Just as fans of MGM musicals have several editions of "That’s
Entertainment!", horror aficionados now have "Boogeymen." While this
compilation of scenes from 17 different movies is by no means
definitive, it still contains a lot of worthy choices and packs a
strange cumulative kick.
"Boogeymen" is one of the few DVDs that actually has a climax at both
start and finish. The opening clip consists of most of the finale from
Clive Barker’s "Hellraiser," which epitomizes a certain kind of horror
imagery, while the closer is the entire ending of the original John
Carpenter "Halloween." Both sequences prove joltingly effective even
removed from the context of their respective features, but this cannot
be said for all choices.
The selections mainly involve single menaces that have at least
quasi-humanoid form. In other words, there’s no shark from "Jaws," no
"Blob" and no gang of carnivorous zombies from any of the "Living Dead"
films. There are also no representatives of those two horror staples,
vampires and werewolves, nor are there wholly manmade monsters – we
don’t get "Frankenstein" or "The Terminator." We do get killer dolls
from both the "Child’s Play" and the "Puppetmaster" franchises, but
these are animated by supernatural malevolence rather than science. On
the other side of the coin, there are few entirely human killers,
although the slashers in "Scream," "The Dentist" and "Psycho" qualify.
At a stretch, so do the cannibals in "Texas Chainsaw Massacre,"
although they are so weird disquieting that it’s easy to forget they
don’t have any dark superpowers. The antihero in "The Ugly" is human
but haunted by ghosts, while the Fisherman in "I Know What You Did Last
Summer" is so resilient that he borders on the surreal. The other
figures are completely supernatural, including twisted versions of
fairytale beings, such as the title creature in "Leprechaun" and the
evil djinn in "Wishmaster." "Candyman" is a vengeful ghost and the Tall
Man of "Phantasm" is also some sort of revenant. Finally, there are the
full-tilt boogeymen of "Hellraiser," "Jason Goes To Hell: The Final
Friday" (of the "Friday the 13th" franchise), "A Nightmare on Elm
Street" and "Halloween."
Some of the scenes are excellent. The selections from "Hellraiser" and
"Halloween," for instance, pretty much epitomize their respective films
and the sequence from "A Nightmare on Elm Street" is likewise intense.
The clip from "The Ugly" – a New Zealand entry that this reviewer
hadn’t encountered previously – makes the rest of the film look worth
seeking out. However, other choices are somewhat curious. "Candyman" in
its entirety is so cumulatively terrifying that it’s exhausting to
watch, but the sequence included here is one of the film’s milder ones.
The segment from "Texas Chainsaw," rambunctiously scary as it is,
doesn’t have the trippy, nightmarish quality of some of the movie’s
other sections. However, the trailer for "Chainsaw" rectifies this,
with its shadowy but startlingly potent glimpses of homicidal chaos.
Most of the 17 films in "Boogeymen" come with trailers and "legends,"
which are in-depth descriptions of character mythology. Some of the
films, however, have trailers but no legends or legends but no
trailers, and two – "Scream" and "I Know What You Did Last Summer" –
come unadorned. "Boogeymen" producer/director Gary Shenk – who is also
general manager of FlixMix – explained in a phone conversation that in
most or all of the cases of omitted trailers, this is due to music and
image licensing issues. For example, some music utilized in the
trailers was unavailable for inclusion on the DVD (the song "Hush" was
prominent in the "Summer" advertising).
Some of the trailers are brilliant and serve as honest promises of what
is to come. "Chainsaw" arguably has the best promo included here,
despite a dodgy print source, with its suggestion of familiar signs of
mental illness (domestic filth) giving way to horrific insanity. In a
few instances, the trailers are a lot better than the actual films –
"The Guardian" ad’s artful segue from domestic bliss into dread (as
opposed to the high camp of the movie itself) is a case in point. On
the other hand, "Puppetmaster" seems better served by its actual clip
than its campy ‘50s-style trailer and "Leprechaun" looks cheerfully
cheesy all round.
Print quality is pretty good throughout, considering how many different
sources and eras the films come from. "Chainsaw" looks a little
washed-out, but this is faithful to the release print, while the first
shot of "Nightmare" is wildly grainy, although the rest of the footage
is clean and handsome. Aspect ratios likewise come in many shapes and
sizes. "Phantasm" is actually full-screen 1.33:1, although most films
are presented in their theatrical ratios (1.85:1 or wider). Sound is
"processed" 5.1, which in practice seems to mean that the rears more
quietly reflect what’s happening in the mains. There is an interesting
directional effect on "Chainsaw," and music comes through beautifully.
In case anyone forgot, the "Halloween" theme reminds us that one of
filmmaker John Carpenter’s lasting contributions to cinematic horror is
the simple, ominous motif he composed and performed (which may make
some of us want to run to our collections and pull out Blue Oyster
Cult’s "Don’t Fear the Reaper," also prominently used in the film, but
that’s another story).
Extras on the DVD include an audio commentary track by Robert Englund,
who starred as horror icon Freddy Krueger in the "Nightmare on Elm
Street" series, and a fact subtitle track. The two can be played
together – mine seemed to be happier when I enabled the subtitles
first, then Englund’s commentary – for a truly enjoyable, informative
experience. The commentary is particularly appealing, with solid
center-channel placement that makes it sound like Englund is sitting
just ahead of us. In most cases, Englund has worked with the filmmakers
responsible for the clips we’re watching and has some personal anecdote
to contribute. In addition to being knowledgeable, Englund has an
endearing fan’s enthusiasm – he loves these movies as much as we do.
Listening to him is like reminiscing and philosophizing with a friend
over favorite horror moments, albeit a friend who’s in a position to
compare various other onscreen finger-slicing scenes with his own
similar gag in the "Nightmare" clip. The fact track has all kinds of
cool tidbits, although occasionally the information provided in the
crawl and in Englund’s spiel echo each other.
"Boogeymen" comes with comparative body counts and the results of a
poll as to who’s scariest. It’s interesting to note that the killer
with by far the highest body count – over 100 ahead of his nearest
competitor – is ranked only third most frightening. Clearly, horror
fans are into quality rather than quantity. There is also a "name that
frame" game that mainly utilizes shots from the footage on the disc, so
that even films largely unfamiliar to the viewer will have guessable
Allowing the clips to run one into the other without interruption or
narration creates the fabled "rollercoaster ride" entertainment
experience, with few pauses between bursts of intensity. Although it’s
no substitute for a great horror feature film, for variety, information
and adrenaline boosts, "Boogeymen" is hard to beat.
English Dolby Digital 5.1 Processed Surround; English Dolby Digital Surround
Commentary by Robert Englund; FlixFacts Trivia Subtitle Track;
Theatrical Trailers; Legends of the Boogeymen Notes; Spanish and French
Subtitles; English Closed-Captioning; DVD-ROM Features