Disney: Bring Back Boogedy

With Halloween fast upon us, I thought it was time I gave Disney a piece of my mind. Disney, I love you. You’ve always been there for me. Whether it’s making me cry through just about every Pixar movie, or infectiously putting “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” inside my head after I watched Frozen with my niece for the 395th time. But it’s time—I need to ask you for something in return.

In April of 1986, The Magical World of Disney introduced a character so mysterious and intriguing that people still clamor in fear at his name. That’s right Disney, it’s time to give Mr. Boogedy his comeuppance. It’s time for a proper Boogedy movie. It’s time to finish the trilogy. For far too long we self-proclaimed Boogedites have yearned for deeper truths in the Boogedy lore. Those bliss-filled 46 minutes are just no longer cutting it. Sure, you gave us a sequel with Bride of Boogedy, but it’s still not enough. I never ask anything of you Disney, but hear me out.

Carleton Davis (Richard Masur) sticks slimy footprints to his pajamas as a joke with his arms outstretched as if looking for attention
Richard Masur laughs off a paranormal encounter with Mr. Boogedy

For anyone unaware of the mid-’80s nostalgia bomb that is Mr. Boogedy, allow me to enlighten you. It was a dark and stormy night some 34 years ago when the Davis family moved into their new home in Lucifer Falls, Massachusetts. Carleton Davis was set to open a new chain of Gag City stores in the area, but as they tried to make their house a home, something sinister was trying to make them leave. The family begins to experience paranormal activity in the house and turn to their local historical society/realty office for help.

The children learn of an old Puritan named William Hanover who makes a deal with the devil for the hand of the widow Marian. A horrible explosion happens at Hanover’s house claiming the lives of William, Marion, and her son Jonathan. The residents of every house built on Hanover’s land have been haunted since. Now the Davis’ are on the cursed land and Hanover goes by a name the children used to call him, Mr. Boogedy.

This cast is phenomenal. Richard Masur and Mimi Kennedy are fantastic as oblivious prankster parents. Kirsty Swanson and David Faustino are fantastic in their roles as children. And John Astin, who is just as delightfully kooky as he made Gomez Addams, steals the scene in the realty office. As it also turns out, Joaquin Phoenix tried out for Faustino’s role as well. Seems like all these well-known actors knew this was a good project, Disney.

Neil Witherspoon (John Astin) raises his eyebrows and opens his eyes wide while delivering a warning to the Davis family
John Astin is kooky and spooky as Neil Witherspoon

Originally titled Cheap Thrills, the script was intended to be a horror parody film initially meant for Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong. Essentially, this was going to be Scary Movie way before Scary Movie. When Columbia Pictures backed out, Disney bought the project and turned it into a wonderful little family film.

A year later, The Magical World of Disney created magic again with the well-deserved sequel, The Bride of Boogedy. Though Kristy Swanson was not available for the project, Wishmaster star Tammy Lauren would serve as a capable replacement. John Astin’s unavailability is more noticeable as Leonard Frey, in his final role, would take over as the unique historian’s brother.

Bride of Boogedy found the Davis family living in their house a year later, still uneasy about the events of the prior year. The boys are having melding nightmares involving William Hanover’s grave, and Jennifer suspects she sees him on a walk home. Things get worse as grumpy general store owner Tom Lynch tries to do everything in his power to get rid of the Davis’. Circumstances change when Lynch unwittingly brings back Mr. Boogedy who targets Eloise Davis for his new Marian.

Tom Lynch (Eugene Levy) radiates fury from his grumpy frown and cockeyed stare towards his forehead at a sticker of an eye
Eugene Levy stares menacingly at his Gag City third eye

Eugene Levy is wonderful as the Scrooge-ish curmudgeon living a modern-day parallel to Hanover’s origin story. And the sequel spared no tropes, containing possession, hypnotism, a séance, portals to graveyards, levitation, and an exorcism via gorilla. Still, unanswered questions plague the thoughts of the Boogedites. How Did Hanover’s house explode, and what happened to Mr. Hamilton of Hamilton’s House of Horrors?

My family loved these movies when I was a child. Boogedy would scare my little brother so bad he’d hide in a closet and then he’d watch it again the next day. If that cassette tape still exists it’s probably ready to snap. A petition to bring back the films and release them on DVD in 2015 contained over 7000 names, and a Facebook fan page started in 2009 has near 1,600 followers. Another petition started in 2018 begging James Wan to take the reins, though maybe that’s slightly extreme.

In a 2003 interview with MLive, Director Oz Scott said that he approached Disney about a third Boogedy while making The Cheetah Girls but was shot down by executives who thought the property was too old. Question, Disney: how old is The Jungle Book? Or Dumbo? Or Cinderella? Those all saw remakes within the last five years and some of those properties are twice as old. The fan club is growing, and we want new Boogedy. Scott and writer Michael Janover still say they’re on board.

The two Davis boys are transported into a foggy graveyard. A large statue of William Hanover stands over them.
The boys are sent to William Hanover’s gravestone through a glowing portal in their basement.

What I appreciate about these movies is that they create gravity for children in intense situations. Terror and laughter are supposed to be polar opposites but work so well together, especially for kids. The Boogedy parents make a joke out of everything which makes for the believable, fearless attitudes in their onscreen children who start looking for the joke in everything themselves.

My brothers and I were brought up similarly. If going down into our unfinished basement began to make us nervous, we’d start making jokes about the situation until we were back upstairs. Recently, my niece covered her ears as scary moments in a Harry Potter movie approached. I just started making jokes, “You know it’d be real weird if he died in this one. Especially with 4 whole movies left named after him.” Levity can create a new perspective for children, helping them calm down and find stability during the excitement.

The Boogedy movies tone down any intensity by approaching the supernatural and scary with whimsical silliness. It’s the same way The Addams Family or Hotel Transylvania approach the introduction to Halloween and horror themes. Best of all, they’re pure Disney magic. I love getting to introduce these films to my nieces and nephews now and watching them enjoy the gags and fun.

The Davis family are stuck in Boogedy's freeze spell and glow in a greenish light
The Davis family is forced to freeze under Mr. Boogedy’s spell

Disney has been bringing us fantastic haunted family movies for generations. In 1993 alone they brought us both Hocus Pocus and The Nightmare Before Christmas. These movies have become staple Halloween movies in households everywhere. Even 1998’s Halloweentown produced three additional sequels, which suggests to me that there is a want for new children’s content in the genre.

A new movie would really bring a lot of excitement to the franchise. Disney, I’m begging to see a reboot or a finale to the trilogy. I really believe many of us would.

Mr. Boogedy and Bride of Boogedy are now streaming on Disney Plus.

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Written by Sean Parker

Living just outside of Boston, Sean has always been facinated by what horror can tell us about contemporary society. He started writing music reviews for a local newspaper in his twenties and found a love for the art of thematic and symbolic analysis. Sean joined Horror Obsessive at it's inception, and is currently the site's Creative Director. He produces and edits the weekly Horror Obsessive podcast for the site as well as his interviews with guests. He has recently started his foray into feature film production as well, his credits include Alice Maio Mackay's Bad Girl Boogey, Michelle Iannantuono's Livescreamers, and Ricky Glore's upcoming Troma picture, Sweet Meats.

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