Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Boogens: NOT a Movie About Swamps

I've been on a secret quest to see The Boogens since I first saw that wonderful poster a few years ago.

Since I've always been one to judge a book by its cover, I immediately thought, "YES I need to see that movie about those green ghouls killing people in a house by the swamp". Laugh all you want, but the poster of The Boogens screams swamp. It's all green and ghouly tinted, and that house could totally reside in the Bayou. Well don't worry because The Boogens takes place in some snowy abyss and a mine. Talk about misleading posters.

At any rate, The Boogens is one of those insanely rare movies that you catch people talking about now and again. Usually all conversations end with, "Why isn't it on DVD?" which usually creates sadness because the people that have never seen it believe that they probably never will. Such was the case with me, until I found a rare copy of the film on the extraordinary Cinema De Bizarre. So began my trip to The Boogens, that I've been waiting for all my life (Or really, for like 2 years).

Plotwise, The Boogens is simple. Creatures are awakened from a mine after 100 years of being shut in. Finally released, the monsters venture off in search of fresh humans and luckily a lone cabin in the snow with 4 people and their dog is only minutes away.

Here's the thing about The Boogens; I should probably not like it as much as I did. It's insanely slow and dragging, we do not see the creatures until the very end AND a dog dies. Somehow though, I came away appreciating this little known gem. Funny how things work like that.

As best as I can tell, The Boogens is successful for a few reasons. For one, the characters are all likable. Secondly, the writing and the banter is vastly entertaining and well done. Thirdly, we will not give up on The Boogens until we see what the Boogens actually look like, which prompts us to watch the entire film and reserve judgment until we reach that point. Of course, once we find out that Boogens look like something from a Pokemon card, our judgment may sour.

Then again, the Boogens have tentacles AND claws. What's not to love again?

What The Boogens does do well is basement terror. Basement terror really needs to have its own sub-genre in the horror world. Basements are fucking scary most of the time. There's always some kind of noise happening somewhere and if you're really unlucky (Like Kevin McCallister) then your furnace comes to life and tries to eat you.

The Boogens on the other hand, serves tension in the basement quite beautifully. There's always this certain dread when they show a character looking down the basement stairs and I totally dig that man.

There's also a lot of dragging which I find to be neat in certain low budget situations. In fact, for a low budget film, The Boogens does pretty well. Oh and by dragging I mean like physically dragging (although in truth the film does drag a bit).

It's a bit of the Jaws syndrome, not showing the creature until the end and getting creative with ways to show it beforehand. Unfortunately, I think The Boogens could have probably benefited from showing a bit more of the creature before the ending. Just hints mind you or at least something other than the same tentacle over and over again.

The real MVP of The Boogens however is the dog, Tiger. As soon as Tiger was introduced, I was filled with the kind of dread and sadness that only happens when a pet is introduced in a horror film. This is because it is with certainty that the pet will die. This is true for The Boogens although not in the way that we think. What would you think if I told you that the most anxiety ridden part of the film is when the dog is trapped in the house with the Boogens? I'm serious. That scene was filled with tension! And the best part is, Tiger somehow makes it out alive! (Only to be killed later on). But if you're like me, then you make up alternate endings in your head where Tiger left behind bits of his fur to make people think that he had died. Then he ran off and lived the life and ate all the shoes he wanted to.

So while The Boogens did not live up to my secret expectations, I will say that the film is a fine way to spend a 100 degree summer day with. It's not great, it shouldn't be as good as it is and somehow, it warms my heart all the same.


Thomas Duke said...

They actually showed this on TCM a couple of times in widescreen. Nothing amazing, but I dig it, and I dig the leading ladies.

Unknown said...

Heh, I still have the VHS of this. I love those little sea turtle-looking creatures.

LordSlaw said...

That poster does look swampy. The bone hands look like they're coming up out of water.

deadlydolls said...

I also caught it on TCM a few months back. A little underwhelmed just because people seem to REALLY want it on DVD, and while I've seen far worse that's actually ON DVD, I was still a tad bored at times. Good point about the likable characters though! Had they not been who they were, i probably would've hated it.

Andre Dumas said...

Darn it, I really need to start watching TV more. If I had known TCM played The Boogens, I could have achieved my secret ambition so much sooner : (

deadlydolls said...

Just check the schedule on Friday nights. They usually air random unreleased horror films between midnight and 5AM.

bluerosekiller said...

I LOVE this movie!
And YES, I'm definitely one of those people who is, ever so impatiently, waiting for it to make it to DVD. Or rather, Blu-Ray now.
This after waiting over a decade & a half for it to show up on VHS. Then, by the time it did in '97, I only got to enjoy it for a year or two before the format basically became obsolete to me. I haven't even owned a VCR since my last one went belly up on me in 2004.
So, no viewings of THE BOOGENS for me since roughly the turn of the century.
Oh, I could try to take care of my cravings by re-reading the movie tie-in novelization that I got WAY back in 1980 or '81. A good year or more before the film ever saw release. Unfortunately, though I recall enjoying the book at the time, it was one of those ( all too frequent ) instances when the novelization had just about NOTHING to do with the actual completed film.
DAMN, but do I wish I'd known about that showing on TCM a while back! I've really got to pay more attention to what they're showing. But, with SO many channels it's difficult...
But, I'd have just loved to have seen it in HD in it's proper aspect ratio. Hopefully they'll show it again around Halloween when I REALLY pay attention to their schedule.
Flaws & all, I'd have to say that it's somewhere among my top 50 all time fav flicks.

Dr. Theda said...

Dr Theda here ...I too own a first edition of the paperback novel and have a copy of the movie on my computer.... And hundreds of other Horror Movies on VHS format... the last VCR / DVD player that I purchased does not "receive signal" from my cable... so no more recording....but still many tapes to watch... I really enjoy your Blog and like the images that you present with each offering... Check my Blog at "Dr. Theda's Crypt"... so far a lot of random stuff from my computer downloads from many web sites.... Happy first day of Fall !!

Flu-Bird said...

I saw this movie these freakin creature I cam re,e,ber a part in the movie where one of those creatures unscrews a floor heat vent and nails someones little dog

Unknown said...

Not to mention that The Boogens has the single greatest animal performance in the history of film: Tiger the Poodle!