How the legend of Boggy Creek inspired the Blair Witch Project

In 1999, people around the world were introduced to The Blair Witch Project, one of the most renowned found footage films ever made. Emulating amateur camerawork and focusing on a story steeped in urban legend, Daniel Myrick and Edward Sanchezmovie produced by Gregg Hale and Robin Cowie served as a gateway for many to horror films attempting to parallel contemporary life. The characters in The Blair Witch Project are portrayed as student filmmakers, marching through the Black Hills of Maryland and experiencing psychological horrors at the hands of the mythological being they are pursuing. The presentation of the film gave it a realistic side, especially for the time. Three college students attempting to document an urban legend form a plot more than capable of suspending the disbelief of observers, no doubt attributed to Blair Witchis success. While the film is one of the most notable mockumentaries to date, it followed in the footsteps of the work of filmmakers who came before it.

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Many fans will return to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), which presented itself as the recreation of a true story. Films from the eventual slasher franchise, the film would occasionally create fictitious stock footage to further illustrate its claims. However, another incredibly remarkable film deserves consideration as a pioneer in mixing horror and pseudo-realism: 1972’s The Legend of Boggy Creek. The Labor of Love by the Filmmaker Charles B. Pierce (The city that dreaded sunset), marshy stream was shot as a real-world documentary and focused on a cryptozoological creature known as the “Fouke Monster”. What gave the film the credibility of a documentary? The roots of the Fouke Monster itself.

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picture of the legend of boggy creek
Image via Howco International Pictures

The small rural town of Fouke, Arkansas has received reports dating back decades of sightings of an upright ape-like creature stalking the vicinity of Boggy Creek. According to the Arkansas Encyclopedia, the creature even attacked a family in the early 1970s. In the years that followed, many Fouke businesses capitalized on rumors surrounding the creature and created a thriving tourist industry. around her. One of the most apparent is probably the Monster Mart in Fouke, a convenience store emblazoned with the Fouke Monster in its signage. The story of the monster has taken on a life of its own among Fouke residents as well as on the lips of tourists and passers-by.

Diving into the hype behind the cryptid creature, Charles B. Pierce literally got to work. In addition to producing and directing The Legend of Boggy Creek, Pierce also shot the film, interviewed individuals, and even sang the film’s theme song under a pseudonym. Billed as a documentary centered around the “true story” of the Fouke monster’s existence. Borrowing $160,000 from a local trucking company, Pierce filmed marshy stream with an antiquated camera, even by 1970s standards. But what exactly made this film the forerunner of mockumentaries and found footage? Simply put, the majority of actors chosen in marshy stream were residents of Fouke, many of whom had claimed to have had an encounter with the monster at one time or another.


In staged interviews, these Fouke folks recall their unsettling encounters with the monster, believed to be a hulking creature completely covered in hair, sporting three toes and staring from afar with glowing eyes. Some locals report that the monster moves at lightning speed, others claimed that it steals large animals for a snack. There are a lot of inconsistencies regarding how the creature works and behaves, but apparently everyone in the movie gives a very similar account of what it looks like. This kind of ambiguity and legend via word of mouth is the foundation of any good urban legend or cryptic story. Pierce knew that speculating on the unknown was a surefire way to sell the Boggy Creek Monster story.


image captionBoggy Creek
Image via Howco International Pictures

To lend more credence to the film, Pierce takes viewers along as he documents the efforts of the people of Fouke to kill the monster. Some claim to have come within six feet of the monster, shooting at it with their weapons, but the monster still somehow escapes. Potentially poor marksmanship aside, one of the film’s most memorable sequences follows another group of hunters searching for the monster. With hounds in tow, the hunters seem to be hunting down the monster. The hunters attempt to lose their hounds to the creature, but the hounds are apparently paralyzed with fear and refuse to pursue. Much of this action is accomplished without ever needing to show the monster itself, which, one might say, encourages viewers to find it in the background.


In the film’s final act, Pierce attempts to recreate the alleged attack the monster carried out on a local family. Stalking the family who are far from Fouke’s heart, the monster assaults the family after shooting them in self-defense. A family member is seriously injured and sent to hospital. This appearance of the monster pays for much of the setup and rumors claimed by the locals before the narrator states in the final scenes that the creature was never killed or captured.

That last remark has been a hallmark of scary stories long before the film was made. The murderous monster, the silent killer or the vengeful spirit is never stopped. He is still there somewhere, still waiting and watching. It’s one of the ideal story beats to wrap up any story based on real events, and it works just as effectively in marshy stream as it would for the films that followed afterwards. The cannibalistic Sawyer family still terrorizes travelers to Texas, Edward Carver (The Poughkeepsie Bands) continues to torture victims and evade capture in New York, and the Blair Witch continues to cause disappearances in the Black Hills. While a sadistic monster or serial killer is scary on its own, the idea that they could be anywhere is scary.



Image caption Boggy Creek Monster
Image via Howco International Pictures

The close parallels to reality paid big bucks for marshy stream when it hits theaters. Produced on a budget of $160,000 and shot largely with the help of a crew of local high school students, the film earned around $20 million, making it one of the highest-grossing films ever. profitability of 1972. In fact, marshy stream remains one of the highest-grossing independent films ever made relative to its budget. It was particularly well received at drive-ins at the time and opened the doors for several other drive-in movies that framed their narratives around “true stories” such as Walk with your head held high (1974), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Jackson County Jail (1976), and even that of Pierce The city that dreaded sunset. Pierce’s DNA can be seen everywhere To sleepas the adaptation based on the 1946 Texarkana Moonlight Murders still maintains that Texarkana’s phantom murderer “still lurks in the streets”, as does the conclusion of marshy stream. Due to marshy streamcult of popularity, the film would also be remastered in 4k in 2019 thanks to the efforts of Pierce’s daughter Pamela Pierce Barcelou and the George Eastman Museum.

Corn The Blair Witch Project and The Legend of Boggy Creek have many differences, their commonalities still persist in the gap of several decades that separates them. Would like Blair Witchsuccess is assured even if marshy stream Never existed? It’s likely, but marshy streamStorytelling paved the way for the continued viability of one of the oldest storytelling conventions in human history: “The Other” is out there, he doesn’t value human life, and no one knows. when he could strike next.

If you ever find yourself in Fouke, Arkansas, stop by the Monster Shop and ask about the Fouke Monster. To this day, the townspeople carry on the legend. Reports of sightings of the monster keep coming in, and even more filmmakers have taken to Fouke in an attempt to document the monster in the wild. Just be careful if you head into Boggy Creek yourself, you never know what you might find.


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