Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Boogens

THE BOOGENS. Directed By James L. Conway. Starring Rebecca Balding (1981).
     I saw "The Boogens" on HBO in the eighties when I was a kid. It may not be a video nasty or anything, but it is a nice smelly slice of early eighties horror cheese, and it left some kind of impression because I still remembered a few bits and pieces here and there.(It's also in the DR catalog so it qualifies, ed.)
    Way back when, a cave-in trapped a whole bunch of unfortunate miners who were never dug out. It's set in my home state of Colorado, and my Dad actually was trapped in a mine cave-in for 48 hours, so maybe those things were a factor in my reaction to the flick as a youngster.
    Cut to 1981, and a small crew is doing preparatory work to re-open the mine. They find the remains of the original miners, and one of the workers -- holding a skull -- makes the brilliant observation that "it looks human". (What else could it have been...? An elf? An australopithecus? A cereal bowl for truly hard-core goths?)
    Two of the young workmen, their girfriends, and one small puffball of a pooch named Tiger are staying at a house in the Colorado mountains, in a former mining town called Silver City (perhaps meant to be the real town of Silverton, but I'm not sure where it was filmed).
    A few "off-screen" death occur along the way. We see from the monsters perpective as it stalks disposable cast members and attacks just before the camera cuts away, giving us little hint as to what sort of creature we're dealing with. An old man wanders around and vandalizes the mine entrance, warning everyone that there is "DEATH!" inside. Why doesn't anyone ever listen to the crazy old man in movies like this? In any case, it's too late for warning. The Boogens have already gotten out of the mine and made their way into some kind of tunnel network under the town.
    The scene that stuck in my memory all these years happens at about 51 minutes, as some sort of tentacled monster reaches out from under a truck to attack. It drags one of the protagonists underneath for a gruesome fate. (We'll see him again one more time later, after the Boogens have had a chance to snack on him a little bit.) It was much scarier when I was a kid, because I was always worried that something would reach out and grab me from under the bed or the car or whatever.
    "The Boogens" is a little on the slow side, but I've seen horror movies that dragged a lot worse. The main characters are tolerably likable, and the dialogue is not bad. I wasn't really rooting for anybody, though, except maybe Tiger... and I don't even like small dogs. Neither the protagonists nor the monsters were exciting enough for me to pick a side.
    The monsters attack another of our main protagonists again at around 70 minutes, busting up through a big heating vent. Another attack around 79 minutes, and the crazy old man finally names the monsters: Boogens!
    There's a little bit of blood and plenty of latex tentacled cave-monster action starting around 85 minutes in. The big climax is now well underway. We have a classic "dead friend discovery" moment and a quite understandable panic attack, as well as our first full view of a Boogens. None of the kills or make-up effects are especially mind-blowing, but they have a certain charm as representations of "how it was done" back in the days of latex. The monsters really look pretty goofy, and they work better as unseen tentacled presences. There is one particularly entertaining moment where a Boogens makes out with a police officer, with predictably painful results for both of them. These kind of relationships never work out.
If you're a big fan of cheesy early-eighties monster flicks that are relatively light on gore, then this one might be worth a watch for you, but it's not a must-see. You're better of with Phantasm, Shock Waves, or something like that.Available at!
Reviewed By GS!

I warned you
Tiger before becoming Boogens stool

stolen from

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