Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Boogens (1981): Great Muppet Horror

PLOT- This campy horror flick from the early eighties is a forgotten gem for those of us who like our horror movies where the monster is better off sight unseen. And in this film, it's a blessing. When an abandoned mine in Utah is reopened, the miners unwittingly unleash The Boogens upon the Earth. Filled with every modern day movie cliche such as the "It's got a death curse" guy to "That's a strange noise. I better go investigate in my towel.", it still comes off far better than it should due to very good directing and a very creepy atmosphere. Two recent college grads, Mark (Fred McCarren) and Roger(Jeff Harlan), with their two cute girlfriends, Trish(Rebecca Balding) and Jessica(Anne Marie Martin) rent a cabin in the woods. The two male leads are just starting work at the newly opened mine, unaware of the danger to come. Also with them is Jessica's dog Tiger, a Bichon Friese who has more personality than a lot of modern day actors (Robert Patinson I'm looking at you). The movie actually makes the dog a major character in the film, with several scenes totally dog oriented. I really liked that and wish more films would do the same. Once unleashed, the Boogens begin to terrorize the town, pulling people under cars, eating a neighbor or two. The usual in this kind of movie. Because of the ultra low budget rumored to be in the 600,000$ range, the monsters are wisely kept off screen until the end. Up until that point, the Evil Dead monster point of view cam is used to great effect, which is basically a camera placed on a board and then run toward whoever is screaming at the time. When the monsters finally do show up at the end, they look more adorable than threatening. Resembling a cross between a turtle and a squid, they pretty much look like a Muppet on a wild acid trip. Thankfully, the Boogens are only seen in the last five minutes because watching Fozzie Bear on a meth binge isn't that frightening. Still, the movie is a classic of the time period and highly recommended.
NUDITY- Rebecca Balding who plays Trish is the only girl to give us a brief shot of her butt after getting out of the shower and a quick peek of her breasts during a tame sex scene. While Anne Marie Martin who plays Jessica does take a shower and runs around in a towel for what seems like an eternity, no nudity for her. In the scene where she is struggling against an unseen Boogens, you can clearly see she is wearing towel colored underwear. Lame.
GORE- Not much until the end. One character gets his face ripped open, another has a Boogens eating his face. The blood is that typical "WOW that's red" blood seen quite a bit back in the 70's and 80's. You'll see far worse on CSI on any given week.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW- Rebecca Balding has had a spotty career since this movie with mostly guest parts on shows like Matt Houston, Melrose Place, and ER. Her last role was a multi episode arc on Charmed. She has not worked since 2006 but is doing an audio commentary for the DVD release of her 1980 movie Silent Scream, which came out in 2009. While watching this movie, I couldn't help think that I had seen her before on something else around the same time period. Find out she was a recurring character on the great 70's spoof Soap as Carol David.
Fred McCarren followed a similar route with guest spots Hill Street Blues, Gimme a Break, Too Close For Comfort and The Golden Girls, which was his last televised spot way back in 1991. He married and had six children. Unfortunately, he died of colon cancer at the relatively young age of 55 in the same town he was born in of Butler Pennsylvania.
Anne Marie Martin had the best career path, albeit not in the movie industry. After a run of guest spots on shows like The Young Ones, St Elsewhere and Sledge Hammer, she then married Michael Crighton, one of the top authors of the time and a writer of such classics as Jurassic Park and the Adromedia Strain. Ka-ching. She then retired from acting to help raise their child Taylor Anne. They divorced in 2002 after five years of marriage to a settlement of 31 million dollars tax free and several works of art such as Lichtenstein's sculpture "Day and Night", Rene Magritte's "L'usage De la Parole," and a Jasper Johns lithograph. She also got 17 horses spread across the globe. All in all, a pretty good pay day for five years of marriage.
Jeff Harlan is the only actor from this film still working today. He has appeared in such shows as Wings, Doogie Houser, Judging Amy, and the films Fat Albert and Auto Focus. His latest role was a part on Castle in 2009.
Jon Lormer went on to be best known as the "I want my cake Bedelia," guy from Creepshow. He died of natural causes in 1986.
DIRECTOR-JAMES L CONWAY was the most successful with a career in TV that still continues on shows like Supernatural and 90210 as of 2010. A busy career, he also directed episodes of all four Star Trek series, Psyche, Matt Houston, and Smallville.
WRITER- JIM KOUF(under pen name Bob Hunt)- Another highly successful writer/producer that went on to pen Con Air, Stakeout, National Treasure 1 and 2, and the Hidden.
AVAILABILITY ON DVD- Not at this time.

No comments:

Post a Comment