TOT TERRORS: THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK
I often get asked about what influences my work as a writer. Inspired by the amazing website Kindertrauma–which is right up my alley–I’m compiling all of my childhood (and some adult) terrors.
I wouldn’t be surprised if 1972’s The Legend of Boggy Creek—an In Search Of…esque docudrama chronicling the hair-raising encounters of the people in Fouke, Arkansas with a sasquatch-like creature—spawned an entire generation of Bigfoot hunters: it certainly inspired me to not only fall in love with Bigfoot, but with what-none-of-us-knew-then-would-be-called found footage.
This is yet another of those movies that I watched at my grandmother’s house, and I had few fuzzy memories as time wore on, clearly remembering only that I was frightened to go in the woods—especially the five acres of it that embraced our isolated cabin in the Adirondack State Park.
I didn’t rediscover The Legend of Boggy Creek until 2002, when I was 31 years old. An ex-boyfriend—whose sole purpose for briefly appearing in my life, I’m convinced, was to reintroduce me to many of the lost films of my childhood and turn me on to Asian horror—had just managed to get his hands on a rare VHS copy (remember, in the early 2000’s it was still hard to get things) of a film called The Evictors, which was done by the same director, Charles B. Pierce. “This is WAY better than The Town that Dreaded Sundown, sweetie!” he said. “Wait ’til you get a load of this!”
The Evictors was decent, but not as haunting as The Legend of Boggy Creek. Because it’s become a cult favorite (and it’s a Halloween season staple for me), there has been a lot written about it, and all of it’s valid, but I’ll share my thoughts.
The scariest moments in this film are built around people in their isolated homes or trailers thinking they hear something moving around outside, and yet they never quite get a full-on view of their attacker. These incidents play out between equally chilling first-hand accounts of a dead kitten “unmarked; apparently, she had simply been scared to death,” gargantuan footprints and mutilated livestock.
While the shots of the monster are, clearly, shots of a man in a suit, it’s the way they’re presented that makes them creepy and not cheesy. They’re reminiscent of the Patterson film aesthetic; we see a black shape, walking, hulking, but never really in focus, and shadowy and blending into the trees. It’s quite effective, as it allows room for the imagination. (If you’d like to see the Patterson film – and get the significantly less magical treat of what it looks like when it’s stabilized – you can do that here: http://www.relativelyinteresting.com/heres-what-the-bigfoot-patterson-gimlin-film-looks-like-when-its-stabilized/).
The narration is actually artfully written and gives the piece an atmospheric, horror-movie type of feel; a folksy, soft-spoken voice tells us that “every now and then, [the creature] is drawn to civilization, like a moth to a flame; he creeps out about dusk” and how we may often hear the “lonely cries ringing out over [the creature’s] watery domain.”
But it’s really the final vignette of the film—the assault on the Fords and the Turners—that leaves the strongest impression. Like the episodes that come before it, the family is trapped in the home, hearing mysterious noises or seeing strange shapes out in the woods. But this time, the creature attacks, sticking his arm through a window on the porch and knocking one of the men off the toilet—quite comical to watch now, but as a kid, the idea that you could be swiped off the john by Bigfoot’s huge paw coming through the window was terrifying.
If you love Bigfoot and/or found footage, this cult classic is not to be missed. If you’d like to learn more about The Legend of Boggy Creek, here are a couple of great fansites: http://www.foukemonster.net/boggycreek.htm and http://www.legendofboggycreek.com/
Posted on September 19, 2017, in Horror Movies, Tot Terrors and tagged 1970s documentary about Bigfoot, Charles B. Pierce, Fouke monster, Texarcana legends, The Evictors, The Legend of Boggy Creek, The Town that Dreaded Sundown. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.