In the south corner of Arkansas is the town of Fouke, just off the Texas border. The town is mostly known for it’s excellent hunting and fishing grounds. It’s also a place haunted by stories of a seven-foot-tall Sasquatch-like monster known as Fouke Monster.
Now, the Fouke Monster is a real legend from the far reaches of Arkansas. Much of the film is based around actual claims made by the residents of Fouke (many of whom play themselves in the movie).
The monster really doesn’t do much. It lurks. It hang out around the creeks. It kills livestock. It leaves footprints. But the creepiest bit about the monster is that it’s a unknown menace lurking around in the woods. And as many of the interviewees say, they always feel like they’re being watched.
One of these locals is Jim, a young boy whose mother constantly hears the monster. He is often sent by her to get help, but is laughed at (nice, right). It’s grown Jim who decides to make the documentary, curious about the creature and the stories that surround it.
Much of this fake docudrama is filled with small vignettes. The beginning follows more of the early days of the monster, including several sightings. Willie, one of the men who turned young Jim away, claims to now believe in the beast. A couple of women left alone in their house for the night hear the monster, and find their cat untouched but seemingly frightened to death.
It’s not until a young boy is hunting in the woods that the beast is finally shot at. Believing the boy, many famous hunting dogs in the area are sent out after there’s a trace of blood found. The pooches are even put off by their fear and do nothing to trace the monster. Jim recalls the disappointment and embarrassment that the hunters had. But the dogs scare the monster further into the woods.
Eight years go by with not much heard from the monster and Jim’s curiosity grows.
Then more animal deaths begin to be reported. Herb Jones, who lives isolated in the woods, doesn’t believe in the monster, though. When boys visit from the town to bring him supplies, he’s always asked but doesn’t seem to believe in it. Also, fun fact thrown in that Herb limps because he shot off part of his foot. Boy, this film is FILLED with fascinating tidbits.
Sightings of the monster become more frequent as the monster becomes more confident (or pissed off, whatever). A group of children spot it while they play on the edge of the woods. They bring their mother to see it, and one look sends the group packing again.
Three girls at a slumber party get attacked in a trailer home. But since this is Arkansas, they’re fully packed and loaded with both screams and guns. Jim notes that the creature was typically cautious in nature and its loneliness is what brings it out. 😦
Events come to a head when two couples move into a house in town. The young couples are seemingly oblivious to the fact that they just moved into a town with a Sasquatch, but that’s what you get for not doing your research. While the husbands are gone, the women are tormented by their fear at night when the beast stops by. Though it’s apparently more frightening to stay with the landlord, so they remain in the home.
When two family members visit the couples, a young boy friends an unusual footprint while fishing, but his family sort of just blows him off. Big mistake as that night they are attacked by the monster. It does frightening things like walk on the porch. Then just to be a bitch it punches its big arm through a window.
One of the men, Bobby, is eventually attacked by the monster after everyone tries to shoot at it. He’s thrown around like a ragdoll and has to be brought toe the hospital to be treated for shock. This bit of the story is what largely inspired The Legend of Boggy Creek. In real life, Bobby Ford was indeed treated for shock in 1971, and for the scratches on his back from the “attack.”
Much of the film is fairly forgettable. It looks really great and Fouke is obviously a beautiful place. Some of the reenactments are a bit silly, in many way, it’s easy to see why it was so believable at the time. Though I suppose having a great love for fishing and hunting would really help – there’s a fuck ton of that going on here.
According to Brian Albright’s Regional Horror Films, The Legend of Boggy Creek was a massive financial success. Though, I think many of the scares were a bit lost on me, spoilt by contemporary viewing. The idea of a “docudrama” is no longer unique, and with the similar genre of found footage dominating horror this past decade or so, it’s a bit difficult to be shocked by anything. But I can see where it would have had the appeal in drive-ins back in 1972.
What I particularly liked about the film was the use of people who looked, well, completely normal. Apparently many of the actors involved were locals, and it certainly helped to make the story convincing (unlike some other “found footage” films which are filled with actors who are too good-looking to be convincing or believable).
But as Jim will tell you, if you think the Bog Monster is a hoax – that’s your privilege.
BONUS POINTS! The Legend of Boggy Creek has an excellently over-blown original song about being lonely. “This is where the creature goes. Safe in the world he knows. Perhaps he dimly wonders why, ‘Is there no other such as I?’ It touch, to love before I die. To listen to my cry.” It’s well worth a listen.
A monster love song for the ages.