An early 1970's docudrama about a Sasquatch-type creature that terrorized the small town of Fouke, Arkansas for several years. Many of the persons who claim to have experienced these events actually played themselves in this movie version. The film had a big premiere in Fouke and went on to become a minor drive-in hit, grossing over $20 million domestically and appearing repeatedly on many late-night horror TV slots throughout the rest of the 70s, and spawning two sequels and a remake. In addition, the film's visual style is cited as the inspiration for the look and pacing of 'The Blair Witch Project'.
Directed by: Charles B. Pierce
. Starring: Vern Stierman
, Chuck Pierce Jr.
, William Stumpp
, Willie E. Smith
, Lloyd Bowen
, B.R. Barrington
, J.E. 'Smokey' Crabtree
, Travis Crabtree
, John P. Hixon
, John W. Oates
, Buddy Crabtree
, Jeff Crabtree
, Judy Baltom
. Music by: Jaime Mendoza-Nava
The Legend of Boggy Creek is one of the seminal movies of my childhood. Like many children growing up in the early '70s I remember the massive television ad campaign around this film and how spooky and mysterious it made the movie appear. Heck, even the movie poster that ran in the paper with it's hunched over figure slogging through the swamp scared me. I just had to go see it when it first came out!
And I was not disappointed. Shot in a docudrama style, the film is atmospheric and moody from the very opening scene of a young boy running across empty fields stopping occasionally to glance back and make sure the "Wildman" wasn't following him to the final scene of the young boy now grown up walking through the dilapidated ruins of his childhood house looking forlornly out at the nearby dark woods and wondering if the creature was still out there, "Still watching me, even now." Even the opening credits are creepy with scenes of a southern swamp, dark and gloomy overlaid with the constant croak of a frog broken only occasionally by the sound of a splash (Was that the creature!?)
Produced and directed by the late Charles B. Pierce for a reported $160K (Money he reportedly borrowed from a trucking company) the film was a hit with the drive-in and Saturday afternoon horror crowd grossing some 20mil at the box office in its original run. Shot using locals instead of professional actors (Many playing themselves) the film is based on actual incidents that occurred around the small southwest town of Fouke Arkansas in the 1960's and early 70's. The sometimes hammy acting and thick southern accents of the players lends an almost home-movie quality to the film that actually adds to the believability rather than detracting from it.
The creature itself (A kind of swamp dwelling Bigfoot from all accounts) is never shown clearly during the film, no doubt due the cheap gorilla costume used to impersonate it. This stunt, much like Spielberg's shark in Jaws, adds a mystery and suspense to the goings on that modern CG effects could never hope to equal and although the creature is never clearly defined it is present in almost every scene in the movie if only in the glimpse of a shaggy leg or arm. Various accounts of run-ins with the creature and re-enacted (Often by the very eye-witnesses themselves) and the entire movie is narrated by Vern Stierman (Who voiced several of Pierce's other movies) ostensibly playing the part of the little boy seen in the opening moments of the film running to tell the local men folk that his mother was scared of a "Wildman" lurking in the bogs near their farm.
His narration takes us from one local's monster story to another with a short break in the middle of the film to follow a local boy (Travis Crabtree) as he treks back into the dark, mysterious swamps of Boggy creek in search of adventure and to meet up with an old man who lives alone on one of the swamps many islands. (And a man who adamantly states he doesn't believe in monsters!) This interlude provides the movie with its two signature songs, "The Ballad of Travis Crabtree" ("Hey Travis CrabtreeWait a minute for meLet's go back in the bottomsback where the fish are bitin'Where all the world's invitin'And nobody sees the flowers bloom but me.") and "The Legend of Boggy Creek" both quite effective and both at least on some level, quite humorous ("Here the Sulphur river flowsRising when the storm cloud blowsThis is where the creature goesLurking in the land he knowsPerhaps he dimly wonders whyIs there no other such as ITo love, to touch before I dieTo listen to my lonely cry.). How many monster movies can you name that have a monster love song!?
Apart from the two ballads the soundtrack itself is outstanding, rising and falling with each shot of the monster and its pursuers. Jaime Mendoza-Nava, who did the music for this film, sometimes uses one of the ballads themes as background music to emphasis the loneliness of the swamp and no doubt the creature itself. It's all very surprisingly effective for such a B-movie soundtrack.
The climax of the film has the monster attacking a group of people who've rented a house near boggy creek. In what has now become a classic of B-movie monster scenes one man is attacked while sitting on the pot!
The film ends with the aforementioned scene of the narrator now grown up standing inside his childhood home, staring out at the nearby gloomy woods and wondering about where the creature is now adding, "You don't have to believe any of this."
Whether you believe any of it or not, the whole thing makes for a wonderfully scary flick. Watch it late one night with the lights out and see if you don't agree, and remember, "He always follows the creeks....".
Review by terry_betts from the Internet Movie Database.