Film review — Boggy Creek Monster: The Truth Behind the Legend

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For their first two documentaries, the Small Town Monsters production crew chose a pair of little-known bigfoot incidents: the Minerva Monster (near my Ohio hometown) and the Whitehall, NY sightings (which I reviewed here).  Both films were nicely produced and preserved for posterity these fascinating, but nearly forgotten, bits of bigfoot Americana.

This time they tackle the famous Fouke Monster of Fouke, Arkansas, immortalized in the 1972 b-movie docudrama, The Legend of Boggy Creek.  To be honest, I thought this was a bit of a departure; there’s arguably no better-known bigfoot case in modern America.  I knew they’d make another good movie, but what I didn’t know was how much more there was to be told.

Whether you choose to view it as a bigfoot movie or as an interesting little bit of folk-history, Boggy Creek Monster succeeds.  Lyle Blackburn serves as the film’s narrator and our guide through the swamplands surrounding the small southern Arkansas town. His laid-back southern personality is perfect for the role. Blackburn literally wrote the book on Boggy Creek, a book I shamefully have not yet read.  He’s clearly very personally invested in the story, having a fascination with the Fouke Monster since childhood.  The film follows Blackburn as he interviews “monster” eyewitnesses and revisits scenes from the 1972 movie.

The crew found plenty of people willing to go on camera to share their experiences with the monster, including the retired sheriff who investigated the actual case that was profiled in Legend.  A lengthy and intriguing recorded interview with Smokey Crabtree, a lifelong Fouke resident who was instrumental in the 1972 movie, is featured as well. (Crabtree passed away last year at age 88, a reminder that it’s vital to preserve oral history while we still can.)

They also speak with a number of ordinary folks — some of whom have never publicly shared their stories — who have sighted the monster right up to recent years.  While nationwide interest in the Fouke Monster died down after the initial release of Legend, that wasn’t the end of the story.  Far from it.  Bigfoot-type creatures are reported in the area fairly regularly.  The witness tales are compelling, made even more so by the filmmakers’ choice to interview them right there on the mucky Arkansas backroads.  In fact, to say the filmmakers nailed the atmosphere of the area is an understatement — there’s not much creepier than a swamp, but in this movie, it’s absolutely chilling.

I also watched the “extras” on the DVD, something I don’t normally do, but it was fun to see the process behind filming the documentary.

While the wide variety of interviews and the scenery make the movie well worth watching, one thing that I would have liked to know more about is the general opinion of your average Fouke resident on the “monster” stories.  It was stated in the film that when the 1972 movie came out, about half the residents were all for it and half wanted nothing to do with it.  It seems the town is embracing its bigfoot heritage — a grocery store called Monster Mart and the local museum figure prominently in this documentary — but I wonder if that 50% is still reluctant to associate with the “legend.”

Some day maybe I’ll go find the answers for myself.  For now, I’ll have to content myself with living vicariously through Boggy Creek Monster, and look forward to the next Small Town Monsters movie, whatever it may be.

Boggy Creek Monster is available at Small Town Monsters.