In the 1970s and 1980s I worked on several movies by the Arkansas based filmmaker, Charles B. Pierce. He achieved minor fame and a cult following for his films, The Legend of Boggy Creek and The Town that Dreaded Sundown. [EDITOR’S NOTE: Both included with Amazon Prime]
The Legend of Boggy Creek was a pseudo documentary about the Fouke Arkansas swamp monster, as told by a local resident, Smokey Crabtree. Mr. Crabtree was an oil pipeline welder who had traveled the world following his work, but always returned to the wilderness he loved and knew so well.
After the success of the film, Mr. Crabtree published his own account of the monster, Smokey and the Fouke Monster: A True Story. I bought a copy in a Texarkana 7/11 in 1974.
Smokey passed away a few years ago at age 88.
After filming the western, Winterhawk, in Montana and Colorado in 1974, Pierce insisted on editing in his hometown of Texarkana. For the second time was hired as the assistant to the editor, Tom Boutross (the previous year I was Tom’s assistant on the Pierce film, The Bootleggers). On my days off I would sometimes drive down to the Boggy Creek of the movie, near the town of Fouke, Arkansas.
The residences there we typical of rural small town folk in any part of the country. Insular and distrustful, until they got to know you, then they were friendly and generous with their time. I was guided around the treacherous swamp and showed the various locations where the monster featured in the movie had been spotted.
Several times I had the feeling I was being watched. In a few months the editing was finished and I returned home to Burbank. Recently, I received a letter that had been forwarded many times. The postmark was smudged and unreadable. There were so many stamps on the envelope they almost covered the the address:
Big Movie Fella
(My old address)
Burbank, CA 91506
A couple of the stamps were even worth more than face value.
Below is the text of the letter I found inside, written in a childish, but legible, hand. You may judge for yourself its authenticity.
Big Fella, I need you to git this to the rite folks
You ain’t heard of me lessen you seen a picture show by the name of The Boggy Creek Monster, or Legend, or some red neck horseshit like that.
Well, that is me, or was, back 40 some years ago when I was a young hideous critter, just starten out in the monstern business terrifin’ folks and such.
Didn’t pay all that well, just cash I found in empty houses. These country people are kind of ignorant when they leaves yankee dollars layin around. I managed to corner more than a few and took what they had in their wallets. If it wernt much I howl at ’em and they’d crap their drawers. Some of the dummer ones even offered to write me a check. They knowed I didn’t have no bank account. Them checks was probly no good anyways.
I had me a little shack out in the Bottoms, nothing much just a lazy boy chair and an old card table I stole from some dump outside town. I even had a battery powered TV set for football. Go Hogs!
One of them local boys had a bate shop that sold beer and cigarettes and jars of shine. That and some cans of spam was all I needed. He kept his mouth shut about our arrangement, as I grab stuff for him from a list he gave me when I raided houses.
People was pretty dumb to think a monster would have any use for jewelry and credit cards.
I got bored tho and would take to rattlin door knobs, overturning lawn furniture and teepeen trees out front of them houses.
Sometimes I’d hide out till one of ’em went to the stinky outhouse and then tip it over or tie the door shut. The screams !!! I bout shit I laughed so hard! Good thing I didn’t wear no drawers. When I had to drop my dung I’d just squat where ever I was.
One time I dump in a sack and then lite her on fire. They smell the fire an come arunnin and you can guess what happens.
But, I writ this to set something straight. I did not grab that stupid ridge runner, Mr Stink Bug Crabbtree, no matter what that fool son of his says. I never wanted to be down wind of Stinky Crabbtree. I mean, how d you think he got that name? Stink Bug drank a few too many jars of shine and fell into the swamp. No, he didn’t drowned and I didnt wup him. My friend Roger the Gater got him and made dinner.
Roger was sick for two days.
What I want are simple. I want some of them money all them movies about me been made. Fare is fare. I asx this Pierce fella real nice for money en he sent some lawyer out to the swamp and stood right in front of the TV when the Hogs was playing and demanded I write on some paper. A yankee lawyer.
I may be a monster but I understan what without compensation means. The lawyer went the way of all stinkbugs. Ways I like to be in movies for money this time, like them movie guys like Brando who play at monsterin. Ken you get me an agent?
Joe Fouke monster