FINALLY! There is something worse than a date with grabby hands who can’t keep his hands to himself! IT will drag you under your car… IT will slash you to bits… IT may be lurking underneath the car seat ready to grab your ass… And most importantly, IT is awesome!
THE BOOGENS (1981)
I love THE BOOGENS! This ultra cool monster flick from 1981 is a sight to behold. It is perhaps the greatest movie with a killer ET/turtle like beast with long grabby arms that slashes people and puppies ever made.
Maybe this is a partially biased look at a movie that is a better than average Eighties low budget monster flick. However, as far as horror films go, THE BOOGENS holds up surprisingly well. Shot on location in Park City, Utah (substituting for Colorado), it begins with the opening of a long abandoned mine. Once the mine is open, it sets free the titular monsters that look sort of like a large turtle with huge fangs and scaly arms that can slash you up. These beasties don’t like to travel however, as the film takes place in only a small handful of locations. This includes the mine and a mysterious cavern, plus an old house where two college grads Mark and Roger (Fred McCarren and Jeff Harlan) are staying with Rogers’s girlfriend Jessica (Anne-Marie Martin) and her BFF Trish (Rebecca Balding). It is slightly curious that one character mentions the entire town is connected to the mine tunnels yet nobody else seems to have any BOOGEN concerns.
While this may sound abysmally stupid, it is really an entertaining horror flick. First off, for such a low budget, they really tried to make this thing look decent. And the generally succeed. With all the scenes that take place in the underground mines, it is impressively lit. The film also takes a hint from one of the greatest creature features of all-time - a little movie called JAWS - and avoids showing the murderous little buggers until the last fifteen minutes or so. Aside from a claw here and there, director James L. Conway puts the POV to good use as these things roam around in the damp and dark basement of the house where much of the film takes place. The cast is much better than usual, especially with the film’s four leads. McCarren, Harlan, Martin and especially Balding are all very affable and convincing. Yet it is Balding – who a year before appeared in another under appreciated gem SILENT SCREAM – who makes for a pretty and charming heroine. Sure the gore is minimal, but this modest monster mayhem gets so much right it is easy to see why it is considered a cult classic for many.
BEST SCENE TO GET YOUR DATE HOT AND BOTHERED!
When they made THE BOOGENS, somebody forgot to mention that the leading lady usually keeps her clothes on. Thankfully, the oh so cute Balding reveals a little boobage and a couple of butt shots for our enjoyment. The love scene by the fireplace with her co-star McCarren is a kinda romantic and sorta sexy. So much so that it may inspire a little lovemaking in the backseat for those watching from their cars. Or maybe just a cold shower afterwards for grabby hands guy.
SCENE THAT WILL HAVE YOU LAUGH SILLY
For any self respecting horror fan, the name “Crazy Ralph” should be common knowledge. He is of course the old doomsayer from the first two FRIDAY THE 13th films. Well, you got one of those here as well. Jon Lormer is Greenwalt, and he dern’t want dem de’r mines open. When he finally meets his ultimate demise, it is just a tad on the silly side. Actually his character is sort of annoyingly humorous. I also have to give props to the dog. This little puppy – a Bichon Frise - is so darn cute and funny you only hope that somehow he survives.
SCENE THAT WILL HAVE HER/HIM JUMPING IN YOUR ARMS!
Right after that cute little pooch gets pulled down into a vent, the lovely Anne-Marie Martin is taking a shower. Upon hearing a terrible noise from that there dog, she gets out of the shower. While wearing only a towel, this beautiful actress comes face to face with the monster. This scene is all the more effective because her character is pretty likable, and she is a pretty good actress to top it all off. For a mostly gore free sequence, this proves once again the more you like a victim, the better the chance that you will root for her.
GROOVE TO THE MUSIC!
The music here is typical with the horror movies of that period. The only problem is that the score by Bob Summers melds so well into the film that I can’t really remember it. I’m pretty sure I heard the high pitch screeching of a violin at some point. Either way, it worked well enough in the context of the film.
AN IDEAL DOUBLE BILL WITH:
If you are looking for decent monster flicks to go along with THE BOOGENS, how about a deliciously delightful 1984 feature called C.H.U.D.? This gang of “Cannibalistic, Humanoid, Underground Dwellers” offers up a good cast with a gruesome premise. With THE BOOGENS and C.H.U.D., this should make for a monsterific night at the drive-in. Right Mr. Grabby Hands?