The Movie That Scared Me as a Child More Than Anything Else: Mr. Boogedy

My parents were pretty prodigious in the movies they allowed me to watch as a kid, but they didn’t let me watch any blood-and-guts horror films as a child. Sure, I watched The Neverending Story, The Dark Crystal, The Last Starfighter and plenty of other mature kids movies during my formative years, but none of those movies were consistently frightening. They just had scary elements scattered throughout them.

I think that’s why the scariest movie villain to me isn’t Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees. Those guys just come across as silly to me. No, the most horrifying figure I would never want to meet in a dark basement is a man named Mr. Boogedy.

Mr. Boogedy was an episode of Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color that appeared during its 30th season in 1986. And I’m going to explain why it scared me as a child more than any other film.

The Buildup to Boogedy

The haunted house where Mr. Boogedy lives is genuinely creepy.The reason Mr. Boogedy is such a great villain is because the buildup to finally seeing him is so well done. At first we’re confronted with a scary house with faulty lights so everything is drenched in darkness most of the time. At one point we see the ominous outline of a door that leads to a room containing a sight so terrifying that it makes a character pass out just by gazing upon it. We don’t get to see what she saw, but we’re convinced we don’t want to ever see it.

A young woman faints from fear after she opens a door and sees Mr. Boogedy for the first time.And we hear several characters describe Mr. Boogedy in detail. He’s portrayed as a mean man who is horribly disfigured and evil to his core. He sold his soul to the devil for a cloak that lets him perform dark magic. And what does he do with that magic? Why, steal a little boy and hold him hostage to force the boy’s mother to marry him. He and the boy and mother end up in a stalemate for 300 years, long after they’ve all become ghosts.

The more I hear about Mr. Boogedy, the more I dread the final confrontation with him. But before I get to that, I’ll explain a few other things that make this movie so fantastic.

Just Kidding

In Mr. Boogedy, the dad doesn't believe in supernatural occurences.The story of Mr. Boogedy involves a family moving into a haunted house. I love the fact that the father is a traveling gag salesman. In the first half of the film every time he finds himself in a scary situation he finds a way to relieve the tension with his unique brand of humor. He is constantly looking for logical explanations for the supernatural things he and his family witness. I know that’s a common horror movie trope, but Mr. Boogedy puts a fun twist on it. The dad thinks everything is a gag, so he is more impressed than scared when he sees things that have everyone else spooked.

He and his sons also have a habit of playing practical jokes on each other, so it becomes difficult to tell fact from fiction. His catchphrase is, “Just kidding,” which he uses to make sure his family doesn’t have a heart attack when he pranks them. That has a great payoff at the very end of the film.

Why Is the Dad So Familiar?

Adult Stanley Uris in Stephen King's It is also played by Richard Masur.On my most recent viewing of this film, I discovered something unsettling. The dad has an extremely memorable face and demeanor. I had struggled to remember where else I had seen him until It suddenly dawned on me. Actor Richard Masur also appeared in the 1990 TV movie of Stephen King’s It. He plays Stanley Uris, the happily married man who shockingly kills himself in a bathtub to avoid having to face his childhood fears again.

It is one of my favorite books, and the TV movie, despite its flaws, captures a lot of the terror from the book. Stanley’s death is handled particularly well. I hadn’t realized why it affected me so much until just a few days ago when I made this connection between Mr. Boogedy and It.

Childish Fear

One of my childhood fears was having someone take me away from my parents. The idea of someone chasing me and forcing me to never see the people I loved terrified me and is one of the most vivid nightmares I’ve ever had.

The ghost boy warns two other boys, There’s a scene late in Mr. Boogedy when the little ghost boy talks to the two sons in a dark basement. He warns them that Mr. Boogedy is coming for them and they better run because if he gets them, he’ll never let them go back to their family again. And at the same time, the camera lets us see through Mr. Boogedy’s eyes and hear his haggard breath. I have to admit, that moment still scares the heck out of me. The boys manage to escape too easily, which deflates the tension, but that’s okay because the tense few seconds building up to their escape are what really stayed with me.

A Few Minor Flaws

The mom meets the ghost mom and she easily convinces her husband that this is all real.Mr. Boogedy is a Disney TV movie, so I know I shouldn’t expect a lot from it. But still, for such an amazing setup, it does have a few flaws that I need to address. After building up the fact that the dad is skeptical of all the scary things he witnesses and everything that his kids try to warn him about, he turns into a believer awfully quick. His wife sees the ghost of the little boy’s mother and then tells her family about it. What does the dad say? “Okay, honey, let’s go get rid of Mr. Boogedy,” or something to that effect.

I thought it would’ve taken a lot more to finally convince him, especially when he didn’t even seem to trust his own two eyes. Part of me is glad that he believed his wife because if he hadn’t done that then he easily could have become annoying. But his motivation for believing her could have been explained better.

Mr. Boogedy is a terrifying sight to behold when he finally shows up at the end of the film.Also, there’s the final confrontation with Mr. Boogedy himself. As I said earlier, the suspenseful buildup to his appearance is absolutely amazing. And when he finally shows up he looks the part of a murderous maniac in league with Lucifer.

Mr. Boogedy has no real power to do any harm. His powers are just silly.He shouts, “BOOGEDY!” as he shoots lightning out of his fingertips at the family. He also fires at objects and brings them to life. At first it’s scary, but then we quickly discover that he’s not really hurting anyone. He’s just kind of annoying them and threatening them. But his powers lack the ability to maim or kill anyone. And in the end, he’s defeated by his own magic as a vacuum cleaner he had possessed sucks up his cloak and makes him disappear, screaming the whole way.

I suppose this could be quite clever, actually. Evil looks awfully threatening and dangerous until someone stands up to it. Then it crumbles as soon as it’s stripped of its ill-gotten power and authority. Wow. Maybe Mr. Boogedy is a really deep, philosophical film masquerading as a humorous horror movie.

Just kidding.

This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.

All images are the copyright of their owners.

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About Robert Lockard, the Deja Reviewer

Robert Lockard has been a lover of writing since he was very young. He studied public relations in college, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 2006. His skills and knowledge have helped him to become a sought-after copywriter in the business world. He has written blogs, articles, and Web content on subjects such as real estate, online marketing and inventory management. His talent for making even boring topics interesting to read about has come in handy. But what he really loves to write about is movies. His favorite movies include: Fiddler on the Roof, Superman: The Movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Back to the Future, Beauty and the Beast, The Fugitive, The Incredibles, and The Dark Knight. Check out his website: Deja Reviewer. Robert lives in Utah with his wife and three children. He loves running, biking, reading, and watching movies with his family.
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12 Responses to The Movie That Scared Me as a Child More Than Anything Else: Mr. Boogedy

  1. Alice says:

    I haven’t seen any of these! I need to get my movie on I think!

    Like

    • I think you’re in for a real treat. Here’s a link to the full Mr. Boogedy film on YouTube. There’s also a sequel called Bride of Boogedy, but I don’t remember that being as great as the original.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Alice says:

        Thanks! I’ll check it out.

        Like

      • Will Morgan says:

        Alice, don’t bother with the sequel. Though it is feature length, it is not nearly as good. It’s overly silly for one thing, but I think it tries to explain too much and kind of ruins Boogedy’s mystique. There are some scenes in it that definitely scared me as a kid (so much so that I refused to watch the whole thing until I found it on YouTube as an adult), but it really is not worth your time. It does have Eugene Levy in it, though. Also, I read an article somewhere that was saying they didn’t have time to do a proper mask and makeup fit on the actor for the first film but that they did for the second, which is why Boogedy looks so different in the second movie. He’s more brown and less pock-marked. Overall, I think I actually prefer the rush job in the first movie.

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  2. Cloud Supernova says:

    This movie also freaked me out. I remember being so scared by it, and the sequel, that I even feared seeing it as an adult. It was on tv last night, and I watched it with my 6 year old nephew. At 36, this is not remotely terrifying, and my nephew was laughing most of the time.

    Suspense is everything, you’re right. I remember thinking how Burton’s _Sleepy Hollow_ failed in this measure, and how tragic this was, given that everything else was so appealing. It’s just dumb to show your monster/bad/guy early within a movie.

    I guess Mr. Boogedy was contemporary with Nightmare on Elm Street. I didn’t watch any “Freddy” movies (my friend in 2rd grade would describe these movies in lurid detail to me, and that was enough for me), but I knew what he looked like, and I guess the disfigured face of Freddy and Boogedy were similar. Perhaps Boogedy piggy-backed some of his scariness by association.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Will Morgan says:

      Good point comparing Boogedy and Freddy Kruger. I think that was definitely an influence and probably another reason I was so scared of Boogedy as a kid. I didn’t watch any of the Nightmare movies growing up, but I caught the occasional ad on TV. Freddy was like the WORST thing I could imagine at age 3-6.

      Like

  3. Starstorm says:

    Holy cow! I haven’t thought about “Mr. Boogedy” in ages, but as soon as I read your post, I immediately remembered “Boogedy boogedy boogedy boo!” Thanks for the link to the YouTube video, too; Kristy Swanson, David Faustino, and the kid from “ALF”, had a total nostalgia overload 🙂

    Like

  4. Pingback: Disney’s History of Remaking Old Animated and Live-Action Films | Deja Reviewer

  5. Will Morgan says:

    Dude – you nailed it. Like you, I grew up terrified of Mr. Boogedy. (BTW – How did you come to see it? Seems like you would have been too young to see it when it aired. Did your parents tape it or did you catch it on Disney Channel later?) I was 3 years old when it originally aired and my parents taped it. They say that I told them I thought it was funny and that is why they let me watch it, but I must have been lying. I must have seen a commercial for it and wanted to see it because why else would they have had the VHS ready to record? I mean, our tape even had the bit where Michael Eisner introduced the movie. Anyway…

    Two things happened: First, for whatever reason, I continued to watch that tape every so often until it mercifully broke. I don’t know why I kept watching it because it absolutely scared me sh*tless, but I just kept on. Second, my whole idea of what is scary formed around Boogedy. I even think that pilgrims are unnerving because of this movie. I love horror movies now and very few things genuinely creep me out, but this movie STILL does 30 years later. If I really analyze it, the handful of things I am scared of are all Boogedy-like.

    I had Boogedy nightmares for YEARS. Seriously, I think I was like 25 when I had the last one. They all center around the build up to that final scene…setting up boxes and hiding as the lights go out one by one and a green glow begins to form. It still makes me shiver, and I’m 33 with a wife and son.

    I’ve written about Boogedy before in a column I have in a local magazine (http://www.parents-kids.com/index.php/media-matters-v15-78/2145-media-matters-bride-of-will-s-halloween-cinematic-house-of-horrors-for-all-ages) but I don’t think I or anyone else has ever really hit on what made this movie so great and so FREAKING scary as you did. You also made some very good points about how having the Richard Masur be a gag store owner used to tricks really works. And you are right – it is the build up that makes this thing tick. The dark house, the chilling music, the creepy-ass storybook sequence, the house-coming-alive scene, the green glow around the door frames, Boogedy’s perv heavy breathing…it all builds up to that one perfect, sickening moment when Boogedy materializes. You’re right that the rest of the final confrontation doesn’t amount to much, but man, what a ride. Also, that last bit when his cloak is gone and his scraggly white hair is out, his scarred face is unobscured, and he is doing that awful gasping/moaning thing…just eww.

    GREAT review, man. You earned a reader today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Will Morgan says:

      I know I’m bombing the comment thread, but I am just so excited to find someone who has written about this terrifying little movie. I wanted to share this line from my own article on Boogedy (at the link above):

      “Apparently, my parents agreed with the Mickey Mouse House and believed that the timeless tale of a lustful pilgrim who sells his soul to Satan in exchange for a magical cloak and then burns alive in an explosion that kills him, his unrequited love and her young son, only to return as a vengeful, hamburger-faced ghoul to torment a 20th century family, was indeed, the perfect bedtime story for their toddler.”

      Like

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