Autumn, 2016-Chris Friend
In John Carpenter’s classic horror film Halloween
the killer Michael Myers is
sometimes referred to as the Boogeyman. Folklore’s boogey-man or bogyman is
a kind of dark fairy most often used to frighten ornery children. The term was
originally applied to the devil and also used for bogies who would steal
children and drag them to hell for grisly torments. The word bogey itself may
have been derived from
a Middle English term for bluster or brag. Boogey-men are often described as
shadowy black figures who can become threatening black dogs, tree trunks, or
monsters with icy fingers and glowing yellow eyes. They are
believed to lurk in cellars, attics, cupboards, caves, hollow tree trunks,
and practically any dark and dank place.
In one story boogey-men tormented a family in
Shropshire. These two resembled a little old man and woman. When the family got
sick and tired of being bedeviled by the two, they decided to move, only
to have those quarrelsome bogeys follow them to their new residence.
Looking through a keyhole at night meant you might catch a
glimpse of the boogey-man looking right back at you. One of the most famous of these
was old Bloody-bones, or Rawhead Rex. This
nasty goblin hid
in a cupboard, usually behind the stairs. If you glimpsed old Bloody-bones you would
see the monster standing over a pile of bones from the many naughty brats he
had eaten—a gruesome sight of a being skinless as if flayed alive. Anyone
foolish enough to look through the keyhole risked becoming his next victim!
In some folklore, if milk or water was not left
out for the
fairies they became vampires and drank human blood. In a similar vein (pun
intended), in Russian folklore if vodka was not placed in a drunkard’s grave,
the dead drunk (more pun) would return as a vampire to drink the blood of those
individuals too stingy with their booze.
The old belief that boogey-men could catch someone looking
through a keyhole brings to mind the classic Werewolf of London. Released by Universal
in 1935, this little gem
features Henry Hull as the werewolf. The story has Hull as a botanist searching
for a mysterious flower in Tibet, which only blooms during a full moon. While
Hull is in the mountains there he is bitten by a werewolf. When he returns to
London much mayhem occurs. One of the notable things about this werewolf is the
minimal monster make-up. Both make-up and story structure seem to owe as much
to Jekyll/Hyde as to the werewolf of folklore. The reason that this film makes
me think of the boogey-man is the scene where two old biddies peep through a
keyhole and see Hull looking right at them. A silly scene in which Hull in full
werewolf form is dressed up in coat and hat is another salute to Jekyll/Hyde. While
this movie is tame enough for older kids on Halloween, it’s probably best to
stick to Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie
for the little ones.
Happy Halloween, Earthlings! Here’s some of my poems to get
you in a holiday mood.
Like blue vines
Old veins wrap
Around my ankles,
The marble pillars
Of my legs,
Cold and restless.
Priests of the night
Offer prayers to a dying moon,
Search fields astir with mice
Within a temple of sky.
the sparkle of fairy dust
As witches sweep
With black snakes
For handles and
As goblins play
in the Doll Asylum
Your shrine is an ossuary
Of doll parts
Scented with teardrops
Rancid and pink.
Under a ghost-white moon
You wait for a kiss
From Santa Claws.
Chris Friend, firstname.lastname@example.org,
of Parkersberg, W.Va,
who wrote BP #77’s 4-poem set: “At 50,” “Owls,” “Vintage Halloween,” &
“Xmas in the Doll Asylum” (+ BP #76’s 4-poem set: “Hag Fairy Communion,”
“Love’s Sepulcher,” “Night Wanderer,” & “St. Andrew’s Feast”; 2 poems
BP #75, “Angel of the Pagan Dead” and “Churchyard Watcher”; BP #72’s 2-poem
set, “Ed Gein” & “Sour Puss”; and the 2008 poem “All Hallows’ Eve”), writes
and illustrates our “MARS News” column. He did a cover for Black Petals back in
2000 for the fall issue, and has been around ever since. BP keeps up two
websites for him and prints his column in the issue quarterly. Chris has a
gallery at http://chris.michaelherring.net/ and
was featured artist in Kurt Newton’s Ultimate PerVersities
(Naked Snake) [Jan. 2011].