About Christmas TV History

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Merry Halloween! the Boogeyman

I'm continuing my countdown to Halloween covering scary, creepy and Halloween-appropriate Christmas entertainments.  Today I want to acknowledge the role of the Boogeyman in several Christmas stories.

Oogie Boogie
Perhaps the most recognizable boogeyman character in a holiday movie is Oogie Boogie from 1993's The Nightmare Before Christmas.  Oogie Boogie is the risk-taking villain who dwells underground, below Halloween Town.  Not only is he mean and a crooked gambler, he's composed of a burlap sack filled with bugs!  Besides his hatred for Santa Claus, Oogie Boogie is not the scariest of foes. 

Oogie unravels to reveal....

Eeewww....hand me a can of Raid!

The Boogeyman is also a monstrous attacker in three versions of the Christmas story, Babes in ToylandBabes in Toyland was originally written as an operetta by Victor Herbert and Glen MacDonough at the turn of the twentieth century.  It is a musical fantasy story filled with Mother Goose fairy tale characters.  There is a great deal of adventure and even a little romance.  Babes in Toyland has been adapted numerous times for film and television, each time undergoing drastic changes in storyline, character and musical composition.  One such drastic character change is the addition of the Boogeyman (or a group of boogeymen) in three filmed productions:  1934's March of the Wooden Soldiers, 1986's Babes in Toyland and 1997's animated version.

left: The widow Mother Peep with Ollie Dee and Stannie Dum
The 1934 adaptation, originally released as Babes in Toyland, has since been retitled March of the Wooden Soldiers.  It is a black-and-white feature length vehicle for comedians Laurel & Hardy playing Stannie Dum and Ollie Dee, toymakers and residents of the fairy tale village, Toyland.  The true adversary in this story (and the original operetta) is Barnaby, the meanest man in town who is blackmailing the beautiful, young Bo Peep into marriage.  In this adaptation, when Barnaby's schemes fail, he recruits the Boogeyman--more accurately, many boogeymen, to help him force her into marriage!

1934's version of the Bogeyman
These boogeymen, much like Oogie Boogie, are underground dwellers of monstrous appearance.  Here, they have long fangs, claws and their bodies are covered in fur, similar to wild animals.  On the humorous side, they wear dried grass skirts--for modesty(?)  Even more humiliating, the savages are repeatedly referred to as Bogeymen--from Bogeyland (pronounce this like it is spelled for the same word that means one over par, as in golfing!)  It's hard to be intimidating when you can easily be mistaken for a fan club member for actor Humphrey Bogart!  But these bogeymen are scary!

Barnaby and the bogeymen on their way to Toyland
After Barnaby leads the bogeymen back to Toyland to raid the village, the fairy tale characters enlist the aid of wooden toy soldiers to help defend the city.  It is a childen's story after all!  It can be quite frightening to see the bogeymen carrying lit torches and setting fire to Mother Goose land as Barnaby tries to carry off his bride.  By shear number of their kind, these grass-skirt wearing over-grown monkeys come off as creepy, threatening and dangerous. 
Cue the familiar tune 'March of the Toys' as the wooden soldiers attack the bogeymen

1986's Babes in Toyland starring a young Drew Barrymore, Keanu Reeves and Richard Mulligan also includes a hord of underground creatures.  However, these mud and stick monsters are not the formidable foes as in the two other Babes adaptations.

These underground creatures look like they are still under the ground!
 For scary creatures, I prefer Barnaby, here played by Richard Mulligan, and his two hunchbacked henchmen.  They resemble the early vampire Nosferatu and Riff Raff from the movie Rocky Horror Picture Show. I wish the two henchmen had been given a greater role in frightening Lisa, played by Barrymore.

Zack and Mack with Barnaby in the middle

1997's animated adaptation
1997's animated Babes in Toyland incorporates the Boogeyman character as well.  However, this time his appearance is adjusted more to resemble a purple winged demon and his boogeymen minions are smaller versions of himself.  Here, he is referred to as a goblin from Goblin Forest.

The Boogeyman is a purple, winged demon called a goblin--kind of looks like Mr. Clean

The goblin minions breaking into the toy factory to destroy it!
Once again, Barnaby leads the goblins back to Toyland where the toy soldiers are enlisted to defend the village and its residents.

Cue the music for 'March of the Toys' again
A demon goblin is a scary antagonist.  The demon aspect evokes images of the Devil, other worldly evil and cruelty.  That scares me for sure!

See for yourself how scary these boogeymen--or bogeymen--can be.  All four of these movies are easily available to watch on DVD.  Check your local library or on-line viewing sources.

1 comment: