Ask most people to name a Bigfoot movie and, in all likelihood, they will reply: Harry and the Hendersons. There’s very little doubt that the 1987 production is the one Bigfoot-based film, more than any other, to which the general public relates to and has an awareness of. Many people might be surprised to know, however, that more than fifty movies have been made on Bigfoot and other cryptid-apes. The list includes The Snow Creature, Snowbeast, Willow Creek, Creature from Black Lake, Abominable, The Sasquatch Gang, and The Wild Man of the Navidad. Ask those within the Bigfoot-seeking community for their favorite Bigfoot movie and the response will likely be a very different one to any of those I’ve highlighted above. Numerous Sasquatch aficionados have a particular fondness for a 1972 movie titled The Legend of Boggy Creek. What makes the movie stand out from so many others of its type is that The Legend of Boggy Creek is based upon real events that occurred in and around the small town of Fouke, Arkansas in the early 1970s. No one knows more about this than Lyle Blackburn, the author of the book, The Beast of Boggy Creek and other cool, cryptozoological books.
Lyle notes that on May 3, 1971, the Texarkana Gazette “…printed the first in a series of hair-raising reports about a monster that allegedly haunted the woods near Fouke. The monster was said to be a large, hairy ape-like creature that walked upright on two legs. It stood nearly seven feet tall, had glowing red eyes, gave off a rank odor, and occasionally let out a horrifying shriek.” The description of the monster, said Lyle, “…was not unlike that of Sasquatch or Bigfoot, but this creature had a decidedly Southern slant in that it seemed to be leaner, meaner, and hairier. As more reports came in, it was apparent that the thing – whatever it was – preferred the proximity of Boggy Creek, a ruddy tributary which snakes up and around Fouke like a long, forked tongue.” It wasn’t long before a certain character, a man named Charles B. Pierce, became fascinated by the story of the monster of Boggy Creek, a monster that provoked numerous encounters in the wooded neighborhood in mid-1971 (it should be noted, too, that Lyle has cataloged reports dating from 1908 to 2010). The story of the making of the movie is almost as fascinating as the story of the creature itself.
Born in 1938, in Indiana, Pierce moved to Arkansas, with his family, when he was still a child. Having a love of movies and the world of television, Pierce worked, variously, as an actor, producer, director, and screenwriter. His skills contributed to such well-known television shows as Remington Steele, the re-launched, 1980s version of The Twilight Zone, and MacGyver. It is, however, for his 1972 movie, The Legend of Boggy Creek, that Pierce is most well- and fondly-remembered. To say that Pierce was enterprising in his effort to bring his brainchild to fruition is an understatement. Unable to finance the movie himself, he secured funding – of a six-figure nature – from a trucking company. And, instead of using a cast filled solely with actors, he elected to use some of the real eyewitnesses to the creature as part of his cast. It was a gamble that could have led to complete and utter disaster of both a financial and critical nature for Pierce. Instead, The Legend of Boggy Creek – released on December 6, 1972 – achieved cult-like status, and reeled in more than $20 Million in the process.
Nick Redfern and Lyle Blackburn (Photo: Denise Rector)
Several sequels (best forgotten) followed, none of which came anywhere near to the level of the original. Charles B. Pierce died in 2010. As Lyle Blackburn’s work and research demonstrates, however, the monster of Boggy Creek lives on. As does its legend, of course.