The Boogens - 4K Ultra HD Blu-rayOverview -
They’re creepy, crawly, hungry, and they’re killing people - they’re The Boogens! A small mountain town is terrorized by killer creatures from the depths when an old mine is reopened and no man, woman, or poodle is safe from the terror. A fun 80s creeper comes to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics with a frustratingly inconsistent and problematic Dolby Vision transfer, and decent audio, but sports an excellent assortment of extras. But the transfer is so dicey that unless you really need the film in the collection - Skip It
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
When it comes to horror, the worst thing you can do is overthink your flick. If you’ve got a great concept with a respectable cast of characters and a creepy creature, stick to the basics and let the show roll. If you’ve done things right, the big reveal of your titular critter should be a shocking terrifying surprise - or it could be damn silly. For James L. Conway’s 1981 creepy critter creature feature The Boogens, the efforts of a smart concept and an amiable cast are almost undone by the reveal of the big bad beasty shedding all the blood in town. Thankfully, by the time the toothy creature is revealed enough goodwill has been built up that you want to see the show through to the end, even if you’re chuckling more than screaming.
Just outside of Denver, a small mountain town that endured a terrific tragedy when a mine collapsed is about to get a new lease on life. With the mine set to reopen, a team of company men are sent in to get the process started. Best pals Roger (Jeff Harlan) and Fred (Mark Kinner) have just hired on to be the advance crew for the new operation by clearing debris, checking the structural integrity, and stringing new lights. Joining them in the mountains is Roger’s main squeeze Jessica (Anne-Marie Martin) and her right-hand gal pal Trish (Rebecca Balding). The four have rented a house for the winter aiming to eat, drink, ski, and enjoy the work. But the holiday is cut short because something has crawled out of the now-open mine, and it’s hungry!
Here comes another car in the nostalgic train of films I saw as a kid but never really revisited in the last couple of decades. At a guess it's been at least 25 years since I last watched this. I have faded memories of renting this with my older sister, entertaining ourselves because we thought the title was “The Boogers” and then having my eyes covered up thanks to frequent nudity and bloody gore. I’ve had many chances to revisit this one over the years, but never really felt the need or gumption until now.
I’ll be frank that the film isn’t the greatest creature feature to come out of the ‘80s, but I’ve seen far, far worse things in my time. I'll say it's a pretty fun flick! I had fun at least. Where the film works is Director James L Conway and his writers David O’Malley and Bob Hunt had a great sense of pacing and suspense. Content with not rushing the show, we get to know our characters, and establish a sense of “normal” and then that POV critter-cam comes in, and something slimy and scary starts crawling up from the depths.
After numerous teases, jump scares, false frights, and plot twists, the creature is finally revealed and… you’d be forgiven for having a little laugh. It’d been so long since I last saw this film that I couldn’t remember what they looked like so the reveal was as fresh as could be. For a low-budget critter it’s not bad, but like a particularly famous shark that terrorized movie screens in the ‘70s, the less we see of the Boogens the better the scares. While the reveal is something of a stumble, the film had worked to build up enough goodwill that the final act has some genuine frights and suspense to it.
Thanks to the cast giving their characters some dimension and selling the scares, the film’s mood, and atmosphere more than make up for the shortfalls. As I said, The Boogens isn’t a great film, but for some out there it might be a nostalgic favorite. I’m someone who loves Rawhead Rex and this film is certainly in that creepy and atmospheric, entertaining but not scary vein. Silly or scary, The Boogens is at the very least an enjoyable watch.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
The Boogens terrorizes 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray thanks to Kino Lorber Studio Classics with a new two-disc 4K UHD + Blu-ray release. The 4K is pressed on a BD-100 disc with a Region A BD-50 standing in for 1080p. The discs are housed in a two-disc case with separate trays and an identical slipcover. The discs respectively load to static image main menus with standard navigation options.
Well, hell. I guess they can’t all be winners. The newest release of The Boogens is here and it’s a bit of a mess. I don’t have the old Olive disc for comparison - like I said, haven’t seen it in decades - but this one is a mishmash of issues ranging from a sometimes excellent appearance to muddy browned-out colors and oranged skin tones to an inconsistent grain presence to completely washed-out details. And frustratingly enough the Doubly Vision HDR grade doesn't seem to be helping much. The artwork indicates a “Brand New HDR/Dolby Vision Master - From a 4K Scan of the original 35mm Camera Negative.” And that may well be true, but this is also a Paramount licensed title. Watching the film I had the feeling that this was a lot like Arrow’s release of Witness where KLSC was probably given what they got and could only do so much work with it to mitigate problem spots. Fine details are apparent and normal stable grain does make appearances, but even then there’s this odd “cut-out” quality to some of the fine lines like an over-use of sharpening has been applied. Skin tones can appear too peached as if color was added to compensate for a washed-out look. In some scenes black levels are deep inky and wonderful, the next shot it’s a brown/gray smeary mess. That’s why I think this could have been a lingering “Paramounted” effort, but all the same it’s not a great release for the format. I can’t imagine this would have ever been a demo-worthy title to begin with, but it should look better than this which, believe it or not, is still actually better than the included Blu-ray in this set. Something happened with this one somewhere down the restoration line.
On the audio side things improve a bit with two nice DTS tracks - 2.0 and 5.1. Of the pair, I thought the 2.0 sounded more natural and appropriate but I’ll give kudos to the 5.1 track for filling out the soundscape and lending some atmosphere and creepiness to the effort. When the Boogen is stalking the dog around the house, the sounds lend well for a 5.1 effect but there’s little call beyond those moments. Most of the track is front/center focused with only casual bleeds into the surrounds. The 2.0 track in that way felt a bit more stable and focused. Overall dialog clarity is pretty good, some exchanges can sound a little shrill and likewise, the score from Bob Summers can get a little tinny in those higher registers. For times like these I do wish the original mono mix was retained but overall these tracks get the job done nicely.
On the bonus features front we have a nice assortment of extra features for fans to dive into. We get a pair of great audio commentaries and a nice new interview with creature FX artist William Munns. The first audio commentary is archival from the Olive disc and it’s a lively listen as Jeff McKay moderates the show with James Conway, David O’Malley, and Rebecca Balding adding their two cents. The new audio commentary sports actor Jeff Harlan and historian Howard S. Berger. It’s another active track with the pair discussing a number of facets in making the film. Of the two I like the archival the best, I hadn’t heard it before but it was a very entertaining listen. The William Munns interview was conducted over the phone so it’s not the most visually arresting segment but it’s informative.
- Audio Commentary featuring James Conway, David O’Malley, Rebecca Balding and Jeff McKay
- Audio Commentary featuring Jeff Harlan and Howard S. Berger
- The Man Who Made The Boogens - Interview with William Munns (HD 19:06)
- TV Spots
- KLSC Trailer Gallery
- The Monster Squad
- Without Warning
- Deepstar Six
- Rawhead Rex
The Boogens isn’t a great movie but it’s a perfectly fun creature feature. A simple story with a decent cast is well executed by director James L. Conway. Smartly resisting the urge to showcase the titular creature, the film has some fun suspenseful beats, even if the big reveal is a little silly. For a cheap creature prop it at least is done well ,even if it’s not all that terrifying. On 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, The Boogens is a frustrating mess. It could be an old Paramount master that KLSC was just stuck with, it could be the condition of the original film element, any number of things, but it’s not a great addition to the format - and the included Blu-ray doesn’t fair any better. For those who need The Boogens in the collection I guess you could say it’s worth a look at a decent price point, but otherwise, I’m left to say Skip It - there are just too many issues with the transfer to give it much support.
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