display | more...

"The Boogie Man Will Get You" is a 1942 comedy/horror film starring Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre and Miss Jeff Daniels. Boris Karloff was already famous for his portrayal of Frankenstein's Monster, and Peter Lorre, while famous, would be playing in his most famous role, Casablanca, a few months later.

The plot of this movie is ridiculous, but to sum up: Boris Karloff's character, Professor Nathaniel Billings, is a stereotypical mad scientist who is doing experiments on travelling salesmen to create a super soldier. His inn is bought by Winnie Layden, (Miss Jeff Daniels), who thinks it looks adorable, despite the creepiness around it. Dr. Arthur Lorentz (Peter Lorre), is the town's sherriff, mayor, doctor and real estate agent, and he finalizes the transaction. Just as he does, Winnie's ex-boyfriend shows up. He later finds a body in the basement, and tells the sheriff what he saw. The sheriff is soon corrupted to Dr. Billings plot, and the two of them together try to find a specimen to experiment on. They finally find one, in a muscled, dull-witted powderpuff salesman, who proves to be a lot of trouble to get into the machinery. There is also a "choreographer", two squabbling hired hands, an Italian saboteur...there is a lot going on in 60 minutes, and the movie moves between a series of comic set-pieces with not too much concern for the overall arc of the plot, with the glue holding it all together being the seriocomic affect of Boris Karloff while the madness happens around him.

This film has many comedic moments that work, even though they shouldn't. Towards the end of the film, we see Maxie, the captured salesman, surrounded by the cloroformed bodies of the four main characters, and he exclaims: "Quintuplets!", the entire joke apparently being that he can't tell four from five. Objectively, it doesn't sound like a very funny joke, but as part of a sequence of gags delivered in rapid fire sequence by a group of actors who are committing to their performance, it is funny. The best comparison I can think of is the Naked Gun movies, with the added similarity that the core of the film is a serious actor playing straight man in a comedy.

Overall, I started this movie with the expectation that I would be watching a period piece and was ready to judge it as such, as I did in my last foray into old horror movies. This movie, though, was good on its own merits, with the comedic timing and setting not that far different from modern standards.

The one comment I do have to make about this movie is that it is not very scary. In fact, I would say that it is not scary at all. Rather than being, as advertised, a comedy/horror movie, it is more a comedy about horror. Rather than mixing comedy and horror together, it is more a straight comedy that lampoons the settings of horror movies, than a movie that earnestly tries to frighten the viewer.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.