Definitive guide to the Fouke monster – Beast of Boggy Creek (Book review)

About two months ago, it was time for me to finally watch the classic “Bigfoot” movie, The Legend of Boggy Creek. All I remembered hearing about it was that there is a scene of a hairy arm coming through a window. Creepy. But it was an old movie, made in the 1972 so I figured it wasn’t so scary anymore.

It was dated, cringe-worthy at parts,  a little cheezy, but fascinating. I could totally understand how kids could be frightened and influenced by the movie that was very popular in spite of its method of being made and distributed. I enjoyed it and recommended it to others with some caution over the outdatedness.

bookcover_smJust after, I listened to Tim Binnall’s interview with author Lyle Blackburn who had written the first definitive book on the Boggy Creek monster, also known as the Fouke monster, The Beast of Boggy Creek (Anomalist Books, 2012). It was a good interview. Blackburn seemed to give sound grounding to the story of the town of Fouke, the episodes they experienced and the making of a movie about it. So, I bought his book.

Blackburn does not attempt to speak on the existence of a big hairy hominoid that reportedly terrorized the residents. He aimed, instead, to “provide an entertaining and comprehensive account of the creature”. In my opinion, he succeeded. I very much enjoyed this book.

The hubbub started on May 3, 1971 when the Texarkana Gazette reported the Ford incident where a man had to be taken to the hospital for shock after an encounter with something at an isolated cabin in Fouke, Arkansas. This report opened the floodgates to publicity for the sleepy town of Fouke and sparked a resurfacing of seemingly similar incidents of a creature encounter in the recent past in Fouke and nearby Jonesville.

The author includes background to the area in order for us to understand life here. It’s very different than what we might be used to. There is a feeling I get when imagining living in a remote area without modern conveniences at the mercy of whomever or whatever is hiding in the shadows. It is not a peaceful, tranquil feeling. It’s scary as hell.

Blackburn does a good job of examining the reports – the only evidence we have of the Fouke monster phenomena. Many people shot at the creature but there was never any physical evidence found. The tracks revealed three-toes. These characteristics are problematic. There are no three-toed bipedal creatures that we know of. Why wasn’t the thing, whatever it was, brought down in a place where everyone had a rifle at the ready? One of the accounts that occurred prior to the publicity explosion of the 1971 article was that of Lynn Crabtree who reported encountering a very frightening creature in the wood when he was out hunting. Blackburn searches to find the best account of this event. He includes details that Lynn’s father, Smokey Crabtree, went to the site where the incident occurred and found evidence of gunshots which had hit the trees but found no spent shells. Blackburn focuses on these discrepancies for a moment – what really happened to Lynn, why wasn’t he able to bring the creature down? This is the best place to mention the fabulous drawings by Dan Brereton that accompany the account write-ups depicting the monster as a very muscular, intimidating, hairy, Sasquatch-like animal. They are dramatic and add greatly to the book. Yes, they are exaggerations because we can only use the stories that still exist so, I’m torn about their accuracy and the possibility that they skew the story, but they are very cool.

The book not only chronicles the history of the creature sightings before and after the pivotal Ford incident but does a fine job of analyzing the movie in terms of the actual reports that inspired each scene. This makes The Beast of Boggy Creek a must have for those who seen the movie and are interested in Bigfoot reports. Note that the Fouke monster was not tied to Bigfoot at the time of the incidents but the success of the movie was aided by the surging interest in Bigfoot in the early 70s and the idea that it might be real. In addition, Blackburn covers the aftermath of the movie and its influence on Fouke citizens. I’m not sure if people who have not seen this movie will enjoy the book as much as if they did but it should prompt them to see the film itself (I rented it from Netflix).

This is a well-done bit of research put into a readable and highly interesting book from many angles. Recommended.