By – Gareth Jones
Released as a pseudo-documentary two years before The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and cited as a direct influence on The Blair Witch Project, the legacy of The Legend of Boggy Creek is a triumph of ingenuity, persistence, and marketing. It is still worth a watch, especially as a precedent for so many other films from mocumentaries like Incident at Loch Ness or fake documentary/horror films like the ones listed earlier. This is especially true after the restoration print that was released in 2019. I had only seen grainy, scratched up clips before. Now, you can see it in all of its “splendor”.
The film is in many ways the product of one man, Charles B. Pierce. He brought his experience in the marketing world and convinced people to give him money (an amazing 500,000 dollar budget) which was remarkable especially considering this was his first film and the idea was to make a fake documentary based on the tales of a cryptid living in the corner of Arkansas near the border of Texas, the Fouke Monster, an offshoot of the Bigfoot mythology.
The nature camerawork is gorgeous, akin to some of my favorite memories of Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom or even the work of Robert Flaherty. The opening and closing of the film are soothing and extremely well shot natural photography. The sound design is also extraordinarily executed. I could have watched a whole documentary on this unique area of America.
However, beyond the natural cinematography is the use of local residents of Fouk to tell the story and act in the film. Apparently, Pierce would approach people in town and ask them to appear in the film. Sadly, there have been some resentment and even lawsuits over the depiction of the region and the story, with some feeling it disrespectful. The film is narrated much like a nature documentary by local weatherman Vern Stierman. The rest of the acting can be generously called naturalistic but still as good as any independent horror film of the 80’s.
The film is also delightfully framed and surrounded by the title song written and performed by screenwriter Earl E. Smith. Earl would go on to write the screenplay for Clint Eastwood’s Sudden Impact and future collaborations with Charles B. Pierce. The score for the film is composed by Bolivian Jaime Mendoza-Nava who also scored another underground independent genre gem, Equinox. These collaborations include the ridiculous The Northman starring Lee Majors (who also famously worked with Sasquatch in the Million Dollar Man) and most notably The Town That Dreaded Sundown which was based on the true crime story of Texarkana and was also highly influential.
Pierce was very wise in his use of the creature. It is for the most part just a flurry of fur or a silhouette in the woods/swamp. Only rarely does he reveal the full creature and then it is in low light and hard to see. Of course, this is due to the financial constraints of the costumes, but it does lend some level of suspense. I particularly like the shots of the three-toed footprints.
The Legend of Boggy Creek is a true example of independent cinema. One man had a vision and would not let cost, tough shooting location, amateur actors, or common sense get in the way. It would go on to influence countless films and make a nice profit. I would love to see it programmed at a drive-in,where its aesthetic could be fully enjoyed, but for now you can watch it streaming on various platforms. Enjoy the majesty of an American folk tale about the Fouke Monster.
Currently available to stream on Amazon Prime
Written by: jamric
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