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  Legend of Boggy Creek, The What The Fouke?
Year: 1972
Director: Charles B. Pierce
Stars: Vern Stierman, Travis Crabtree, John W. Oates, Flo Pierce, Glenn Caruth, Bunny Dees, John Wallis, Buddy Crabtree, Jeff Crabtree
Genre: Horror, DocumentaryBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: The woods around the town of Fouke, Arkansas, are dense, remote and very few people live there. But something other than man is reputed to wander amongst the trees and along the rivers, the legend of a huge, hairy creature that rarely emerges from the darkness, and is usually only glimpsed at night, if at all. Half-man, half beast, its lonely cry can, on occasion, be heard by the citizens of Fouke, but no one has ever managed to track the apeman down, and he remains elusive to this day...

As part of the seventies thirst for the strange, true life mysteries such as U.F.O.s and ghosts, The Legend of Boggy Creek, scripted by Earl E. Smith, was made to cash in on the interest in Bigfoot, the North American apeman. Although never named Bigfoot in the film, he is at one point referred to as the Sasquatch, the American Indian name for the creature, and what we see of him is basically an actor in a costume skulking about in the forest, as we wisely never get a clear view of him, enhancing the enigma.

The film is basically a drama documentary, featuring that staple of modern documentaries, the reconstruction. Actors are mixed with the real witnesses, but it's difficult to tell who's who, as the professionals are not much more persuasive than the amateurs. A folksy, intermittently pretentious voiceover guides us through the story, resembling the narration on one of those Disney nature movies; the narrator unconvincingly claims to be from Fouke, and once heard the creature's cry as a child (he doesn't even have the right accent!).

Settling in to a pattern of reconstructions, the individual stories are broken up by long, lingering shots of the woods and the creeks, with the local wildlife appearing. Either a witness will be out in the woods and catch sight of the creature - the first impulse everyone who sees it has is to shoot the thing - or it will run across the road in front of a passing car. There are also a couple of songs, which is nice. But the piece de résistance has to be the siege scenes, where the apeman terrorises people in their isolated homes at night, as the climax of the story shows.

The film makers are evidently in no doubt that such a creature exists, and the low budget quality of the enterprise adds authenticity to the accounts. The woods are certainly eerie, especially at night, and you can believe that something unknown lurks out there. But surely there has to be more than one? The narrator is of the opinion that the creature is the only specimen of its kind, and is attracted by the lure of "civilisation", which doesn't convince (if you're convinced there is a creature at all, that is).

The Legend of Boggy Creek scared a generation of children in the seventies and eighties, but is pretty much a curio nowadays. Factually, it's about as reliable as one of those credulous "true mysteries" television shows that turn up as schedule fillers - in the film they find the odd three-toed footprint, but when hunters try to track the monster down, the dogs (conveniently) are too scared to continue. Yet as a record of a local legend, it's not bad at all, and has an atmosphere all its own. Followed by two largely unrelated sequels. Music by Jamie Mendoza-Nava.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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