The Boogens (why do I picture a Kleenex commercial with nasty looking green cartoon boogers?) is SO 1981, following the tradition of films from that era that have loads of tension, atmosphere, and build-up for the first hour, yet deliver very few actual scares or murders. A bunch of young guys who do nothing but talk about sex are part of a job that involves going into an old mine closed since 1912. Unfortunately, reopening the mine means releasing the Boogens…into the tunnels that lead to all the houses in the area! The piles of bones these dudes find in the mines should have been a real snot rag—I mean, red flag—that they’re going to be blowing the Boogens out of those tunnels like boogers out of a nostril.
The Boogens reminds me a whole lot of the classic Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, from the premise of opening something that should have remained closed, to the floor level perspectives of the creatures (and all the eerie good darkness!). Even the first victim is dragged into the basement in a very Don’t be Afraid of the Dark moment.
Despite a cheesy (and snotty) title that sounds like a cheap cash-in on Critters or Ghoulies, this film came before those and takes itself seriously, with excellent musical cues, camera angles, and mood lighting. Even though it would bore modern audiences, it is a perfect example of substance over style.
The main girl is played by that be-otch who made Jody straight on Soap just long enough to get pregnant and then steal the baby from him! She and her friend are staying in the house where that other chick got dragged into the basement. And although they and their dog are plenty suspicious of weird sounds in the house, they all manage to avoid the wrath of the Boogens for an hour.
Then, finally, the Soap be-otch’s friend gets into the shower. The Boogens must have been watching Psycho on an old beat up TV in that musty basement, because out they come. This leads to a chase scene of Wendy in Prom Night caliber—but all happening in the confines of the house! As I’m watching, I’m thinking, ‘Wow, she actually LOOKS like Wendy from Prom Night.” Two seconds on the Internet, and I find out, she IS fricking Wendy from Prom Night! I didn’t recognize her without her red prom dress and her, dare I say it, snotty attitude. Well, there you have it. The sole reason to have this movie in your 80s horror collection. I might as well stop this blog right here. But, it gets even better. Turns out, Wendy from Prom Night is ALSO the chick in 1981’s Halloween II who makes the nurse late for work at the hospital because she’s begging for a ride home. I’m having like 80s trivial overload. I think I need a cigarette. Well, actually, a Cherry RC.
The last half hour packs the full punch—including a final reveal of The Boogens. The kinda reptilian, kinda alien thing with tentacles looks okay…until it moves, at which point it looks like a silly puppet mostly, proving that what you can’t see is sometimes scarier than what you can see. But provided you grew up on 80s horror movies, it’s easy to overlook the Jim Henson looking Muppet covered in slime. Besides, the filmmakers smartly go right back to NOT showing the Boogens in an edge-of-your-seat chase scene through the mines. One guess on how they kill the Boogens in the tunnels….