FUNGUS THE BOGEYMAN
This British-Canadian mini-series has the novelty of being shot live and with CGI animated characters drawn over the top of the actors performances a la The Polar Express (2004) to represent the bogeys. Necessarily, Raymond Briggss original has been changed on its journey to the screen there is a human family wound into the bogeyman goings-on that was never there in the book. In conception, the mini-series of Fungus the Bogeyman comes out somewhat like a combination of The Borrowers (1997) with its secret world of people that hide in the shadows and steal from humans, and The Garbage Pail Kids (1986). The plot is also not dissimilar to Pixars Monsters, Inc. (2001) wherein a girl accidentally wanders into a forbidden realm of monsters where her presence has to be kept a secret lest the entire social order collapse. In both Monsters, Inc. and Fungus the Bogeyman, the monsters also enjoying playing practical jokes on and scaring humans.
The CGI characters are amazingly expressive, even though the animation is much more low-tech than in The Polar Express. The bogeys are extremely likeable and convincing characters, coming as they do with the wry British provinciality of Raymond Briggss writing. The mini-series is played with a perfectly droll sense of humour. There are numerous sly puns and jokes in the background humans are called Drycleaners, which is regarded as something monstrous, while old toothpaste ads and illustrations of vacuum cleaners are shown in a sinister light. There are some cute ideas like when Funguss son Mould falls in with the wrong crowd and is found with soap and a sponge, or where his mother finds him guiltily hiding copies of Home and Garden and travel brochures under his mattress. (This wit is much richer if one reads the original Briggs book). The mini-series is probably a little long with too much running around between above and underground. One suspects that the story might have worked much more tightly as a feature film than a mini-series. On the whole, it is a likeable effort.
Raymond Briggss other adaptations include:- The Snowman (1982), Father Christmas (1991) and The Bear (1999), all 30 minute long animated specials for British television. The Snowman in particular has become a perennial favourite. When the Wind Blows (1986) was a feature-length animated adaptation of Briggs work about nuclear war.
Director Stuart Orme has made a number of other genre works, including the films The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (1989) and The Puppet Masters (1994), and British tv works such as Heaven on Earth (1998), The Lost World (2001), Cold Blood (2005-6), Ghostboat (2006) and Cold Blood: The Last Hurrah (2007).
Fungus the Bogeyman (2015) was a further tv mini-series adaptation of the Raymond Briggs book.