Bride of Boogedy

(update 2014: Bride of Boogedy is officially available again!)

Look out, folks - ol' hamburger face is back! In 1987, on the heels of their success with the hour-long special Mr. Boogedy, the Disney channel made a feature length follow-up, Bride of Boogedy. It's not as good as the first one, but it DOES have a lot going for it.

The original "Mr. Boogedy" ended up with Mr. Davis saying "there's no such thing as ghosts," to which the disembodied voice of Mr. Boogedy replied "Wanna bet?"

Everyone heard it, so I don't really understand why Mr. Davis spends the first 45 minutes of "Bride of Boogedy," the full length of the first special, saying that the rash of recent Boogedy sightings are nonsense. When his daughter sees the ghost, Mr. Davis says it must have been the paper boy. "In a pilgrim hat?" the daughter asks. "Well," he explains, "this is New England."

Actually, Mr. Davis's reluctance to believe in Boogedy is just ONE of the things I don't understand about "Bride of Boogedy," a movie where abandoned wax museums, graveyards, and gypsy fortune tellers come out of nowhere. Characters like the grave digger appear for no real reason, then disappear as quickly as they came. When people get possessed and start emitting green light, the family and townspeople just take it in stride (this is pretty standard - in REAL life, if someone saw a real ghost floating around and shooting green lights at things, they'd run like hell and start wondering what the fact that dead people could do this meant about life, the universe, and everything, which wouldn't serve the plot very well at all).

The first half of the movie - before Mr. Boogedy starts possessing people - makes very little sense. I'm not really complaining; even the scenes I didn't quite follow were a lot of fun to watch. In particular, the gag-shop-owning Davis family remains one of the most engaging families I've ever seen in a made-for-TV movie. They're very realistic, as families who get possessed by dead pilgrims go. They don't respond to situations the way real people would, of course, but, hey, it's only a movie. One that has Eugene Levy with a mustache. You know going into it that plot holes and cheesiness probably come with the territory, but the Davis family really does seem like a family that would have lived in my neighborhood in the 80s.

It almost seems as though the original intention was to make this sort of a whodunnit mystery, with someone in town PRETENDING to be Mr. Boogedy, then some cigar-chomping producer decided that Mr. Boogedy had to be in the movie after all, prompting a last-minute rewrite.

It becomes clear early on that SOMEONE is out to get the Davis family, and everyone in town is made into a suspect.:

- Mr. Lynch, the local general store owner (Eugene Levy with a mustache), clearly has it in for the Davis family. Their gag shop is stomping all over his plan to sell busted gags, and he's awfully upset that the town has made Mr. Davis honorary mayor of Luci-fest, the annual carnival, instead of him.

-The guy who runs the historical society (the role formerly played by John Astin) acts awfully suspiciously throughout the movie.

-Whoever used to own the wax museum vanished a long time ago, leaving one to wonder if he's hiding out as some sort of real estate scheme that he'll get away with if no meddling kids show up.

-Lazarus (the gravedigger who shows up out of nowhere and says "I'm Lazaurs. I dig graves.) almost HAS to be up to something.

-The "gypsy fortune teller" seems kind of suspicious, too.

-Uncle Elmer is rather upset that his brother, Mr. Davis, prefers to stay in the town of Lucifer Falls rather than taking the gag company's offer to make him Whoopee Manager of the East Coast.

-There are a couple of women in town who strike me as suspicious, too.

What we have here are the building blocks for a terrific little drawing room mystery that would have built up to the revelation of who was REALLY out to get the Davis family and making them think that Boogedy had returned. But all of this goes right out the window when Mr. Davis gets possessed by Mr. Boogedy halfway through the movie.

Possessed by the spirt of Boogedy, Mr. Davis starts to float around, belching green light and shouting "boogedy boogedy boo!" Uncle Elmer saves the day by showing up in a gorilla suit, making everyone laugh the curse away, and that could have been a reasonable end to the movie. But the magic cloak promptly vanishes, and Boogedy claims his next victim, the bitter My. Lynch. Having seen Davis possessed by Boogedy, he decides the reason Davis is so popular and successful is black magic, and steals the cloak for himself just in time to disrupt the town carnival.

Lynch intends to use the cloak to mess with the Davis family and drive them out of town, but ends up getting possessed by Boogedy, who regains his cloak and starts to run amok. The wax museum characters are brought to life and sent to wreak havoc on the carnival, leading to a regular Halloween that Almost Wasn't reunion as Dracula, the Wolf Man, and co. start terrorizing the popcorn vendors.

When Boogedy soars into town to wreck the carnival, Mr. Davis, as honorary mayor of Luci-fest, is honor-bound to confront him. Seeing Mrs. Davis dressed in a pilgrim costume, Boogedy decides that SHE must be Marion, his long dead bride, and zaps her with green light that gives her a Bride of Frankenstein hair-do, justifying the movie's title with only 6 minutes left in the movie - just enough time for the gypsy fortune teller to hold a seance and save the day, with help from the ghost of Jonathan, the little pilgrim boy, who shows up at the seance with all the information they need.

Where did the ghostly Jonathan get the information? Jonathan won't reveal his ghostly source. "He told me not to tell," he says. Was it Jesus? The Great Pumpkin? Most likely, it was someone telling the writers to wrap it up in the next three pages, no matter what plot holes they had to leave behind.

Now, don't get me wrong - I enjoyed this movie, even during the times when I wasn't entirely sure what was going on. The actors seemed to be enjoying themselves, and when you get the idea that a movie was fun to make, it sort of becomes fun to watch. But the movie is a bit of a mess. I can't really decide whether the 90 minute runtime (twice the length of Mr. Boogedy) made it too long or if it wasn't really long ENOUGH to develop the many threads of the plot. Maybe the original idea was to make Boogedy into a TV series, and they crammed all of their ideas for the first season into one movie.

But I'd still rather watch this than, say, Halloweentown. Not because it's BETTER than Halloweentown - it's probably not, honestly. But watching stuff from the 80s gives me that warm, nostalgic feeling, and I'll never get that same feeling from a movie that came out 10 years after this one.

Like Mr. Boogedy, the movie has never been given a proper release on DVD, though bootleg DVDs and torrents (all made from VHS tapes, usually taped from broadcasts rather than the somewhat limited official VHS releases) float around.  (update 2014: It's now out as a digital download in perfect quality!)


Chris said...

Mr Boogedy was originally a TV pilot that didn't get picked up. However due to it's popularity as a Halloween Special the opted to do a sequel in the hopes that they could pick have it picked up again as a sequel. This is where alot of the weird plot holes come from in Bride of Boogedy as they were setting up for an actual series. I wish they would release both these on DVD.

C-Man said...

Happy Halloween!!!!


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