While it’s not a tradition that I’ve adhered to for every year of the Halloween Horrors series, I generally like to kick the event off with a post for a debuting contributor. My hope in doing so is that it will show not only how much the series grows each year, but also that it demonstrates that this series always welcomes new voices and opinions each year. This year’s Halloween series will be no exception.
Please welcome Aimee George to her first Halloween Horrors series. While Aimee may be new to our annual Halloween collection, she is no stranger to the Horror And Sons household, having been my wife’s (Mandi) best friend since their tween years. That said, it still took her 6 years to decide to be part of this series. Yes, I am totally giving her “shit” right now.
For her debut entry in our Halloween series, Aimee will be taking a look at 1986’s Mr. Boogedy. Besides her status as a debuting contributor, another reason that I chose this entry to lead off the series is that it’s fondly remembered by many from their childhood. As this is when we each first discovered our love for Halloween and all the spooky things that come with it, it seems like a solid place to kick off our celebration of the season.
ORIGINAL AIRDATE: APRIL 20th, 1986
When this year’s theme was announced, I knew exactly what movie I would profile… if I could muster up the courage to write. I remembered Mr. Boogedy from the Wonderful World of Disney from childhood, and it seemed like a perfect fit.
Mr. Boogedy has a pretty standard ghost story at the core: family moves to a new town, teen doesn’t want to move, house is haunted, kids investigate and try to get rid of the ghost. There was a lot of story to pack into an hour long special, and it was made for families to watch, so the scares are pretty tame, really. Maybe it’s because I’m a parent now, but after watching Mr. Boogedy as an adult, I realized that there are a lot of “WTF?” moments in this movie. Depending on your lot in life, you may see them too.
Mr. Boogedy starts out with the Davis family moving to a small New England town. The father, Carleton (played by the emotionless Richard Masur), is a gag salesman. Inevitably, the teen of the family, Jennifer, does not want this move. Ultimately, Jennifer (Kristy Swanson – Buffy the Vampire Slayer), is the best acting of the bunch and the smartest character in the movie. The gags start right away as the family stops for a picnic on the way to their new house, which will be the first one they’ve ever owned. While wife, Eloise (Mimi Kennedy), and Jennifer are not amused by the gags, the two younger boys, Corwin (David Faustino, pre-Married With Children) and Aurie (Benji Gregory of ALF fame) are not only amused, but frequently participate.
The family arrives at the house that they purchased “sight unseen” (WTF?) after dark and amidst a brewing storm. Of course, they can’t get the lights to work. In a flash of lightning they see a man. The man is Neil Witherspoon of the Lucifer Falls welcoming committee, and he welcomes them and tells them to leave virtually in the same sentence. John Astin plays “Witherspoon” in his charming, odd way and steals this scene. He also says my favorite line here to Jennifer, “I have a son your age. He’s…….. unusual.”
Witherspoon warns the family that the house has a tragic history and is haunted by a Mr. Boogedy. Carleton pays zero attention to this and tells his young boys to go explore the house, just after a stranger was lurking there in the dark a few minutes earlier (WTF?). While the family settles in for the night, small things happen, like a missing teddy bear and the sounds of sneezing. Since dad Carleton is constantly playing gags, no one is looking too much into these things.
The occurrences get a little more intense when Jennifer goes searching for the source of the sneezing and finds herself investigating a green glow behind the door at the end of the hallway. She opens the door and passes out. When her family finds her, she swears that she saw Boogedy, but Eloise insists she was dreaming. Shortly after, the boys (Corwin and Aurie) are in the kitchen when the toaster starts to move, the faucet turns on, and the cabinets start slamming.
The three Davis kids realize that their parents won’t believe them about the strange happenings, so they decide to investigate matters themselves by going to the very convenient Lucifer Falls Historic Society. There, they find none other than Neil Witherspoon, who (through the aid of a really weird pop-up book and dream-like flashbacks that resemble a bad middle-school play) tells the history of the house. Witherspoon explains that 300 years ago, William Hanover (a Jerry Springer look-alike) was part of a group of pilgrims that settled in the area. He had no sense of humor and delighted in scaring children (WTF?), so he was nicknamed “Mr. Boogedy”.
As can be imagined, he wasn’t exactly a “catch”. The only one who was kind to him was a widow named Marian, who had a son named Jonathan. Hanover fell in love with Marian, but she turned him down. So, he literally sold his soul to the devil for a magic cloak. To convince Marian to marry him, Hanover kidnapped Jonathan while he was on his way to the doctor for a cold which caused him to constantly sneeze (WTF?). Hanover told Marian she would never see Jonathan again if she didn’t marry him. To make sure she didn’t turn him down again, Hanover used the cloak to cast a magic spell on her and accidentally blew up his house with all three of them in it. So, now Hanover and Jonathan haunt whatever is built where the house used to stand, and Marian is kept outside, away from her son who still has a cold and sneezes.
The Davis kids come home to tell their parents that the house really is haunted. Yet, while all three kids attempt to have a serious conversation with their parents, Carleton implements gag after gag on them, while Eloise (who was rolling her eyes at the gags at the beginning of the movie) is now honking like a goose at every ridiculous thing he is doing! As if Boogedy himself has had enough, he starts proving he is there through a series of scares. Everyone in the family wants to leave, rightfully so. However, Carleton (for some reason) is insistent on staying in the house and offers for them all to “camp out” together in the family room. Then, in a totally tone deaf move, he proceeds to tell the traumatized kids a “ghost story” before bed. (WTF?) While they are all together, Eloise wakes up for the biggest “midnight snack” I have ever seen and encounters the ghost of Marian. Eloise invites her inside, but Marian tells her that she can not come inside and has been kept away from her son. Marian tells Eloise that Boogedy’s cloak is what holds the magic, and must be destroyed.
After hearing Eloise’s story, the family decides to confront Boogedy in the green-glowing room. Meanwhile, the boys decide to break away and go into the basement, where they encounter the ghost of Jonathan. He tells them to get out because the ghost of Boogedy is coming. The whole group ends up in the family room, where we get our first real glimpse at Mr. Boogedy. I can only describe him as “Emperor Palpatine” from Star Wars or Bruce’s father in the movie Braveheart. Super-unaffected Carleton (seriously, WTF?) tries to reason with Boogedy, while the boys try to steal his cloak. Boogedy does mostly annoying, rather than scary, things to the family. In a twist of fate, the vacuum cleaner ultimately saves the day! Once Boogedy is without his cloak, he disappears, and Marian and Jonathan are reunited. Cue a little corny dialog, and then the credits begin.
Ultimately, this is a family friendly, very 80s, and light scripted movie. There was a sequel made the following year called The Bride of Boogedy. At least two of the actors, within one year, decided to pass. There are some fun details, and John Astin is so fun, as usual. I personally think that the design on the family van is the scariest part of the movie, but that’s just me.
This is more a memory for me than a movie that I must see every Halloween season, but if you’ve never seen it, I would recommend it at least (and probably, only) once. Mr. Boogedy is included with a subscription to Disney+ and available for purchase through AppleTV and Amazon Prime Video for $2.99.