I’ve never understood the appeal of fishing. You get up way too early, go out in the woods, hop in a boat and head out to the middle of the water to… sit and wait. I mean I guess deep sea fishing has the appeal of fighting against a blue fin or a marlin, but just going in the woods to fish… it just doesn’t sound like much fun. However, if you change things up a little by say throwing sticks of dynamite into the water and blowing up the fish. Well that certainly has all the appeal of dying spectacularly going for it. Of course, you may manage to get the dynamite in the water, in which case great job. You’ve just killed every fish for a hundred yards and damaged the ecosystem. But, on the plus side you get to go along and scoop up all the dead fish. That is, unless you wake up a prehistoric fishman with your dynamite and the fishman decides to make you the catch-of-the-day! That’s what you get with Don Keeslar’s 1979 monster flick Bog.
Bog opens with a redneck fisherman doing the dynamite dash to catch his fish in the local… well bog. In the real world, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms or the Forestry Service would have him up on charges. But here in Wisconsin? Well it’s just par for the course. Unfortunately for the fisherman, he wakes up an angry fishman and is dragged from his boat to a watery death.
A sappy love song “Walk With Me” plays as the viewer gets to watch the film’s credits and the local scenery from the window of a plane flying overhead. When those are done, we cut to Alan (Glen Voros) and Chuck (Rohay North), two city boys who’ve come to the bog to go fishing. The two wannabe woodsmen’s wives May (Carol Terry) and Kim (Lou Hunt) decide to tag along for no apparent reason other than to gripe about having to be out in the woods all weekend.
They soon find an abandoned boat (yes -- the one the redneck was using) and Chuck and Kim decide to take it and go out on the water to fish while the others stay on land. Soon the pair in the boat are attacked by an unseen underwater creature that knocks Kim into the water. She’s pulled under and drowned. Chuck watches his nagging wife disappear and isn’t quite as upset as he should be. Still he yells for help and Alan bravely abandons May to go see what’s going on. While he runs to Chuck’s aid, the unseen creature attacks May.
Alan and Chuck head to town and get Sheriff Rydholm (Aldo Ray) to mobilize the local police in a search. Soon enough they find the mutilated bodies of the women. They refuse to show the bodies to the two somewhat grieving, but mostly pissed off husbands. While the bodies are sent to pathologist Ginny Glenn (Gloria DeHaven) and Dr. Brad Wednesday (Marshall Thompson) for an autopsy and analysis, Alan and Chuck head for the gun store.
The two men plan to hunt down whatever it was that killed their wives. They believe it was a creature, even if the police don’t and they want some firepower to tackle it. Unfortunately, gun laws prohibit sales to men from out of state. That’s when Wallace Fry (Robert Fry) appears to help. He’s kind of the town idiot, but he’s willing to help the men out by buying the guns on their behalf and taking them to see the old woman, Adrianna (also played by Gloria DeHaven, but in heavy ‘old lady’ make-up). Wallace tells them the old woman is a swamp witch and knows what killed their wives and how to find it.
Meanwhile Brad and Ginny conclude that the bodies were drained of blood and they find fragments of some hard, organic substance embedded in the wounds. They believe that whatever killed the two women wasn’t human based solely on the fragments they find on the body. They tell the sheriff, and surprisingly enough for a horror movie, he believes them. So they mobilize the town’s four deputies to shut down the bog.
Wallace takes Alan and Chuck meet the old woman. She lives in a shack apparently made out of dirty quilts very close to the edge of the water. She explains that it is an ancient creature that has awakened and that it must have blood to live. They hear it outside the shack, but Adrianne tells them they are safe inside. So of course, Wallace freaks out and runs out the door to meet an inevitable, yet unsurprising death.
Wallace and Alan meet up with Brad and Ginny… sure they’ve never met, but why not? They share what the old woman told them with the doctor and pathologist and this confirms the theory that the killer is not human. Now the assembled forces of the town doctor, the town pathologist, the sheriff and an indeterminate number of deputies, must face off against the ultimate evil: a 6’7” actor in a rubber fish suit.
Bog is not a good movie. It isn’t that it has cheesy special effects. I mean it does, but that’s not the problem. It isn’t the principle cast: Marshall, Ray and DeHaven are all veteran actors of film and TV. It isn’t even the laughable rubber monster suit. Well it could partially be the suit, except that one of the things first time film director Keeslar does really well is keep the suit mostly out of site either in the bushes, underwater or so poorly lit that it’s mostly just an outline. I’d like to think this was intentional, but I’m pretty sure he just lucked into that working out.
No, The reason Bog isn’t a good horror movie is that it’s boring. There is way too much time spent establishing characters and then re-establishing the same traits and story arch/plot points again in a later scene. When we aren’t having overly long scenes of Alan and Chuck arguing with their soon-to-be-fish-food wives, we’re treated to long scenes of exposition about the nature of the unknown creature in the bog. Just to make it more interesting, our opening song “Walk with Me” comes back with a vengeance to play during an awkward and somewhat forced love scene between Brad and Ginny. You’d think by the time they reached their age they’d at least have figured out how to kiss properly.
So if you are in the mood for a rubber-suited monster, and don’t feel like watching a great movie like The Creature From the Black Lagoon, then check out Don Keeslar’s Bog. It has all the rubber suited monster you can handle, with a helping dose of scene padding and bad dialogue on the side.