Unlike many cryptozoological mysteries that were known only to the locals of a certain area or covered briefly in regional newspapers, the Fouke Monster gained worldwide fame due to a series of feature films. The foremost - and best of the these films - The Legend of Boggy Creek initially brought fame to the Fouke Monster when it was released in 1972. The subsequent movies could never live up to the magic of the original film, however, they still served to further the legend of this Southern Sasquatch creature.
"If you're ever driving down in our country along about sundown, keep an eye on the dark woods as you cross the Sulphur River bottoms… you may catch a glimpse of a huge, hairy creature watching you from the shadows." – narrator, The Legend of Boggy Creek
The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972)
The Legend of Boggy Creek was the directorial debut of the late Charles B. Pierce (The Town That Dreaded Sundown) who put aside a career in advertising to pursue indie filmmaking. A resident of Texarkana in the early 1970's, Pierce was drawn to the sensational newspaper reports describing the hairy, Bigfoot-like creature which haunted the creeks near Fouke, Arkansas. Hoping to capitalize on the frenzy, Pierce borrowed some money, got a camera, and set out to make a movie based on the alleged beast.
The result was a truly frightening film (at the time) which became a bona fide box office sensation. The success was remarkable, but not completely surprising to Pierce who knew he had something special judging from its premiere at an old Texarkana theater in August 1972. Initially turned down by Hollywood distributors, Pierce rented the theater, cleaned it up, and began showing the movie. In no time there were lines of people five blocks long. After Hollywood finally joined in, the film went on to gross more than $25 million as it brought the tale of the Fouke Monster to international audiences.
Not only was The Legend of Boggy Creek successful in its own time and has now become a cult classic, but it also has bragging rights for being one of the first horror films shot in a docudrama style. Whether intentional or not, the film's gritty, piecemeal production and first-person accounts impart a sense of realism which makes the incredible story seem all the more believable. This technique, common today, was way ahead of its time and is a major reason why this cult gem still endures despite any shortcomings. Modern filmmakers, such as the directors of Blair Witch Project, have cited Pierce's pioneering work as a huge influence on their own movie making. In a 1999 interview with The Tulsa World, Blair Witch Project co-director Daniel Myrick was quoted as saying: "We just wanted to make a movie that tapped into the primal fear generated by the fact-or-fiction format, like [The] Legend of Boggy Creek."
For fans of cryptozoology creatures and vintage horror films, The Legend of Boggy Creek still stands as an important film.
» Click here to read an excellent article about The Legend of Boggy Creek's influence on the horror film genre by Rue Morgue magazine editor, Dave Alexander.
Return To Boggy Creek (1977)
Return To Boggy Creek was the first of two sequels based on The Legend of Boggy Creek. Hoping to capitalize on the success of the original, studio representatives tried numerous times to convince Pierce to direct, but he did not want anything to do with the project. Figuring that the subject matter alone was enough to sell it, the studio decided they would move ahead without Pierce. For the directing task, they enlisted Tom Moore, a relative newcomer who had directed one prior horror movie at the time called Mark of the Witch.
Return To Boggy Creek was a departure from the frightening pseudo documentary style which had worked so well for Pierce. Instead, the producers opted for a more traditional horror movie approach, incorporating the television star talents of Dawn Wells (Gilligan's Island) and Dana Plato (Different Strokes). Ultimately the film falls short, coming off more as a heartwarming Disney-esque film in which the children are the main characters. Not so good for a once-promising horror movie franchise.
Boggy Creek II (1985)
By 1984 Pierce had produced eight other films of various sorts and his interest in the monster subject was not what it was in the early '70s. He had capitalized on an instant in time, at the outset of the Fouke Monster's media heyday, and that was that. As a director, he had moved on. But as we are all aware (sometimes painfully aware!) studio executives are more than willing to sully the name of a classic film in order to milk a few extra bucks out of the franchise. So Pierce finally relented and agreed to write and direct Boggy Creek II (aka The Barbaric Beast of Boggy Creek Part II), which was released in 1985.
Pierce ended up regretting his decision to make the film. In a 1997 interview with Fangoria magazine, he was quoted as saying, "I really didn't want to do Boggy Creek II. I think it's probably my worst picture." Looking at the film today, there's not much evidence to refute Pierce's own criticism of the final product.
Boggy Creek II was later featured on the award-winning comedy series, Mystery Science Theater 3000, which subjected the movie to its wise-cracking in episode 1006 of the series.
Boggy Creek: The Legend is True (2011)
Early buzz suggested that Boggy Creek was to be a remake of the original Legend of Boggy Creek, however, it's a completely unrelated story set in the fictional town of Boggy Creek, Texas. Even so, the film obviously draws influence from Pierce's original with its small-town setting and use of spooky swamp-scapes. Not to mention the ghastly hoard of Southern Sasquatch which pick off the movie's cast one-by-one. The monsters are certainly reminiscent of the creature from Pierce's film, however, infinitely more angry and violent, as one would expect in today's horror market.
The Legacy of Boggy Creek (2013)
This low budget, indie movie was originally released under the title "The Skunkape Story," but was re-edited and released as The Legacy of Boggy Creek a few years later. The premise is that it's a direct sequel to Pierce's original film, although it has no santioned authority to do this.
The movie begins with a montage of scenes ripped from The Legend of Boggy Creek to hightlight the "attacks" and agressive behavior of the creature in order to set up the storyline which starts in 1972. The film even steals the song "Hey Travis Crabtree" and uses it for its beginning credits. Following Pierce's scenes, the movie decends into a dismal affair of low budget, bad acting, and a monster costume that is more suited for a comedy show. Sometimes these low buget indies can be entertaining for the laugh factor alone, but this one can't even be salvaged by that point of view.
Want to know more about the making of the classic Boggy Creek films? Pick up a copy of The Beast of Boggy Creek: The True Story of the Fouke Monster. The book features interviews with Charles Pierce, his daughter, and many more people who participated in the making of The Legend of Boggy Creek. CLICK HERE