Posted by: Sean Whitley on March 24th, 2010
For the uninitiated, 1972’s The Legend of Boggy Creek is a drive-in classic about the legend of Arkansas’ Fouke Monster. Its theatrical and drive-in run, and its subsequent airings on broadcast and cable television throughout the 1970s and 80s, garnered the film a large cult following.
Like a lot of cult films of its era, a remake of LOBC has been rumored for years. However, there was only one official attempt to remake the movie and Ohio-based filmmaker Danny Vail was at its helm from 2002-2005.
Danny Vail, writer and director of the LOBC remake that was attempted from 2002-2005.
Vail’s interest in the subject of hairy hominids goes back to his childhood, and he even claims to have had an unusual encounter when he was young on a family camping trip in the Great Smoky Mountains. “In the middle of the night, something lifted up the back end of our RV and let it drop,” recalls Vail. “My dad and I got up immediately, grabbed our flashlights and rushed outside to see what had happened. Of course, there was nothing to see. No kids, no adults and no monsters. But who would have the strength to lift up the back end of an RV? The next morning at the general store while my dad was getting supplies, I heard several people mention having heard strange howling late in the night. One man even claimed to have found some weird footprints.”
Citing LOBC as one of his favorite films, Vail set out to remake it. “It was just obscure enough outside of Bigfoot circles that most people would not have heard of it and therefore would not immediately object to the idea of a remake,” he says.
Attached to the project as writer, co-executive producer and director, Vail made several trips to Fouke, Arkansas to research the subject and the previous film version of the Fouke Monster legend. “I spoke with many people involved with the filming, including Smokey Crabtree,” he recalls. “I visited all of the sites used in the original film, as well as all of the sites where the “real” incidents took place. I was able to collect a good deal of useful information, as well as first-hand encounters that had never been related to anyone else outside the area.”
One of those alleged encounters turned out to be a recent one. Recalls Vail: “I remember that one woman I interviewed, I will call her Beth, lived right on the creek. When we pulled up to her house, a huge group of puppies swarmed our car, leaping and barking. Beth told us that only two days earlier, just around sundown, she had been out hanging laundry near the trees. Her house backed right up against the woods. As she was finishing hanging the clothes, the puppies all started to bark furiously, then ran away from the treeline, yelping. She could not figure out what had upset them, but when she turned to stare into the forest she immediately locked eyes with something very large staring back at her. As it was growing dark and she was alone, she dropped the rest of the laundry and rushed into the house, herding the puppies along with her. She said that it was the quietest night she should recall in years. Just the wind blowing and the dogs whimpering.”
Vail was also told a hair-raising story about a group of churchgoers whose bus had gotten stuck in the mud on a local road as they returned home from a late night worship service. As he recalls, “While the driver tried to rock the bus out of the mud, something rammed the side of the vehicle, hard. Folks inside the vehicle said they could not get a good look at what it was because it was so dark. Others said they purposely avoided looking out of the window for fear of what they might see. Then whatever it was took what was presumed to be a large log and beat upon the top of the bus repeatedly. At that moment, the driver was able to wrestle the vehicle loose from the mud, and they took off at a steady clip. I actually got to see that bus, and I was a bit surprised at the amount of damage done to the roof, which was about eight feet off of the ground.”
With the proposed remake, Vail says that he wanted to stay true to the strengths of the original film, “but without the docudrama elements, and concentrating mainly on the “true-to-life” occurrence in the third act. It was to be very scary, but not terribly violent. No blood-crazed Bigfoot tearing the limbs from naked, horny teenagers. We have had enough of that kind of thing lately.”
The original LOBC‘s director, the late Charles B. Pierce, was consulted, a script was written, financing was lined up, and a temporary shooting schedule was arranged. Vail’s original plan was to shoot the majority of the film in Ohio.
Ultimately, the project turned out not to be. “Charlie and I could not come to a satisfactory agreement on several points regarding the remaking of LOBC, says Vail, “and it was finally decided to break off any further negotiations.” Despite this, Vail maintains a healthy respect for Pierce. “He was a one-of-a-kind filmmaker, one who should definitely be credited with creating international successes out of films that were designed as mere “regionals.” Because of the way films are designed and marketed today, and because we have no more theatrical venues for “B” pictures (i.e.: drive-ins), there will be no more Charles B. Pierces. And that is a crying shame.”
While a remake of LOBC with Pierce’s direct involvement is now impossible due to his recent death, Vail has not given up on the possibility of remaking the movie he’s loved since childhood. “The legal rights to LOBC have been mired in controversy for some years. As it turns out, it is a silent financial partner that has retained ownership the entire time, and it is they who have given me the blessing to proceed with a remake,” he says.
Before committing fully to that remake, Vail says he wants to take a wait-and-see approach on how Boggy Creek, the Texas-shot film that apparently is unrelated to the Fouke Monster legends, plays out first. “The filmmakers have acknowledged that this not a remake, but an unrelated horror film that appropriates part of the original’s title,” says Vail.
In the event that he does decide to remake the original LOBC, Vail won’t have to look far for source material. “I recently managed to track down and interview all of the living witnesses from the original “Ford” incident, which is the encounter at the house depicted at the end of LOBC, he says. “This is the first time many of them have spoken of the event since it happened in the early 70s.”
Special thanks to Danny Vail for sharing his recollections.
Sean Whitley first heard stories of Bigfoot lurking in Texas at the ripe old age of four. Several sleepless nights and nightmare-laden years later, he attended Southern Methodist University on an academic scholarship and graduated with a BA in Cinema. Whitley has worked as a scriptwriter and field producer for a wide variety of programs that have been broadcast on The Cartoon Network, The Learning Channel, SPEED Channel, MTV, Spike TV, Starz/Encore, Turner Classic Movies, HGTV, and The Cooking Channel. "Southern Fried Bigfoot" is his directorial debut. He lives in the Dallas, Texas metro area with his wife Cynthia, a cat named Josh, and two dogs: Speckles, an Australian cattle mix, and Lovey, a Potcake from the British West Indies.