That Terrible Lonesome Cry

What kind of thing can pick up two one hundred pound hogs and walk off with them?

– John W. Oates

For Day 23 of the Fright Festival, I went with another old favourite – The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972). I’ve watched this one I don’t know how many times. It’s comfort viewing for me – if I’m having a crap day, or just need to chill, on goes The Legend of Boggy Creek. There’s something just so dang soothing about the tale of the Fouke Monster. Or maybe I’m just a sucker for that dynamite film poster by Ralph McQuarrie. Seriously, that thing is a constant source of inspiration for me. So simple, yet so full of story. I could stare at it for hours. Great stuff.

Anyway, the film bills itself as a docudrama, and it’s a good enough descriptor. There’s no plot as such; just a collection of encounters, loosely arranged to show the increasing ferocity of the monster’s attacks. There are also no actors as such, besides the guy in the monster suit – everyone else is just restaging their encounters with the Fouke Monster. That lends the whole thing an air of legitimacy that is only enhanced by director Charles B. Pierce’s decision to keep the monster largely out of sight and always out of focus. Instead, Pierce relies on the weird, haunting cry of the monster to denote its presence in many scenes – a spine-tingling howl that echoes among the trees or across empty fields and sends animals and people alike fleeing in terror.

That sound is probably my favourite bit of the film, honestly – other than the scene where the monster tries to pull a dude through a bathroom window. It’s a cry that mingles malice and melancholy into one wordless howl – a deranged protest against the injustice of its own existence. The cry of something that finds no solace in madness, no comfort in isolation.

The cry of a monster.

Of course, the real stars of the film are the Arkansas swamps that the creature calls home. Throughout the film, we get scene after scene of lush, primeval wilderness and a rustic way of life that has, sadly, vanished since the film was shot. The whole film is one long smorgasbord of eerily beautiful sequences that only add to the foreboding atmosphere.

I recommend this one every chance I get, and today’s no different. It’s not a good film, as such, but I think it’s a great one. It’s honest and enthusiastic and scary and charming. Do yourself a favour and check it out.

I give it five three-toed tracks out of five.