The Bogey Man (1980) Review

One from the re-watch pile…

The Bogey Man aka The Boogey Man (1980)

Film: You know those times where you watch a film and think to yourself,’ Damn, that was a great idea, poorly executed.’
Director Ulli Lommel’s film The Boogey Man (in the UK, where this release is from, called ‘The Bogey Man’) is one of those times. I wanted to like it, and it had some the trappings of a film that I would like: the time period as I love late 70s/ early 80s horror; pretty, accessible girls, a threatening backstory to set up future horrors; a dude in a weird mask… You know, the usual suspects.

I will point out that whilst it did skip gratuitous nudity, except for a blink and you’ll miss it half-nipple, it replaced it with a horrendously un-sexy ‘implied’ blowjob, cause you know, they are the best kind. Oh, hang on: that’s not a win at all!

So onto the synopsis…

Years ago, young Lacey (Natasha Schiano) witnesses the brutal murder of her mother’s abusive boyfriend at the hands of her brother Willy (Jay Wright).

Today, Lacey (Suzanna Love) and her brother, the now mute from trauma Willy (Nicholas Love) live with her son, husband and uncle and aunt on their farm, but she is haunted by the memories of what happened that night, brought on by a deathbed letter from their mother. She visits the local psychiatrist, Dr. Warren (John Carradine) who suggests that perhaps revisiting her childhood home will help to exorcise the demons within her, but when she does, she appears to see the spirit of her mother’s lover in the mirror, and so she smashes is, releasing him to wreak havoc on her live, and the lives of her young ones… And anyone who gets light reflected on them by, say, a piece of it attached to a child’s shoe… Yeah, that’s what I thought too.

So like I wrote earlier, it’s not a bad idea, it’s just not quite executed effectively. The concept of a murdered creep’s soul being trapped in a mirror is an awesome one, but the hows and whys are not communicated other than through legend one of the characters was supposed to have heard, we are just supposed to assume that this is what happens. It’s just a glaring hole in the plotting that with such a weak explanation makes the film seem limp. There’s a hinted at subtext of possession too, which is also frustratingly left under-explored.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need a film to hold my hand and lead me through the story, but a map and a compass wouldn’t hurt!

There is also some things the family do that are just inexplicable. When Lacey smashes the mirror, her husband re-assembles the glass like a jigsaw to prove that there isn’t creepy presence in the mirror, and then hangs it in their kitchen. I’m not entirely sure why.

The acting in the film is fine, and even the effects, simple as they are, work just fine, and the soundtrack is really good. I do have to commend Lommel’s direction at times, as he uses mirrored reflection in many interior scenes, rather than shooting it straight-on. His exterior shots are also shot with a very distinct, rural-painterly look to them, with the actors planted in very specific spots to balance the image.

It feels like it wants to be something else, like maybe the Amityville Horror, which came out a few years earlier, but I just might be projecting the familiarity of the architecture of the farmhouse into that, though it is essentially about a ghost of the past terrorising a family.

To sum up, The Boogey Man is not a bad film, just a missed opportunity.

Score: ** 

Format: The region-free bluray disc is number 10 in the U.K. company 88 Films ‘Slasher Collection’. The film looks and sound great, considering its age and is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen with a DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio.

Score: ****

Extras: A few extras on this disc. First we have an interview with director Ulli Lommel, which goes for about 17 minutes and is pretty average quality, and Lommel speaks VERY slowly and deliberately but an interesting interview nevertheless, and he’s an amazingly impressive name-dropper. 

Next we have a trailer for the film, a couple of TV spots and my most hated of extras, a stills gallery: I will give this stills gallery a small amount of credit though as it has international promo material in it.

This disc also has a few other trailers for films from 88 Films including Puppet Master, The Pit & the Pendulum, Demonic Toys, Two Moon Junction, Dollman, Bloodsucking Freaks, Puppet Master II, Puppet Master III, Tourist Trap and Castle Freak

There is also a booklet written by genre journalist Calum Waddell, which I would have loved to have reviewed, but the writing, black on red paper, is so microscopic I’d need a library microfiche to actually read it.

Score: ***

WISIA: The Bogey Man is actually quite a frustrating watch as it seems like a gigantic missed opportunity. Honestly, if not for getting it as part of the Slasher Collection and deciding to review it here, I probably would never have watched it again after seeing it for the first time years ago. 

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