Boogeymen--Buy it on!Boogeymen:
A Fine Reminder of Horror Highs
(and Lows)

By Daniel Kraus

Ever tried to rent A Nightmare on Elm Street, Psycho, or Halloween on Halloween? It’s damn near impossible. Timed for a Halloween release, Boogeymen aims to end this predicament—now you can rent 17 popular horror movies at once and not even have to sit through one instance of badly-acted exposition!

Boogeymen is a compendium of 17 different "classic" horror scenes from some of the genre’s most recognizable homicidal maniacs. Recognizing that DVD is still largely the realm of die-hard fans, Boogeymen is available only on that format and has lots of extras to please said die-hards (fun facts, commentary, games and character legends)—extras that would drive an ordinary viewer out of his gourd with boredom.

Boogeymen is something I’d call movie puree—there is no plot or through-line, not even a narration in the style of 1984’s Terror in the Aisles. Boogeymen is brought to us by a company called "Flix Mix" whose slogan is "Nothing but the good stuff!" (Their future releases include a collection of fight scenes called "Ultimate Fights" and a collection of comedy bits called "Crack Me Up!") And, indeed, the "good stuff" is what it is: scene after scene of screaming, stabbing and spurting.

The only break between the action is the introduction of each villain. It’s a lot like the start of a basketball game, when they introduce the starting lineup: "Pinhead from Hellraiser!" the screen announces. A bunch of vital statistics pop up on the screen, like "Demon guardian of hell" and "Also known as Xipe Totec." Then comes a 10-second highlight reel of one-liners and blood splashes, then the big 5-10 minute scene.

To their credit, a lot of major players are present—Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th), Michael Myers (Halloween), Leatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Chucky (Child’s Play), even Norman Bates (Psycho). But so much is missing, particularly from anything earlier than the mid-‘70s. Where is Jack Nicholson from The Shining? Or Linda Blair from The Exorcist? Kathy Bates from Misery? Anthony Hopkins from Silence of the Lambs? The shark from Jaws?

In place of these classic creeps, Boogeymen tosses in "The Wishmaster" from 1997’s lackluster Wishmaster, the Leprechaun from the kitschy Leprechaun series, "Fisherman" from the far-less-than-classic I Know What You Did Last Summer and "Camilla" from a film no one I know has ever seen, The Guardian. (To be fair, The Guardian is probably the most spectacular movie ever made about an evil tree.)

Obviously, being an official "Boogeyman" is contingent upon several factors: 1) You must be human or humanoid; 2) You must have a violent, preferably gory scene for the highlight reel; and 3) Flix Mix must be able to secure the rights to show the scene! Acquisition rights notwithstanding, Boogeymen manages to deliver the visceral, bloody goods with a pretty potent punch. At its best, it reminds us how the best horror films are audacious in ways that mainstream movies can never be.

The scene from Clive Barkers’ Hellraiser is a revelation if you haven’t seen the movie since its release in 1987. With its bizarre Cenobite monsters, fetishistic torture themes and infamous "puzzle box," Hellraiser is like something made in a far-away country or even another planet. It is simply unlike anything ever made before or since and obviously the product of a tremendous talent.

1974’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (for my money, the scariest movie ever made) is represented by its climactic sequence, wherein the bruised and beaten heroine is rescued by a truck driver, as Leatherface chases them with his roaring chainsaw. It is a testament to the film’s power that this 10-minute clip still has the velocity to take your breath away. With its photo-journalistic long-lens photography, stealthy dolly moves and total lack of dialogue, this scene is a model of the pure emotional potential of filmmaking.

A final example: 1992’s Candyman, which was satisfying enough to the blood-and-guts audience to spawn two sequels, but also operatic enough to play as an art-house flick. It features big, mythic performances from Tony Todd and Virginia Madsen and a beautiful score by Phillip Glass. Boogeymen smartly chose a scene that highlighted not gore but the dark, fairy tale way in which Madsen’s character is elevated from typical woman/victim to goddess.

Probably the most amusing section of Boogeymen is the one about the 1979 cult hit Phantasm, which, if you haven’t seen it, is one of the most enjoyably baffling stories ever put to celluloid. Horror has always been the realm of cutting-edge creativity, and the creators of Phantasm definitely had invention to spare—they just forgot to make any sense whatsoever. As the Boogeymen fun facts hilariously point out, Phantasm is about an evil undertaker who turns human corpses into inter-dimensional zombie dwarfs and uses a flying mechanical sphere crafted from shrunken human brains to drill into the skulls of enemies.

Boogeymen ends with a bunch of stats that simply don’t lie: Hellraiser cost less than $1 million to make; the Nightmare on Elm Street series has grossed over $225 million; and there have been eight Puppet Master movies, 10 Friday the 13th movies and a Jason vs. Freddy film in the works.

Perhaps the most important statistic: 83% of kids are afraid of the boogeyman. And while most of the boogeymen from this generation are more like class clowns than the haunting adults of the golden age (Dracula, the Wolfman, the Phantom of the Opera), they still represent the toppling of authority and a world where anarchy reigns supreme.

Boogeymen may not necessarily represent the best in horror, but it successful captures the genre climate of the ‘80s and ‘90s—islands of true movie genius amid a sea of splashy excess.