Don’t Look Under the Case

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Don’t Look Under the Bed is a Disney Channel Original movie that aired October 9th, 1999. Many people have expressed that this is one of the scariest movies to come from Disney channel, so we thought it would be perfect for our month of Disney Halloween!

The History of the Boogeyman

  • The Boogeyman (or Bogeyman, Boogie Man etc) has appeared in almost every culture around the world. It is most commonly a creature that scares or punishes misbehaving children. In some cases, the Boogeyman is a ghost or spirit, and in others he/she is a demon.
  • Because it exists everywhere, the boogeyman remains to be one of the most frightening creatures of all time. Almost every version lurks in the shadows, has terrifying eyes, and preys on disobedient children.
  • The first recorded use of the Boogeyman was in the 16th century, though historians believe it may have been around before that.
  • The name could have come from the old English word Bugge which means “something frightening” and the name Boogeyman is related to “Bugbear” which is a goblin in the form of a bear that eats children! 
  • It also may have come from Bogill (Bowgill or Bohgill) which is also known as a Boggart or Bogie. This is a scottish word, so I asked our friend Siobhan Clark at Myth, Legends, and Lore podcast for help on how to pronounce those words. 
  • It’s also possible that The Boogeyman was originally thought of as a Hobgoblin, which are creatures more likely to spook people and play pranks. In some media, The Boogeyman is a terrifying being with the ability to scare humans to death. In others, it is a spooky nuisance that generally causes mayhem that only children experience. 
    • This is more like what happens in “Don’t Look Under the Bed” 

The Making of the Movie

  • Don’t Look Under the Bed was directed by Kenneth Johnson, who also directed Zenon, Girl of the 21st Century.
  • It got the rare PG rating for a DCOM
    • When the film got a PG rating, the filmmakers had to attend a lot of meetings where they had to be certain that the film was scary, but not too scary. After it aired, Disney got angry letters from viewers, accusing them of making the movie too scary.
  • The original Boogeyman was a dark creature with feathers, resembling a crow. It would be shadowy, and you would mostly only be able to see its eyes.
  • The production team decided that would be too frightening, so they went back to the roots of The Boogeyman and used old English drawings of the creature for inspiration.
    • They also decided that he would speak in rhyming couplets to make his dialogue seem more light-hearted 

The Plot

  • Frances is a young teenager and gifted student, dealing with entering high school before all of her friends since she has skipped a grade. Frances is sensible and straightforward, and looks at the world from a logical perspective. She doesn’t want to appear childish to her peers or parents, and was forced to grow up quickly after her younger brother was diagnosed with cancer. 
    • The story begins with a series of practical jokes from clocks being turned ahead to an egging of a teacher’s car. As the youngest person in her class, Frances becomes an easy target for blame. 
    • As these strange occurrences keep happening, Frances meets Larry, an imaginary friend who explains that everything is being caused by The Boogeyman. Larry and Frances team up to stop the boogeyman from destroying her reputation.
  • The movie focuses on an interesting idea: what happens to your imaginary friend when you stop believing in them? It covers the issue of children being forced to grow up before they were emotionally ready, and how a lot of circumstances are out of their control
  • The original ending of the movie involved Frances and Larry using the “temptrifuge” to kill the Boogeyman. This ending was re-written because they wanted the solution to come from within Frances, not an outside source or weapon.
  • At the end of the movie, there’s a kiss between Larry and Frances. Disney called the director concerned that an inter-racial kiss on screen during a Disney movie would make certain affiliates angry, but the director didn’t want to budge. He felt the kiss is an important moment for Frances because it was Larry’s way of showing her that she isn’t a child, and it’s her moment of stepping into adolescence.
    • Kenneth Johnson cited this as the most rewarding part of directing the movie.

Starring: 

  • Erin Chambers as Frances Bacon McCausland
    • Erin Chambers was 20 when the movie was filmed, though her character is young enough to be in 8th grade.
  • Ty Hodges as Larry Houdini
    • Interestingly enough, Ty Hodges also played another character named Larry on Even Stevens.
  • Steve Valentine as The Boogeyman
  • Rachel Kimsey as Zoe
    • She is also known for voicing Wonder Woman in a lot of different projects. 
  • Jake Sakson as Darwin
  • Stephen Toblowsky as Michael McCausland
    • Also known for roles in Smart Guy and The Goldbergs. 
  • Robin Riker as Karen McCausland 

Reception:

  • After many complaints, Disney stopped airing the film on the network initially, though it has aired on there many times since and it available on streaming services.
  • The movie was filmed in Utah, with the scene under the bed being a set built in Salt Lake City. 
  • Since its airing, this movie has appeared on many “Best of” lists for Disney Channel Original Movies. It’s often cited as the scariest. Many people find its imagery and plot more intense than other PG DCOM’s such as Halloweentown.

Sources:

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