THE BOOGENS (1981)
The Boogens is a 1981 horror flick that has become a bit of a cult classic partially due to it’s unavailability for almost 2 decades and partially for it’s amusing title. It’s just fun to say “Boogens”. The film also has sentimental importance to me, as it was one of the horror flicks I saw with friends at the legendary Oritani grind house in Hackensack, N.J. A time when B movies were still released in a theater, where they belong, and a time I now cherish in this direct to DVD and VOD age. Now being given the chance to revisit this low budget chiller, it’s time to answer the question of whether it’s as fun as I remember, or has time and nostalgia created a far better memory than it was a movie. I’m happy to report, it still is a fun flick, although 80s nostalgia does play a part. In a way, Boogens is a quintessential horror for the late 70s, early 80s with it’s slow burn, creepy old man with ominous warnings, and nubile girls in skimpy bathrobes investigating noises in dark cellars. This is exactly the type of movie Ti West paid homage to in the recent House Of The Devil. A few months later Evil Dead would arrive and crank horror flicks up to 11 and Jason was just getting started on his body count.
This 1981 horror stars Rebecca Balding (Silent Scream) and takes place in rural Silver City, Colorado, a small mining town where the mines are being reopened for the first time since a supposed cave-in, 70 years previous. Unknown to two college grads (Fred McCarren and Jeff Harlan) working on the re-opening and their two nubile young ladies (Balding and the equally cute, Anne-Marie Martin), the mines were caved-in on purpose and unsealing the tunnels unleashes our title creatures and they are quite hungry.
Boogens is well directed by James L. Conway…from a script by David O’Malley and Jim Kouf…who also directed pseudo-documentaries like Hanger 18 and In Search Of Noah’s Ark and went on to direct a lot of genre TV, including episodes of all the post-original Star Trek series and the current, Supernatural. He directs with a leisurely pace, but builds some nice suspense and also knows to keep his monsters hidden until the very end. And when we do see them, they are good old fashioned prosthetics. There’s something charming about prosthetics that CGI rarely matches. He gets good performances out of his cast and the fact that they are all very likable helps add suspense when they are in danger. There is some nice gore, but it is used sparingly and the body count is low. This movie was made just as the slasher sub-genre started to gain momentum and before body count became crucial to the proceedings.
Sure, by today’s standards The Boogens is tame, slow and cheesy, but it is the type of horror that they made when I was in high school and I will always have a soft spot in my movie geek heart for them. The transfer on blu-ray is absolutely beautiful and it’s worth a look for horror fans, especially those who enjoy horror from this era. Welcome back, Boogens!
MONSTERZERO NJ EXTRA TRIVIA: Director Conway and leading lady Rebecca Balding fell in love during the production and are still happily married to this day!
Rated a nostalgic 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) Boogens!