For about a hundred years (or maybe it’s a couple of decades, I dunno), I’ve owned one of the multitudes of public domain DVD copies of The Legend of Boggy Creek, which is just this side of unwatchable—grainy, jumpy, dark, most likely taken from a VHS copy of a fading 16mm print. Mind you, I have loved The Legend of Boggy Creek, more or less irrationally, since the day I caught it at the Rives Theater in Martinsville, VA, in 1972, when I was twelve or thirteen. To me, The Legend of Boggy Creek is the ultimate cryptid film. It’s creepy, campy, shot as a docudrama, and features quite a few of the residents (who play themselves—or, in some cases, their own relatives) of the tiny town of Fouke, Arkansas, where the real-life events of the film ostensibly occurred. Having viewed only the abysmal DVD over all these years, it was a joy to discover that, in 2019, Pamela Pierce Barcelou, daughter of Charles B. Pierce, the film’s producer/director, took on the task of restoring the The Legend of Boggy Creek to its rightful quality and aspect ratio, which has given the film a whole new life for those of us who love it (however irrationally).
Chuck Pierce as young Jim
|Dennis Lamb as farmer O. H. Kennedy, wondering what the HELL is lurking out there in the Sulphur River bottoms.|
If you are a cryptid, always remember to stand BEHIND the dude with
Hey, Travis Crabtree,
Wait a minute for me.
Let’s go back in the bottoms,
Back where the fish are bitin’,
Where all the world’s invitin’,
And nobody sees the flowers bloom but me.
Now, to be fair, Travis, on one of his canoe outings, takes us deep into the bottoms, where he introduces us to old-timer Herb Jones (played by Herb Jones), who has lived alone out yonder for twenty years. Herb doesn’t believe for one minute that any creature exists out there. In fact, Herb’s sole purpose for being in the film is apparently to offer a less-credulous view of the goings-on around Fouke.
Hey, Travis Crabtree... wait a minute for me!
|Herb Jones: “I ain’t never seen nor heard no monster!”|
Perhaps he dimly wonders whyThere is no other such as I.To touch, to love, before I die,To listen to my lonely cry.
As crude and even naïve as The Legend of Boggy Creek must seem to those of the younger set, who never experienced the allure and excitement of fright flicks at drive-in theaters and weekend movie-house matinées, the film was, in its way, ground-breaking. With its low budget and earthy documentary style, the film clearly influenced the makers of The Blair Witch Project and other minimalist, ostensibly “real” indie movies. In Boggy Creek, at no time do we get a clear, vivid view of the monster. It is always scene in shadows or silhouetted, often partially obscured by foliage—all of which works to the viewer’s benefit, for that which cannot be fully seen can hardly be criticized as “fakey.” Indeed, it is not seeing the creature in its entirety that makes it more convincing.
|Now, what do you reckon that big old dude over there is up to?|
|Well, maybe not a lot, but what a mighty fun fellow!|