Directed by: Charles B. Pierce
Written by: Earl E. Smith
Starring: Vern Stierman, Chuck Pierce Jr., William Stumpp, Willie E. Smith
Reviewed by: Brett H.
“I was seven years old when I first heard him scream. It scared me then and it scares me now!”
I suppose now would be a good time as any to talk about fear. I was afraid of movies are a small child, but after being introduced to shows such as Unsolved Mysteries is when I realized that I could be terrified. If Robert Stack’s cold voice and the theme music never got to me, the ghost and alien segments surely did. I realized early on that I was not really afraid of murderers and vampires; creatures in film were friendly entertainment. Even if vampires were real, they were always in some far off place like Transylvania, right? On Unsolved Mysteries as well as countless shows on A&E, I discovered mythical creatures such as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. To this day, these subjects still intrigue me and if I can catch anything about them on TV, I’m there. Then, there was the Chupacabra incident. I ended up in my uncle’s house virtually alone one night and Unsolved Mysteries was on. I had to check it out; as terrifying as that show was, it still pulled me in every time. The episode that night just happened to deal with the Chupacabra. Unlike Nessie and Bigfoot, this creature scared the living shit out of me. I can remember Robert Stack narrating that his look was “out of a b-horror film” and the mosquito like creature had insanely glowing red eyes. I watched it recently on YouTube and laughed my ass off, but on that night, the Chupacabra was the scariest thing on the planet to me. That brings me to The Legend of Boggy Creek, a pseudo-documentary film that plays out like an extended episode of the seminal terror series. But, is this Legend worth getting into?
The film begins on some creepy woodland shots of the area surrounding Fouke, Arkansas. Soon, a boy runs into the local café and informs an old man that there is a beast on his land that has terrified him and his mother. The old hick laughs it off, but the screams the little boy heard were all too real. The boy turns out to be the man who is playing narrator in the film and he goes on to cover stories of Fouke Monster sightings throughout history. At the beginning, the monster is cautious and tranquil; curious in a way. But one day a young hick fires a few rounds in him and he disappears for eight years into the “bottoms”, a wooded area so dense that few humans ever have been in it. After eight years, the creature comes back and this time, he’s angry. But, the monster is also very human in a way. Not just that he walks on two legs, but because he seemingly knows there is no place like home; solely wandering up and down the shores of Boggy Creek…
The Legend of Boggy Creek, if anything, provides viewers with a very interesting and more personal attempt at horror. Later on, the documentary style worked wonders for The Blair Witch Project and Cannibal Holocaust and director Charles B. Pierce had taken a somewhat similar route for one of his next films, much acclaimed slasher, The Town That Dreaded Sundown. In this instance, it proves to be a mixed bag. The first 45 minutes are creepy and interesting, even if the Fouke Monster isn’t harming anyone during this time, the film is full of the downright chilling imagery of backwoods swamps with rotten trees climbing up from the waters. The shots are generally from in front of trees, which give the film a nice depth that is accentuated by every straggly, dying branch in front of the camera. It’s because of this that the stories being told in documentary fashion seem downright eerie, not because of what you see, but the build up to what you will see. The chase is better than the catch.
The actual Bigfoot creature isn’t glimpsed at often, but there are a couple times where he seemingly just pops up in front of a kid in the thickets during an account of “real life” events that is just eerie. The woods are a haunting place and if the film succeeds at anything, it is proving this. Scenes from the film sometimes remind me of the Blair Witch Project poster where the night cameras give the trees a disturbing white appearance. With movies about legends and mystiques, the main interest is always in the romantic allure of the pondering of their existence. By the final act of the film, the stories become more movie-like and narration takes a back seat to straight up “re-enactments” that spoils all the beauty that the film moderately accomplished in the set up. And, it doesn’t help that even in the film’s climax, we really don’t seen anything out of the ordinary besides an attack and the same questions we entered with. Just like the documentaries we see on television.
Alas, as much as I love the subject matter and its portrayal, the film will be incredibly boring to those who don’t have any interest in the Sasquatch or legends in general. I’ve always loved horror films set in the woods and few have got the setting as bang on as The Legend of Boggy Creek; it’s just too bad it’s really silly and the acting is pretty pitiful. The dialogue isn’t very polished, but in a way, it’s almost kind of interesting to see an average Joe spilling his guts on a legend that he’s known of since he was a child. The script doesn’t give anyone much to work with, exposition on certain rednecks (all with the craziest hick names you’ll ever encounter) involve them having shot off part of their foot in a boating accident (huh!?) and “a hunter that hunted a lot.” It’s almost as though you’re witnessing a documentary that wasn’t made by the narrator for distribution, but made in his head for his own perusal.
The Legend of Boggy Creek was released on DVD by Sterling with no real special features other than a director filmography. The video is in the incorrect full frame aspect ratio that has a bit of grain and a lot of debris and film defects. It almost looks as though someone was running the film through an aging projector, but this adds to the down-home feel of the film as a whole. As far as audio goes, it’s your standard mono track that gets a little hissy if you want to pump up the volume. The film spawned a couple sequels, Return to Boggy Creek, which is harder to find and is supposedly a family horror movie as well as Boggy Creek II, which sees the return of Charles B. Pierce (who was unhappy with the original second instalment) to the haunted waters and is out on DVD. The Legend of Boggy Creek isn’t a particularly good film, but I still would like to check the rest out. I think if a flick like Friday the 13th took more cues from a film like this, it could have been an absolute backwoods masterpiece. Old waterways that time is slowly forgetting just seem to give off a more interesting and terrifying aura; a constant reminder of death. If you’re into legends and letting your mind run wild with all things that creep you out from the unnerving, smelly shots of Boggy Creek, Rent it!
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