"Some things shouldn't be disturbed," the ad copy reads. "After 100 years someone has reawakened The Boogens. There is no escape." Fortunately, after 90 minutes of "The Boogens," there is escape from the 16 area theaters and drive-ins where this curiosity is playing. What are Boogens? Beats me, and I saw the film.
Actually, "The Boogens" is a compilation of schlock-horror effects and B-movie characters in search of a plot. Seems somebody has reopened some long-abandoned mines where 30 miners died in a cave-in many years before. When the new excavating team comes upon the bones, they don't see anything odd about 30 skeletons picked clean and piled together like turkeys at the Madison Hotel on Thanksgiving. Nope, nothing strange there, or in the underground lake that seems to burp, or in the eminence grizzly who pops into the frame every time one of the major characters walks out of it.
Actually, "The Boogens" may be the first horror film in which a poodle is terrorized and dispatched with as much care as a human. As for the Boogens themselves, well, they hardly make a full appearance until the last few minutes; there are plenty of unsteady tracking shots to let us know the Boogens are built low to the ground and enough quick kills to suggest they have long, sharp tentacles. Could it be an Octo-puss that gets the dog? By the time the "Alien"-type killers overcome their shyness, there's hardly anybody left to kill anyway. Their apparently insatiable appetite may be explained by their being locked up in the mines for so long; considering how long it's been between meals, they do play with their food a tad too much. Perhaps Boogens is a family name?
The acting is better than in most films of this genre, with Rebecca Balding attractive as the straight, honest, soon-to-be-reporter. Most of the other characters are stupid-curious, the kind who don't hear you shouting out warnings. Guess who gets out alive?
Two kudos to "The Boogens," though: Revenge has absolutely nothing to do with plot motivation (which is profit, all the way) and it may be the first shocker of 1981 not to rely on a false ending. These are minor virtues in a film whose dialog and plot are frequently incomprehensible. The Boogens? They'd like to have you over for dinner.