While everyone knows The Godfather that came out in 1972 and was one of the biggest blockbusters of all time as well as the biggest money maker of the year, one might be puzzled that The Legend of Boggy Creek was just as profitable. Produced on a measly $160,000 at the time which would’ve been just over $1 million in today’s numbers, the little movie produced with people who weren’t actors at all ended up making $20 million or about 125 percent of its budget. That’s very impressive even if The Godfather got over 10 times that.
Charles B. Pierce, had been working in the TV news business and other productions as a set decorator for some time when in his early 30s, he decided to do a movie about the alleged Fouke Monster. It was a seven foot tall monster resembling a Sasquatch or Skunk-Ape that was reportedly seen south of Texarkana, Ark. along the Boggy Creek. The community in the southwestern corner of Arkansas bordering Louisiana and Texas and was very rural. The Fouke Monster had been reported for years but most comments were from hunters or fishermen who saw something off in the distance. Some people have dismissed the reports as being a bear.
Pierce, himself, wasn’t a true believer in the Fouke Monster, but he did love hearing the stories people told. And that’s how he fashioned the movie, as a faux documentary-style story as people talk about their encounters. Since none of the people have been in the movies or as it seems ever filmed on camera, it adds a sense of authenticity that makes people believe it might be the real deal.
Most of the interviewees sound the same, they were either out hunting or fishing along the creek and saw something off in the distance. One farmer talks about how something killed his hogs, weighing 100 pounds each, and he dragged them out closer to the creek so the smell and and scavengers wouldn’t get closer to his property. However, when he went out to check on them the next day, he noticed the hogs were gone.
And that’s most of the interviews. People noticed that a dog was killed in such a manner that didn’t look right. Or a cat let out for the night might have died being scared to death. People discover foot prints with only three toes. At one point, the locals decide to rally together to hunt the reported creature but their hunting dogs refuse to follow the scent and the creeature goes silent for about eight years.
One incident that was reported on that Boggy Creek focuses on at the end is when the creature menaces a family trying to get into their house through the door, and then reaching into an open window and breaking a bathroom window. The creature is fired upon and it does attack one of the family members sending them to the hospital.
Yet the movie pretty much ends there with the creature retreating back into the wooded area along the creek and what happened to it a mystery. Over the years since the movie’s release and reports, a lot of people suspect much of it has been a hoax. The three-toed tracks are considered by most experts to be fake. City and law enforcement officials around Fouke, Ark. have said that most of the reports were fake and made up. Law enforcement said the calls have been few and very rare with years passing before anyone heard anything.
The Skeptoid podcast even said they believe the reports are anecdotal. I think that’s the appeal of the movie. People in rural America often have stories they tell of creatures. You hear of the Mothman of West Virginia or Deer Lady, aka Deer Woman, near Indigenous Native American communites. People claim to have seen them. There’s no camera or footage and it’s even come from people who are very believable and respectable in the community. You wouldn’t believe someone who was drunk as a skunk rambling incoherently but if someone you’ve known since you were in diapers was telling it, you’d kinda believe it. That’s what Pierce taps into.
As for Pierce, he rode the success of Boggy Creek as a set decorator on exploitation movies like Coffy and Dillinger before working on The Outlaw Josey Whales as a set decorator. He would direct two other Westerns, Winterhawk and The Winds of Autumn before making the controversial The Town That Dreaded Sundown based on the Phantom Killer case that terrorized the Texarkana area during the post-World War II era. The movie didn’t make as much money as Boggy Creek and people have questioned the events and accuracy.
Pierce would go on to write a script with Boggy Creek writer Earl E. Smith that eventually became the Dirty Harry movie Sudden Impact. Pierce reportedly is credited with penning the iconic line, “Go ahead, make my day.” Even though an unofficial Boggy Creek has been made in 1977, Pierce would make Boggy Creek II: And the Legend Continues in 1985 that wasn’t as good and would later be parodied on the TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000. Pierce who played the lead character Dr. Brian C. Lockhart would call it his worst movie.
Pierce would focus more on set decoration making only a handful of low-budget movies in the late 1980s and 1990s. But it was during this time that the influence of Boggy Creek would be used in another successful low-budget horror movie. Daniel Wyrick, co-writer/co-director of The Blair Witch Project, said he was heavily influenced by Boggy Creek as he was conceiving the movie with Eduardo Sanchez.
Pierce died in 2010 his legacy lives on as filmmakers have made their own low-budget movies about the creature and there is the annual Fouke Monster Festival has been held to raise funds for the local school district and projects.
What do you think? Please comment.