Boogeyman, The (1980)

Originally published in Bleeding Skull! A 1980s Trash-Horror Odyssey.

An analyst once surmised that my lifelong obsession with trash-horror films was simply a substitute for confronting the “horrific” hurdles in my life. I bought it.

Soon after, I was laid off for the second time in two years. I felt like watching a movie that night. Yet, instead of reaching for City Lights or My Man Godfrey or The Lady Eve, I went over to Dan’s house and we watched The Boogeyman. Then, we watched Boogeyman II.

Today, I’m either a part-time nut or the most well-adjusted person in Los Angeles. But that no longer matters. Because I’m happy. And there’s a good chance you’ll be happy too if you watch The Boogeyman and see a priest get killed by haunted mirrors and a dude in a TRIUMPH shirt. Who needs therapy?

Lacey, that’s who.

Twenty years ago, Lacey witnessed her brother Willy stab a guy wearing pantyhose on his head. It sounds awesome because it is awesome. From there, grown-up and tormented Lacey shares a farm with her grounded husband, goofy kid, boring grandma, passive-aggressive grandpa, and mute Willy. Surprisingly, they don’t do much. So Lacey visits her therapist, Dr. John Carradine. Then, her husband says, “Lacey, let’s get ridda these ghosts . . . once and for all!” Suddenly, mirrors are painted black, inanimate objects are killing random people (like priests), and TRIUMPH is seen, but not heard. That’s where the synths come in.

The ins ‘n’ outs of The Boogeyman are trivial. It’s not a slasher, though it tries hard to be one (kind of like Superstition). The trajectory is slick, but haphazard. There are killings with a bit of gore. I fall asleep every time I watch it. So why do I watch it? Again: that’s where the synths come in.

The soundtrack was composed by Tim Krog and his “band”, Synthe-Sound-Trax. Krog thickens The Boogeyman with some of the most addictive analog synths since Wendy Carlos’s work on A Clockwork Orange. Or whoever programmed the Moog arpeggios for Unhinged — take your pick. That’s what does it. At a base level, The Boogeyman is a smart-yet-unexceptional supernatural horror film. It simply makes you smile. But then you REALLY see it. And hear it. And you get a little more. The synths converge with lovely open spaces. Shadows are heavy and greenery is thick. A mood is achieved. Everything feels right. Reasoning is inconsequential.

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