Thursday, June 7, 2012

CINEMATICOLOGY's Midnight Matinee: The Boogens

The early 1980s paved the way for horror cult classics featuring bizarre, terrifying creatures hitting multiplex theater screens around the planet, and one of the best classic horror films featuring those supernatural creatures already finding audiences screaming for more was the 1981 Jensen Farley Pictures cult favorite The Boogens. As the title implies, The Boogens was a simple, yet mysteriously riveting R-rated film noir which focused on a turtle-prototype supernatural creature with teeth so real, they can bite off human flesh for as long as a human being died. But, where did the Boogens come to murderously kill one human body after another... or had these creatures kill someone?

The critics who wrote daily-newspaper articles covering The Boogens loved this timeless horror flick; and I was impressed when I caught a classic television commercial promoting this skin-ripping thriller airing nationally in 1981, when Jensen Farley opened The Boogens in theaters from coast to coast.

Simply, The Boogens paid homage to the terrifying days of supernatural horror cinema in the previous days of the twentieth century. These critters, in the form of turtles with sharp jaws, invaded a small mining town in Utah
- and, in the end, came to terrorize the men and women their age, proving how blood curdling a motion picture should be. However, Jensen Farley also made their foray into sexually-focused comedies, such as the begotten
Sylvia Kristel feature Private Lessons, which featured a pre-Mama's Family Eric Brown in his very first-ever and most memorable big-screen appearance in an independently produced full-length theatrical feature film, and the Eric Till-directed, fact-based drama If You Could See What I Hear, which depicted the life and career of singer and songwriter Van Stephenson, whose had had a string of popular hit albums and singles during the 1980s, among them the #1 top-selling Interscope Geffen A&M cult favorite Modern Day Deliah.

To me, The Boogens was my most top-secret weapon for fending off creature-driven horror films in the early days of the Golden Age of Cinema.

Only more so, I think.

Other 1980s box office blockbusters having had successful wide-release runs at the box office included Arthur, which starred Dudley Moore in the title role (Russell Brand filled in the shoes left by Moore in the 2011 version of that film), the Orion Pictures golf-themed comedy Caddyshack, the celebrated Cannon Group teen-angst comedy The Last American Virgin, Ivan Reitman's supernatural ghost-removal comedy Ghostbusters, Where the Boys Are '84, TriStar Pictures' debut big-event tentpole title, the Ron Howard trio of Night Shift, Splash (which launched the Walt Disney Studios' adult-targeted banner Touchstone Pictures into orbit) and Willow, the Blake Edwards parodies S.O.B., Victor/Victoria and Sunset, Sean S. Cunningham's youth-gone-wild horror epic The New Kids, the first film in TriStar's Look Who's Talking franchise, Who's Harry Crumb?, the all-time Disney science-fiction comedy/fantasy Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, the independent action comedy Murphy's Fault, and Universal Pictures' literary adaptations Brewster's Millions and Fletch.

In this 1981 television spot for The Boogens, a pre-Knight Rider Rebecca Balding is terrified by turtle-like monsters, as she screams in perpetuity when the Boogens come to haunt her. Surprised?

You may know them; meanwhile, audiences, especially horror-film goers, have experienced The Boogens ever since they discovered those horrible monsters invading other people's residences. Perhaps these critters did not stand a chance unless they had the tenacity to rip into human flesh.

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