Thursday, January 19, 2012

Vintage Review Spotlight :: Charles B. Pierce's The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972)

Back in the summer of 1971 it was a slow news day at the offices of the Texarkana Gazette and Daily News, when reporter Jim Powell received a phone call from his friend, Dave Hall. Hall was the news director at Texarkana's KTFS radio station, who had received word that something strange was going on up the road a ways in the little town of Fouke, Arkansas. With nothing else to cover, after both newsmen made their way to Fouke, the news trail led them to Bob Ford's house, where he and his family were quickly packing all their belongings into a U-Haul, determined to vacate the area as soon as possible. Obviously, the family was scared. But why? Well, seems that the night before, some thing had come out of the swamp and attacked them!

Powell went on to report that while Ford was out hunting, he was drawn back to the house because of his wife's sudden cries for help. Moving quickly, he arrived in time to take a few shots at a large, hairy creature, with "eyes as big as silver dollars that burned coal red" prowling around the yard, driving it off into the trees. But the creature kept coming back, and this time it tried to break into the house until Ford, despite injuries received battling the creature, including crashing through a door to escape it, managed to drive the creature away again. Abandoning the house, the family took him to a hospital in Texarkana, where he was treated for shock and abrasions. The next day, the only evidence found around the house were some strange footprints and a few broken off saplings. Ford swears he hit the creature, several times, but no evidence of blood was found. The reporter didn't know if he believed the fantastic story, but Powell wrote it up and filed it anyway. Amazingly enough, both the AP and UPI wire services picked up the newsflash and the tale of "The Fouke Monster" soon became a national sensation, and the little town of Fouke was soon overrun with monster hunters, hoping to catch a glimpse of America's newest folk legend. But like its cousin, the Sasquatch, the creature remained maddeningly elusive.

Now, the attack on the Ford family wasn't the first appearance of this strange creature. No. There had been sightings of the beast as far back as 1940; walking along the creek bed here, crossing the road there, slaughtering a few pigs now and again, and at least one documented case of the thing attacking someone while they were taking a crap in an outhouse. Some say it's all a hoax. Others say it's a gorilla that escaped from a derailed circus train. Who knows for sure. But sometimes, usually at night, something big and hairy crawls out of the wetlands along the Boggy Creek and prowls the house-trailers and shot-gun shacks of Fouke, growling and shrieking and making a general nuisance of itself.

One individual who wanted to cash-in on and exploit this new phenomenon was Texarkana's very own entrepreneur, Charles B. "Chuck" Pierce. Pierce was an advertising pitchman by trade, and once the bug bit him, in true independent filmmaking fashion, borrowed money from a friend's trucking company, commandeered an old camera, formed a crew out of mostly high school students, and then set out to make a movie about the creature, Tracking the Fouke Monster. Implementing a documentary style of filmmaking, and using eye-witness testimonials as the basis for his narrative, Pierce added an air of authenticity by having the locals narrate the dramatic reenactments of their harrowing encounters with some truly fascinating results. To read the rest of the review, click here.

The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972) P&L Productions :: Howco International Pictures / EP: L.W. Ledwell / P: Charles B. Pierce / AP: Earl E. Smith / D: Charles B. Pierce / W: Earl E. Smith / C: Charles B. Pierce / E: Tom Boutross / M: Jaime Mendoza-Nava / S: Vern Stierman, Chuck Pierce Jr., William Stumpp, Willie E. Smith, John P. Hixon, Louise Searcy

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