The Boogeyman (1982)
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a) it butchered possibly Stephen King's best short story &
b) as a film alone it doesn't really make any sense
the acting left something to be desired too and I really found the music annoying. The main protagonist (Lester Billings) was interesting but I was unsure if this was a good or bad performance, I want to say good but the direction was bad and the effects were cheesy thus bringing down the actor. Too bad.
Final verdict: Stay away from the film. Read the book.
The story is about a scruffy and unpleasant man who seeks psychiatric help from a professional (i.e. a psychoanalyst). In his meeting, he describes the deaths of his children to him. He's guilt ridden over how his children died and he wants to relive himself of the burden of his children's deaths. Who killed his children? Is the dude responsible? Will I enjoy this movie? I don't know, you'll have to find out for yourself when you watch the Stephen King short film adaptation of......THE BOOGEYMAN!!!!
Not worth it but you might want to take a gander.
But when you're a 15-year-old kid in the Midwest in a small town before the internet's been invented, what are you gonna do? So thank God for resources like YouTube where things like this can finally be seen?
"The Boogeyman" was the first of King's famous Dollar Babies (he's had a longstanding open deal where student filmmakers pay him a dollar and they get the rights to film one of his stories), filmed in 1982 by writer/director Jeff Schiro and starring Michael Read as the main character Lester Billings. In the story, Lester's children are dying. Not all at once, but over the years each of his three children have died, and all three deaths have been ruled crib deaths. But Lester knows the truth is that the Boogeyman has taken them.
The story is told from Lester's point of view as he's relating the events to his psychiatrist. Michael Read shines in these moments as a paranoid, hyper-aware Billings, a man nearly at the end of his rope, whose mania is about to cause a nervous breakdown because he feels responsible for the deaths of his children even if he knows the real killer was the Boogeyman. His guilt stems from the fact that, after the second child died, Lester knew it was the Boogeyman who was killing his children, but when the third child began crying and becoming more fearful of being left alone in the dark, instead of sticking around to protect him, Lester fled in fear, desperate to save himself instead. When he returned, the child was dead, just like the two before him.
The first time I read "The Boogeyman", I was 13, on a drive down to Florida to spend a week visiting my aunt. The story blew me away, both in its narrative voice and the twist ending which, at that age, I didn't see coming. But further reading, and seeing this movie, show me it's more than just a twist at the end, the entire story is so well-plotted, it gives us a chance to further understand Lester's character and gives a much deeper sense of the guilt he feels.
Schiro made a really decent short film given it was 1980s technology and he couldn't have been working with a very large budget. I thought the film was too dark in some places, but I feel that may have been on purpose to further obscure what we're allowed to see and what we have to leave up to our imaginations. Certainly the extensive use of shadows creates a much more foreboding atmosphere.
The subplot with the cop ultimately went nowhere and I feel it should have been deleted and let us focus solely on Lester's story, but when those cuts come, they're timed in a way that it gives this short 28- minute film a much larger, more cinematic feel.
For what it was at the time of its creation, THE BOOGEYMAN is a pretty good movie. It may be a bit simple for those unfamiliar with King's work and will probably give naysayers more ammunition in their "Stephen King is a hack" argument, considering it is, in the end, just a movie about a man telling his psychiatrist that the boogeyman killed his children. But for those folks, they're missing the nuances of this story, which, unfortunately, I don't think the movie makes as clear as it could have. A few extra lines of dialogue would have made those subtle details stand out.
However, as a long time fan of the original short story, I like this movie. It brings with it a lot of nostalgia and helps complete that Stephen King movie puzzle.
King on Film Carrie (1976):www.epinions.com/review/mvie_mu- 1003625/content_91443072644 Salem's Lot (1979): www.epinions.com/review/mvie_mu- 1040466/content_620198661764 The Shining (1981):www.epinions.com/review/mvie_mu- 1018844/content_621040144004
** 1/2 (out of 4)
Stephen King adaptation has a father (Michael Read) being arrested for killing his child but the story he tells Dr. Harper (Bert Linder) is quite different than what the police think happened. The father claims that his son was murdered by the boogeyman who lived in his closet and he tells the doctor his story. This student film from Jeff Schiro actually managed to get released back in the day and while I think it has a few good moments the end result isn't quite as good as one would hope. I thought the first five minutes were quite effective and I think they really captured the heart of the story, which is meant to say that the boogeyman kid's fear is living in their closet is real and it can kill them. The middle section of the picture is where it drags as we get some rather boring dialogue scenes that I'm sure were meant to work as psychological horror but they never really reach a creepy level. The ending of the film finally picks up some but at 28-minutes there's no question that it feels a tad bit too long. The performances are really hit and miss but I thought both Read and Linder were fine, although I think some better editing could have helped both. The music score isn't all that good and appears to be trying to copy THE SHINING. With that said, fans of King's short story should get a few kicks out of this but a better version is certainly needed.
Even as a student film, it's contrived and poorly executed. Framing is off (and not in an 'artistic' way), direction seems scatterbrained (and not in a 'good horror film' way), and the soundtrack seems out of sync in places (enough to draw attention away from the story). The climactic end scene is anything but, and even confusing.
Steer clear of this slow, tired adaptation - it doesn't represent the story well at all - and read King's original composition. The out-of-print VHS (part of the 'Nightshift Collection') is only worth hunting down if you're a serious collector of Stephen King or amateur/student horror attempts.