I ran into this week’s movie completely blind. Turns out, that’s not a great idea. Especially when you could have learned something very important from the movie’s IMDB or Wikipedia page. For example: like how The Boogens was produced by Taft International, the company who bought out the Utah-based film distributor Sunn Classic Pictures.
Sunn Classic is mostly known for producing the film The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams, which starred everyone’s favourite beard-wearing, maybe-Wisconsinite Dan Haggerty. But they also released things like The Lincoln Conspiracy and In Search of Noah’s Ark. Like most distributors, there’s usually a theme with the types of films they acquire. Like how Blumhouse and jump scares go hand-in-hand. There’s a point to this that I shall come to later…
So it’s really a shame I didn’t research before watching because damn, was this a real waste of time.
The Boogens is a 1981 horror film starring several familiar faces such as Eddie Benton (credited here as Anne-Marie Martin) from Prom Night and Rebecca Balding, who was in the Christmas TV movie The Gathering, but more importantly guest-starred in Charmed.
Unfortunately, those two ladies is pretty much where the excitement ends.
This a movie with a story that tries to strike that balance of romcom and horror film – a tried and tested combination seen in films such as The Exorcist and Dawn of the Dead.
Roger (Jeff Harlan) and his friend Mark (Fred McCarren) are working in the mines of Utah after graduating from university in Pennsylvania. They’re working with a team to re-open a mine that caved in years before.
Now, the opening credits of this film uses headlines from old newspapers to fill in the backstory to this city. There were several shady things that had gone on, including the loss of 25 (or was it 27?) miners in a mining accident.
I would think this would be something the local miners would know, but apparently not. The group go ahead and enter the mine. They set up their electrical lights, then decide to blow up a wall of rubble that seems to be blocking off an entrance.
That night, a woman is driving when she hits a deer. I know you’re supposed to break instead of swerve when you see a deer, but the roads look icy anyway. But whatever. She crashing into a snowbank (which she then stupidly tries to back out of – loser). Thankfully, though, she’s only a walk away from her crash site.
She goes to warm up the house, which apparently she’s landlady of, and is forced to stay the night – with no food. But she doesn’t stay the night because she’s killed off by something that I’m just going to guess here is one of the Boogens.
The following morning two friends, Trish (Balding) and Jessica (Martin), are heading to the cabin where Jessica’s boyfriend is moving in. This is the same house where the landlady is.
Unfortunately, Jessica’s boyfriend is Roger.
Roger is a bit of a loser. I think we’re supposed to believe that he could get someone like Eddie Benton, but he lays on so many uncomfortable sex jokes that there is no way in hell he would get a girlfriend full stop.
Since Roger and Jessica are having lots of sex, we can determine that this is the couple that will die. While Trish and Mark, who spend a majority of this film ***falling in love***, will survive and probably kick a bit of ass or something.
Also, there’s a Bichon Frise in this movie called Tiger. Now Tiger is pretty much the real star of this movie. Every character is obsessed with hating and demeaning him, but still spend a solid 25% of the film constantly looking for him when he runs off.
Anyway, I think there’s still a plot in this movie. The miners find some human remains in the caves and still don’t put two and two together to realise that these are probably the trapped miners.
But more importantly, Trish gets set up with Mark and we can spend a good chunk of time watching the two couples flirt, drink beers and exchange exposition dialogue. It’s super weird watching this romance blooming when really people should be getting killed off at the 50-minute mark. I mean there’s actually a pretty cute chemistry between Trish and Mark, but I still can’t help but feel that I’m watching the wrong movie.
Thankfully people finally start getting killed off. Never have I cheered so loudly for an off-screen death because at least someone was gone from the film. Also something to be thankful for: out of the main cast, Roger gets killed off first.
But unfortunately, there’s nothing really interesting about these people getting killed (that truly sounds more awful than I intend it to be). All the death scenes are pretty much the same. Someone gets dragged off and are found covered in cuts or something.
The best bits are from Tiger’s point of view. Why a horror film bothers showing so much about this dog, I have no clue, but I like dogs so I’m really not complaining here.
The morning after Roger dies, the rest of the miners return to the silver mine to find it vandalised by crosses and the word DEATH painted across the entrance.
But all along a strange man has been creeping around everyone. He meets the miners down in their mine to warn them about the Boogens, which if he really knew about them he should have really said something before hand. He claims that his father was sent to an asylum as he was the only miner to survive the collapse years before. Everyone thought he was nuts from babbling on from strange creatures.
And the creatures are strange. The design isn’t bad, but rather just unscary and not much like something that spent hundreds of years in a mine. But it’s to no one’s surprise how the movie pans out: everyone gets picked off minus our lovely couple and they blow up a bunch of puppets.
As I was saying before, the wholesomeness of Sunn Classic is still in The Boogens, no matter how many “crude” sex jokes they make. This is about as cute as a rated R movie gets. And it really is a shame that the more of the movie didn’t take place down in the mine (I’m not including the super-boring mining scenes). The last few minutes play out more like a haunted house than anything actually scary.
If The Boogens cut down on the romantic plot-lines, it could have a decently, solid movie, but I have to admit – it’s pretty amusing watching the two genres try to blend together. Some wacky things come out of it like the two women baking and cleaning one minute, and then getting attacked by toothy-turtles the next.
But if there is one thing it really be impressed about when it comes to The Boogens, it’s Anne-Marie Martin’s amazing ability to shower without smudging her amazing make-up.