(Welcome to Out of the Disney Vault, where we explore the unsung gems and forgotten disasters currently streaming on Disney+.)
Despite Mr. Boogedy (which I previously wrote about for this column) never becoming the TV show it was meant to be, the Disney powers-that-be thought that the horror parody about a family of pranksters being haunted by a ghost absolutely warranted a sequel. Long before shows like Lost or movies like the Marvel Cinematic Universe got audiences used to watching a new chapter in a story without spending time to recap the previous chapter, Disney decided that audiences didn’t need to remember what a 45-minutes made-for-TV movie from a year earlier was about, and could simply jump into its sequel.
The result is The Bride of Boogedy, a sequel that drops most of its scary elements to instead tell a comedic tale of parents just not believing their kids, seances, and lots of Halloween pranks.
Since 1954, the Walt Disney Company always had an anthology television series where they’d present the TV premiere of their theatrical films, mini-series, TV specials about the theme parks, and in the case of The Disney Sunday Movie in the late ’80s, made-for-TV original films. It was in this anthology series that we got the weirdest stories Disney ever produced, like Fuzzbucket, and Mr. Boogedy. Some of these were meant to be pilots for TV shows that never got made, ending up simply as bizarre genre gems and reminders of a time when Disney was unafraid to get super weird and spooky.
A year after Michael Janover turned his parody of The Exorcist into a family-friendly horror-comedy, Disney decided to bring him and director Oz Scott back to make a feature-length sequel titled Bride of Boogedy — a play on Bride of Frankenstein. The film continues the tale of the Davis family of pranksters, picking up a year after they battled an evil 300-year-old ghost in that tormented the New England town of Lucifer Falls. By now, the family has settled in the town and become an integral part of the community, except for a grumpy general store owner named Tom Lynch (played by Eugene Levy) who hates how popular the Davis family has become and how Carlton Davis (the dad, played by a returning Richard Masur) is chosen to be honorary mayor of the local Lucifest, taking his usual place. Meanwhile, the kids are beginning to sense that Mr. Boogedy is back for revenge and is haunting them in their dreams.
The first thing to note about Bride of Boogedy is that it’s lost John Astin, Kristy Swanson and Benjamin Gregory from the cast. Thankfully, the film did gain Eugene Levy, and he’s the saving grace of the whole thing. Levy is fully aware of just how ridiculous the whole premise of the Boogedy films, and he rises to the occasion to deliver a performance that’s as over-the-top as anything he’s done…also his character brings a werewolf wax figure to life at one point, technically making this a werewolf movie, so thank you, Eugene Levy. His humor also helps Bride of Boogedy feel shorter than it actually is. Clocking in at 100 minutes, the film is more than twice as long as the original, but with barely half its plot.
The biggest problem with Bride of Boogedy is how it dumbs down the characters to pad the runtime. Every time the kids see Mr. Boogedy or are haunted by him in their dreams, the parents blow it off, despite their very real experience with the evil spirit just a year earlier. Even when a fortune teller warns them, they decide to stage a fake seance to prove to everyone that there are no such things as ghosts. But of course, there is at least one ghost. The highlight of Mr. Boogedy was its titular villain, a baddie covered in fantastic makeup that scarred more than its fair share of kids over the years. Sadly, Bride of Boogedy, despite being longer and using more special effects, seems to have a lower budget for the villain, as we don’t see the actual Boogedy (he just possesses other people) until the last 10 minutes of the film, and even then, the makeup looks substantially cheaper and less scary.
Bride of Boogedy‘s strength comes from its humor, which is very family-friendly and cheesy. But the actors completely sell the film’s hokey tone, and there are some legitimately funny gags in the film. Even if every single character shouts “just kidding” after trying to frighten each other by pretending to be Mr. Boogedy and saying “Boogedy! Boogedy! Boo!” about 25 times throughout the film, the timing manages to make it funny instead of just tiresome.
As mentioned before, Bride of Boogedy spends no time whatsoever reminding the audience what happened in the previous film, or who Boogedy is, or why he’s an evil ghost. There are characters that return in this film out of nowhere without an ounce of explanation or backstory given to them to let the audience know why they matter, so you better do your Boogedy homework before watching Bride of Boogedy. Likewise, the film’s title doesn’t really come true until the last 8 minutes, where Boogedy’s very vague plan is revealed, and… you guessed it, his bride shows up.
Bride of Boogedy is a substantially less spooky film than its predecessor, and it, unfortunately, marks a shift in Disney movies from legitimately horror-oriented yet still kid-friendly, to exclusively comedic stories with a few horror elements sprinkled in. After the release of Bride of Boogedy, it would take over a decade before Disney attempted to make another proper kid-friendly horror movie with Don’t Look Under the Bed.
After it’s TV broadcast, Bride of Boogedy wouldn’t be available on home video except for a double-feature release with the original Mr. Boogedy. Thankfully, you can now experience this time capsule of a movie on Disney+ and reminisce about a time when kids were still allowed to be frightened of evil ghosts…as long as someone said “just kidding!” right after.
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