Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Boggy Creek II: And the Legend Continues (1985) - MST3K Review


Professor Lockart (Charles B. Pierce) or Doc grabs his prize student Tanya (Serene Hedin), the shirtless Tim (Chuck Pierce) and the whiney Leslie (Cindy Butler) after a sighting of the Boggy Creek creature is made, and heads into the Arkansas swamps. Doc provides some narration over some of the more popular tales of the Boggy Creek beast, before they make camp and start their hunt. The monster is revealed, seen first by the guys, then the gals. Then they decide to head down river to meet up with Old Man Crenshaw (Jimmy Clem) one of the must repulsive characters in MST3K history. Turns out Crenshaw knows quite a bit about old Boggy - more than he lets on. "And the Legend Continues...”

Movie Review:

Don't believe the title, this movie is actually the third film in the "Boggy Creek" cycle. The first film "The Legend of Boggy Creek" is actually considered a decent little low budget monster romp made in 1972. It was followed by "Return to Boggy Creek" in 1977. Now Charles B. Pierce directed the first film and actually put quite a bit of effort into it. "Return" was made without his help and is considered a poor sequel. I guess Pierce was upset by this (even if "Return" did star Dana Plato), so he made an official sequel!

I'm guessing that Pierce also had a bit of an ego inflation since 1972, because his 1985 feature has all the markings of a man who thinks he knows best. He knows that his son will be the perfect actor for the part of Tim, and that the girls in the audience will want to see him without a shirt. He knows that if there was ever a heroic figure, that Charles B. Pierce is that figure. His character of Doc gets all the heroic scenes. He is wise in the world. He wants to understand the creature, not harm it (even though he waves a rifle at it a few times). He snaps into action, with his teeny tiny shorts, whenever the women-folk are threatened, or Tim wets himself. He also barks orders to Tim - a lot. Yes, truly this is the vision of one man, a man with big ideas and a big ego. It reminds me of Arch Hall Sr. and his film "Eegah", where he also foisted his son on us. Coincidence that both men named their sons after themselves?

Pierce seems conflicted in the type of movie he is presenting (seems to be a theme this season). The movie opens with long and very pretty shots of the Arkansas swamplands. Pierce provides thoughtful narration about nature and the Boggy Creek Legend. You might think that you are watching a documentary. Even the creature is shown in as naturalistic a light as possible. Then you get a quick cut to a college football game with hundreds of screaming fans. And that's a bit closer to the type of movie you'll be getting.

The rest of the film attempts to balance the mystery of the creature with the horror of finding him. The story gathering sequences should serve the purpose of keeping us guessing. Is the Boggy Creek creature dangerous, or is it merely curious about humans. But Pierce bungles the approach by sapping the suspense from scenes with bad camera work, silly acting and poor use of the creature. By the time we get to the hunting sequence (which makes it sound more exciting than it is) we don't know if we should be afraid of the creature or afraid that Doc is going to kill it.

The final sequence of the story really makes no sense. The entire party has seen Boggy and thus fulfilled their quest - to see the creature first hand. They didn't bring and cameras so they have not real proof that they did see it, but hell, that was their own fault. But for no real reason they seek out more stories about the creature. This leads them to Old Man Crenshaw, the mountainous, hairy backwoods man. Now, this character is so amazingly horrifying, I don't mind the trip, but logically there was no reason to go there. Of course, this gives Pierce a chance to show his keen intellect, not only in dealing with the hillbilly, but also in deducing that Crenshaw has something to hide.

So what about the other elements of the film? Well the acting goes from average to pretty weak. The worst is actually poor Chuck Pierce as Tim. He delivers his lines with little emotion and seems to take his shirt off at a moment's notice. Both he and Doc run around in tiny shorts that leave little to the imagination, a true horror film for just about anyone. The girls are pretty bad too, overacting and generally not behaving like students of anthropology. They are both pretty in a very 80's kind of way. And if you like to see women sliding around in the mud, then this is the movie for you.

The creature is not a bad looking costume to tell the truth. The actor in it is forced to move rather stiffly, and its face has little movement. There is also a Little Creature that turns up later in the film. Again, the costume isn't bad, but the way it is filmed doesn't do much help things out. It appears in broad daylight and too often, making its limitations very clear. Still we've all seen worse.

The real monster is Crenshaw. It's rare that you suspect you may smell an actor through the televisions screen, but Clem is that actor. He appears to be nude except for his ratty overalls barely hanging on with one strap. What parts of him aren't covered in hair, are covered in a film of grime. His beard and hair looks crusty and yet oily at the same time. He wears a tiny bandana that one of the riffers refers to as a broccoli rubber-band. If that's not what it is, well I'd be surprised. His tiny eyes are shrewd but not bright. If this man is an actor, he's really damn good. If not, than I think Pierce just had Clem play himself - and that my friends is a horrible thought.

Episode Review:

This episode is a nice step up from the downer "Blood Waters of Dr. Z". But it shares a lot of similarities with that film. Both take place in the south. Both deal with monsters and people hunting them. Both feature bodily fluids. But at least "Boggy Creek" injects some humor into its film. Sure its lame humor, but overriding message is not one of despair and dreariness. I don't think Pierce would have stood for that. Instead it’s actually optimistic at the end. And maybe that optimism makes the riffing work better.

Because the energy is back and the laughs return with it. I think part of the fuel is Pierce himself. He comes off as such an obnoxious blowhard, and when you see he wrote, directed and produced this film, well you can't help but unleash a little on it. That's what Mike and the bots do, attacking the film and Pierce with plenty of jokes, and some of them not too nice.

The flashbacks and stories get particular attention, mostly because they are so badly filmed or handled. The first couple are so blurry that it's difficult to see whets happening. Later ones are so badly set up and executed that you can't help but mock them. Then there is the dreaded outhouse sequence, one that Bill Corbett said had to be edited because it was too noxious. Mike and the bots have a great time with these sequences.

But it is Old Man Crenshaw that the best material is saved for. Much like Torgo from "Manos: The Hands of Fate", or Eegah, here is one character that so captivates the crew that they just go to town on him. Some of the riffs get pretty down and dirty, something that seems to come up a lot as this season progressed. But everything about Crenshaw is made to be mocked, from his goat to his senseless capture of The Little Creature. The ending of the episode is top notch with some of the funniest material of the season.

It's not all gold, there are some slow spots here and there. Mostly these arise during the hunting sequence with his basically Doc and Tim wandering around the swamp and the girls at the camp. Luckily the flashbacks and stories are dotted throughout the film and that helps things. And when all else fails you can mock the tiny tiny shorts Tim and Doc wear [shudder].

The host segments are entertaining, with some high points. Things start off with Mike and Crow starting a Cub Scout den. Poor Tom can't fit into the outfit, so he dresses as a Brownie. When Pearl shows up, she's got a new plan for taking over the world. It involves potato batteries. Naturally Bobo screws it all up. At the first break Mike and the bots use flashbacks to help Mike remember why he was on the bridge in the first place. Each flashback is blurrier than the last. The next break reveals that Pearl was inspired by the movie and decides to turn Castle Forrester into a tourist destination, using Bobo as "The Creature". Observer sings a folksy song about The Creature. The next break Tom starts a corporate empire based on whittling. He's such a nut. After the movie ends, Crow lights a bunch fires just like Crenshaw. Back in the castle Pearl has her first customer, but things go wrong when "The Creature" shows up and acts decidedly un-creature like.

This is a good episode to pop in on a hot summer day, so you can feel like you are in the Arkansas swamp with the team of crack researchers. There's plenty of laughs in this one and while it never really escalates into the upper tier of episodes, it's worth checking out.

I give this episode three little creatures out of five.

This episode is available in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Volume 5

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