Posted by: Nick Redfern on August 5th, 2012
From good friend Tim Binnall, of Binnall of America:
BoA:Audio resumes its search for cryptids with our guest Lyle Blackburn, author of The Beast of Boggy Creek. In this lengthy conversation, we’ll be discussing Texarkana’s Fouke Monster, made famous in the film Legend of Boggy Creek. Lyle will detail the evolution of the Fouke Monster phenomenon, the famous sighting which started a media frenzy, the filming and fallout of Beast of Boggy Creek, why the geography of the area makes it an ideal place for a large cryptid to lurk, the controversial claims of a Bigfoot skeleton found in the area, and much, much more.
Altogether, it is a richly detailed conversation on one of cryptozoology’s most popular, yet under-discussed, creatures as we separate Fouke Monster fact from fiction with Lyle Blackburn.
Full Preview: We kick things off with the standard bio / background and find out how Lyle Blackburn first got interested in cryptozoology and, specifically, the Fouke Monster. We then discuss how Lyle’s book features numerous first-hand or second-hand accounts of Fouke Monster sightings rather than relying on newspaper reports from the time, which can be prone to sensationalism. For newcomers to the Fouke Monster mythos, we have Lyle provide a thumbnail look at the creature, detailing what witnesses claim to have seen as well as how it seems to be different from your ‘standard’ Bigfoot reports.
Lyle then traces the evolution of public awareness of the creature and how it led to the film The Legend of Boggy Creek. Wrapping up one last aspect of background material, we have Lyle describe the truly treacherous terrain where the Fouke Monster is said to inhabit in the Texarkana region. Turning our attention towards the lineage of the Fouke Monster, we first discuss how there are a myriad of 1960′s sightings of the creature that actually pre-date the 1970′s media hype that surrounded it. This leads to Lyle talking about how small a town Fouke is and really just the home to houses and farms and not much else.
Getting into some of the stories from this wave of creature sightings, we begin with Lynne Crabtree’s encounter with the monster in 1965. Lyle reflects on how sightings from this period are important because the locals were both unfamiliar with the Bigfoot legend and not looking for attention or publicity surrounding their sightings of the creature. Lyle also discusses another critical note from these sightings of the 1960′s in that there were witnesses who saw the creature that were merely passing through the area and, thus, not influenced by the locals who had been discussing it.
Next we follow the narrative to May of 1971, when a truly remarkable sighting led to a newspaper report which caused the Fouke Monster to both get its name and explode into the public consciousness. Lyle recounts the story which saw a veritable attack by the Fouke Monster at a family farm. We then talk about how the subsequent media frenzy led to radio stations having bounties on the Fouke Monster and people descending on the area hoping to capture the creature for the prize money. In light of this, we muse about how this influx of hunters suggests the classic ‘man in a suit’ skeptic’s theory is pretty weak.
Following that, we discuss the best physical evidence gleaned from the Fouke Monster wave of the 1970′s: a three-toed footprint discovered followed one alleged sighting of the creature. This segues into some discussion on the controversy, in the Bigfoot community, surrounding three-toed prints. The conversation then turns to the film The Legend of Boggy Creek, which was a faux documentary that fictionalized the Fouke Monster sightings and became a surprisingly massive hit. Lyle details how the film was very unique for its time, since it was filmed using people from the area and filmed as if it were a documentary.
Staying on the topic of The Legend of Boggy Creek, we reflect on how the film actually dramatized numerous real Fouke Monster sightings, but many viewers incorrectly still believe that the stories were made up by the filmmaker. We then look at the fallout from the hit movie, in that many locals felt slighted by the director, Charles Pierce, who reaped a large windfall from the film’s success. This segues into some talk about how the citizens of Fouke feel about their status as a paranormal destination and whether there is resentment, acceptance, or apathy about the Fouke Monster in modern times.
Getting back to the Fouke Monster, itself, we reflect on how the locals who saw the creature described it as a Bigfoot, but never actually called it that. This segues into some talk about how there appear to be numerous type or geographically located Bigfoot creatures throughout America and the world.
We then discuss the controversial rumour / story that there was a massive skeleton discovered that may have been the creature and Lyle shares his insights into the story as well as his experience actually seeing the skeleton. This leads to some talk about why the skeleton has been essentially hidden for 20 years and perpetuating the rumours instead of released to researchers so we can determine its true nature. Lyle reveals how he took great risks to provide, in the book, the full details of the skeleton story.
Wrapping up the Fouke Monster discussion, we talk about how the sightings of the creature have continued to this day, despite most people thinking it was an isolated series of events confined to the 60′s and 70′s. Lyle talks about how the film galvanized interest in the creature while also allowing for the media and skeptics to dismiss it. Given that the creature has apparently been migrating over the years, we have Lyle speculate on where the Fouke monster may be lurking today. Lyle also talks about the connection between rainfall and monster sightings and speculates on why this connection seems to appear.
Looking at another recurring theme from the Fouke monster sightings, which is tales of shooting at the creature, and we ponder if that was simply bravado on the part of the witnesses or if it tells us additional information about the beast’s abilities. This leads to a discussion on the infamous ‘kill v. no kill’ debate in cryptozoology with regards to Bigfoot and we find out where Lyle stands on that longstanding argument. We also talk about how the Fouke monster is a prime candidate for being hit by a car, since it appears to cross roads with tremendous frequency. In light of the location of the Fouke monster and its ‘swampy’ description, we also ponder if there may be a connection to Florida’s Swamp Ape phenomenon.
Heading towards the close, we talk about some of the theories as to what the Fouke monster is and how Lyle has managed to dismiss most of the theories as simply extreme possibilities put forward by skeptics. We also talk about how the advent of the Internet has allowed for a great deal more information about the Fouke monster being available for researchers looking to investigate the creature. We also ask Lyle our classic cryptozoologist question, where he tells us his ideal plan of action, should money be limitless, to nab the Fouke monster.
Wrapping up the interview, we reflect on how difficult it is to spot the creature, since the area is also teeming with insects during the Summer which prevents extensive exploration. Lyle also teases a potential sequel to the book as well as documentary films about the Fouke Monster.