The Legend of Boggy Creek is, hands down, the greatest Bigfoot movie ever made. (Yes, I am including The Geek, that 1970s bit of Bigfoot pornography, when I make this assessment.) Its mixture of documentary-style story-telling, location shots in the swamps of Arkansas, and Arkansans re-enacting their encounters with the creature somehow manages to overcome the cheap gorilla suit and cheesy songs about the creature's longing for love. A drive-in movie hit when it was released, it is now a cult classic among horror movie buffs and Bigfoot believers. The film tells the story of the Fouke Monster's visitations to the area around Fouke and Boggy Creek. The creature leaves its three-toed tracks in bean fields, kills hogs, and terrorizes teenagers and young married couples, but never does too much harm. Perhaps it is not the greatest film ever made but it scared me when I first saw it as a kid and, I admit, it scares me a bit even today.
Smokey Crabtree has a less favorable impression of the film, however, and doesn't mind telling the world about it in his first book Smokey and the Fouke Monster. The book combines folksy stories about growing up poor in Arkansas with Smokey's account of how the movie got the story wrong and how the people of Fouke were taken advantage of by unscrupulous movie people. It also includes Smokey's account of his and his family's encounter with the monster.
Smokey's son Lynn had one of the closest encounters with the creature while squirrel hunting with his dog. Hearing the dog 'hollering out in pain like he was hung in a fence,' Lynn ran to investigate and help the dog out of the barbed wire. Before he reached the fence, however, the sound changed into a groan or grunt. Lynn realized that the sound wasn't coming from the dog. It was a sound like he had never heard before.
There, only thirty steps away, was a hairy animal of some kind. He had his back to Lynn . . . He stood seven or eight feet high, had reddish brown hair, about four inches long, completely covering his body. He was standing up in the form of a man or gorilla. His arms were extra long. Lynn told me later that he was standing real odd, like a man would stand if he was using the stool standing up . . . (84-5)
Lynn waved the gun around, thinking he might scare the creature away. Instead, it started walking toward him.
Lynn shot him in the face hoping to damage his eyesight:
The thing never flinched or 4 THE THING NEVER changed his stride of walking.
FLINCHED . . . LYNN RAN BACK Ly™ ran back a few steps and shot him twice more,
A FEW STEPS AND SHOT HIM emptying his gun that time.
TWICE MORE 9 He was trotting along ahead of the creature reloading his gun. He said by the time he had finished loading the gun he was scared and running. The farther he ran the more scared he became. When he got to the house he was completely panicked. He was in a state of shock. (84-5)
In his latest book, The Man Behind the Legend, Smokey describes a skeleton found by hunters in the early 1990s. The hunters, unsure of what they had found, donated the skeleton to Smokey because of his connection to the Fouke Monster story. Smokey seems convinced that the skeleton represents the remains of whatever it was that terrorized the people of Fouke for so long:
The eight-foot skeleton that was found in the woods in our part of the country, and that I have had in my possession for over ten years now, has been the most convincing evidence of the creature's existence that we have been able to find. The skeleton is of some specimen that was over eight feet tall and weighed in the neighborhood of six hundred pounds when it was alive. It's very obvious that the skeleton is from a creature that should not be, and does not belong, in our environment in this part of the country. Through research, we are convinced that when it was alive, it was capable of doing at least ninety-five percent of everything that has happened around this part of the country, including the day time sightings of this creature that were experienced by good, honest, civilized people in the community. The skeleton is priceless to me, regardless of what it is, because it comes closest to solving my personal mystery and clearing up my mind. (48)
Not everyone is so sure, of course. But then, despite its influence on so many Bigfoot believers, the Fouke Monster story has never been accepted in mainstream Bigfoot research. Perhaps it is simply because the Fouke Monster is a resident of southern Arkansas rather than the Pacific Northwest. Perhaps it is because the tracks of the creature show three toes rather than Bigfoot's five, or because details of sightings are somewhat confusing, or that the story burst on the scene in movie form before any of the more famous Bigfoot researchers had a chance to investigate them. Smokey's strong sense of ownership of the story and of the evidentiary carcass also complicates matters, as does his reluctance to allow the Fouke Monster to be subsumed under the larger category of Bigfoot or Sasquatch, rightly noting that the Fouke Monster story had a life of its own before 'Bigfoot' became a cultural phenomenon. Consequently, the Fouke Monster is strangely outside mainstream Bigfoot research, Smokey's skeleton is something of a skeleton in the closet. It is not the only skeleton, however.
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