Saturday, 19 January 2019

THE BOOGEY MAN

MINOR SPOILERS, FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH (FOURPENCE)

So: rather than continue my 2018 policy of seeing as many films as possible, no matter what, no matter how blatantly terrible they may be, no matter who's playing Charlie Chan, this year I'm changing tack. Fewer first-watch movies, and instead I'm going back over some of the titles I watched over thirty years ago on VHS. Knackered rental tapes cropped to 4:3, lo-def picture and sound quality, BBFC scissor marks left and right...it really wasn't the best way to watch a movie but it was all we had. Now, many of those classics, cult titles, video nasties and unwatchable obscurities have been dug out of the landfill, restored, remastered and ripe for re-evaluation. Were they really so terrible?

I see from my 30-year database that Ulli Lommel's The Boogey Man, also watched at some point in the late eighties on battered, twisted tape, was apparently a two-star movie, and I can correct that immediately. By knocking one of those stars off. It's utter rubbish, uninterestingly done and, while not as boring, insulting or incompetent as the Ray Dennis Stecklers and Al Adamsons of this world, has nothing to commend it beyond the debatable cachet of Nastyhood (the 44 seconds of cuts have now been waived) and a two-scene John Carradine cameo that must have taken anything up to half the morning to shoot. It's actually a very dull haunted mirror movie in which the spirit of a murder victim is released when the mirror he died in front of is shattered, and he can now kill at will through telekinetic powers. Not content with targeting the extended family of the child who killed him twenty years ago (the child saw him having sex with Mommy), he's now engineering the demise of the people who now live in his old house and some boring teens partying on the other side of the lake for no immediately obvious reason....

None of it makes any sense, as The Boogey Man (variously named The Bogey Man and The Bogeyman, allegedly because audiences might confuse Boogey with Boogie) has that same passing acquaintance with the real world that Lucio Fulci's more wayward zombie movies do. Why can't he come out of a complete mirror, only inch-long fragments? How is the kid keeping his foot so still for so long, so the sunlight can be reflected so precisely on a spot more than half a mile away? And why? Can he possess other people? Why does the film set up the original killer as a potential threat (collecting knives, half-strangling young women) when the horror is actually supernatural? Matters aren't helped by the unlistenable synth score, poor acting, lack of visual style, the it's-not-really-over ending that must surely have been old hat even then....

Nothing to do with the Sam Raimi-produced Boogeyman series, and nothing to do with a halfway decent use of a Thursday evening, this is desperately weak all round, and even the artlessly staged death scenes don't have any impact. And we've been burned enough times already by the Video Nasty tag: sometimes they're genuinely nasty, more often they're maybe a bit iffy, but usually they're just cloddingly dull, incompetent, stupid and naff. The Boogey Man falls so easily into the third category it doesn't touch the sides. It spawned a sequel which is also terrible, and which was later re-issued in a director's cut that was also terrible. Second star duly knocked off.

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