in Shocktober

Mr. Boogedy (1986)

After watching the 45-minute Disney Sunday Movie Mr. Boogedy, I hopped online to do a bit of research for this post. One of my favorite resources, Wikipedia, describes the movie as “a 1986 made-for-television family film and failed pilot.” It’s that second part that stood out. I had to look elsewhere to find more details, but it turns out the spark that little the fire that screams boogedy, boogedy, boo was a failed horror parody starring Cheech & Chong. Like, Scary Movie way before Scary Movie. That film fell apart at Columbia but was resurrected by Disney in an attempt to get a series going. Which makes me think the accidental humor in Mr. Boogedy isn’t accidental at all.

A young family has packed up and moved across country to live in a house in the town of Lucifer Falls, somewhere in New Enlgand. The dad is Carlton Davis (Richard Masur), the owner of a joke toys franchise who cannot resist constantly pulling pranks on his family. His wife, Eloise (Mimi Kennedy) digs it, as do their two young sons Corwin (David Faustino) and R.E. (Benjamin Gregory). I would have assumed R.E. was spelled “Ari” but apparently they are initials. The one unhappy camper is teenage daughter Jennifer (risty Swanson) who acts like she can’t believe this is really happening. Her worst fears are confirmed when the family arrive at their new home only to find out it looks exactly like what you’d imagine a haunted house would look like.

The family are totally spooked by Mr. Witherspoon (Howard Witt), the town historian who was waiting for them in their new home and warns them to beware the Boogedy Man. Carlton is totally unafraid and continues to enjoy filling his days with goofs. Eventually the kids visit Mr. Witherspoon’s museum, where he uses a pop-up book to reveal the tragic history of their home: back in colonial days a man made a deal with the devil for a magical cloak in order to win a woman’s love, but when he went to use it he accidentally blew up her house, killing himself, her, and her young son. Rumor has it these three spirits still roam the very land the Davis family now inhabit, with the man having become Boogedy somehow. Also, even the that house blew up and this is a new house, because Boogedy and the son where inside and the woman was outside when the house blew up, Boogedy and the boy are trapped inside and the woman outside.

Because Mr. Boogedy started as a parody, it’s got more of an attitude than your typical genre film. The characters are punchy and uncommonly aware of the supernatural events happening to them. This effect is double by the fact it’s a Disney made-for-TV movie, so any hard edges or big scares were certainly shaved off. I think this amusing tone hits its zenith when Eloise has an encounter with the ghost of the Puritan woman late one night: instead of freaking out, she invites the spirit in for coffee. It’s not usually what a horror movie is going for, but I got a few chuckles out of Mr. Boogedy.

I guess you’d want to know about the big green man himself, right? Well, aside from looking like 100% exactly what Emperor Palpatine was in Rise of Skywalker, he’s not actually that interesting. He only shows up at the end of the movie and mostly just keeps yelling “boogedy, boogedy, boo!” The best part is how he gets thwarted: Boogedy brings a vacuum to life to terrorize R.E. but the boy turns it around and Boogedy’s magic cloak gets sucked up. I’m not an expert on ghost magic, but I’m pretty sure that doesn’t make sense.

Anyway, I’m sad we’re all sheltering in place right now because Mr. Boogedy would have been an ideal thing to put on with a group of friends on Halloween night. Maybe keep this one in the back of your mind for when everything gets back to normal.

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