THE BOOGEY MAN (US Wizard video cover)
THE BOOGEY MAN
(1980)
(aka THE BOGEY MAN)
This is one of the group of horror movies banned in the UK in the early 80's; which came to be known as the 'Video-Nasties'...   2 stars   Cheese Rating: 50% Fiesty Fromage!

"THE MOST TERRIFYING NIGHTMARE OF CHILDHOOD IS ABOUT TO RETURN!"

directed by: Ulli Lommel
starring: Suzanna Love, Ron James, John Carradine, Nicholas Love, Llewelyn Thomas, Felicite Morgan, Raymond Boyden, Jay Wright, Jane Prat, Bill Rayburn.

(back of video blurb):
       "It is a night in the late 1950ís. Two small children stand on the front porch of house peering into the living room window. Inside, a man and a woman recline on the couch. The woman removes one of her nylon stockings and slips it over the manís head. It makes him look evil. Then she notices the children looking in. Angered, the man brings them in. Lacey is put in her room. The man ties Willy to his bed and beats him.

       Later that night, little Lacey gets a large knife and cuts Willyís ropes. Willy takes the knife and goes to his motherís room. Lacey watches the reflection of what happens in a large, ornately framed mirror. Willy stabs the man in the back!

       Twenty years later, Lacey and Willy are grown up (Suzanna Love and Nicholas Love), and live on a large farm with their Uncle Ernest (Bill Rayburn) and Aunt Helen (Felicite Morgan). Ever since what they refer to as 'that night' Willy has been unable to speak.

       Laceyís husband Jake (Ron James) takes her to Dr. Warren (John Carradine), a psychiatrist. He tells Jake to take her back to the house so Lacey will remember 'the way it is now, not the way it was 20 years ago.'

       When Lacey steps into her motherís bedroom she sees the mirror through which she saw the killing--and the man with the stocking over his head is reflected in it! Lacey smashes the mirror with a chair!

       At home, Jake puts the mirror back together. Lacey sees nothing unusual when she looks at the cracked assemblage. One piece is missing. Its back at the old house. Lying on the bedroom floor, the shard of glass pulsates and grows. The bedroom door opens, pushed by an unseen hand.

       The destructive power grows through the mirror, leading everyone involved to a terrifying and deadly conclusion."

choice dialogue:

"When I broke the mirror, I released him...and now heís going to get us!"

slash with panache?

       (review by The Blue Iris)

       There are two things to know ahead of time about this movie: No, it does NOT have that Motorhead song of the same name anywhere on the soundtrack. Also, the "terrifying nightmare of childhood" doesnít necessarily pertain to your THE BOOGEY MAN (UK 'Vipco'Video-Nasty cover- see the bottom of the page for link to full scan of this wonderfully lurid artwork! )nightmare of childhood, so "Boogey Man" might be a misnomer. To make things even more interesting, I couldnít help but note the similarities between this disturbing little slice of cheese and another disturbing little slice of cheese from the 70ís--Ken Russellís version of the Whoís TOMMY. Each film includes mirror symbolism, childhood trauma, a boy who canít speak, and thereís even an Uncle Ernie in each film for good measure. The difference between the two is that watching TOMMY has always been a fun experience for me--the campy overacting, the subtle-as-a-sledgehammer religious references, and the brilliant performance by Elton Johnís platform shoes. But watching THE BOOGEY MAN, I noticed a serious lack of humor. The campiness becomes mere exploitation in its gratuitous abuse of children under 10. What saves it from being a total sleazy failure is that I can see what the creators of the film were going for, more shocking than sleazy. Like some other low budget films with supernaturally driven plotlines, like SUPERSTITION (1982) and PATRICK (1978), this film aims to be more than just a generic slasher film. It shares a few traits with those two films (supernatural murders, awful dialogue) although the list of films it rips off is long and predictable. Just as those two films had interesting plots (also borrowed somewhat from earlier films), the overall outcomes were hampered by low budgets and/or bad acting.

       THE BOOGEY MAN was made still fairly early in the game before the sub-genre had been done to death, so to speak. From the beginning though, you can tell that actor/director Ulli Lommel had been brushing up on his slasher flick cliches. Gee, that house looks awfully similar to that one owned by that nice family. What were they called...oh, yes- the Lutzs.From the opening scene, I thought I might be watching BLACK CHRISTMAS (1975) or HALLOWEEN (1978). Really, how often do we need to open with an extended establishing shot of the outside of a house. Invariably they look exactly like every other house in every subdivision of ever suburb in which teenagers watch these slasher flicks. Unless youíre making THE AMITYVILLE HORROR: part 8 and the house is the most interesting character in the movie, I think itís safe to say they werenít filming in an igloo. Anyway, between that and the somewhat creepy synth soundtrack, sort of a John Carpenter does Mike Oldfield via my little brotherís Casio, this film wears its predecessors 'borrowed' elements John Carradine pops in in his lunch hour to film his 'cameo' as a psychiatrist trying to help the troubled Lacey (Suzanna Love)like one unfortunate soul wears his Triumph t-shirt within the film: proudly and not a bit pathetically. Even John Carradine has a cameo, standing in for Donald Pleasance, I presume, who added a bit of respectability and melodrama to the HALLOWEEN franchise. Unfortunately, Carradine doesnít do much else than look creepy while being lit from below. Donít get too attached to him anyway, because he pretty much disappears shortly after heís introduced. Things come and go in this film without much rhyme or reason, but that only adds to the fun!

       The detailed back of the box thankfully lets us in on the rather complicated plot. One of the biggest problems is that the editing seems to have been done in a food processor, which destroys any suspense the film manages to create. Content-wise, there are quite a few elements that make South Park look like Sesame Street. Hmmmm...nice.For one thing, the film opens with kiddy voyeurism. Uh oh, this film has gone well beyond 'unsettling' and way into 'icky', and the film hasnít even been on for five minutes! Lacey and Willy are two little tykes who watch as mommy makes it with a hulking oaf in a grimy tank top. This Jane Seymour Lite, vamping it up as if she were audtioning for a summer stock version of Rocky Horror Picture Show, pulls off one of her stockings and puts it over Don Juanís head. Ah yes, the 'Been Caught Stealin' fetish... love that smushed in nose look. Suddenly, and before they actually get down to business (mercifully), mommy sees the kids staring at them from outside the window and sends Pantyhose Head after them. Willy gets tied to his bed and smacked around a bit. Great... kiddy bondage AND abuse. Mommy and the hulk finally retire to a novel place to make love... the Less of a nod, and more of a headbang, to John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN...bedroom! Away from the prying eyes of those kids, the two pre-verts donít notice that Lacey has stolen a large knife from the kitchen to release her brother from his bonds. The next thing you know, brother is making lunch meat out of the slab of beef in bed with mommy! Lacey watches in the bedroom mirror as the murder takes place. In a scene I can only describe kindly as 'Argento-inspired' we get to see the knife going in and out in close-up detail. Unfortunately, 'close-up' doesnít really work if the effects are 'bad'. Thankfully, the scene is cut off abruptly and we get to jump ahead to... 20 years later.

       Willy and Lacey are all grown up and living with their Aunt and Uncle on a nice, wholesome farm. Willy seems to have been traumatized by the experience of his childhood because he hasnít spoken since 'that night', and all he does is play pinball... oh wait, wrong movie. The only thing we know about poor Willy is that heís a grown man in overalls and heís a "good, steady lad". Lacey only saw the reflection of a murder, so I guess her trauma is less, um, traumatic. Sheís even YOUR MOTHER SUCKS COCKS IN... oh, sorry, wrong movie!managed to land herself a Ken-doll of a husband who doesnít seem to do anything except demand that she go see a psychiatrist when variants of 'Itís all in your head" donít have the desired effect on her inconvenient psychological trauma. How thoughtful of him! Part of her problem is that she sees poorly-lit flashbacks of the night Willy became a bloodthirsty murderer in her dreams and soon sheís convinced Willyís out to get her too. For some reason, and this is never brought up again until the anti-climax, Lacey also speaks in the voice of the Boogey Man when the psychiatrist hypnotizes her. Of course, nothing really comes of that till the end, so I wonder if this movie was just written on-set and someone saidBroken mirrors, broken minds... or something. "Ok, letís throw in an Exorcist reference here!" All of this trauma was triggered by mommy, who sends them a letter after 20 years of living in a mental institution asking to have a family reunion before shoving off to that big Sex Shop in the Sky. (Of course, you may as well forget about mommy at this point as sheís never mentioned again!) This sets off the chain of events that lead to the release of the Boogey Man, who apparently has been trapped for the last 20 years in the aforementioned mirror, or something. Or maybe itís his soul. Whatever it is, itís an excuse to hack ní slash some attractive young people in interesting ways!

       Theyíve so far painted Willy as the real Boogey Man, the one who could go off at any moment. They even plant a scene in which Willy almost kills someone to This is just the start of a whole array of delightfully lurid designer deaths orchestrated by the supernaturally endowed boogeyman...throw us off the trail of the REAL Boogey Man- who we eventually find out is that guy from the beginning of the movie! Remember? The one with the stocking over his head? Ok, so once that little bomb is dropped and Willy basically becomes part of the scenery, the fun begins. A series of shockingly bad makeup effects do manage to incite a few winces once the killing starts. Still, the actors do seem to be taking their jobs seriously and they arenít as 'thespianally-challenged' as you might expect for a slasher film. Ok, so there are no Oliviers or Streeps, but they arenít god-awful either.

       The other big 'influence' that I can see comes halfway through the film, almost totally out of nowhere. There is a brief bit where four romping teenagers get killed next to a lake or maybe the ocean, a la BAY OF BLOOD (aka BLOOD BATH). They literally show up just to get killed. The more hideous deaths are Just don't lean in too far...Doh!...too late.reserved for 2 of these unfortunate 80ís castaways. One of the guys gets his while sitting in his car- the old 'levitating knife through the back of the skull' trick. Wondering why heís just sitting in the driverís seat, his girlfriend wanders over and also meets her end. She really should have dumped this loser- heís wearing a Triumph shirt for crying out loud! Instead, she ends up getting what I can only describe as a 'kiss of death'. Forget about the other two teens- they drive away unharmed and unaware of the fate of their friends and are never mentioned again. This film has a REALLY short memory...

       If you can forgive the inconsistencies and stretches in believability (why not?) the movie isnít half-bad as a supernatural slasher. The ending seems to be going for a grand CARRIE-like finale, complete with flying knives. Because the low budget prevents us from actually seeing the knives, uh, flying through the air and stabbing Darn it- this never happened to Max von Sydow!the unfortunate priest, weíre forced to sit there and wonder "Whatís happening? Why is he bleeding red Karo syrup from his forehead?" They finally turn the guy around, revealing the numerous knives that have mysteriously 'flown' into his body (and a really obvious block of wood beneath his coat in which the knives are actually stuck in! Where are you, Piper Laurie?) Finally, the movie limps to a confusing and just plain dull ending. Still, the only really intentionally funny scene occurs at the end. Lacey, having apparently been possessed by the Boogey Man again (remember?), makes dinner as if nothing strange has happened, which leads to this Python-esque exchange between Lacey and her husband:
       

"Lacey, what are you doing?"
"Iím fixing dinner."
"Ernest and Helen are DEAD."
"Ah, that makes dinner for four..."

       A real riot. While I canít say this is a must-see, it certainly tries to be more than the majority of slasher films. True, it has a lot of flaws and true, it touches on That pesky bit of the haunted mirror causes Lacey (Suzanna Love) to come over all 'Linda Blair'...some uncomfortable subject matter, but only a few years later there would be an incredibly popular franchise based around a child murdering psycho with knives in his glove. So this movie ends up looking positively quaint in comparison. Obviously, if youíre watching a film called THE BOOGEY MAN hopefully youíre not watching it with the little ones anyway. Still, Iíve seen more traumatizing scenes than can be found in this little flick--such as Jack Nicholson as a singing psychiatrist. Now thereís MY Boogey Man.


BODYCOUNT 9  bodycount!   female:4 / male:5

       1) Male stabbed in back
       2) Female stabbed in throat with scissors
       3) Male (little boy) crushed by falling window
       4) Female killed off screen
       5) Male impaled through back of head with large knife (comes out through mouth!)
       6) Female stabbed with same knife (still attached to male victim!)
       7) Male impaled by pitchfork to the throat
       8) Female strangled with garden hose
       9) Male stabbed in back (repeatedly)

Click on the thumbnails (right) to see enlargements of the images:Uncut Vipco Dutch re-release and another US video release... (30.4 kb)    Great artwork for the US cinema release for the film... (28.4 kb)    To the wonderfully lurid video cover for its banned UK video...(40.3 kb)

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