Starring Charles B. Pierce, Chuck Pierce, Serene Hedin, Cindy Butler, and Jimmy Clem
Written & directed by Charles B. Pierce
Charles B. Pierce hit pay dirt in 1973 with his very first film, The Legend of Boggy Creek, a documentary about a Bigfoot-like beast said to roam the swamps of Fouke, Arkansas. The film would be a surprise hit and go on to become the Citizen Kane of Bigfoot movies. Pierce himself would go on to make a string of low budget films, the most prominent of which were the cult thriller The Town That Dreaded Sundown and the Lee Majors’ Viking saga The Norsemen. In 1985, Pierce decided to return to the film that saw his greatest success. Lightning did not strike twice.
By the time Boggy Creek II: …And The Legend Continues (also known by the inspired yet rather misleading title The Barbaric Beast of Boggy Creek Part II) was made, it was already about ten years out of date. The kind of movie Pierce tried to make with Boggy Creek II had already been done better and scarier back in 1976’s Creature From Black Lake, arguably the best (non-documentary) film of its kind made during the Bigfoot boom of the Seventies. Whereas Pierce’s original documentary was a inspired, sometimes creepy romp that showed genuine affection for both that part of the country and the people that reside there, Boggy Creek II is a bland, listless, unimaginative rehash made by a guy that doesn’t seem aware of the fact that quite a few similar style Bigfoot movies had been made in the wake of his first film.
Instead of the documentary approach, Pierce goes the fictional route this time with the story of an Arkansas anthropology professor that leads three of his students (one skinny male and two whiny females) on an expedition to Fouke, Arkansas in pursuit of the Boggy Creek monster. Along the way, the professor regales them with tales of the monster, thus allowing for many a dramatic recreation. They also get sneered at by the locals, drive around a lot, wage mortal combat with rabid dog, survey the local roadkill, complain a lot, have a series of uneventful encounters with the creature, and meet up with a repulsive 300+ pound river rat clad only in a pair of overalls named “Old Man Crenshaw” (even though he looks to be about the same age as Pierce) who may know more about the monster than he’s letting on.
What Legend of Boggy Creek got right that Boggy Creek II didn’t is mood, atmosphere, and the foresight to keep the monster an enigma. For all its technical flaws, Legend of Boggy Creek succeeded in creating a sense of eerie dread. Try watching it alone on a dark night and you’ll be surprised how effective it is. Because it wasn’t a slick studio production and was filmed on location with real townspeople, often the very people that claimed to have encountered the monster participating in the reenactments of those experiences, the movie had an authentic feel, a realness to it, and believability is often crucial to setting the mood in horror movies. Getting to know those real people also gave the film a hokey charm. Legend of Boggy Creek is as much about a particular slice of Americana as it an 8-foot, hairy swamp monster. And that monster was left a mystery. Pierce never really gave you a good look at it so you couldn’t just laugh it off as a man in a cheap Bigfoot suit. It was a blur that appeared suddenly, briefly, shot from a distance, or it lurked in the shadows. It was an ever-present menace that scared the hell out of lots of people but nobody could say for sure exactly what it was aside from being big, hairy, and humanoid. Just as in real life, the creature, what it is, where it came from, and what it wants was kept something of a mystery waiting to be solved. In Boggy Creek II, it’s just a guy in a shaggy Sasquatch suit that looks exactly like a guy in a shaggy Sasquatch suit. Pierce doesn’t even wait until the end before unveiling the beast and not only do you get a good look at the monster costume, the creature even has a motive for some of its behavior. No mystery, no enigma…Just a guy in a ho-hum monster suit.
Instead of the frightful modern folk tale that was the original documentary, this time Pierce gives us a run-of-the-mill monster movie involving lame characters, extensive nature footage, reenactment scenes that feel like footage cut from the original film for not being scary or entertaining enough, and a dopey third act that suddenly turns the film into a backwater Deliverance version of Gorgo.
You also get a production that feels even more amateurish than the original that was made when Pierce really was an amateur filmmaker. The guy had been making movies for over a decade and he still had trouble lighting certain shots? One run-in with the monster has the young women running away in terror screaming about the monster, but when Pierce shows us what they saw there isn’t any monster to be seen and it’s quite obvious from the way the scene played out that there was indeed supposed to be a monster approaching them. No scene typifies the film more than the professor’s first face-to-face meeting with the monster where he shoots it with a tranquilizer dart that the monster casually pulls out and proceeds to walk away in a seemingly disinterested manner. You know a monster movie is bad when even the monster itself doesn’t appear to give a damn.
Boggy Creek II is a real family affair; the last name “Pierce” is all over the credits. Unfortunately, Charles B. Pierce makes the grievous mistake of casting himself as the college professor. Whatever one may say about Pierce as a writer or director, one thing is certain: he’s not much of an actor. While much of the movie requires him to do little more than serve as an on-screen narrator for the reenactments, when it comes time for him to act forceful or scared, it’s brutally funny. Imagine a middle-aged bearded man in scoutmaster shorts and a baseball cap waving a gun around while making a face that brings to mind Flippy from the “Happy Tree Friends.”
Pierce also cast his real life son Chuck in the thankless role of student Tim, a scrawny beanpole of a man that insists on walking around without a shirt only to keep reminding us that he’s nothing more than a flesh skeleton. Other than being really skinny, there’s nothing more to Tim’s role. In fairness, there’s really nothing to anyone’s roles. The girls are just there so they can scream a lot when the suspenseful parts try to kick in, and since the film is of a PG nature, don’t expect any gratuitous nudity from them either.
The only real highlight of both the cast and the film altogether is the third act arrival of “Old Man Crenshaw”, who, between his rather unappealing appearance and white trash demeanor, manages to bring the film to life even if it is to both gawk and laugh at him. He’s the closest the movie ever comes to capturing that authentic feel of the original even if he is such a laughable caricature of white trash culture.
Overall, Boggy Creek II:…And The Legend Continues really isn’t so much a bad movie as it is merely a dull B-monster movie melodrama that misses the whole point of the original. The film’s only real saving grace are the numerous moments of unintentional comedy that have already been fully capitalized on when the film appeared as cannon fodder on “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”
On the plus side, Boggy Creek II is still better than the name-only pseudo-sequel Return To Boggy Creek that was released in 1977 to cash in on the Boggy Creek name with a snooze-inducing kiddy fantasy flick where the Boggy Creek monster shows up at the end of the film to rescue a pre-“Diffrent Strokes” Dana Plato and post-“Gilligan’s Island” Dawn Wells during a flash flood. Man, did that movie suck. But that’s another review for another day.
I will give Elite Entertainment credit for even giving the movie its very own DVD release (although that cover art is hardly representative of the product inside) and even managing to dig up the film’s original trailer, but unless you’re a Bigfoot completist, a member of the Pierce family, or have a fetish for filthy fat guys in overalls or really scrawny twenty-year-old men, you’re probably better off checking out the riotously funny MST3K version of the movie instead.
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