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5 movies and TV shows about the Boogeyman that you need to watch

The Boogeyman is one of the most prevalent creatures in worldwide folklore. Though he appears differently with a different name in each culture, just about every child has been scared by the tale of how the Boogeyman will get them if they don’t behave. As a result, many films and TV shows have utilized the concept of this mythical figure actually existing in some shape or form, with some characters becoming their own version of the Boogeyman.

Author Stephen King recently had his story about this legendary creature made into a blockbuster film. To audiences who want to see more stories about this kind of monster, these films and TV shows should be scary enough to make you check under your bed after watching them.

1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street
New Line Cinema / New Line Cinema

This Wes Craven classic follows a group of teenagers who find themselves haunted by a child murderer who was burned alive by the vengeful adults of their town. Similar to Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger haunts the children of Springwood like a Boogeyman as he enters their dreams and exploits their fears before killing them in real life.

But even with his dream-walking powers and iconic glove of knives, one of the most frightening things about Freddy is how he blurs the lines between reality and fantasy. The kids may stay awake to avoid Freddy’s wrath, but no matter how hard they try, he can still get the drop on them before they realize they’re dreaming.

1978’s Halloween

Laurie Strode and Michael Myers in "Halloween" (1978).
Compass International Pictures

When serial killer Michael Myers escapes from captivity, his hometown becomes the site of many gruesome murders just in time for Halloween. As he walks the streets of Haddonfield, stalking children and teenagers from afar with his William Shatner mask, Michael is repeatedly mistaken for the Boogeyman due to his fiendish presence. However, as he displays a surprising and almost superhuman tolerance for pain, one can’t help but wonder if something paranormal is taking this human Shape.

There’s something so animalistic about Michael as he lurks in the shadows, breathing heavily and watching his prey with his vacant eyes. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that there’s an actual human face beneath that mask. As the Haddonfield Boogeyman, Michael Myers embodies how a cold-blooded killer can hide anywhere, even in plain sight, waiting to take any person’s life when they least expect it.

Sinister (2012)

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Director Scott Derrickson(The Black Phone) made quite a mark on the horror genre with this cult classic. Sinister follows novelist Ellison Oswalts as he tries to regain his former glory by investigating a handful of films depicting gruesome murders. Eventually, he learns that the murders were all the work of a pagan deity named Bughull, who steals and devours the souls of the murdered family’s children.

The film may hinge on jump scares and tired horror tropes, but with the cast’s performances, creepy atmosphere, and unnerving music, Sinister has actually been scientifically proven to be the scariest movie ever made.

The Babadook (2014)

The Babadook as depicted in a pop-up book in "The Babadook."
Umbrella Entertainment

Directed by Jennifer Kent, this modern Aussie classic depicts a widowed mother and her son as a sharply-dressed demon haunts them after they read a mysterious pop-up book that pops up out of nowhere. Though the mother repeatedly denies the Babadook’s existence, this only makes the titular creature stronger, forcing her to confront the depression she withheld since her husband’s tragic death.

The Babadook stands out from many modern horror films because it relies less on jump scares and masterfully builds tension and suspense with the monster’s limited screen presence. The creature itself embodies grief and how it can invade and persist in a person’s life and affect their family. It thus received widespread acclaim from multiple critics, with The Exorcist director William Friedkin going on Twitter and ranking it amongst the likes of Psycho and Alien.

The Outsider (2020)

El Cuco wearing a green hoodie in "The Outsider."

Stephen King has explored The Boogeyman more than once in his stories. In this HBO/Max miniseries, a detective investigates the rape and murder of a young boy at the hands of a figure resembling his baseball coach. Eventually, with the help of a private investigator, he discovers the killer is a shapeshifting entity identified as “El Cuco,” the Boogeyman of Spanish folklore, who goes from town to town violating children and devouring their flesh, along with the grief that these murders produce to sustain itself.

It’s a dark and vast mystery that explores how a tragedy can tear people apart and how a systematic lack of faith can allow killers like the titular monster to roam free and continue their cycle of violence.

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Anthony Orlando
Anthony Orlando is a writer/director from Oradell, NJ. He spent four years at Lafayette College, graduating CUM LAUDE with a…
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