The Boogeyman (Jeff Schiro, 1982, USA)

Made in 1982, Jeff Schiro's The Boogeyman is the earliest "dollar baby." The dollar baby concept, which continues to this day, is that Stephen King will sell young and up-and-coming filmmakers the non-exclusive rights to certain of his short stories, provided that the filmmaker doesn't profit off the release of the film. In contrast to most other dollar babies, The Boogeyman was made commercially available on VHS. It was paired with Frank Darabont's 1984 short film The Woman in the Room, also based on a short story in King's 1978 Night Shift collection.

Schiro's Boogeyman is a much more straightforward and faithful adaptation of King's story than the recent feature film adaptation. The story involves a character named Lester Billings, whose three children have all died under mysterious circumstances. The bulk of the film takes place in a psychiatrist's office, where Billings claims that the Boogeyman killed his children. Schiro does use flashbacks to show the various incidents that Billings explains. There is also some inclusion of a police investigation. The central question of the film is whether Billings is telling the truth.

While Boogeyman is perhaps not as strong technically as Darabont's Woman in the Room, the film's low-budget quality lends it a grittiness. This is enhanced by John Cote's excellent synth score, which has echoes of the great Italian band Goblin. Michael Reid, who plays Billings, is not a phenomenal actor, but he brings a creepy physical look and great intensity toward the role - particularly during his monologue near the end of the film. The Boogeyman is not one of the great Stephen King adaptations, but it still manages to be effective maybe precisely because of its limitations. Jeff Schiro went on to work mostly as an editor for TV, which he still seems to be doing currently.



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