The Fouke Monster and the Legend of Boggy Creek (1972)
Long before there was a Paranormal Activity or Blair Witch Project, horror had met esoterica. An independent film maker Charles B. Pierce (1938-2010) struck upon an idea to do a pseudo-documentary of a real folklore monster sighted frequently near the small town of Fouke (pronounced F-ow-k), Arkansas. This is in the area known as Texarcana, the intersection of Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana.
Grabbing a quality camera, Pierce began to interview locals and splice in low-budget fictional representations of what may have happened. He edited the film and began to show it in local areas attracting a Hollywood distributor and moved it to the then-popular drive-in circuit. It made, reportedly, 20 million dollars. This placed it 11th in revenues for the year and compares to the big budget movie The Godfather (#1, 135 MM) and Irwin Allen’s The Poseidon Adventure (#2, 93 MM). In other words, Pierce pulled in a fortune in profits.
While it distributed as a horror movie, it somewhat capitalized on the 1969 documentary by Roger Patterson. It motivated a whole new generation of young people to become cryptozoologists, and showed the power of a well made independent film.
The movie poster was painted by a then-unknown artist, a technical artist at Boeing Company, Ralph McQuarrie. He would not be unknown for long, because a short time later a young movie maker named George Lucas tapped him to do some sketched to show to 20th Century Fox. It was a little movie later known as Star Wars.
A new book on the folklore, legendary sightings, and history of the Fouke monster has appeared. A recent interview on Coast to Coast AM represents the book as having up to date sightings (through 2011) and it covers the history of the movie, and the legendary Big-Foot-like creature back to at least 1908. The book is by Rue Morgue columnist Lyle BLackburn.
Back to Pierce, much of his Hollywood career was as a set decorator in dozens of movies and TV shows (notably for Henry Winkler’s McGyver in 1991), and he occasionally acted, directed, produced, or wrote for his own shows or for others. perhaps his next best known movie is the cult favorite, the Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976) about a 1940′s Arkansas serial killer.