Legend of Boggy Creek (The) (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - George Eastman Museum Preservation Services / Audio Mechanics
Review written by and copyright: (21st March 2020).
The Film

The Legend of Boggy Creek was conceived and directed by Arkansas native, Charles B. Pierce. The movie was released independently in 1972, where it initially played in sold-out theaters in the Arkansas and Louisiana areas. In 1973, it was picked up by the film distributor Howco International, who made it widely available in theaters across the country. The Legend of Boggy Creek, which cost around $160k to make, became extremely popular in the 1970s, playing for many years in theaters, drive-ins, and later on television. It made an estimated $25 million dollars by the end of its run.

The movie was inspired by true events that happened in the small town of Fouke, Arkansas. When people there began reporting sightings of an agressive sasqsuatch-like creature known as the "Fouke Monster," it caught the attention of Charles Pierce who turned it into a successful film that is still remembered to this day.

One of the top-grossing documentaries (docudramas) of all-time, Charles B. Pierce's 1972 classic film is now fully-restored and remastered in 4K. This remarkable TRUE STORY is the first full-length feature film on the subject of BIGFOOT, and sparked an entire genre of film, as well as the burgeoning scientific field of cryptozoology! Join audiences from around the world who laughed, cried, and screamed through the swamps of Fouke, a small, southern town in Arkansas - where the legend began!

"IT SCARED ME THEN, AND IT SCARES ME NOW!"

Video

Narrated by Vern Stierman, this is a series of vignettes relating creepy accounts of the Fouke's monster; a variation on the Sasquatch / Big Foot legend from Arkansas.

A beautifully shot film made entirely on location with non-professional actors, many apparently the real witnesses, that raises hackles fairly effectively although some of the Monster attacks are a little amateurish. One of those seminal drive-in / Grindhouse films that defined the form; it had an awesome reputation amongst us kids although I never saw it.

Apparently the main influence on The Blair Witch Project (1999); this is a much more effective little film mainly because, although it's all staged recreations of supposedly real events, the characters are pure cutouts as you'd expect from the documentary format. Blair Witch's problems are down to it's obnoxious leads.

The creature is never really seen clearly or in closeup and this means it's very effective. A cult classic that should be seen by all horror fans ... perhaps by all film buffs as it created the whole Big Foot sub-genre of horror cinema; see Shriek of the Mutilated (1974) or Night of the Demon (1979).

This film has been a mainstay of the public domain with many, many home video releases over the decades. There are several DVD releases, all of dubious quality and severely panned and scanned. This rather lovely little Blu-ray is a worldwide premiere and has been recently restored in 4K from the 16mm A-B roll negatives. Owned by its writer-producer-director, the late Charles B. Pierce, his daughter Pamela Pierce Barcelou has overseen the project and it can only be bought directly from her website ($29.99). It cost me 39.00 inclusive of postage to have it in the UK (customs snagged it so a further 13 on top of that, but that was just bad luck).

Colours are vibrant and quite saturated giving us a beautiful, warm palette throughout. Flesh tones are on the reddish end of the spectrum but look decent. Reds are vivid and kick out when they appear. The green forest is lovely to behold at times and Pierce likes his sunsets.

Black levels are very deep and rich resulting in some natural crush at times due to the fast and dirty low budget shooting and the 16mm format; especially in some of the night sequences. Being shot and finished in the 2.4:1 aspect ratio using 2-perf Techniscope means that film grain is very heavy but has been generally well managed by the encode. Detail is good but this is a soft looking film so don't expect a great deal of fine texturing.

Contrast is layered and supportive allowing some detail to show through and ensuring that the grain field is fine and ever present. I didn't see any blown out highlights although there were some moments of lens flare when Pierce frames a shot with orangey sun. There are some film density issues mainly in optical scene changes and reel markers are present throughout. Although this has been restored, there are many, minor instances of dirt and damage throughout the presentation. At one point the image bore a severe scratch but it came and went in a fraction of a second. Several viewers online have noticed a small amount of film judder or weave that starts approximately 40 minutes into the film and continues till the end.

In my opinion this is barely noticeable and certainly shouldn't bother anyone but the most anal, and picky of collectors. The editing pattern and amount of panning and other camera moves ensures that it's barely noticeable. Anyone who rejects this disc and describes it as unwatchable is toking some heavy shit.

This is a fine presentation of a beloved cult classic that belongs in any self respecting film buffs collection; certainly anyone who considers themselves a horror fan.

All of my comments above apply to the DVD edition of the film included in this 2-disc set, only much is obscured in the fog of standard definition. On face value there isn't a great deal of difference between the HD and the SD, but the bigger your screen, the closer you view the more you will see that the HD image in the Blu-ray has greater stability in the image, with better colour delineation and detail.

1080/24p / MPEG-4 AVC / 2.4:1 / 87:00

Audio

English LPCM 2.0 Mono
Subtitles: English HoH

Sound is extremely robust, especially considering it's low budget origins. Dialogue is clear if a mite echoey, even tinny but this is down to the production itself and not a fault of the restoration or the transfer. Jaime Mendoza-Nava's fine, largely low key score is always crisp and clear with great base. As good as this track has any hope to be shy of an expensive rebuilt. Subtitles for the hearing impaired are present and welcome, bravo!

The DVD sound is obviously a notch or sow down and lossy. Same basic comments apply but it lacks the depth and range of the lossless HD track.

Extras

Trailer (1:56)

Pretty standard and cheesy trailer.

Sadly, that's yer lot! What a missed opportunity to have a good, gritty commentary by some film historians like Howard Berger and Nathanial Thompson who would've added a great deal of contextual added value. A retrospective documentary would've also been welcome.

Packaging

Standard, thin blue 2-disc Blu-ray case.

Overall

A very decent release that grants this American, grass roots classic the respect it deserves. It's a problematic source due to production choices but this restoration by George Eastman Museum Preservation Services / Audio Mechanics is exemplary. I'm sure that boutique labels worldwide will be pursuing this one to licence it for their territories. Hopefully they'll remove the remaining dirt, damage and reel change markers. And, add some substantial extras as that's where this release falls down.

However, image is grand and the sound about as good as can be given it's low budget origins. This is a pricy release but at the moment it's the only game in town and the only way to see the film in it's original 2-perf 2.4:1 aspect ratio shy of a revival screening. I'd like to rate this as one of the discs of the year but the lack of contextual added value is regrettable. The film deserves more.

Given that this is a labor of love produced by the copyright holder, it may be pricy but it is worth it.

The Film: B Video: A- Audio: A Extras: E Overall: B

 


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