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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Pamula Pierce Barcelou, Lyle Blackburn and Justin Beahm Discuss “THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK” on 4K Blu-Ray

Sunday, September 10, 2023 | News


THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK is an anomaly of the highest order. Charles B. Pierce’s captivating cryptid pseudo-documentary stretches its hirsute paws across decades and definitions. It’s late-night fright fare for the drive-in crowd who appreciate monstrous malevolence; It’s an enigma wrapped inside of a mystery for armchair Sherlocks who ruminate the creature’s existence; And it’s G-rated family fun for those generations who cherish days gone by. But for the bootleggers, it’s been an ATM, dispensing a few bucks here and there in exchange for washed-out and muddied transfers grabbed up by an unexpecting fanbase eager to revisit the Sulphur River Bottoms of Fouke, Arkansas.

Unfortunately for those deceivers, however, is that Pamula Pierce Barcelou is unequivocally her father’s daughter. Tackling the seemingly insurmountable is in her DNA, inherited from a man whose determination to see his creature feature play screens across the Southern United States and abroad would not be deterred by distributors unwilling to give his film a second look or by critics who wouldn’t spare ink or page for a Bigfoot film. Pierce’s indie outing would go on to be one of the most commercially successful films of all time, founding the archetype by which all other Sasquatch movies would be measured. And Pamula PierceBarcelou, resolute in her battle against those who hold no rights to her father’s work, has managed to finally produce an official release of THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK with crystal clear video and pitch-perfect audio.

What began with a Blu-ray release back in 2020 enters the realm of 4K UHD with a premium HDR10+ offering. Delivering never-before-seen content and bonus features, including commentary from RUE MORGUE’S own Lyle Blackburn, this is no mere upscaled transfer. This is BOGGY CREEK the way it was always meant to be seen, financed and produced through Pamula’s own Boggy Creek, LLC and complemented with bonus content furnished by preservation and restoration master Justin Beahm and Reverend Entertainment.

 Recently, Pam, Lyle and Justin met with with RUE MORGUE to discuss the disc’s release.  

What is everyone’s connection to one another, and what were your contributions to the 4K release of THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK?

Pamula Pierce Barcelou, daughter of filmmaker Charles B. Pierce and BOGGY CREEK crusader.

Pamula Pierce Barcelou: Lyle and I connected over the Ralph McQuarrie painting (the film’s iconic poster). We used to have a houseboat in Hot Springs, Arkansas, called the “Boggy Creek,” and it hung there until my mother sold the boat. She brought the painting home, and she put it in this closet within a closet, and it stayed there for decades. At one point, she told me that her painting went missing; She thought maybe my dad had taken it, but I said, “Mom, he doesn’t have it.” After my parents died, I ended up being appointed the administrator of my father’s estate, and I kept writing to the people who had the (film’s) documentation, but they would ignore me. I couldn’t get any information at all.

Author and cryptid expert Lyle Blackburn.

Lyle Blackburn: I had been looking for the painting since I started trying to write my book The Beast of Boggy Creek. I’d heard rumors that somebody came into a Bigfoot conference with it and was asking like $20,000 for it. Of course, nobody’s going to buy it when you could buy the movie posters online for $30. A girl walked by my table, looked at my book and said, “My mama’s got that original painting for the movie.” I called her mom, who lived in Texarkana, and I went over there and sure enough, she pulled this thing out of the garage. It wasn’t treated very well, but I still ended up buying it. This was the (Pierce) family’s property, and I felt good about having found it.

PB: I accidentally called Lyle one day, and in just a few minutes we worked out a deal where I purchased the painting back. Then I called Steve Ledwell (son of Buddy Ledwell, the movie’s executive producer) in late 2014 and asked if my father had gotten the rights back. He said, “No, Pam, your daddy never came back here. We haven’t collected any money from BOGGY CREEK since 1975,” which was stunning to me.

I had been hearing from fans for so long, asking to get the rights worked out and get them a decent print. I asked Steve, “If I’m able to go out and find good source material, would you let me release it?” He sat there for a second and then said, “Run with it.” I started digging around, and it took another four years. Lyle ended up calling me at Christmas, around 2017 or 2018, and said there was an auction on eBay with a 35-millimeter print. Two anonymous bidders were going after it, and it got pretty high, around $1900, so I got in there. Somebody messaged me about restoring it, and they had friends at the George Eastman Museum. We reached out, and I found that the first thing they do is charge you just to look at the film and decipher it. Then, they had to clean it, and after all that, they deemed the print was going to cost too much to restore. I needed to keep looking, and it took another six months or so, but I heard rumors that the British Film Institute held a copy in their archives. It was there, so they shipped it over.

I live close to Ken Burns, the documentary filmmaker, and he told me I needed an intellectual property attorney. Ken introduced me to his counsel, and we started to work on it. They signed the papers, and then, I got the copyright assignments which, next to my kids, was the best thing that’s ever happened in my whole life. It’s been a huge responsibility, but such a joy and a blessing to work on. Justin had done the bonus material for both my dad’s original The Town that Dreaded Sundown and the meta remake from Blumhouse, so I figured he would already have expertise dealing with Charles B. Pierce material. I knew he was a professional and could get it done for me.

LB: I can’t believe we’re here even talking about a 4K release because when my Beast of Boggy Creek book was published in 2012 – which was the first time anybody’s covered the history of sightings of the creature and the process of making the film – it got big and sort of ignited the growing Bigfoot community. I suddenly became the focal point for the film because Pam wasn’t visible at the time, and Charles Pierce had passed away. People were asking if I could re-release it, but I didn’t have any power over that. Then, Pam and I ended up connecting and used what connections we had to make this happen.

It’s amazing. I never thought that it would ever be re-released. I looked at it as, “We have these bootleg DVDs, and we’ve got VHS, and that’s all we’re ever going to get.” Then, Pam came in and was able to get all this done. People don’t understand how much work and money she spent to do this and the care she’s put in because that’s her dad’s movie. I feel amazed to be a part of that process and with this release that Justin is putting together.

Producer Justin Beahm and friend.

Justin Beahm: When Pam and I first started talking, I was blown away by the effort that she has to put in almost daily in trying to shut down the people cranking out these bootlegs. What impressed me about those early conversations was her primary concern was that this wasn’t how this film should look or sound; This wasn’t the experience that my dad would have wanted for audiences. This whole project was born out of a genuine effort from Pam to sincerely and lovingly get this thing to its best presentation ever, and that’s exactly what’s happened with this release.

We’ve been talking about this for a few years now, and it’s gone through different iterations in terms of how we wanted to approach the project. The previous release that had been done by Pam … When I started looking at it closely, I had discussions with her about some opportunities for it. It was embraced by the film and cryptid communities and was a breathtaking restoration, but this was a situation where I saw a chance for a little more attention to be paid. Going through frame by frame and finding the hiccups and the flaws, like I’ve done for several other companies, and looking at a lineup of challenges and opportunities, you start to realize this can look genuinely different again. When you combine that with a higher resolution scan, color clean-up and the new audio mix, it takes this film into the stratosphere, and that’s a place that BOGGY CREEK has never existed before. Even for people who may have purchased the previous Blu-ray, this is 1000% justifiable just based on how it looks and sounds, but then you add in the footage that Pam discovered from behind-the-scenes and bringing Lyle in for an expert commentary.

One of the great things about Charles is that his films often straddle that line between documentary-like fiction and nonfiction, and I think it’s never been on greater display than with The Town that Dreaded Sundown. When I came into that project, I wanted to do a commentary track that met the film on its own terms, meaning there’s a real case here. Then, there’s the story of the making of the movie. I brought in James Presley, the case historian who was in the middle of writing an incredibly fascinating book breaking down the case. Presley came in to speak to the case, and then I was on the other side of the discussion speaking to the film, and it became a fascinating conversation similar to Lyle’s approach with his book and all of his speaking engagements. This was a case of walking into BOGGY CREEK not only with an understanding and respect for the material but also a real interest in having feet planted on both sides of that stream. And Pam was the lighthouse for everybody, with the core mission of giving the fans the best film that they could get while also paying tribute to her dad’s vision with a release that he would certainly be floored to see.

Bonus features are often a draw for physical media collectors, especially when releasing new transfers of films. Are there any special callouts here?

JB: The heart of it is the outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage. With the new transfer, you see the monster better, but if you’ll remember, throughout the film, Charles kind of shied away from making it front and center. That was the mystique that he saw in his storytelling. Never have you had the opportunity to see the beast so clearly. With the outtakes, there are lots of cut portions of scenes, so you’ll see takes of the creature coming toward the camera through some fog in the woods. You also get to see a lot of his process throughout this, too. I don’t know if there is much other footage of him directing, setting up shots, getting ready for the scene and having to call action. You’re seeing the giant slate that he used for the film. You’re not only getting a chance to have new eyes on things you haven’t seen before with the creature, but you’re also getting a peek into the filmmaking process of one of cinema’s greatest regional filmmakers. 

LB: I’m the world’s biggest fan of this movie. It’s always been a part of my life in some way. Being somebody who’s researched Bigfoot sightings, specifically those around Boggy Creek, I can come at it from that perspective. I’m also a lifelong horror movie monster kid who loves things like this, and I write books in the cryptid realm, and I’ve worked for RUE MORGUE, so I try to bring all of that to the commentary. I was doing the commentary knowing what everyone would want to know whether they’re watching this as a Bigfoot enthusiast or just because they appreciate it as a horror film or a docudrama. Hopefully, I’ve translated that.

For many people, the only memory they’ll have of THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK will be from a subpar transfer, warts and all. How would you convince them to cast aside that version they’ve long held dear?

JB: I’ve been on many restorations over the years, and what I would first say is that the version that you grew up loving, it’s out there. If you have your DVD, hold on to it. I always encourage people to do that because special features on studio releases don’t necessarily port forward all the time, so if you’re a Halloween fan, you kind of have to own every version of it if you want the complete history. Hold on to your original copies – whatever you have, wherever you found them, and that experience is always there for you. I would also encourage people to consider that Pierce didn’t want to make a grainy pan and scan film. If someone were to bootleg Oppenheimer and throw it on a DVD, that might be an interesting experience that may even be perfect for many people, but that’s not the vision of the film. This is as close to, and maybe even beyond, the vision that Pierce had for this movie because it’s meant to be a beautiful film. It is a gorgeously shot movie and it’s thrilling for people to have the chance to finally see that.  

PB: A lot of people don’t understand the differences between what they were watching in the bootlegs and what I’m offering here. With the pan and scan, you’re getting a thumbnail of what was originally on the screen. From the very beginning, it was important that we keep the grittiness and the mood. I had seen somebody’s review and they said for a movie that depends on atmosphere. The atmosphere was back.

Fans have often wondered why this movie has been notoriously hard to locate across streaming services and question the brevity of its inclusion on Shudder’s The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs. Was a “cease and desist” in order when trying to wrangle back the rights?

PB: Tell Shudder to call me! I am so willing and ready to get this thing out there. When I first started taking down those bootlegs, a lot of fans didn’t realize that they weren’t getting the full experience. I tried to pull it all down, but my goal has always been to replace it with this beautiful print. I want it to go back on Shudder and all the places that I removed it from. Let’s get it back up there, but in the correct form that it needs to be shown in.

THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK defies genre labels and is a piece of cinematic history that is essential viewing for all. Some, however, discount it for being a “Bigfoot” movie, despite its influence. Let those folks in on the film that scared us then and scares us now!

LB: All other Bigfoot films are trying to copy this. This was the original, and it was captured at the time just after all this stuff had happened. Don’t think of this as a bumbling furry Bigfoot. This was a scary ape-like creature that lived in the swampy areas surrounding a small town in Arkansas, and the people who lived through this were scared. It affected an entire town and is a part of horror history. No other Bigfoot film has ever been able to capture the sensation and the terror of BOGGY CREEK. 

JB: It’s an intersection of a lot of things. It’s a regional film. It’s every bit a monster movie, and it’s also heartwarming. There’s a sincerity with how it’s all presented, and that’s one of the things that has been lacking in a lot of Bigfoot cinema over the years. The monster isn’t the star here. I think a lot of the films that came in its wake, that’s where they’ve missed the boat a little in that they’re making the monster the point of the story. Here, it’s very much about sitting in the room with the people who have had interactions, experiences or awful encounters with the beast. You get to see it and hear it – to take it in yourself and sort of become a resident of Fouke.

PB: A big difference between the others and this one is you can watch this with your children, your grandparents and your grandchildren, and you’re not going to be embarrassed. It’s good fun for the whole family, and there’s not a lot of that kind of entertainment out there today, where you can sit with three generations and all enjoy it. It’s also thought-provoking. There are people still thinking about it years later and trying to figure out the mystery. I get the most wonderful letters from fans, and they say to me, “I watched this with my grandmother, and now I watch it with my grandchildren.” People remember where they were when they saw it. They can tell me the name of the drive-in and how old they were when they saw it. I don’t know any other Bigfoot movies that can make those same kind of claims.

THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK official 4K release is now available for purchase.

Kevin Hoover
Ever since watching CREEPSHOW as a child, Kevin Hoover has spent a lifetime addicted to horror (and terrified of cockroaches). He wholeheartedly believes in the concept of reanimating the dead if only we’d give it the old college try, and thinks FRIDAY THE 13th PART V is the best in the franchise. Aside from writing “Cryptid Cinema Chronicles” for Rue Morgue, he’s been a working copywriter for over a decade and you’ve probably bought something with his words on it. He also believes even the worst movie can be improved with buckets of gore.