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John’s Old School Horror Corner: The Boogens (1981)

January 24, 2013

Title-FAIL!  The word “Boogens” is uttered one brief time in the entire movie, and the term is never explained.  There are also no bony claws anywhere in this movie!  But, thankfully, the movie isn’t as dumb as the title sounds.

MY CALL:  This golden oldie features likable characters and some pesky little tentacle monsters that are never explained.  It’s really just for those who appreciate great dog characters and the slow-burns of the 70s and 80s in which you don’t see the monster until the very end.  IF YOU LIKE THIS WATCHThe Kindred (1987) also features a dog character, a better and creepier version of the same monster, an explained backstory, more creative attack scenes with better gore, and generally offers better and more across the board.

Young miners Mark and Roger are on the job when a mine is reopened 70 years after a cave-in in Silver City, Colorado.  What they didn’t know was that perhaps the mines were caved in for a reason.  Deep in the mines they find the bony remains of a lot of people.  For whatever reason, no one expends much effort figuring out why they’re there.

Locked away in those caves were “boogens,” which are basically tentacled troglodyte-octopus beasts.  After these abominations are released people start dying.  These kills are unexciting and not so numerous in the typical 70s horror fashion–for example, a woman is dragged across the floor screaming into another room and we never see the perpetrator or see her die.  These monsters don’t show their faces ’til the end.  It’s just POV shots until then.

“I know you can’t see the monster yet but it’s terrifying!!!!!!!”

Mark and Roger are joined by their girlfriends Trish and Jessica (Anne-Marie Martin; Prom Night, Halloween II).  They’re all staying in a cabin near the mine.  Tiger, the dog character, is used very well.  Most dogs in horror movies just bark at basement doors and harbinger the presence of a slasher, often causing distractions leading to their owners’ demise.  Tiger actually helps develop the viewers’ relationship with the main characters.  He’s a cute dog and he gets many of his own scenes; you’ll like him.

Yes, by all means, move in for a closer look at whatever rended the metal floor grating.  Whatever it was, it couldn’t possibly do the same to you!

I mean, you saw THIS and it looks like your dog’s hair is on it…

So this dog WAS here…and now it’s not…but its fur is on the grating.  I wonder what could have happened…

When we first “see” the Boogens, we only  see their tentacles when they grab at the stupid protagonists.

But eventually we see the whole monster: essentially a muppet-faced octopus thing.

Compared to today’s standards, and even of the mid-80s, the body count is low, the pace is slow and the gore is wanting.  I’d add that while not everything needs to be explained, knowing what a Boogen is, how it got its name and exactly why they were sealed in the cave 70 years ago would’ve been nice (presumably the miners just bumped into them and started dying, so they sealed off the beasts).  I don’t even need an explanation for how those things survived sealed away for 70 years.

There’s an old man we see regularly throughout the movie and you expect that any minute he’s going to warn the young miners, or lecture them or blame them with a haranguing of historical lessons; anything with answers.  This doesn’t happen.  Well, he lectures and blames, but no answers come with it.  He just mumbles the word Boogens once.  That’s all we get.  Really?

This golden oldie is really just for those who appreciate great dog characters and the slow-burns of the 70s and 80s.  A bit slow, but I enjoyed it.

In loving memory of Tiger.

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