Director: Luca Bercovici
Screenwriters: Luca Bercovici, Jefery Levy
Cast: Peter Liapis, Lisa Pelikan, Michael Des Barres, Jack Nance, Mariska Hargitay, Scott Thomson, Ralph Seymour Scream Factory
Rated PG-13 | 81 Minutes
Release Date: April 21, 2015
Directed by Luca Bercovici, 1985’s Ghoulies is a creature feature in the vein of Gremlins, Critters, and Troll. Jonathan Graves (Peter Liapis) uncovers his late father’s occult paraphernalia in his family’s mansion. Graves attempts to summon the demonic forces his father dabbled with in hopes of gaining supernatural powers. As a result, the Ghoulies arrive to terrorize everyone who participated in the ritual.
Ghoulies is one of those films notorious for its absorbing and irresistible box art. I remember seeing Bercovici’s movie on the shelves of my local mom-and-pop video store — Movieland Video — and wondering why this little green monster was wearing a blue belly shirt and red suspenders while climbing out of a toilet. Needless to say, I had to rent it.
Unfortunately, like so many horror films collecting dust on rental store shelves in the ’80s, the box art for Ghoulies was entirely misleading. Bercovici’s film is less about little monsters and more about black magic, sorcerers, and two little people straight out of Willow named Grizzel and Greedigut.
The Ghoulies are inconsequential to the plot, you could remove them from the movie and it wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference. For an ’80s horror film, there’s a shocking lack of sex, nudity and gore — we’re talking about young adults who dabble in the dark arts and throw a party in a mansion, surely there’s an orgy going on somewhere, right?
In the sub-genre of “little monsters who act like assholes,” Ghoulies is one of its lesser entries. It just can’t compare to the budgets or stories of bigger films like Gremlins and Critters — and it makes Troll look damn near entertaining in contrast.
Still, for fans of ’80s trash-horror, Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release of Ghoulies warrants a look — especially because it includes the superior sequel Ghoulies II. My only hope is that Scream Factory releases a second two-pack that includes Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go to College and Ghoulies IV — two films that are a special kind of bad, but far more entertaining than Bercovici’s first entry in the series.
Take a creepy old Hollywood mansion, a naive young man and a pretty girl. Add an over-the-top orgy and some slimy, winged goblins who crawl out of toilets, and you have Ghoulies, a horrifying and hilarious ride into the darkest regions of hell! Peter Liapis (Ghost Warrior), Lisa Pelkin, Michael Des Barres (Waxwork II, Under Siege) and Jack Nance (Eraserhead, Twin Peaks) star in this fanged frenzy of sharp twists and eye-popping shocks that’ll get you where it counts!
Ghoulies II Blu-ray
Director: Albert Band
Screenwriters: Charlie Dolan, Dennis Paoli, Luca Bercovici
Cast: Damon Martin, Royal Dano, Phil Fondacaro, J. Downing, Kerry Remsen, Donnie Jeffcoat, Dale Wyatt Scream Factory
Rated PG-13 | 89 Minutes
Release Date: April 21, 2015
Directed by Albert Band, 1988’s Ghoulies II is an improvement on just about every level, including a soundtrack that features “Scream Until You like It” by W.A.S.P. OK, so “improvement” might not be the right word — it’s still quite bad — but at least it’s self-aware enough to be entertaining in its badness.
The film begins with a religious fanatic who spends his free time drowning Ghoulies in barrels of acid. The demon-slayer serves little purpose to the narrative other than re-introducing us to the demonic Ghoulies. He dies almost immediately when a winged Ghoulie sends him falling somersaulting headfirst into the vat of acid.
Ghoulies II is more of a Gremlins rip-off than the first film. This time around the little bastards are more animated and they all make chattering noises like Gremlins or Critters. There’s four signature Ghoulies this time with different skills: a rat-like cretin who spits slime; a hairy one with goat legs; a flying Ghoulie that looks like roadkill; and the signature green “toilet” Ghoulie from the first film. This time the Ghoulie actually comes up out of the toilet — what a satisfying payoff for die-hard Ghoulies fans!
You probably have a good idea what happens in this film: Ghoulies kill carnival workers and terrorize amusement park patrons before ultimately taking over the carnival. During the film’s climax, the ground cracks up and a giant-sized version of the toilet Ghoulie emerges from the Depths of Hell to slaughter the sinners of Earth. Instead of being a cheap $3 puppet, it’s got a guy in a giant, cheap rubber suit — it’s like The Creature from the Black Lagoon, if you made the Gill-man out of materials found under the kitchen sink.
The demonic, toilet-dwelling goblins are back! Stowed away in “Satan’s Den,” the traveling House of Horror operated by carnival workers Larry and Uncle Ned, the Ghoulies merrily devour the sideshow attraction’s patrons… until Larry realizes his horror house is for real and tries to flee the scene! Kerry Remsen (Pumpkinhead), Phil Fondacaro (Troll), William Butler and Royal Dano star in this creepy, crawly sequel that’s got every bit as big a bite as the original!
Bottom line, these movies aren’t very good — but for nostalgic fans of cheesy ’80s horror movies, Ghoulies and Ghoulies II are a fun flashback to a time of mom-and-pop video stores, cool box art, and the promise of seeing something so outlandish you obsessed over how it got made.
Scream Factory’s double feature release, which is now available at Amazon, boasts an impressive transfer and some new special features, which you can find out more about below…
* Audio commentary with Director/Co-writer Luca Bercovici
* Rare deleted scenes and theatrical trailers
* New interviews with Charles Band, Michael Des Barres, John Vulich, Kerry Remsen, Donnie Jeffcoat, Gino Crognale, and more!