.

Now, the attack on the Ford family wasn't the first appearance of this strange creature. No. There had been sightings of the beast as far back as 1940; walking along the creek bed here, crossing the road there, slaughtering a few pigs now and again, and at least one documented case of the thing attacking someone while they were taking a crap in an outhouse. Some say it's all a hoax. Others say it's a gorilla that escaped from a derailed circus train. Who knows for sure. But sometimes, usually at night, something big and hairy crawls out of the wetlands along the Boggy Creek and prowls the house-trailers and shot-gun shacks of Fouke, growling and shrieking and making a general nuisance of itself.

One individual who wanted to cash-in on and exploit this new phenomenon was Texarkana's very own entrepreneur, Charles B. "Chuck" Pierce. Pierce was an advertising pitchman by trade, and once the bug bit him, in true independent filmmaking fashion, borrowed money from a friend's trucking company, commandeered an old camera, formed a crew out of mostly high school students, and then set out to make a movie about the creature, Tracking the Fouke Monster. Implementing a documentary style of filmmaking, and using eye-witness testimonials as the basis for his narrative, Pierce added an air of authenticity by having the locals narrate the dramatic reenactments of their harrowing encounters with some truly fascinating results.

John Hixon saw it jump a fence and ramble across his yard, and the beast killed two of John Oates' prized hogs. When Fred Crabtree saw it bathing itself in a creek, he couldn't bring himself to shoot the thing because he thought it might be a man. Later that same day, his brother James also caught a glimpse of the creature roaming the woods. On another night, it prowled around the Searcy house, scaring the hell out of the womenfolk trapped inside, where they watched and listened, horrified, to the strange, grunting noises the creature made as it circled closer and closer to their house until the attack culminated with the monster scaring the family cat to death!

Sightings of the beast continued until, one day, a hunter stumbled upon the creature, who fired several rounds and wounded the beast. While the monster howled in pain, the boy quickly abandoned his gun and ran for help, and after changing his soiled britches, gathered up some friends and returned to the spot of the shooting -- too late, the monster was long gone. But several trees had been snapped off and uprooted, and this time, some blood was found; but in all the excitement, none was collected or saved. Later, a massive search was finally organized to try and flush the creature out, but most of these efforts failed because the hunting dogs refused to track the creature due to it's awful smell. In the end, the creature was never found. After this failed attempt to catch it, the creature wasn't spotted again for almost eight years. And to pass the time, we get another ten-minute padding sequence of marshland footage while a John Denver clone warbles the ballad of the Fouke monster:

"Oh ... just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale that's a load of sh*t. That started on this marshy shore, along the Boggy Crick..." Okay, I made that up. But what I'm not making up was this ballad was written and sung by Pierce, himself.

Well, since all we've heard from so far are the true believers, it's time to hear from the skeptics. Old Herb is one such skeptic, and a real cranky one at that. Having lived out in the boonies in a shanty for over twenty years, and having blown part of his foot off with a shotgun in a "boating accident" establishing his bona fides, in all that time old Herb has never seen this Fouke Monster and thinks it's a load of bull-twaddle. Well, Herb, you'd better tell that to the monster because he's back again -- and developed a taste for chicken, apparently, as we watch him run amok in a chicken coop. 

Of all the accounts heard, the hardest evidence of the creature's existence was a set of three-toed tracks found in a bean field by Will Kennedy. Kennedy had never actually seen the creature but always felt uneasy -- like he was being watched, while working in that particular field. Interviewed by several experts, who ask if he thinks the Fouke Monster could be a Sasquatch, Kennedy doesn't know what that is. When they explain it to him, he still isn't sure but the experts don't believe there's a connection because a Sasquatch's footprints are much bigger and have five toes. These experts also rule out a gorilla or an orangutan. So what is it? Who knows.

Whatever it is, the sightings continue when a group of children drag their mother out to see a monster they spotted down by the creek. She doesn't believe them, but sure enough, there it is and they all flee in terror. And there seems to be something different about the latest rash of sightings: the creature appears to be growing more belligerent and more brazen in it's attacks, and after he harasses a group of teenage girls at a slumber party, the narrator theorizes that the creature is the last of its kind, and therefore must be very lonely (-- and looking for a little nookie, perhaps? Git your hands offen our wimmenfolk, ya dern Kumquatch, you!) Having struck out at the slumber party, the creature takes it's frustration out on a couple of dogs by tearing the hide clean off of them. Taking in the carnage, the angered owner vows bloody revenge on the creature for killing his prized hounds. 

Then the creature's rash behavior culminates with a two night attack on the Ford family home. Turns out the Ford's shared the house with another family, the Turners, because both men worked together at a nearby ranch, explaining why, when the first attack occurred, the wives and children were home alone. Hearing the creature lurking about outside, circling the house, the guttural grunts getting closer and closer, it eventually makes its way onto the porch! Luckily for them, the critter doesn't quite grasp the concept of a door knob and remains outside. When the men finally come home, they scare the creature off. But the creature attacks again the very next night. This time, the men are home (-- and maybe that's why they left the windows open), and the monster reaches in and paws at them. Rounding up their guns, the men drive it away with a hailstorm of buckshot. They also round up the Sheriff but can find no evidence of the creature. Though he thinks it's just a cougar, the Sheriff can see the families are truly and genuinely scared. He gives them his shotgun for more protection, and then leaves with a promise to return in the morning when the light is better to track down the rogue animal.

As things quiet down, the Fords and Turners settle in for the night. But things don't stay quiet for long when one of the men uses the restroom, allowing the creature to attack him through the still open window! After beating it back, the men rush outside, spot the creature with their flashlights, and fire several rounds until the creature falls out of sight. Cautiously, they leave the lit porch to try and find what they shot at. Behind, in the house, the women are needling well past hysterical, and when Bob Ford tries to quiet them so he can hear, he's jumped and savaged by the creature!

And here, the filmmakers make their one tactical mistake, revealing too much, as the costume-shop origins of the creature are painfully obvious because we can easily see it's just a plain old gorilla suit, with big old eye-holes in the mask that we can clearly see the stuntman through.

Managing to break away, Ford flees and crashes through the front door to get away from those claws and teeth. Turner keeps firing, and the monster is driven off. Before it can come back again, the families abandon the house -- vowing to never return again.

Our film then ends with the narrator returning to his home, where he first heard the creature's roar those many years ago. What was the creature after that night at the Ford's house, he asks. Who knows for sure. But he is sure, for certain, that the monster is still out there, somewhere, lurking in the backwaters and creeks around Fouke.

The End

Picked up by the Texas based Howco International Pictures, The Legend of Boggy Creek struck a chord when it was released in 1972, and the bizarre docudrama went on to earn a good chunk of change on its original investment of $160000. Pierce's matter-of-fact style, coupled with an eye for beautiful cinematography and a knack for cagey staging in the reenactments, somehow puts the hypno-whammy on your brain, making even the most jaded viewer actually believe that this stuff is not only possible but plausible. Personally, I don't need that much convincing when it comes to this crypto-zoological stuff, but I'm just weird that way. Don't get me wrong, the film has plenty of camp value, but I personally think the film overachieves enough that the camp can be overlooked. Sure, most reviewers snark over the toothless bumpkin and inbred yahoo factor, but being from a similar small town background, I tend to bristle at such things and the less said the better. 

With the film's financial success, others were quick to follow, inspiring a rash of exploitative pseudo-documentaries on other localized creatures that helped fuel the fire of the Bigfoot-Mania that was sweeping the country at the time.

How big was the Bigfoot-mania back in the '70s for those of you who were not party to it? Well, when Star Wars came out, me and my friends were ecstatic because we were under the mistaken assumption from the previews, posters and comics that Chewbacca was a Bigfoot, and, dare I say, a little disappointed when we found it he was just a wookie. 

Pierce would use a similar type of style on his follow up feature, another tale based on a Texarkana folk legend, The Town That Dreaded Sundown, which concerns itself with an unknown serial killer that ran rampant in 1946, and whose killing spree mysteriously stopped almost as soon as it started. Pierce also gave us Lee Majors as a Viking in The Norseman, that I haven't seen in nearly twenty years but would like to see again. Beyond that, Pierce had nothing to do with the immediate sequel, Return to Boggy Creek, which boasted both Dana Plato and Dawn Wells, and a less belligerent monster doing good deeds, but he would eventually return with a sequel of his own over a decade later with The Barbaric Beast of Boggy Creek Returns. Returning the creature to it's more cantankerous nature, Pierce also took the lead in that one, leading a collegiate expedition into the swamps around Fouke to try and collect scientific proof of the creature's existence (-- and if I can find a copy of it, we'll be reviewing it next week. Stay tuned.) Though it tries to use the same docu-style, the sequel just doesn't have the magic of the original -- but it's an absolute turdburger of a riot to watch.

The Legend of Boggy Creek is a completely different animal, though. Right from the beginning, the film's opening sequence really grabs you and sets the tone; and you realize this might not be as bad as you think (-- especially if you saw Boggy Creek II first.) As you watch the young boy running through the tall brush and weeds, when he stops -- ever so suddenly -- to peer back to make sure nothing is following him, you'll find yourself urging the kid to keep moving, and faster at that, because you're feeling just as exposed as the kid is. For despite being out in the open country, the atmosphere of dread is as thick as the chorus of cicadas that drown out the soundtrack. And as the camera teases us along, keeping the kid in frame, just so, that it appears he's never quite out of danger and some thing could loom into frame and overtake him at any second.

And that's what you're hoping for in this type of mock-documentary film: That scene where John Q. tells you about how it started out as just another normal day ... And we follow him around for awhile ... And then the camera pans on past him ... Ever so slightly ... And -- WHAMMO! Holy flipping snot on a cracker! There it is! -- the creature is looking right at you. You may laugh later at the creature's low-budget features, but if you had that little knot of dread in the pit of your stomach right before you got that first glimpse, THAT is what separates the good monster mockumentaries from the bad ones. When The Legend of Boggy Creek is in full mockumentary mode, using the locals and the scholarly narrator to drive the action, keeping the actual sightings down to brief or obscured glimpses, it excels. Alas, it does kind of fall apart in the last third when it abandons this for bad melodrama as it concentrates solely on the attack and siege on the Ford house. It's technically sound -- and there is some suspenseful turns, but the actors just can't quite pull it off, and then we get that disastrous look at the shoddy gorilla costume.

Still, if you can leave your bias against back-water America at home, right where it belongs, the first two-thirds of The Legend of Boggy Creek is truly fascinating, and I can't recommend the movie highly enough. And a big thanks to Hen's Tooth Video for finally getting this thing back in circulation to put the hypno-whammy on me all over again.

The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972) P&L :: Howco International Pictures / EP: L.W. Ledwell / P: Charles B. Pierce / AP: Earl E. Smith / D: Charles B. Pierce / W: Earl E. Smith / C: Charles B. Pierce / E: Tom Boutross / M: Jaime Mendoza-Nava / S: Vern Stierman, Chuck Pierce Jr., William Stumpp, Willie E. Smith, John P. Hixon, Louise Searcy

Posted: 12/07/02 :: Rehashed: 07/25/09

Knuckled-out by Chad Plambeck: misspeller of words, butcher of all things grammatical, and king of the run on sentence. Copy and paste at your own legal risk. Questions? Comments? Shoot us an e-mail.
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