Creature from Black Lake (1976) Starring Jack Elam, Dennis Fimple & John David Carson. Directed by Joy N. Houck, Jr..
I know, I know, whenever folks want to talk about THE old school Bigfoot movie, they wax poetic about The Beast From Boggy Creek. We all delight in how terrible it was and marvel at its staying power. But, for my well earned moolah, Creature from Black Lake is a far superior foray into Squatch terror. Released in 1976, it’s a superior movie in every, and I mean every, respect. It has a host of experienced character actors who know what they’re doing in front of a camera. The score doesn’t make you want to bash your head against a rock the way Boggy Creek can insult your ear holes. It has a story line that makes sense (mostly). Best of all, you get more Squatch.
Jack Elam (who was in a hundred westerns and famously in the hysterical Cannonball Run) is a dirty, crazy trapper in hot and sticky Louisiana . His partner goes missing down around the ol’ Black Lake bottoms, so he brings in a couple of anthropology students to find out if the man was taken by the infamous creature that has roamed the swamps. If you grew up in the 70s, you’ll instantly recognize Pahoo (Dennis Fimple from the 70s version of King Kong and House of 1000 Corpses) and his buddy Rives (John David Carson (Empire of the Ants and every TV show in the 70s and 80s). Now, the boys want to solve the mystery, but they also like to hit on the local chippies, drink beer and mooch a meal or two. The sheriff wants them out, but being young and dumb and eager to find a monster, they manage to linger around.
Naturally, their disbelief in there being a bipedal monster in the woods turns to surefire terror when they are attacked. You don’t see a lot of Bigfoot, and if you have a bad print of the movie, you probably won’t see it at all because it will be swallowed up by the shadows. For budgetary reasons, I get the feeling they could only afford a 40 watt light bulb to assist with the night scenes. And there are a lot of night scenes. No matter, believe it or not, there are some moments of tension here and the end battle is, in the words of Larry David, pretty, pretty good.
Being an old codger, I love this movie because it reminds me of the way things used to be. Like pull tabs on cans of beer that you just flicked onto the ground. Who the fuck cares about nature or recycling? Oh wait, I guess Nature does because she sent one of her hairy enforcers to kick some serious ass.
Creature from Black Lake was directed by Joy N. Houck Jr. (I know, a dude name Joy!), who also brought the world classics like Night of Bloody Horror, Women and Bloody Terror and The Brain Machine. Never heard of them before? Me neither. But damn I want to find them now. One thing I noticed while doing a little research is that most of the people involved with this movie died young (except for the already moldy oldies like Elam). Makes you wonder if there was some toxic gunk in the swamp. Hmmmm.
Look, this isn’t the best Bigfoot movie you’ll ever see (that would be Exists), but for what it was and the time period, it’s a must have for your collection. Host a double feature night at your house and show it along with Boggy Creek and let me know who wins for best Squatch flick of the 70s. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to find my ghillie suit.
Hunter Shea is the product of a misspent childhood watching scary movies, reading forbidden books and wishing Bigfoot would walk past his house. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. Hunter’s novels can even be found on display at the International Cryptozoology Museum. His video podcast, Monster Men, is one of the most watched horror podcasts in the world. He’s a bestselling author of over 13 (lucky number!) books, all of them written with the express desire to quicken heartbeats and make spines tingle. Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to gobble down Gray’s Papaya hotdogs when the craving hits.