Wingding 2017 Day04
Tuesday August 29
"If you're ever driving down in our country along about sundown, keep an eye on the dark woods as you cross the Sulphur River bottoms… you may catch a glimpse of a huge, hairy creature watching you from the shadows."
– narrator, The Legend of Boggy Creek
The Fouke Monster
The "Fouke Monster" - or "Boggy Creek Monster" as he is sometimes referred to - is a Sasquatch-like creature said to haunt the network of creeks extending from the Sulphur River Bottoms in southern Arkansas to the town of Fouke. Over the years, the creature has been seen by countless people, including respected citizens, experienced hunters, famous musicians, and even a police officer. He has inspired several movies, most notably The Legend of Boggy Creek, which became a drive-in sensation netting nearly $25 million during its run.
The newspaper accounts of the early 1970s may have brought the creature to worldwide fame, but sighting reports did not stop after Hollywood moved on. People are still reporting encounters with this mysterious creature even today!
The Beast of Boggy Creek will always be a stand-out among America's spooky legends due to his movie fame and continued popularity. The creature is often mentioned on television documentaries including Monster Quest, Lost Tapes, Weird Travels, and even ABC's Wife Swap.
The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972)
Legend of Boggy CreekThe Legend of Boggy Creek was the directorial debut of the late Charles B. Pierce (The Town That Dreaded Sundown) who put aside a career in advertising to pursue indie filmmaking. A resident of Texarkana in the early 1970's, Pierce was drawn to the sensational newspaper reports describing the hairy, Bigfoot-like creature which haunted the creeks near Fouke, Arkansas. Hoping to capitalize on the frenzy, Pierce borrowed some money, got a camera, and set out to make a movie based on the alleged beast.
The result was a truly frightening film (at the time) which became a bona fide box office sensation. The success was remarkable, but not completely surprising to Pierce who knew he had something special judging from its premiere at an old Texarkana theater in August 1972. Initially turned down by Hollywood distributors, Pierce rented the theater, cleaned it up, and began showing the movie. In no time there were lines of people five blocks long. After Hollywood finally joined in, the film went on to gross more than $25 million as it brought the tale of the Fouke Monster to international audiences.
Not only was The Legend of Boggy Creek successful in its own time and has now become a cult classic, but it also has bragging rights for being one of the first horror films shot in a docudrama style. Whether intentional or not, the film's gritty, piecemeal production and first-person accounts impart a sense of realism which makes the incredible story seem all the more believable. This technique, common today, was way ahead of its time and is a major reason why this cult gem still endures despite any shortcomings. Modern filmmakers, such as the directors of Blair Witch Project, have cited Pierce's pioneering work as a huge influence on their own movie making. In a 1999 interview with The Tulsa World, Blair Witch Project co-director Daniel Myrick was quoted as saying: "We just wanted to make a movie that tapped into the primal fear generated by the fact-or-fiction format, like [The] Legend of Boggy Creek."
For fans of cryptozoology creatures and vintage horror films, The Legend of Boggy Creek still stands as an important film.
Boggy Creek Monster
The Monster Mart is still in business and under new management. That's a good thing, as the Fouke (formerly Peavy's) Monster Mart is where you have to go if you want to find out about the Boggy Creek Monster, which has terrorized these parts since the 1940s. Or, if you don't feel like going outside ever again, you can just watch The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972), Return to Boggy Creek (1977), and Boggy Creek II: And The Legend Continues (1985).
Perhaps some people thought that the Monster Mart was gone when the monster mural on its outside wall was painted over. But owner Bev Roberts assured us on a recent visit (and in an even more recent phone call) that a new one is in the works. The Mart still sells monster t-shirts and post cards, and it still has on display a plaster footprint cast from a Pacific Northwest Bigfoot (The cast of the Boggy Creek Monster footprint was lost in a fire decades ago.)
Bigfoot footprint plaster cast.
Bigfoot footprint plaster cast.
The best reason to stop here is the Boggy Creek Monster photo-op, which stands between the Monster Mart and the post office. Birds have given the monster a poop beard and hair, which we mention because the face hole is not very big. If, however, you can position your loved ones gingerly, you will have fine photos of their faces wreathed in painted-on monster fur.
As long as you're in the South and are interested in monsters, you might also want to head east to Florida and its Skunk Ape Research Headquarters.
For those who still question the viability of an attraction based on a monster, keep in mind that Boxcar Willie, who grew up in relatively nearby Ovilla, Texas, became a millionaire celebrity and had attractions in both Nashville, Tennessee, and Branson, Missouri, long after the Boggy Creek Monster first gained nationwide prominence. But Boxcar Willie is now dead, his attractions are shuttered, and the only memorial to him is a highway overpass