Frequent ‘Trek’ Director Also Directed an Awesome 80’s Horror Movie

The Boogens

Paramount An image from "The Boogens" poster.

The “Star Trek” franchise and a cult-favorite B-horror movie from 1981 share a common denominator: director James L. Conway. According to the Internet Movie Database, “The Boogens” was Conway’s third feature as a director, following “The Lincoln Conspiracy” in 1977 and “Hangar 18″ in 1980, as well as episodes of the television shows ‘The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams” and “Greatest Heroes of the Bible,” several television movies, and a couple of documentaries. Memory Alpha notes that Conway directed 18 episodes of “Star Trek,” spanning from “The Next Generation” and “Deep Space Nine” to “Voyager” and “Enterprise.”

The Internet Movie Database lists all of Conway’s “Star Trek” episodes. He directed “The Next Generation” episodes “Justice,” “The Neutral Zone,” and “Frame of Mind,” as well as the “DS9” episodes “Duet,” “Necessary Evil,” “The Way of the Warrior,” “Little Green Men,” “Shattered Mirror,” “For the Cause,” and “Apocalypse Rising.” His “Voyager” episodes were “The 37’s,” “Persistence of Vision,” “Death Wish,” and “Innocence.” Finally, his “Enterprise” work included the series pilot, “Broken Bow,” as well as “Judgment,” “Damage,” and “In a Mirror, Darkly.”

Conway Directed the Well-Regarded ‘Next Generation’ episode ‘Frame of Mind’ 

Jonathan Frakes

ParamountJonathan Frakes as Riker in a scene from “Frame of Mind.”

According to IMDB, “The Boogens” opened on September 25, 1981. It starred Rebecca Balding, Fred McCarren, Anne-Marie Martin, Jeff Harlan, John Crawford, Med Flory, Jon Lormer, and Peggy Stewart. Balding had previously starred in another popular horror film, “The Silent Scream,” and, according to IMDB, married Conway in 1981. Conway confirmed that he’s been married to Balding for 41 years, after meeting during the film’s casting phase. He explained that he asked her on a date the first week of shooting, that she proposed to him several days later, and that they got married before “The Boogens” opened in theaters. Martin, according to IMDB, was married to author and screenwriter Michael Crichton from 1987 to 2002, and co-wrote the movie “Twister” with Crichton.

Cavett Binion, in a synopsis/review of “The Boogens” for “All Movie Guide,” offered a succinct overview of the film. “This seldom-seen, well-crafted monster movie involves the reopening of a Utah silver mine which had been closed for nearly 70 years after a catastrophic cave-in, the circumstances of which remain one of the nearby town’s most legendary mysteries,” Binion wrote. “When attempts are made to explore the mine shaft, the investigating party never returns. It seems the mine’s collapse had served to seal in a nest of weird, multi-tentacled, bloodsucking creatures — which are now free to seek new prey on the outskirts of town. This simple but intense horror film benefits from good performances and genuine suspense — providing only quick, spooky glimpses of the title beasts — building to a thrilling showdown in the treacherous mine shafts.”

Conway Directed ‘The Boogens’ Several Years Before Connecting with ‘Star Trek’

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Heavy reached out to Conway on June 10, 2022, to discuss “The Boogens” and its “Star Trek” connections. Conway confirmed that the only other figure associated with both “The Boogens” and “Star Trek” was Jerry Fleck, who, according to the Internet Movie Database, served as the film’s second assistant director and later worked with Conway on several of his “Star Trek” episodes. The site noted that Fleck and Conway had previously worked together on the Conway projects “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams,” “Last of the Mohicans,” “Incredible Rocky Mountain Race,” “Beyond and Back,” and “Earthbound.” According to the Hollywood trade paper “Variety,” Fleck died on September 14, 2003, at the age of 55. At the time, he was the first assistant director on “Enterprise.”

“I think ‘The Boogens’ holds up pretty well,” Conway said. “My only regret was too much screen time for the monster. We should have been seen much less. Jerry Fleck was one of my best friends. We worked together at Sunn Classic for six years. He was my AD on a lot of projects. I left Sunn Classic a year or two before he did, and I helped him get started in L.A. once he moved back. It was on ‘Matt Houston,’ I think. I can’t remember if I had anything to do with him being hired at ‘Star Trek,’ but he was a star there. Everyone loved him, with good reason. Best A.D. ever. A great man who I miss every day. I’m not sure if there are any other ‘Star Trek’ connections from ‘The Boogens.'”

Conway has remained busy since “Enterprise” ended its abbreviated four-season run in 2005. According to IMDB, he produced or directed such television shows as “Charmed,” “Smallville,” “Supernatural,” “90210,” “Aquarius,” “The Orville,” and “The Magicians.” His website notes that he’s also a photographer and has published the novels “Dead and Not So Buried,” “Sexy Babe,” and “In Cold Blonde,” as well as the children’s picture books, “A Duck’s Life, “Rubby Ducky’s Guide to the Farm,” and “Rubber Ducky’s Guide to the Holidays.”

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