AUNT JOHN SEZ: Kids, looks like your UNKLE LANCIFER and I have yet another parent/drill sergeant meeting at the esteemed Valley Forge Feline Military Boot Camp. Apparently, our ginger-furred stepson Gato Malo faces expulsion after disrupting the school’s semi-bi-annual competitive spaghetti eating contest. On such short notice, we manged to wrangle our step-nephew REDBOY of old-timey music blog Blues for the RedBoy into babysitting Kindertrauma Castle for the day. Please be on your best behavior while REDBOY discusses the Disney traumatizer MR. BOOGEDY. Take it away REDBOY!
Every child, it would seem, is destined for that one initial break from normalcy in which the security of their adolescent world is shaken to its very foundations by something which, while initially frightening, is, in hindsight, actually incredibly stupid.
Debate rages as to what purpose such developmental devices serve, whether or not it is to insulate the child mentally against the adversity of a difficult world or, as I believe, to teach the child that clowns, gnarly trees, ventriloquist dummies and people with spinal meningitis should be given a wide birth.
In spite of such consensus from the scientific community, that robot chick from SUPERMAN 3 still freaks me the hell out 20 years after the fact. I still find myself mildly disturbed at the thought of Augustus Gloop drowning in chocolate while a pack of lazy adults look on and I still find MR. BOOGEDY rather off-putting.
What? What do you mean Kindertrauma has no reference to MR. BOOGEDY?
At a time when Disney and their fascist regime of cartoon animals were less inclined to protect their intellectual property at knifepoint, somebody managed to drop the ball and let this little wart slip through to the development phase.
In the spirit of such forgotten properties as SONG OF THE SOUTH and THE BLACK CAULDRON, MR. BOOGEDY, while not overtly racist, would share SOUTH‘s same fate by virtue of its strangeness – an attribute not generally in keeping with the singing rodents and copyright lawyers which people the ‘Magic Kingdom’.
The general story of MR. BOOGEDY – first aired on network T.V. in 1986 – involves the Davis family (DAVID FAUSTINO, CHRISTY SWANSON, etc.) who move to the New England community of Lucifer Falls (Hmmm) only to find that their new home is haunted by several ghosts, including the title character: a devil-dealing, murdering, scar-faced magical ghost-pilgrim (?!?!?).
Having befriended the resident ghost of a little boy (a colonial era victim of Boogedy), the three Davis children, along with the help of JOHN ASTIN (awesome!), attempt to steal Boogedy’s magic cloak (on loan from the Devil, as seen in a weird psychedelic flashback), all the while trying to convince their irritatingly irresponsible parents that it is indeed ghosts leaving slimy footprints on the ceiling, and not just their imagination.
I know it must sound anything but frightening, and what with dancing mummies and the ole’ piano playing by itself gag, one could easily make that case, but to my still developing adolescent brain, the specter of the burnt faced, cackling quaker-oats-guy freaked me the hell out. Especially creepy were the scenes in which he didn’t even appear, rather his presence suggested by some prodigious off screen breathing, and P.O.V. shots as seen through outside windows and from behind basement shelving.
BOOGEDY proved popular enough to garner a sequel (BRIDE OF BOOGEDY), and it too managed some traumatic moments, including a possessed, levitating RICHARD MASUR floating down the hall screaming “Boogedy Boo!” in an over modulated voice. It wasn’t long after BRIDE OF BOOGEDY‘s premiere that Disney made a play to consolidate its wholesome image, canning its more controversial characters and slapping a singing side-kick onto every piece of computer generated crap they cranked out.
Suddenly dead children, Satan and possession were too good for the likes of Michael Eisner.
Upon second viewing, BOOGEDY, like most other traumatic children’s fare, does not hold up particularly well when it’s seams come to light, but the fact that it holds up at all given its rather short shift is an indication of just how strange it truly is. And just as Disney boasts it’s legendary vault in ‘Limited Time’ sales pushes, so too must there invariably be a broom closet in the bowels of the Magic Kingdom; a haunted place where MR. BOOGEDY, Uncle Remus and Disneyland’s accident reports are kept from prying eyes. Who knows, perhaps some day they will again come to light.
It’s a small world after-all.
A small, dark, terrible world.