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  Boogens, The Enemy Mine
Year: 1981
Director: James L. Conway
Stars: Rebecca Balding, Fred McCarren, Anne-Marie Martin, Jeff Harlan, John Crawford, Med Flory, John Lormer, Scott Wilkinson, Marcia Reider, Peg Stewart
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Mark (Fred McCarren) and Roger (Jeff Harlan) have recently graduated from college and have taken a job in a mine to get some cash before embarking on their careers proper. That job does not see them chipping away at a coalface, but helping to open up a previously abandoned shaft which was sealed in a disaster some decades back, but the two boys are not superstitious and don't think anything of assisting their new boss, Brian (John Crawford), in setting charges and blasting the mine open again. Roger's girfriend Jessica (Anne-Marie Martin) is arriving soon, and bringing a friend, so this should be a nice time away for the four of them.

Or not, as the case may be because The Boogens is not a film about the American equivalent of The Wombles or some similar costumed children's entertainers which is what they sound like, but the creatures which have been released from the blasted shaft. Not that we see much of them, as director James L. Conway keeps his monsters very much in the shadows and offscreen, presumably to build up tension about what on earth they may look like, and not because the speical effects are something of a letdown, oh no. So while you're waiting to see the baddies of the title, what is there to enjoy about this film?

Well, there's a lot of chit-chat of the kind that you would only get in a horror movie of this vintage where small talk was essential to make up the gaps between your next setpiece. The scene is set early on when Mark and Roger are gabbing about Jessica in sexual terms, that is to say Roger is at any rate, and building up the friend in Mark's mind as someone he could get to know intimately. Typical young person in a slasher movie conversation, then, but somehow it doesn't come aross as quite as obnoxious as you might expect as McCarren presents himself as far less boorish than Roger, who styles himself "Hormone Man" and boasts of his bedroom prowess in contrast to his more reserved pal.

Significantly for fans of this era of chillers, the best friend of Jessica is played by that nearly woman of horror, Rebecca Balding, here appearing in one of the two films which seemed to be setting her up as a promising fixture in these kinds of efforts, the other being The Silent Scream which enjoys a similarly small cult following, but is probably a bit better than this. She was as plucky here as she was in that other movie, and proves an engaging heroine even with the dialogue and behaviour she is saddled with, that behaviour being for example near the end where she enters the holiday bungalow, sees there had been a degree of mayhem there, then instead of going for help she starts creeping around and calling out.

They don't call them clichés for nothing, and The Boogens embraces such hackneyed devices as they're the only way to keep the plot moving in a forward direction. Before we reach that climactic snooping about there's a monster on the loose, or more than one in fact even if we only see one at a time, if indeed we see them at all. The reason for that being, one surmises, that there was only one Boogen ever made and they had to stretch their resources. This is patently a low budget enterprise, so there's not even that much gore for the action sequences, but for in spite of its middling ambitions and heavy reliance on padding out what little chills it contains with lengthy dialogue sessions, it might offer a nostalgic glow to those who recall what horror flicks were like at the time this was produced. It's just that next to nothing happens until the last act. Music by Bob Summers.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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