Return to Boggy Creek
A G rated adventure for the entire family.
Year of Release: 1977
Running Time: 87 minutes (1:27)
Director: Tom Moore
Dana Plato ... Evie Jo
David Sobiesk ... John Paul
Marcus Claudel ... T-Fish
Dawn Wells ... Jolene
John Hofeus ... Grandpa
Jim Wilson ... Uncle Bo
Richard Cusimano ... Bruno
John Fiero ... Perkins
Ray Gaspard ... Crawfish Charlie
Louis Belaire ... The Monster
An excursion into the unknown you won't soon forget, Return to Boggy Creek is a spine-tingling film that takes you to the crossroads where reality and the supernatural meet. With its haunting atmosphere and thrilling, suspenseful action, here is one movie certain to keep you riveted to your seat right down to the final scene!
The setting is a small, isolated fishing village. It's a peaceful enough place, even though there are occasional reports of a legendary beast said to be dwelling in the nearby swamp. Right down to its mystifying climax, here's a film for everyone with a taste for that shadowy "something" which only rarely crosses our everyday world. So come along to where you can be sure to expect the unexpected. There is nothing to fear, except the creature itself.
Return to Boggy Creek, remindin' us that the path one must take to Return to Boggy Creek passes directly through Walt Disney World. I feel like some kinda reverse Rod Serling even sayin' that, but it's true; "these children don't know it yet, but they're about to run headlong into an adventure of whimsy and down-home idiosyncrasy when they inevitably cross paths with the Legend of this inviting and tranquil place we call... Boggy Creek." Seriously, am I the only one who remembers this guy rippin' the hide clean off a huntin' dog in the first movie? Damn Legend didn't wanna get typecast as a villain an went indoors on us, I *hate* that.
An speakin' of folks with flea problems, I woulda never believed it was possible, it but looks like one of our lot is finally gonna claw their way up above the federal poverty line. Cleave Furguson an the Schwartzberg Brothers (the guys who own Saul & Blaine's Bridal Boutique and Marriage Annulment Center, an The Rural Mural) apparently came to an agreement wherein all the city slickers who participate in the "Chickawalka Safari Experience" (led by self proclaimed "huntin' guide" Aesop Marlin) can now get their kills immortalized forever by Cleave over at Furry Mountain Stuffing. We're talkin' one small step for man, one giant leap for taxidermy. I just hope Cleave don't forget all us little people when he gets rich an starts lobbyin' for tax reform to protect his personal fortune. Course, some of that wealth's gonna trickle down to me anyway, cause Cleave needs somebody to package an mail out all the stuffed skunks an seagulls to the customers, since from what I've seen most of 'em seem to be dorks on vacation tryin' to show their wives what manly men they are by puttin' a .30-06 shell through a chipmunk's skull, an I'm sure they're all prolly gonna be in a hurry to get back to their data entry jobs at Wimpco Analytics long before the critters're stuffed. Cleave'd do it 'imself, cept he's not allowed in the post office anymore ever since he tried mailin' a ziploc fulla quail guts to those animal rights activists from Seattle who pounded his Bronco into a Borg cube at the Gas, Grass, or Cash 24-hour Fuel, Lawn Care, and ATM Station a coupla years ago. I don't really see what the big deal is, I mean, he marked the box "perishable" just like they said, what more do they want? But anyway, Cleave's really hit the big time with this deal; got a phone line installed over there an everything. I heard he was gonna hire Sadie Bonebreak's girlfriend to keep an eye on the phone, but apparently when she went in there for 'er first day she walked in on Cleave pluckin' the eyeballs out of a dead muskrat with a corkscrew, an now she's back home on Xanex holiday. I dunno what Sadie sees in that bimbo... actually, I see exactly what Sadie sees in 'er, it's just more what she sees *on* her, but I'm gettin' off track here. The point is, things're startin' to look up for our little motley crew, an Cleave took us all out to The Gutter Bowl for deep fried pizza pockets an air hockey to celebrate once Saul & Blaine'd made the announcement in the parkin' lot at The Rural Mural. I got to within 43,000 points of B.J. Wilder's high score on the Ms. Pac-Man machine before Sadie accidentally slapped the hockey puck so hard that it flew off the table an took my leg out from under me. By the time I'd regained my footing I'd been turned into a Pac Snack by those damn ghosts - I think it was Clyde (that orange sombitch) who done it. We all had a good time though, an any quality of life improvements I can get without havin' to beg out in front of the Jiffy Mart are definitely welcome.
Anyway, I know whatcher all thinkin' havin' seen this week's selection, an I just wanna take the opportunity to say: I know it's kiddie crapola, an I'm not *happy* about havin' to review it either, but this's what happens when you get crocked an start makin' bets about how many pizza pockets you can eat without gettin' sick. Apparently 13 is my limit these days, gettin' old's a real bitch. From now on I promise to be more responsible an avoid placin' these kinda high value wagers, but I really had no idea Billy Hilliard would be able to find a copy of this sickeninly sweet celluloid when I made that bet. So how's about you all just cut me a little slack an pretend like you give a damn about these three nifty factoids I suffered to bring to ya, alright? First, if you were little girl in 1970s Arkansas, you knew there was a bright future ahead. You could dare to dream about one day makin' it as an airline stewardess an feel that not only was this lofty goal within reach, but glamorous enough to write your folks about once you'd finally made it. Second, tackle boxes are for materialistic showoffs. Real fishermen store their Cajun alligator gar jambalaya surprise skank bait in a hollowed out tree. An third, if you're an adorable child who fails the screen test, take heart; cause some kind soul'll prolly write some kinda childhood trauma into the script to explain your character's perpetual silence.
Now, I don't mean to get all dark on everyone, but up until the end of this flick I can't help but notice the parallels between these kids' tense situation with Bruno (the local blowhard), an what happened near the conclusion of To Kill a Mockingbird. Like, remember how in TKaMB a slightly more disgraced than usual Bob Ewell gets humiliated in court an goes after Atticus Finch's kids for retribution? Well, we're lookin' at pretty much the same deal here; Bruno gets spanked day in an day out by these kids an their super secret voodoo catfish bait at the fish market weigh-in, an by the end of the flick he's essentially riskin' his life out in a hurricane just to get a little respect. Now, by the time credits roll, everything *seems* hunky dory, with Bruno havin' been humbled after the kids hafta pull his hinder outta the fryer, but what happens when he inevitably goes back to his empty house an his full liquor cabinet? I mean, you know it won't be long before *everyone* in town's talkin' about the great white hunter who woulda drowned if not for the heroic actions of his preteen fishin' rivals, an then laughin' behind his back about it. He tries to ignore 'em at first, but as time goes on he gets more reclusive an resentful, before sinkin' deep into alcoholism an depression until the day finally comes when he inevitably snaps an massacres the three of 'em at the annual crawfish boil an takes hostages, forcin' the Arkansas state S.W.A.T. team to bring him down in a hail of bullets after the tear gas eventually smokes 'im out of the Baptist church. See? They *want* you to think this guy's changed after his brush with death, but lemme ask ya this: how often have you seen these kinda jerks change *permanently*? Sure, he prolly kept up the facade of "grateful survivor" for a few months, maybe even a year or two, but sooner or later ya know dang well the social stigma finally breaks him... an then what? I'm just guessin' here, but an all out Bayou Blitzkrieg seems pretty likely to me.
The movie begins with Kimberly Drummond from Diff'rent Strokes (Evie Jo) trainin' for 'er future marriage to a slovenly auto mechanic by tryin' to whip 'er two chunkheaded younger brothers (John Paul an T-Fish) into shape so they'll take their trotline fishin' duties seriously an get good enough at it to land jobs at the bait shop someday. The kid's a natural, cause she can't be more'n about 12 an she's already naggin' at a 10th grade level. Then the kids take their catch home to these two crusty old coots (Grandpa an Uncle Bo) who spend their days tryin' to remember somebody's name an then arguin' about it. Uncle Bo worries about the kids screwin' around down in the swamp all the time cause of "Big Bay Ty," which as far as I can tell is Cajun slang for "Ned Beatty," but Grandpa says Big Bay Ty ran away after gettin' his son. He thinks. Actually that mighta been what happened to the local Baptist Deacon, bless his senile old heart. Anyway, then Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island comes outta the house to drive the kids down to the fish market so they can emasculate this hardass named Bruno who looks like he ain't smiled since the British Invasion, until you can practically hear the guy's internal detonator tickin' down to zero. Then this little Ivanka Trump-esque plantation princess shows up with 'er nose so high in the air that she hasta get clearance from air traffic control just to look Evie Jo in the eye, an she starts makin' fun of Evie's clothes until John Paul drops a crawdad in 'er snow cone cup an makes 'er spill it all over 'er dress an end up lookin' like a logger who fell asleep with a dip in his lip. Meanwhile, some ramblin' man an his ramblin' tourist family spot ole Glade Boggs in the creek an start plyin' the gas station attendant for information until Grandpa an Uncle Bo happen by an tell the guy (Perkins) it killed Grandpa's boy, murdered 40 trackin' dogs that were on his case, an never once used the Febreze canister when it used to stop by to borrow the outhouse. Unfortunately, Perkins is one of those guys who has a frigid wife an works at the DMV, so he's not about to let the most excitin' thing that's happened to 'im since he found that Reggie Jackson rookie card in a box of old baseball cards at a yard sale just slip away, an he ends up payin' Bruno to drive 'im around the bayou lookin' for Swampsquatch. Then the family heads home an Uncle Bo mixes up a fresh batch of his top secret Cajun voodoo catfish gumbo lure for the kids so they can continue to humiliate Bruno an keep pushin' 'im one step closer towards a Ruby Ridge style confrontation with the law. Only problem is the stuff smells like a pile of gut shot ducks that got left in a tool chest for a coupla weeks, so the kids hafta take their boat down to their fishin' hole to hide the urinal's original recipee, an when they get down there they find some big ole gnarly footprints in the mud an T-Fish ends up wanderin' off an gettin' scared half to death when Chewbacco jumps out from behind a tree with his arms outstretched like a serial hugger.
Then T-Fish hauls hinder back to the others, an by the time he finds 'em they're already startin' to get a pretty good whiff of the Sasqraunch pervadin' the area an decide to hightail it outta there. Only while they're rowin' for home they come to the conclusion that His Bogness must notta eaten 'em cause he knew they didn't mean 'im no harm, an so they decide to follow Bruno an Perkins the next day knowin' full well that Bruno's a bitter, trigger happy sombitch with a massive inferiority complex. Then bedtime rolls around an Evie asks Mary Ann if the monster really got 'er daddy an Mary Ann tells 'er her dad pretty much had it comin' for spinnin' donuts in his boat all day like an asshole an generally disrespectin' the swamp. So even though she don't think ole Mr. Soggy Cheeks was personally responsible, she's essentially sayin' that dad fought the slaw an the slaw won. Prolly woulda saved 'er a big time headache if she'd just lied an implicated the Boggyman, cause after Mary Ann hitches a ride to work with yet another "uncle" (Charlie) the next mornin', the kids set out to follow Bruno an Perkins on their quest to find the Hairy Squishna so they can get famous an go on In Search Of to meet Spock. Unfortunately, turns out the weatherman botched the path of the incomin' hurricane by about 50 miles or so, an by the time Mary Ann gets home the kids're long gone an Grandpa's went an cracked his head on the faucet tryin' to wrestle an alligator outta the bathtub (at least if anyone asks that's what happened) an so now Mary Ann an Uncle Charlie hafta drive 'im into town cause Mary Ann never got around to learnin' how to drive a stick on account of bein' stuck on that island all those years. So they drive Grandpa Dunce-ter to the emergency room in the local diner to get 'im a long overdue brain scan, only when Charlie tries to go search for the kids one of the cops tells 'im the bridge's been washed out like Jack Nicholson's mouth at a nunnery an that's about when Mary Ann starts fallin' apart like a soggy Big Mac. Meanwhile, Perkins is beginnin' to question Bruno's meteorological acumen when a nearby tree gets struck by lightning an falls onto their boat, which simultaneously demonstrates the principle behind a teeter-totter an proves there is such a thing as karma. The kids'd like to help, but not nearly as much as they'd like to get the hell outta the hurricane, so they end up holin' up inside this old shell of a glass bottom bayou tour boat that got abandoned after the owner discovered nobody wanted to pay $5 to look at rusted out Busch cans an burlap bags fulla rocks an cat skeletons. Finally they decide to go help Bruno an Perkins, only by now the Sweaty Yeti's outside pitchin' a fit about how his wife's gonna kill 'im for lettin' a buncha disgustin' animals into their house, an that's about when it dawns on the kids that they're squattin' in Sasquatch Manor. I'm gonna can the chatter here, cause at least this way everybody who ain't seen it before can pretend that maybe somethin' at least marginally horror-like is gonna happen.
Alrighty then, everybody good and sick to their stomachs now? Perfect, that means your mind successfully fended off the intrusive sugary-sweet down-home Walton-esque brain parasites tryin' to infest your cerebral cortex. Once that happens to somebody you've either gotta set 'em up in a rehab center where they're gradually weaned off of sappy sentimental crapola, or tie 'em to a tree and shoot 'em like Old Yeller, and I didn't wanna hafta do that again. To be fair though, I think the people screamin' about how weak-kneed this thing is might be slightly overestimating the "horror" involved in the original Legend of Boggy Creek, because it wasn't exactly video nasty caliber cinema. Sure, they sucked all the atmosphere out of the original and regurgitated somethin' that'd fit in perfectly on Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, but the potential for terror is pretty low in both flicks. Matter of fact, if you wanna get technical about it, The Legend of Boggy Creek is actually rated G, where Return to Boggy Creek is rated PG (despite the tagline's assertion, which I've gotta believe constitutes fraud). On the other hand, if you enjoyed the documentary style of the first flick you're almost certainly going to hate this sequel, as it transitioned away from the documentary feel of the original and into a conventional movie structure. It also has no connection to The Legend of Boggy Creek, and in fact, when Charles Pierce got around to making a sequel to his original movie he called it: Boggy Creek II: And the Legend Continues, completely ignoring the existence of Return to Boggy Creek. Hard to say for sure how that happened, but I imagine he was pretty pissed off that a major studio'd scored a payday off of his commodity. Of course, Boggy Creek II has the exact same abysmal 2.3 rating on the IMDB, but that's entirely attributable to the fact that Boggy Creek II was riffed by Mystery Science Theater 3000, and therefore, *must* be bad and deserving of the lowest rating a system will allow for, when in reality it's a whole hell of a lot better than Return to Boggy Creek. The really pitiful thing about this flick is that they *almost* coulda done it exactly the same even without the monster, and that pretty much tells you everything you need to know about it. It's not a monster movie, it's a *people* movie, and that pretty much killed it for me. Doesn't even have a DVD release 20 years after the first DVDs started hitting store shelves, and while that can still be said for some decent cult titles, *those* movies tended to be made by small studios (or indie guys) that went bankrupt, sending their libraries into Copyright Hell. Return to Boggy Creek was and is owned by Fox, they've simply *chosen* not to release it up to this point, and no smaller companies have bothered to license it from them either. The VHS tapes are a little hard to come by, and hilariously enough, have anti-copy protections on them, so don't even think about tryin' to backup your VHS tape before it degrades.
That queasy feelin's startin' to come back again, so let's break this thing down as quickly as possible and see if we can't pinpoint the exact moment where the Legend realizes his career is over. The plot is generally sensical, although it's very slow moving and requires several instances of piss-poor reasoning to develop as written, as well as some pretty unrealistic plot devices necessitated by a particular plot revelation that comes near the climax. The grandfather hurting himself right when the hurricane strikes so he'll have to be taken to town, and then *both* adults making that drive rather than one going looking for the kids is particularly ridiculous, but then that's the kinda stuff that hasta happen to facilitate certain events, and it's not as though this is the first movie to ever do that. Still, the story is damn boring, which kinda destroys what little goodwill it had built up by virtue of being mostly coherent. The acting is without question the film's biggest failing, and features such stunning dialog as: "Ain't no tellin' what that creature's gonna do. Got a mind of his own." and "Dang it! You'd argue with the sunshine!" The talent levels range from abysmal (Richard Cusimano as Bruno and John Hofeus as Grandpa) to almost decent (Jim Wilson as Uncle Bo, Dana Plato as Evie Jo, and Dawn Wells as the girl-next-door castaway all grown up), but in general, it's pretty much a disaster of forced emotion, botched word emphasis, and all the other usual pitfalls that accompany an open casting call for people willing to work for free. Dana Plato's kind of a sad story. She went on to play Kimberly Drummond on Diff'rent Strokes, but ultimately got canned when she got pregnant and the studio refused to write her pregnancy into the show since that prolly woulda busted that "feel good" bubble folks were living in at the time. She never really got it together after that and ended up getting arrested after holding up a video rental shop in 1991, and again for forging a prescription for painkillers the following year. She eventually died in 1999 from what the coroner diagnosed as a likely suicide attempt via drug overdose. So uh, hopefully you *already* watched the movie, since it's kinda depressing to watch her as a 13-year-old kid knowing how her life turns out. Suddenly Corey Feldman seems heroically well adjusted.
Here's who matters and why: Dawn Wells (Silent But Deadly, Soulmates 1992, The Town that Dreaded Sundown), Dana Plato (Silent Scream 1999, The Exorcist II), Marcus Claudel (The Legend of Grassman), Jim Wilson (Jaws 2, The Man with Two heads), Ray Gaspard (Screams of a Winter Night, Smothered 2016), Ken Kennedy (Night Trap). And of course, as mentioned previously, everybody's likely to know Dawn Wells from her time as Mary Anne on Gilligan's Island, and Dana Plato from her days playing Kimberly Drummond on Diff'rent Strokes.
The special effects aren't really any worse than any other 1970s Bigfoot movie, but they're not better either. The guy in the suit doesn't really make much of an effort to move like an animal, and the scene where he jumps out from behind the tree, arms outstretched towards the little boy is hilariously goofy. Granted, the director is the one who used that take, so either he asked the guy to do it that way, didn't do another take, or failed to recognize how ridiculous it looks, so I'm not gonna knock the guy luggin' around the 40lbs of fur suit in the Louisiana bayou for that. As you might expect, that's all there is as far as the special effects go, so we'll move on. The shooting locations are unquestionably the best aspect of the movie, and that fact doesn't seem to be lost on the director, as he dedicates two 3 minute blocks to the kids paddling in the bayou to some of that really bad folk music the first movie had (although this is definitely a better song than the ones in the first movie). If you watch the two movies relatively close together, you'll notice that the swamps don't really resemble each other that much, and that's because the first movie was filmed in Arkansas, where this sequel was shot in Louisiana. I like the first movie's setting better, but I think the locations used in Return were appropriate as they look a little less rough, keeping them more in tune with the film's slightly bigger budget. The soundtrack, like the first flick, hasta be divided up into its instrumental composition, and the cheesy folk songs/banjo music. Darrell Deck's scored soundtrack (or maybe it was Damon Seale? this movie literally has 7 guys credited in its music department, so I dunno) honestly isn't bad at all. It's about as tense and foreboding as the subject matter will allow (it is a kiddie picture, after all), and makes a gallant effort to hold the audience's interest. It fails, but frankly John Williams couldn't have pulled it off either. Then you've got the narration style folk song that mirrors what they did in the first movie, which is laugh out loud silly. The banjo music's kinda goofy too, but it does at least fit in with the aesthetic of the movie, where those songs never managed to. Overall, you might rightly call Charles Pierce overbearing for ignoring this flick when it came time for him to produce his own sequel to The Legend of Boggy Creek, but you really can't argue with his reasoning, because this movie will suck the life right out of you if you stare directly at it for too long. I'd only recommend this to Bigfoot completists, and the kinda people who would never under any circumstances read about 99% of the flicks I review. So probably just that first group then.