The Boogeyman (1980 film)

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The Boogeyman
Theatrical Poster for The Boogeyman
Directed by Ulli Lommel
Produced by Ulli Lommel
Gillian Gordon
Written by Ulli Lommel
Starring Suzanna Love
John Carradine
Ron James
Music by Tim Krog
Cinematography Jochen Breitenstein
Edited by Terrell Tannen
Distributed by The Jerry Gross Organization
Image Entertainment
Release dates
  • November 7, 1980 (1980-11-07) (US)
Running time
82 minutes
85 minutes (UK Extended version)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $300,000 (estimated)
Box office 4,500,000 (USA)
$35,000,000 (Worldwide)

The Boogeyman (released in the United Kingdom as The Bogey Man) is a 1980 American supernatural horror film directed by Ulli Lommel and starring Suzanna Love, John Carradine, and Ron James. The movie's title refers to the long-held superstition of bogeymen beings, and its plot concerns an adult brother and sister who are targeted by the ghost of their mother's deceased boyfriend which has been freed from a imprisoned mirror.

The film has received mixed to negative critical reviews, with criticism mainly regarding the heavy similarities from earlier horror films such as Halloween, The Exorcist, and The Amityville Horror. However, the movie became successful enough commercially to make the film-makers eager to release sequels,[1] resulting in the film being followed by Boogeyman II and Return of the Boogeyman.


The film opens with Willy and Lacey as children watching their mother and her boyfriend preparing to have sex. When the mother notices them, she has her boyfriend tie Willy to his headboard before sending Lacey to her room. Lacey frees Willy from his bed and Willy enters their room and repeatedly stabs his mother's boyfriend with a chef knife in front of a large mirror.

Twenty years later, Lacey, now an adult, is married with a young son and lives with her aunt and uncle on a farm. Willy also lives with them, but has not spoken a word since the night he killed his mother's boyfriend, and sometimes, Willy takes various knives from the kitchen and hides them in a drawer. One night over dinner, Lacey finds a letter in the mail from her mother, who claims to be on her deathbed and wishes to see them one last time; that night, Willy burns the letter.

Lacey suffers from nightmares, and has a particularly frightening dream where she is dragged, tied to a bed and stabbed by an unseen entity. Her husband, Jake, takes her to a psychiatrist to help her confront her fears, and they decide to visit the house she grew up in. They arrive not knowing who is actually living there, and they meet two teenage girls and their younger brother. Their parents, the homeowners, have apparently just placed the home for sale and then gone out of town, and the daughter thinks Lacey and Jake have been sent by the real estate company to view the house. Jake and Lacey pretend they want to buy the house so they can look around. At the house, however, Lacey sees a reflection of her mother's deceased boyfriend coming towards her in a mirror inside the bedroom where he died and smashes the mirror in a panic with a chair. Her husband takes the broken mirror with him in an attempt to repair it, but a piece is left behind which later glows red as the teenage girls and their brother are all killed by an unseen force. The vengeful spirit of the deceased lover has been released from the mirror.

Willy is also having problems with mirrors. Seeing his reflection in one causes him to nearly strangle a girl and so he paints all the mirrors in the house black. Later, pieces of a broken mirror in a bag at his feet cause a pitchfork to magically levitate and nearly impale him, but misses the attack as he gets saved from it.

Another shard from the broken mirror becomes stuck to Lacey's son's shoe and is left on the ground where the light refracts across a lake where a group of teenagers are partying in an abandoned house. All of them are killed, including a couple who are impaled by a screwdriver while kissing in their car. Soon, Lacey then tries to get in the house, only to see that her shirt supernaturally starts to tear apart.

Later, Lacey's husband brings in the family priest to investigate the mirror, only to see that when the priest's hand touches the mirror, the mirror turns red. A piece of the mirror floats across the room and becomes lodged over Lacey's eye, possessing her and begins to levitate. Through the actions of the family priest, the shard is removed (during which the family priest is stabbed by various floating knives) and thrown into water, where it bursts into flames as he dies from his wounds. The remainder of the mirror is thrown into a well, where the same thing happens, as an explosion releases and thus, destroying the mirror once and for all.

The film ends with Lacey, her husband and the children visiting the graveyard, only to notice that one last mirror shard, missed by Lacey and her husband, glowing red on the ground.



The film also uses several apparent pieces of folklore and superstition regarding mirrors—as well as the belief that it is bad luck to break a mirror, the film also discusses the belief that breaking a mirror releases everything the mirror has ever 'seen' and that placing the pieces of a broken mirror into a bag and burying it will counteract the bad luck from breaking the mirror. Additionally, there is the belief that a mirror in a room where someone has died will show the dead person looking back over the shoulder of anyone looking into the mirror. All this was used in the Mexican translation of the film title, released as "El espejo asesino" (the killer mirror).[2]


The film was given a limited release theatrically in the United States by The Jerry Gross Organization beginning in November 1980. It was subsequently released on VHS by Wizard Video.[3]

The film has been released on DVD twice in the United States. The first release was in 1999 by Anchor Bay Entertainment alongside Lommel's The Devonsville Terror (1983).[4] This version is currently out of print. It was subsequently re-released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 2005 alongside Lommel's Return of the Boogeyman (1994).[5] The Boogeyman was placed on the UK's DPP list in 1984, but was later re-released on the Vipco label in 1992 in a cut form. In 2000 it was released uncut.


The movie has received mixed to negative reviews by several film critics. Todd Martin of found some originality in the story details yet condemned the film's heavy influences from Halloween and The Exorcist, and he also criticized plot holes such as the fact that a character manages to reassemble the haunted mirror in a very short period of time given how shattered and broken it is. Overall, Martin concluded, "Check it out if you don’t have anything better to do, but don’t expect to be amazed by it."[6] Mark Pellegrini of remarked that the movie is "an unrewarding slasher film that doesn’t make the most of its ideas" and could not even recommend it in a 'so bad, it's good' sense, commenting that he found similar characters on children's television to be more frightening.[1]

Some critics have said that director Lommel was greatly inspired by John Carpenter's Halloween when he made The Boogeyman, most notably because of the similarities in the heavily electronic musical score and the fact that the killer in both films is a silent man with his face obscured as to make him effectively featureless.[7] In fact, the protagonist characters in Halloween specifically refer to that film's killer as being, in effect, a physical embodiment of the "boogeyman" legend.

In some reviews, it was criticized that the titular serial killer is initially shown with ladies' pantyhose over his head. This detail provides a kind of unintentional humor for moments that are clearly meant to be scary.[1][6]


Boogeyman II was filmed in 1981, but unreleased until 1983. Directed by Bruce Starr and an uncredited Ulli Lommel, it was written by Starr, Lommel and the original film's star, Suzanna Love, although the writing goes uncredited in the film. In Boogeyman 2, Lacey is approached by a group of Hollywood phonies to make a movie based on her experiences. Lacey travels to Hollywood, to the home of a film director (played by Ulli Lommel himself), where she brings along the last surviving haunted mirror shard from the end of the first movie as proof to her horrifying experiences. One by one, the phonies are killed by the mirror spirit who possesses the body of the director's manservent. Boogeyman 2 is padded with many flashback sequences from the first film.

Return of the Boogeyman (or Boogeyman 3) was released on May 5, 1994, and is largely constructed around numerous flashbacks to The Boogeyman as well.

Lommel has expressed interest in making a fourth film, tentatively titled Boogeyman 4D.[8] This evolved into a reimagining of the original film titled Boogeyman: Reincarnation.[9]


  1. ^ a b c Pellegrini, Mark (March 6, 2014). "The Boogeyman (1980) Review". Retrieved August 16, 2015.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  2. ^ "El espejo asesino". Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  3. ^ "Company Credits for The Boogeyman (1980)". Retrieved 2011-04-18. 
  4. ^ "The Boogeyman & The Devonsville Terror (DVD)". Retrieved 2011-04-18. 
  5. ^ "Boogeyman, The (1980) / The Return Of The Boogeyman (1994) (Double Feature)". Retrieved 2011-04-18. 
  6. ^ a b Martin, Todd (August 17, 2014). "Film Review: The Boogeyman (1980)". Retrieved August 12, 2015.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  7. ^ Kerkes, David and Slater, David, See No Evil, Headpress, 2000
  8. ^ "Interview with Ulli Lommel". Soiled Sinema. January 29, 2013. Retrieved January 30, 2013. 
  9. ^ Paige, Lacey (8 June 2015). "Q&A: Ulli Lommel on Franchise Reimagining "Boogeyman: Reincarnation"". Fangoria. Retrieved 8 June 2015. 

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