Director/Producer/Photography – Charles B. Pierce, Screenplay – Earl E. Smith, Music – Jaime Mendoza-Nava, Art Direction – John Ball. Production Company – Pierce-Ledwell Productions.
Vern Stierman (Narrator), Travis Crabtree (Himself), Smokey Crabtree (Himself), Bunny Dees (Sue Ford), Sarah Cobble (Ann Turner), John Wallis (Ben Ford), Dave O’Brien (Charles Turner), Glenn Carruth (Bobby Ford), Herb Jones (Himself), Judy Baltom (Mary Beth Searcy), Constable Wallraven (Himself), Louise Searcy (Herself), Willie E. Smith (Himself), Philip Bradley (Teenage Hunter), Billy Crawford (Corky Bill)
The town of Fouke, Arkansas has the legend of a three-toed Bigfoot-like creature that hides in the area of the bayou known as Boggy Creek. The creature is normally shy but its roar can be heard and it occasionally seen. For some reason, it now appears to have become more aggressive and starts attacking livestock and human dwellings.
The Legend of Boggy Creek was one of a number of Sasquatch films that popped up in the 1970s. The Sasquatch legend gained a great deal of fascination in 1967 after Robert Gimlim and Roger Patterson captured a piece of 16 mm film less than a minute long that appeared to show a Bigfoot-like creature walking through the woods around Oregon, California. The Patterson-Gimlin film became a worldwide sensation and the subject of numerous controversies, including accusations of it being a staged hoax, although nothing conclusive has been offered to either support or disprove the authenticity of the footage.
One of the upshots of the Patterson-Gimlin film was a huge fascination with Sasquatch films during the early 1970s, usually of the low-budget variety, with many pretending to be documentaries or quasi-fictionalisations and almost all intended for drive-in audiences. These included Bigfoot (1971), The Curse of Bigfoot (1972), Shriek of the Mutilated (1974), The Legend of Bigfoot (1975), Manbeast! Myth or Monster? (1975), The Mysterious Monsters (1975), Creature from Black Lake (1976), In Search of Bigfoot (1976), Sasquatch (1976), The Capture of Bigfoot (1977), Snowbeast (1977) and Night of the Demon (1980). By the 1990s, Bigfoot had become a regular part of horror cinema, even turning up in a surprising number of films for children’s/family audiences.
The Legend of Boggy Creek was one take on the Bigfoot legend from Charles B. Pierce. Pierce was an Arkansas-based filmmaker who had a steady career making drive-in films throughout the 1970s with efforts such as the moonshiner comedy Bootleggers (1974), a number of Westerns, all with an Indian focus, including Winterhawk (1975), The Winds of Autumn (1976), Greyeagle (1977), Sacred Ground (1983) and Hawken’s Breed (1987), the legendarily bad Lee Majors Viking drama The Norseman (1980), and a couple of other horror films based on true-life stories with The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976) and The Evictors (1979). The Legend of Boggy Creek was Pierce’s first film.
The Legend of Boggy Creek is not a Sasquatch film per se, although is in all but name. It is based around the Fouke Monster, a beast-like creature that is supposed to frequent the area of Fouke, Arkansas. The legend gained prominence in 1971 when it was reported by journalist Jim Powell that the creature had attacked several people (whose story is essentially dramatised in the film here). Charles B. Pierce was living in nearby Texarkana working with an advertising firm. He became fascinated by the story and was inspired to make a film. He went to Fouke and surrounding regions to shoot his film, casting many non-professional locals as themselves. As the opening credits note: “Some of the people in this motion picture play themselves … in many cases, in actual locations.” The result ended up being a surprise box-office success.
The Legend of Boggy Creek is an odd film, although not necessarily a good one. It is told as a peculiar mixture of documentary and dramatised footage. This may well have had more conviction back in 1973 but is unlikely to convince anybody who comes to watch the film after today’s more sophisticated use of documentary technique. Most of the story is told by narration, supposedly from the grown-up version of someone who was present at the time (which would surely place the narrator’s timeframe as sometime in the 1990s or even later). Pierce has a very laidback pace, taking in much of the natural scenery of the town and bayous. However, this also leads to a film that holds little drama. Because Pierce is trying to keep things naturalistic and low-key, there is not the build-up of tension and suspense that we would get in a horror film. A modern monster movie or a mockumentary would concentrate the film on and build up the attack set-pieces whereas here nothing much happens. Little is seen of the the monster – Pierce keeps it as something shadowy, even when it is supposedly attacking people. Even then, very little happens – the Bigfoot lurks around some human dwellings, at most rattles the houses. There is no particular conclusion ever drawn about who or what the creature is.
To add to the bizarre mix, Charles B. Pierce himself composes the bluegrass songs that appear throughout, including a bizarre number that follows one of the real-life locals on his journey into the bayous, which features Pierce singing “Hey Travis Crabtree” on the soundtrack.
Charles B. Pierce went onto make a sequel with The Barbaric Beast of Boggy Creek Part II (1985). There was another sequel made without Pierce’s involvement with Return to Boggy Creek (1977), while there was also the later Boggy Creek (2010) and The Legacy of Boggy Creek (2011) made following Pierce’s death in 2010.