Narrated by Lyle Blackburn
Written and Directed by Seth Breedlove
Lyle Blackburn and I have a lot in common when it comes to cryptids.
We’re around the same age, and at around the same age, our parents took us to the drive-in to see a G-rated film called The Legend Of Boggy Creek. This is a movie that should never have been rated G; part nature film, part documentary, part balls-out horror film. The subject of the film was the Fouke Monster, often sighted around Boggy Creek in the swamps of Southern Arkansas. The scarier parts of the film were dramatizations of incidents where the monster (some form of bigfoot/sasquatch) besieged families living out in the sticks.
It changed both of us. We were both already into bigfoot despite our early ages, but that film left us marked with an obsession for unknown creatures wandering the backwoods of North America.
Blackburn, already an avid outdoorsman and hunter from years spent out with his father, continued that trail and has become the nation’s top researcher in the phenomena around Boggy Creek and, really, most of the sasquatch activity in the Southern US.
I’m strictly an indoors guy, so my studies have been limited to second-hand research, branching out over the decades to cover all things paranormal and unexplained. Eventually this lead me to my position writing the Gasp Menagerie column here on Dread Central covering all things weird and spooky.
Lyle has now written two books on the subject, has conducted tours of the region, and frequently does introductions and Q&A’s along with screenings of the original film.
Now, however, along with documentary filmmaker Seth Breedlove, Blackburn has produced Boggy Creek Monster. The film, written and directed by Breedlove, covers both the monster and the original film simultaneously, which is fitting as they are now forever connected in the minds of most.
This film is entirely documentary in style, without the dramatized segments of the original. Boggy Creek Monster focuses on eyewitness interviews, including new testimony from some people featured in the original film. It also goes past the original film and includes strong testimony from witnesses right up through the decades to the current era.
Blackburn narrates and appears with witnesses in the film. His expertise on the subject and ease with the dialogue lend the subject matter an important amount of gravitas. Nobody listening to Lyle speak would mistake him for a crackpot or kook. He comes off as exactly what he is: a softspoken outdoorsman, musician, and researcher who is passionate about a topic but not given to hyperbole or hysteria.
Breedlove’s direction is spot-on as well. This feels and looks like it could be a documentary on the Civil War or a similar historical subject. It’s classy, informative, and real. The visuals of the gorgeous backwoods of southern Arkansas look amazing. The urge to engage in the dramatics of the original film was probably pretty strong, but Breedlove and Blackburn were wise to avoid it. In 1972, titillating audiences was the path to box office success, but in today’s world that wouldn’t be taken seriously as a documentation of real phenomena.
As any good documentary should be, it’s compelling and brisk. It feels shorter than its runtime, never overstays its welcome, and by covering both the original film and the subject matter at hand, it offers something for those who might believe in the existence of a large undiscovered primate and those who are just interested in early independent film.
This one is worth checking out even if you’re unfamiliar with the monster or the original movie. You just might walk away a believer.