The witching hour has passed, and thus Halloween has been saved for yet another year. Now onto Thanksgiving. In order to celebrate this transition, I’ve selected a Straight-to-Television movie that is both a Halloween and a Thanksgiving film. I know. I’m awesome.
The Scarlett Boogedy
Tonight’s treat is the Disney film, Mister Boogedy. Airing in 1986, this film featured television funny-man Richard Masur as a bumbling gag salesman who relocates his family to Lucifer Falls, New England. There, he buys a haunted house from the best real estate salesman you could ask for, Gomez Adams (John Astin, also of Brisco County Jr. fame…see Bruce, I haven’t forgotten our deal.)
This old house is the site of a Puritan tragedy of Scarlet Letter proportions. The local big-wig, William Hanover, was in love with a widower, Marion. She was less than interested. As the Devil was having an off week, he decided to help Will out by selling him a magical cloak, gently used, asking price: one soul. So Hanover ponies up, steals Marion’s son and prepares to cast his first love spell. Which spectacularly backfires, blowing up his house and killing all three. Does the Devil do warranties?
300 years later, the hapless Davis family move in, looking for a new shake on life. All at once, things go sour, as the local historian (yup, John Astin again) warns that this house has a bad history. The father laughs this off, as it is his sole motivation in this film. To laugh weird stuff off. It’s Disney. Soon, weird sneezing and crying plague the family, and they learn the plight of Marion and her son, Jonathan. She is forever trapped outside the house where she died, and he is forever trapped inside. With a head cold. Does the afterlife in New England have any perks? Separating the two is the vengeful spirit of Hanover, now known as Mister Boogedy, after his iconic catch phrase.
The Davis family decide that enough is enough, and sit through a final night in the house to engage the spook. Mister Boogedy corals the family in the living room, where they fight back using all the pranks and gags Davis Sr. has lying around. Ghostbusters it is not. Boogedy easily deflects the attacks with lightning from his fingers, and turns the vacuum cleaner into an attack dog to sic the family. Except it turns on him instead and takes his source of power, the Devil’s cloak. Poor planning.
This Old House
I’ve always had a sweet spot for this family spook-fest. The generic New England haunting motif feels right at home, and the looney gag bits from Davis Sr. (Richard Masur) fit right into the likes of Amazing Larry from PeeWee’s Big Adventure. Add in all the Puritan schpeel which makes up 150% of the haunted houses from my youth, and you have a nostalgia fest. John Astin is a pleasure any time you can get him, and the story is actually quite interesting. This movie did so well, a sequel, Bride of Boogedy, which featured Eugene Levy of American Pie fame, aired a year later. They ran as a tandem for several years on the Disney Sunday Movie.