THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK (1972) Review


Directed by Charles B. Pierce
Written by Earl E. Smith
Starring Vern Stierman, William Stumpp, Willie E. Smith, & Bigfoot as Himself

”I was seven years old when I heard it scream. I scared me then and it scares me now.”

After about five minutes of silent montage, THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK finally begins with those ominous words. THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK is like no other film I know. Part travelogue, part horror film, part musical, part nature show; the film has a little bit of everything. Though it was filmed on an ultra low budget with a Bigfoot-like creature that (when looked at in freeze frame) looks like a Halloween gorilla suit one might find in a pharmacy, THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK still, somehow, is one of the favorite movies of all time when it comes to Squatch-heads. I think a lot of that appeal has to do with the amateur way the film was shot. You never really see the monster close up. The Fouke Monster as it is called in the film, is always seem from a distance or through a thicket of trees and bushes. This monster is a mystery to this little corner of the world and remains one right up until the end.

I think the biggest appeal this film has can be attributed to nostalgia. It’s a film I saw as a kid on video and it terrified me. But upon seeing it again recently, I wonder why it caused a mere shudder. THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK is presented in a mockumentary style travelogue way that for the most part lacks any form of narrative. It’s a series of encounters recounted by people who have crossed paths with the beast. Aside from the Fouke Monster itself, this film has no real star. If there is a shred of linear storytelling going on, it’s held together by the narrator whose Jack Handy voice reminded me of the old Disney documentaries, but even the narrator’s part is only made substantial at the beginning and at the end (though I did find the words spoken in the end to be haunting regarding a grown man looking upon a harrowing experience with the creature).

So no story, no star, no plot, what’s the appeal? Well, there is some of the coolest, hokiest music you’ll probably ever find in a horror film. Take a listen to this little ditty called “Hey Travis Crabtree” describing one typical boy doing typical boy things…

And what about this little jingle talking about the wonders of nature…

Makes you want to draw a happy little tree, don’t it? The soundtrack to BOGGY CREEK is so painfully wholesome, it stings. Yet somehow it rocks and I can’t stop humming it for days after (I actually still am singing, “Hey, Travis Crabtreeeeeeee” …please help me!).

But this isn’t all sunshine and waterfalls, there are a few very tense snippets in this film as the Fouke Monster attacks houses and country folks. This isn’t the noble savage or gentle beast that is portrayed in other Bigfoot films. This is not a nice monster. You know this because it likes to reach through screen windows and has a tendency to scare kittens to death! Though the closest we get to the creature is when he breaks through the screen of a cabin, there is a real sense of terror in those night scenes. But still, the hokiness of the amateur acting and the gorilla suit do its best to chill those thrills.

If anything, THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK does serve as a means to feature some gorgeous American landscape of swamps, countrysides, and pastures. Though the monster isn’t scary, the story is piecemeal and the songs are hokey as can be, there’s a sense that we’re catching an honest glimpse of a genuine land filled with genuine people whose belief in this creature in their swamps is palpable. That sense of reality makes this film hit home pretty effectively and its why, despite all of its shortcomings, THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK lives on.

Out of 10 foots, THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK = 8 FOOTS for sheer nostalgic charm.

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