The Legend of the Fouke Monster

As autumn set in during the fall semester of my internship, and the air was full of old suspicions and folktales, one that caught my attention was of the Fouke Monster, a sasquatch that is rumored to wander throughout Arkansas. The giant, hairy creature is named for a small town outside of which no one in the entire state of Arkansas can seem to agree on how to pronounce correctly. The films say “fook,” the town where the story began is called “Fow-ke,” and I have officially run out of confidence on the subject and avoid the name at all costs. From here, I was intrigued by the cryptozoological case in my literal backyard and picked it up for my Special Collections internship at the University of Arkansas.

Boggy Creek News Clippings

Original advertising and news clips about The Legend of Boggy Creek, as saved in the archives of Mary Dengler Hudgins (MC 534) in Special Collections.

The creature goes by a variety of names, each stemming from one or a combination of the following three: the Fouke (pronounced however you may choose, apparently) Monster, the Arkansas Sasquatch, or the Boggy Creek Monster. It is a humanoid ape covered in dark brown hair with only three toes on each foot, and large, glowing red eyes. Eyewitness accounts say he weighs around 800 pounds at about 10 feet tall. He is also said to smell like a wet dog who has gotten into a fight with a skunk, which I think would seriously compromise his ability to hide in a nearby bush to attack anyone. How do you not see a sasquatch that you could smell for at least a mile behind these skinny Arkansas trees? The forest is forgiving, but the sasquatch is asking for too much.

The sightings began in the area around Fouke in the 1940s. Since then, all of the eyewitness accounts have been recorded in two films by Charles B. Pierce. The first film, The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972), focused more on how proud Arkansans were of being backwards compared to the rest of the world than the supernatural creature that was supposedly roaming around. It was an hour and a half of ‘70s hillbilly with the Fouke Monster showing up only occasionally to remind you that he was infringing on their lifestyle by walking by their outhouses. The highlights of the movie include an old man who lives in a shack on an island in the Sulfur River bribing a teen to bring him tobacco and sugar. Bribing him with what, the film never specifies! And a young man trying to use the bathroom when the Fouke Monster reaches for him through the window, then punching the man in the face after he runs outside. I will give points to the way in which the man in the Fouke suit looked like an unidentifiable and slightly scary creature. The docudrama, which was much more extreme than any ordinary dramatized documentary, argues that the Creature does in fact exist and is just lashing out in “lonely frustration” as the song for the film suggests in its refrain, “Perhaps he dimly wonders why, there’s no other such as I, to touch, to love before I die, to listen to my lonely cry.” I really enjoy the folksy sound of a ‘70s bop about a rogue sasquatch.

Crabtree Books

Books in Special Collections by the backwoodsman Smokey Crabtree, who was featured in the film The Legend of Boggy Creek. These books, available as part of the Arkansas Collection, include Smokey and the Fouke Monster.

By the end credits of the film, not much is actually known about the Creature, but that is what the second film is for. After the first film’s wild success, Pierce directed, produced, and starred in the pseudo-documentary sequel, The Legend of Boggy Creek II: And The Legend Continues, commonly referred to as just Boggy Creek II, in 1985. The film follows a University of Arkansas anthropologist (Pierce) and three of his students on a camping trip to collect undeniable evidence of the creature.

Promotional poster for 1985’s Boggy Creek II, used courtesy of

Similar to the first film but somehow worse, Pierce dramatizes alleged encounters with the Creature. What initially caught my attention was the glimpse of the University of Arkansas’ Razorback Stadium in the beginning shots of the movie – congested traffic and all. The rest of the film consists of 40-year-old Pierce running through the Arkansas forests, waving a gun around in cut off blue jeans. At one point, the crew float up river to visit a man who knows the most about the Fouke Monster. Sporting only a pair of worn out overalls and nothing else, the man and Pierce’s crew show off against the monster, played by a man in a gorilla suit. Overall, the film’s downfall was the use of the plain gorilla suit. The movie did well among fans of the original film, but gained international attention when it was featured on Mystery Science Theatre 3000 in 1999.

While both movies are presented and labeled as part of the horror movie genre, they are not what current movie-goers might be familiar with. However, they do feature some truly scary situations, like showing what Arkansas was like before there was indoor plumbing. Nonetheless, these films offer a classic horror movie story with a Southern twist. And while the jury may still be out on whether or not the Fouke Monster is a giant, three-toed sasquatch or just a misidentified black bear, these films are sure to give you a laugh and something to watch while you stay in this season.

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