The Legend of Boggy Creek
A true story.
Year of Release: 1972
Running Time: 87 minutes (1:27)
Director: Charles B. Pierce
Vern Stierman ... Narrator (voice)
A mystery from the 1940's when hunters and ranchers began witnessing a half-man, half-beast like creature roaming the woods near Fouke, Arkansas. All accounts indicate this creature stands over 6 feet tall with a slender build, long legs and arms and completely covered in hair. It was spotted by a policeman one late autumn evening as it crossed the highway in front of him at speeds of 30 to 35 miles per hour.
This motion picture has captured the imagination of millions around the world. Today it stands as an American Classic unveiling the swamps of Southern Arkansas with this eerie mystery. Some say the creature is still there... others say it's dead. But one thing is for sure, for those who were there; they will never forget what they saw at Boggy Creek.
The Legend of Boggy Creek, remindin' us that Clintons an Waltons're only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to nasty creatures from Arkansas.
An speakin' of things nobody wants propogatin' - it wasn't easy, but we finally won. The salad bar at Mack's Stacks of Manly Snacks is no more. Mack finally came to his senses (or more likely, his last dollar) an invited all us regulars out to the grand reopenin' last week, an I gotta say, the whole thing was a pretty touchin' experience. He opened with an inspirin' ceremony involvin' said vegetal vat, Bondo's car compactor, an 150 tons of hydraulic pressure, an rounded out the evenin' with a miniaturized Borg cube an all you can eat steak fries with the purchase of anything greasy enough to leave you clearin' your throat for three hours after the fact. The cube's gonna occupy the counter next to the cash register as a constant reminder of what can happen without eternal vigilance, an Mack even took my advice an installed a pinball machine in the empty space to reassure everybody there'd be no resurgence of Swamp Thing shrapnel seekin' to destroy the establishment's ambiance. Now, as to *how* this whole gastronomically traumatizin' situation came about, it's even more insidious than I could've imagined. Turns out Michelle Obama's off the hook, *this* time. I know this cause Billy Hilliard an I were in there the other day makin' a political statement about the state of the local restaurant industry by sneakin' Neidhard (that's Silas Tankersley's cranky old billy goat) in an givin' 'im free range at the salad bar, when we overheard this screamin' match comin' from the kitchen. Eventually we recognized the second voice as Mack's teenage daughter Creedence, an by the time it ended we felt so bad about parkin' Neidhard on toppa the pickles that we actually thought about corrallin' 'im an gettin' outta there. Course, by that point Neidhart was so whacked out on Thousand Island that doin' so woulda escalated into a life threatenin' experience pretty quickly, so we didn't, but the point is we didn't feel GOOD about what we'd done. Like I was sayin' though, evidently the puppet master in all this was Mack's vegosexual offspring, an she was threatenin' to marry this scroungy lookin' guy named Fraggle she met at the skate park if he didn't give in to her demands.
I think everybody knows a guy like Fraggle. Maybe you've even got a Fraggle in the family that nobody ever talks about, but either way you know the type; enough hair to clog all the drains in Joel Osteen's house, constant "shoosh" noise from the '90s balloon bottom street sweepin' skater pants, permanent cloud of Maui Wowie smoke that follows everywhere he goes like Pigpen from Peanuts, an constantly quotes Fight Club. In other words; we're talkin' attack of the thrift store slacker. Suddenly everything made perfect sense. Mack didn't sell out, he was bein' held hostage by militant vegetarian interests seekin' to destroy our cholesterol-fueled way of life, an around here, that ain't the way to go about makin' friends. Problem was, Mack, like the manly men who came before him, was too ashamed to admit he had a problem child, so he caved in to 'er demands to try coverin' it up. I have no idea what I'da done in his shoes, but I knew one thing: I wasn't about to let this culinary extortion go unchallenged. So Billy an I called a meetin' of Mack's regulars up to The Gutter Bowl an explained the situation an we all agreed that heads of lettuce had to roll. Course, we needed a plan that'd both eliminate the threat AND ensure Mack's secret never got out to the American Cattleman's Association, an about 6 pitchers of Pole Cat beer later we came to the consensus that we didn't have a clue what in the hell to do, so we ended up just grabbin' Fraggle when he came outta the Gas, Grass, or Cash 24-hour Fuel, Lawn Care, and ATM Station eatin' a tofu Slim Jim an dumped 'im out on Bearcrack Mountain with nothin' but the Nirvana t-shirt on his back. Dunno what ever happened to 'im, but with the gun removed from Mack's head he was able to reassert parental dominance an reclaim control of the diner, thus restorin' balance to the universe, an providin' me with a rare happy endin' to a story.
It's a good thing too, cause Legend of Boggy Creek's the kinda movie that you wanna go into with a positive mindset, otherwise the whole dang review might turn into one long slanderous dissertation on the denizens of Arkansas, an that'd be downright unneighborly. Believe you me; the last thing I wanna do is go shootin' my mouth off an offendin' folks for no better reason than bein' geographically challenged, cause I got cousins from down around Searcy, an I'm here to tell ya, they're decent, hardworkin' people. Course everything's hard work when your fingers look like they're all tryin' to hitchhike to different states, but what I'm tryin' to say is that they ain't really no different from you an me other'n their chromosome count and an unhealthy affinity for salty cream of wheat. That's why I'm proud to announce that this week's flick has yielded the opportunity to share some really good stuff, an it's the kinda stuff you can only learn about from a flick made in the deep south, so I expect all Yankee hands on deck for this. First, it's awkward enough takin' a dump with a camera trained on ya, but when a hairy gorilla arm starts pokin' its way through the window like an oversized glory hole, that's takin' the discomfort up to "watching Deliverance with Mom" levels. Second, if the hospital's under-staffed, you're prolly gonna hafta bus your own wounded to the ICU. An third, if your fishin' pole is longer than the creek is wide, chances are you're overcompensatin' for somethin'.
But interestin' as all that is, there's a persistent mystery surroundin' the Boggyman's sudden heel turn halfway through the movie, an I'd like to put forward a possible explanation that I don't feel has been thoroughly explored by the Bigfoot community. Now, most folks'll tell ya the reason Mr. Boggy goes all knick-knack patty-whack mid flick is that he's just P.O.'d cause he's been shot at so many times. That's a rookie misconception, cause people in Arkansas shoot at each other all the time. This is why I think it's more complicated than that. See, I'm of the theory that ole Deathrow Bodine was placid in the beginnin' because back then, when people no longer needed their medications they'd just flush 'em down the john like God intended. That's all changed, cause nowadays we've got a major opioid epidemic plaguin' most of rural America, an accordin' to my calculations, this prescription pain-killer addiction coincides perfectly with that motherfouker goin' psycho. See, all the drugs in the water supply was keepin' 'im mellowed out, but once everyone got hooked an stopped pumpin' those drugs out into the ecosystem he snapped like a pinky finger caught in a serpentine belt an went on a trailer park rampage lookin' for a fix, which also explains why so many people claim to've shot 'im, to no effect. This's a serious problem, cause it's only a matter of time before the prescription drug plague reaches the Sasquatchian stronghold of the Pacific Northwest, an when that happens it's all over. We're gonna have gangbangin' Bigfeet takin' over hardware stores an ransackin' Rush Limbaugh's house in search of Oxycodone tablets. That's why I'm askin' everyone readin' this through a fog of opioid-shrouded incomprehension; get yourselves into detox before it's too late. This ain't just about you. We're talkin' the next great extinction event on the surface of our planet, an only YOU can restore the ecological balance required to save us from becomin' Bigfoot burritos. The fate of mankind may well rest in your shaky, immaculately groomed hands, so for cripes sake; don't let us down.
The movie begins with some text about how everything we're about to see is a true story, an that some folks in the movie've kindly agreed to portray themselves on "actual locations." Which is good, cause I hate it when a movie ends an you find out it was all just a dream filmed in an imaginary void that exists purely in a metaphysical realm where time an space have no meaning an life as we know it has ceased to be. Then we start driftin' down the bayous of Southern Arkansas watchin' a buncha swamp critters try ignorin' the bozo with the camera, til somethin' lets out this serenity shatterin' belch like somebody'd hooked a bicycle pump up to its belly button an all the little woodland creatures start paddlin' their aquatic appendages like they just realized it's the openin' day of frog giggin' season. Among the frightened denizens is a little boy, who hauls butt down to the local cafe where these old codgers who fought in the civil war're talkin' about how they had those damn Yankees right where they wanted 'em until the stinkin' dirty rats cut off their collard green supply line. The boy tells 'em that there's a mysterious creature livin' in harmony with nature on the fringes of civilization completely free from torment an imminent death at the hands of trigger happy rednecks, but the old men just laugh an tell 'im to get his hinder outta there so they can oggle the girls on Petticoat Junction. Then the narrator chimes in an tells us we're in Fouke, Arkansas, where the most excitin' thing to happen is the occasional whiskey still explosion. Yessiree bob, Fouke's a mighty fine place to live, if'n you happen to be a chigger, or enjoy watchin' squirrels fight over peanuts from a front porch sofa... that is, until the sun goes down. Cause once the sun goes down, that's when prop masters start launchin' beagles through the air like scud missiles an unseen beasts begin howlin' like walruses givin' birth to a litter of porcupines, until somebody puts a coupla rounds of birdshot into an angry monster's backside. At least that *used* to drive the ole Arkansquatch back to his watery dominion, but here lately it just gets 'im good an P.O.'d to the point that he starts liftin' farmers' hogs to jack up the pork belly futures an increase the value of his stock portfolio. That's about the long an short of it, an as the narrator explains, "you couldn't find a lonelier, spookier place than Boggy Creek," cause by the time you hear those banjos start twangin' in the distance, you know you're in for a lousy evenin'. Some folks say the creature, he lives in the real densely wooded areas where the crawdadin's good, an only emerges periodically to watch Razorback games through the windows of rabid SEC fans.
That theory seems to hold water with most of the local hunters, includin' this fella who just happens to look like the love child of Robert Forster an Cotton Hill. Matter of fact, if you ask 'im he'll tell ya straight away that he not only saw the Legend, but that he had 'im right square in his crosshairs one afternoon before finally decidin' the thing might just be an unshaven, draft dodgin' Clinton, an electin' not to pull the trigger. Yeah huh, it seems there ain't no shortage of sightins these days, an it just so happens that a coupla pastures away lives a family of genteel, God-fearin' lady folk whose husbands an fathers've gone into town to consort with women of questionable character to help 'em temporarily forget the drudgery of their missionary-style-only existences. Unfortunately for our southern belles, they end up with an unexpected gentleman caller that evenin', an danged if he don't got a smell like an underground septic tank fire that could put a maggot off his gut pile, an needless to say, we end up with a whole household fulla defenseless women goin' to pieces like Patsy Cline by night's end. Now I'm here to tell ya, the creature, he don't normally pay no mind when people get all hysterical on 'im, but after this many consecutive days of bein' served up nothin' but a heapin' helpin' of southern hostility, he's startin' to feel like the guy from that Self Esteem song by The Offspring. That's alright though, cause bullets come an bullets go, but ole muckity mullet, he just wanders on to his next encounter with a song in his heart an a slug in his hinder. As you might rightly expect though, these folks firin' rounds into Mr. Creek's boggy cheeks don't much care. They reckon he's an ungodly creature; one that lives apart from the teachins of Jesus an spray-on deodorant. So they rounded up the huntin'est buncha top-shelf coon hounds they could find an went out searchin', cept them dogs they just couldn't bring themselves to hunt a creature with such an admirably noxious smell, an for the next eight years the legend just kinda faded back into the swamps while the soggy crack critter went to serve in the Arkansas State Legislature. But like so many of us after a long sojourn, his leech laden loins longed for the swamp once more, an just when it seemed like ever'body was startin' to get over their Satch-mania, the sightins begun to sprout up all over like stink weeds in a sidewalk crack. Now some of the old timers who live way out in the back country, they'll tell ya they don't know nothin' about no "monster" or this new "turlet paper" fad, an that anyone claimin' to've seen anything bigger'n a jackolope out there's prolly been hittin' the Arkansas Polio Weed an gettin' high enough to hunt ducks with a rake. But if you watch 'em real close, you might just detect a slight flicker of reminiscence of cold winter nights spent in their bunkhouses in the embrace of ole Boggy Britches.
Unfortunately, by now the physical an psychological damage endured over the years durin' the battle of Yettisburg was startin' to take its toll on his once pleasant demeanor, an havin' gotten a brief taste of what comes pretty close to civilization, he wasn't about to just go back to scoopin' up used wads of Red Man offa downed logs, an that's when the tracks started showin' up. Weird, three-toed ones, like somebody who's been maimed in a mumbletypeg accident, an you'd better believe there wasn't a man in Miller County who didn't get on their tractor everyday wonderin' if that was gonna be the day He emerged from the back of their barn to till their soil but good. Apple carts were upset throughout the greater Sulphur River area, as we see when one unfortunate mother of 11 ran afoul of the Sloughgeyman just past the outhouse in 'er back lot, an ended up forced to quickly herd her brood back to the house through a veritable minefield of old charred bonfire slash piles an cattle bones. So, still unable to make friends, or even barter for a decent hat to hold all his fishin' flies, Dirty Hairy headed on over to an isolated trailer house in hopes of scorin' some cornbread an gettin' a trio of slumber partyin' teenagers to braid his hair for 'im. You prolly figured out right quick what happened when he showed them girls his mats an they realized how many empty Vegetable Beef cans it was gonna take to curl his locks. That was finally the last straw for the Morassquatch. That was the turnin' point, an he decided that since he was gonna be treated like a boogerman no matter what he did, he might as well act like one, an right then an there he done tore the hide clean offa those girls' dogs. Round about now's when the big fella passed the point of no return in terms of public relations, cause this here's the night when a pair of young couples moved themselves into a farm house on the edges of his creek an started leavin' the windows open whiles their colicky babies screamed for service. Course, as mosta you well know, the Arkansas state charter allows the killin' of anybody trespassin' on your land, or rustlin' livestock from your gator pond, an what that means is that these kids're more or less unprocessed tamale pie fixins. So the first night he just kinda pokes around the front porch as if to say "hey, I dunno if ya'll turkeys know this, but yer squattin' in my Bog, an if'n you don't git, 'im fixin' to settle yer hash." This approach don't work for diddly, so the next night he comes back an reaches through the window lookin' for a nice patch of arubeula to use for a base in his meat salad, an pretty quick he starts gettin' corn-pwned by a barrage of rifle fire. So between that ugly little incident an The Beverly Hillbillies bein' canceled, we've pretty much reached peak caterdrawlin', an that means gettin' the sheriff to bust out the glass on his "break in case of wild-man shenanigans" shotgun so's he can come scope out the property. I reckon it'd be plum rude to spoil the endin' on this ole gal, but I will say this; the big guy's still got one more "Fouke you" for those no-good interlopers.
Alrighty, The Legend of Boggy Creek, certainly not the first Bigfoot flick ever made, but probably the most famous and the most influential of all the Sasquatch flicks of the 1970s. And of course by that I mean it made a pile of money big enough to fill Crater Lake, and encouraged a whole buncha other guys to produce their own Bigfoot movies on the cheap in hopes of recreating Boggy Creek's payout. Sometimes the flick was a straight documentary, other times it was a standard Adventure movie, but none of them ever managed to capture the success of the original Boggy Creek. Really couldn't tell ya why that is, cause it's not exactly leaps and bounds ahead of the others, although it is technically the best by a small margin. The thing that really surprises me about it is how many people describe it as "the scariest thing I'd ever seen," when the MPAA ratings board actually released this movie into the wild with a G rating. They weren't wrong to do it either, cause there's nothing here that even warrants a PG rating. I guess I can see how a kid in the single digits back in 1972 mighta been a little scared during a coupla select scenes, but most of the time the flick's too dang dark to see anything anyway. Must be that "power of the imagination" thing, which would explain a lot, cause I ain't hardly got no imagination. I suspect that it's one of those situations where you had to be there. And on toppa that, it definitely helps if you're interested in the Bigfoot mystery and believe in it. Believing is a critical component, because some of these '70s Sasquatch flicks are enough to put an end to that interest pretty quick if you're not careful, and I think that's a big part of why this particular title was so much more successful than its bandwagon hoppers (and its subsequent sequels), and honestly, all the credit hasta go to Chuck Pierce. He hit upon the perfect "two birds with one stone" scheme by castin' the actual eyewitness to play themselves, because not only does it lend an air of credibility to the subject matter, but they were also willing to work on the cheap. Matter of fact, there's even a third bird being struck down by this same stone, because in addition to the two aforementioned bonuses, the audience must also cut a little slack for the bad acting on the basis that these people weren't actors. In reality, Pierce's budget was small enough that he was *always* going to have bad acting, but by choosing to fill his cast with authentic locals, he mitigates much of the would-be damage by using the legitimate excuse of operating with a cast of non-actors, and simultaneously props up the credibility of his picture. Of course, one wonders about the man's sincerity, because once the movie became an unexpected drive-in hit and grossed over $20,000,000 in 1972 money, everybody in the cast had to sue to get their share, which ultimately amounted to practically bupkis after the lawyer's fees. Chuck no doubt squirreled enough of it away to live to film another day, as he revisited the series 12 years later, completely ignoring the fact that Fox had distributed a lackluster sequel in the meantime (Return to Boggy Creek), and titling his follow up Boggy Creek II: And the Legend Continues, but that's one we'll hafta discuss at a later date.
In the meantime, let's go ahead and examine the facts in the case and see whether Mr. Pierce was a certifiable genius, or just in the right place at the right time with the right subject. The plot, literally, is nonexistent. Boggy Creek can't really be judged based upon plot simply by virtue of its format, which is a series of short stories and recollections. It almost seems like the last story (which is several times longer than any of the shorter vignettes that precede it) was intended to serve as its own movie, only there wasn't nearly enough story or money to do it, and thus, all the other segments were added to help flesh it out. More likely is that the opposite is true, and that the last story was itself padded to boost the running time, but any way you slice it it tends to stand out from the others in a structural sense. Either way, it's pretty hard to screw up this concept. The acting as everyone who's ever seen this movie will profess, is pitiful, but only when viewed under the pretense that it should be judged in the same way as any other low budget movie, which is not, by the film's very nature, fair. It's a legitimate instance where the bad acting is in fact a feature, not a bug, and whether by design or not, Pierce has managed to completely bypass any legitimate criticism by casting actual eyewitnesses, because to judge the acting in this film using the same measuring stick you might otherwise use, is to declare loudly and clearly that you've missed the point. It's really a very clever "get out of jail free" card.
Here's who matters and why: Vern Stierman (The Being, The Dark 1979, The Town that Dreaded Sundown), Chuck Pierce Jr. (Midnight 2, Boggy Creek II), Jeff Crabtree (2012: Supernova), Gene Ross (Friday the 13th Part IV, Keep My Grave Open, Don't Open the Door!, Scum of the Earth, Encounter with the Unknown, Halloween 4), James Tennison (Boggy Creek II), Sandra Peabody (The Last House on the Left, Legacy of Satan, Case of the Full Moon Murders). Incidentally, I know there's at least one mistake in the IMDB credits (I didn't include it), so I can't really vouch for the accuracy of these.
The special effects consist solely of the Bigfoot suit, whose worth can generally be measured by how skillfully the editor was able to keep it obscured. This assessment isn't intended to be a potshot that implies the suit looks bad, because ALL 1970s Bigfoot movie suits look bad. They're walking a really fine line here, because they've got to give the audience *something*, but if they show too much it can easily ruin the atmosphere of the movie. I think Boutross' editing is as close to perfect as you can get with regard to how much monster we get to see. The shooting locations are unquestionably the flick's strongest asset, and even though the cinematography borders on amateur home video quality at times, again, that ineptitude translates into another boost for the movie's authenticity. It's kinda funny really; all the flaws that would doom a different type of movie only seem to bolster the atmosphere of Boggy Creek. A lot of people liken The Blair Witch Project to Boggy Creek for many of the reasons I've mentioned, and I suspect they're onto something, because I think *that* crew also got lucky, given how the film's legitimate flaws heighten its authenticity in the exact same manner. Still, the shooting locations include scenic bayous, wheat fields, old farm houses, and lean-tos, and it's these areas that give the flick a great regional flavor all its own. So kudos to the location scout(s), even though many of these locations would have been used no matter what by virtue of being sighting locations. The soundtrack really needs to be split out into two sections; the first being Mendoza-Nava's score, and the second being Pierce's irredeemably cheesy folk songs, which he sings himself, because in all honesty, the average person watching this thing won't even remember Nava's contribution after hearing those hilariously descriptive Disney-esque abominations. Nava's score is really just okay. It adds a minor sense of foreboding during most of the night time sequences, and generally lurks in the background unobtrusively, leaving the visuals to do the heavy lifting. The songs, on the other hand, are not only "rolling on the floor" ridiculous, but they also go against what little sense of menace the film has managed to convey as His Bogness makes that slow transition from gentle giant to P.O.'d primate, and for that reason, the soundtrack is easily the most detrimental aspect of the movie. Overall, this is the kind of movie where someone's personal like or dislike of the subject matter is going to make all the difference when it comes time to rate it. Personally, I like the *idea* of Bigfoot movies, but not so much that it blinds me to their problems, and The Legend of Boggy Creek, despite being one of the better flicks in the subgenre, is still just a mediocre movie. Take that as you will. If you like the subject, you'll definitely like the movie; if you don't, you won't.