BOOGENS, THE (director: James L. Conway; screenwriters: story by Tom Chapman & David O'Malley/David O'Malley/Bob Hunt; cinematographer: Paul Hipp; editor: Michael Spence; music: Bob Summers; cast: Fred McCarren (Mark Kinner), Rebecca Balding (Trish Michaels), Anne-Marie Martin (Jessica Ford), Jeff Harlan (Roger Lowrie), John Crawford (Brian Deering), Med Flory (Dan Ostroff), Jon Lormer (Greenwalt, the old man), Scott Wilkinson (Deputy Blanchard), Marcia Reider (Martha Chapman), Peg Stewart (Victoria Tusker); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Charles E. Sellier Jr.; VCI Home Video; 1981)

"At best, it's a so-so horror pic."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

The title refers to a term once used by miners to describe the fear some would experience while in the depths of a mine for long periods. Long-time TV director James L. Conway ("Hangar 18") keeps the horror pic in familiar 1980's youth scare/slasher pic territory, as an old-fashioned horror pic with the usual fright scenes. It's set in the wintry locale of the Colorado Rockies. It's based on the story by Tom Chapman & David O'Malley, and is written by David O'Malley and Bob Hunt. The film's claim to fame was that it was endorsed by best-selling horror novelist Stephen King, who praised it in Twilight Zone Magazine as "a wildly energetic monster movie." I wouldn't take too much stock in that recommendation. At best, it's a so-so horror pic. Its plot has more holes in it than Swiss cheese, and though well-crafted the dull story has little imagination and the girlie scream shots could have been more piercing.

Recent bright-eyed college grads, the boastful Roger (Jeff Harlan) and the more reserved Mark (Fred McCarren), get jobs for some quick cash and experience before embarking on their serious careers. They work for a mining company in Silver City, at a Colorado Rocky mine that started the boom town in the late 19th century when silver was discovered there. The abandoned mine is being reopened after being closed since 1912, some seventy years ago, because of a suspicious cave-in. All the miners were killed but for one, who went insane as no one believed him when he claimed the mine was attacked by scaly monsters. The boys work with two veteran miners, Dan (Med Flory) and Brian (John Crawford), to make their way down a rundown shaft to address what repairs are needed to make the mine safe to function again.

Roger's cowboy hat wearing girlfriend Jessica (Anne-Marie Martin, Michael Crichton's ex-wife) joins the boys in a rustic cabin they rented and brings along from Pennsylvania her pet poodle Tiger (good for some comic relief) and her charming wannabe journalist coed girlfriend Trish (Rebecca Balding), who scored a gig as a journalist with the Denver Post and has come here to be a blind date for Mark. The running gag is that Roger and Jessica are sex freaks, who if they had their own way would stay in bed all the time.

The crew opens up the abandoned silver mine, even when the creepy elderly son (Jon Lormer) of the madman miner survivor warns them this would be a big mistake by writing death in red on the mine's entrance. By accident the crew releases the killer monsters that were imprisoned there: gigantic scaly, turtle-like creatures with sharp teeth and bug's eyes, that go on a killing rampage. 

The tentacled Boogens looked laughably like cheap toys one would find on sale at Toys R Us, and therefore had little scare value. The acting was passable considering how slight was the dialogue and the storyline. The gore came too late in the third act to be effective. Also there were too few flesh shots and those shots showed too little flesh. In fact, there was too little of everything, which left The Boogens hardly compelling even if it never completely turned me off to its possibilities.

REVIEWED ON 10/25/2010       GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"