Jarv’s Schlock Vault: The Boogens
You had to let them out!
Jarv’s Rating: 2.5 Changs. Funny stuff.
The Boogens must be the single stupidest title that I’ve seen for a horror movie. For a start, the vaguely onomatopoeic sound of “boogen” is just silly and it most puts me in mind of snotty kids on public transport. Not scary. Nevertheless, this is a fun film, being simultaneously dreadful and amusing. It’s got some quality b-movie actors, a very silly script, a truly laughable monster and was clearly made for peanuts. It’s a cracking little early 80’s schlock, and boy is it schlocky.
It’s true enough to say that there aren’t movies like this made any more, and I’m in two minds over whether or not that’s a good thing. On one hand, clearly compensating for no budget by banging out torture porn is clearly bad, and on the other, well, these films do (as a rule) tend to suck. The Boogens actually had my heart sinking when I watched the opening credits- it was a well thought out montage of old Newspaper stories explaining the closure of the mine at Silver City, Colorado. Being exactly one to judge films (particularly schlocky films) by this sort of thing I started to make noises about turning it off. Mrs. Jarv, being much more patient than me told me to shut up and give it a chance.
I’m a dumbass, and she was right.
Anyhoo, wisdom of the fairer sex aside, back to the plot. Decades later, a mining company (represented here by about 5 guys) reopen the mine. Nice guy Mark and horndog Roger have rented local accommodation which is conveniently built over the mine tunnels. Roger’s girlfriend Jessica and her straight-laced friend Trish turn up (along with annoying dog, Tiger). Shenanigans ensue.
A fair amount of thought went into this film. They knew for a fact that they didn’t have the budget to do a full-on creature feature, so instead made a slow burn horror film with a nice sense of humour. As a result, there is very little in the way of carnage. Sure terminal horndog Roger (who calls himself Hormoneman) gets whacked before discovering if he can, in fact, leap over tall women with a single bound, but it isn’t exactly messy. A significant amount of time is spent on Mike’s dreadful, but ultimately successful, attempt at slipping inside Trish’s fur coat, and even Tiger the dog gets some character work. That Tiger is a wholly misguided and deeply annoying stab at comic relief is mere coincidence. This is the first film I’ve seen where I was actively screaming for the dog to die.
The acting, actually, is really quite good for this sort of film. The two girls are both veterans of cheesy horror, and both are good. As a pointless piece of trivia, Jessica is played by Anne-Marie Martin who (I’m told) went on to be Mrs. Michael Crichton. Wow. Nevertheless, digressions aside, all the acting in this film is solid.
This is a film that didn’t so much have a small budget as no budget at all. As a result, they did not have anywhere near close to enough money to make a proper creature feature. Nevertheless, necessity is the mother of invention, so we get a lot of Boogen P-O-V shots as it scuttles around terrorising our victims. It’s actually quite effective and diminishes the laughable nature of the creatures quite well. Honestly, the best description I can give of them is that they look like the Muppets, if the Muppets had been created by Henson in the midst of a crystal meth binge.
They have tentacles, a kind of turtle shell, trunk like legs and are completely and totally ridiculous. The makers were clearly aware of this, so hide them in the dark, and the budget obviously didn’t extend to two Boogen puppets, so although we’re told that there are fucking hundreds of them, our heroes only get terrorised by one at a time. I imagine pissed off cave animals form orderly queues to harass horny twenty-somethings.
This is all highly entertaining, albeit a bit standard, but there’s one sequence in particular that had me howling with laughter. Jessica is taking a shower (this is not a film afraid of casual nudity) and hears Tiger up to no good. On comes the towel (boooooo!) and she goes to investigate a convenient grating on the floor. No sooner has she leant over it, when (in the best schlock traditions) out pops a tentacle and tries to drag her in. Somehow, clutching her modesty and the remains of her dignity to her (too late for that love), she manages to extricate herself, and being a smart girl, she upends a wardrobe over the grate. Needless to say, a puny wardrobe is no match for a mighty BOOGEN! (motherfucker) so the chase is on. Cue towel-clad Jessica sprinting away from the Boogen (the whole scene is shot from his point of view) attempting to hinder his progress with such insurmountable obstacles as a teapot, some cardboard, and other assorted bits and pieces. Needless to say this isn’t enough and she gets fucked up. However, what makes this so funny, is that the monster isn’t exactly quick. She had enough time to (if she’d run) escape, get dressed, rent a snowmobile, drive into town, buy a big fucking gun, get back and splatter his mutant turtle head all over the screen. Hilariously inept stuff.
Obviously, a film such as this is never going to be perfect and there are a few Don Murphy sized flaws. Firstly, the film relies on an awful amount of dull exposition. And it really is dull. Secondly, there is no getting away from how annoying the fucking dog is. If it were down to me, I’d have booted the furry cunt out into the snow.
Overall, I have to say that I would recommend the Boogens. Late at night with a few beers in and my irony dial turned up to 11. It’s fun, well thought out and nowhere near as incompetent as it wants to be. If the monsters themselves were half way decent, then this would be a great little film. Fact is, though, they aren’t, so The Boogens is a worthy little piece of schlock and one that I enjoyed even if it could have been more.
And I didn’t even mention the crazy dynamite-weilding old man.
Until next time,