Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

NEIL ARNOLD REVIEWS: The Beast of Boggy Creek

Thank goodness 'The Beast of Boggy Creek' has been written. For those of you in the know, 'The Legend Of Boggy Creek' was a '70s drive-in movie that not only terrified teenagers across the world, but also inspired many people to become monster hunters and cryptozoologists – it changed my life. The movie, directed by Charles B. Pierce tells the story, in docu-drama style, of the small town of Fouke, Arkansas, and the rumour of a hairy, bipedal creature ransacking farms and peering through cabin windows before slinking off into the darkness. The film became a cult classic. A film way ahead of its time.

Ever since the film hit small town theatres and VHS players, there has been much confusion and debate as to what actually happened in Fouke to inspire such a film. The name Bigfoot became a household name a few years previous when the famous Patterson-Gimlin film purported to show a real, upright walking man-beast. However, the facts behind the 'Fouke Monster', except with mention in a book by resident Smokey Crabtree, remained foggy, until now.

Lyle Blackburn has written a fascinating account of the 'Fouke Monster' scare. The author has taken the time to traipse through the backwoods and river bottoms of Arkansas in search of myths, legends, eye witnesses, newspaper reports and evidence, and not only does he shed new light on this forever intriguing story but goes a long way in proving that the film, 'The Legend Of...' was just the tip of a very strange iceberg.

Whether you believe in Bigfoot is not the question here, sceptics should find this riveting too, because Blackburn remains focused on the task at hand - that being to dig deeper into the archives and swamps, to strip away the layers of media frenzy, and cast aside the monster hunting mania, and presents a wondrous account of high strangeness. I could not put this book down, and believe that it is the only work to once and for all collate all information available - historical and modern - to present the Boggy Creek enigma as a case file.

The book is littered with impressive illustrations, photo's from old newspapers and archives, and actual photo's taken during Lyle's visits to the area. Lyle writes with incredible atmosphere, and so those who were not appreciative of the 'Boggy Creek' movie at the time will be able to lap up the scenery as if they've been transported back in a time warp. Some things are far stranger than the fiction of the media, and in 'The Beast Of Boggy Creek' we have a vital cryptozoological book that, like the eerie film, will stand the test of time. This is the sort of book I'd love to have written, and all praise must go to Lyle Blackburn for giving the mystery the exposure and respect it deserves. I recall back in the early ‘90s wondering why such a book had never been written, and so started a manuscript which ended up as a small article called ‘Behind The Legend of Boggy Creek’. I knew I couldn’t traipse back and forth between Kent, England and Arkansas, USA but Lyle’s work has been worth the wait. Snap your copy up NOW!

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