Yeah yeah…everyone loves Ghoulies II and the first Ghoulies is boring. That pretty much summarizes what our Facebook page said when I announced that I was watching each of these releases over the last week. Funny thing is I think they’re both friggin great movies for completely opposite reasons. Scream Factory has a double feature Blu-ray edition of these Empire classics coming straight at you so you can make up your mind, but regardless of which side you’re on, Team Toilet or Team MegaGhoulie, you get a special set with some kickass extras.
Disclaimer: Ghoulies has been a part of my life since I learned to love horror movies as a kid. It’s important to state this because my nostalgia levels for this particular release are on overdrive and regardless of what you might say to contradict me, Ghoulies is a damn great movie.
Back story: My dad copied the original Ghoulies using the old “two VCR method” before video cassettes were priced to own. He taped it after Mary Poppins on the same tape with LP setting. This meant that after I was done flying a kite and loving to laugh I would be treated to a semi-sexualized, doobie filled, monster fest with all the best occult references and illuminated eyes. Little people. Little monsters. Blood with soft gore. Pentagrams and circles and all the best stuff an adolescent who had yet to discover his father’s porn collection could want. So after I fell in love with Julie Andrews as a sexy nanny with an umbrella and hat fetish, I went on to learn about the old dark demons, how to summon them and how not to get tongue slapped by a corpse in sexy clothing. It’s possible that this film started me on my love of occult horror fiction and occult reality. Think of it as a beginner’s guide.
The reason people attack this film must be due to its somewhat slow pace and semi-jumbled story. Details! C’mon people. The opening is strong with some of the best music Richard Band has ever afforded us though I wish his music was used throughout the entire picture. The VHS and poster art is beyond memorable and in talking with some of our readers, it has been said this is the movie that made them fall in love with the mom and pop stores of old. I agree and add that it was one of the movies that really got me at Long Valley Video. There’s plenty to love about Ghoulies, and I urge everyone to rewatch it for its subtlety. For one of the most evil clown kills of any movie. For creepy critters that maybe could use a little work, but sure are cute. You watch Ghoulies because it’s absolutely 80’s occult horror incarnate with the absence of more hair metal and eyeliner. It pairs nicely with Trick or Treat in that way.
Perhaps the best thing about the original Ghoulies is the listing of four separate directors: Luca Bercovici, Albert Band, John Carl Buechler and Jim Wynorski (JIM!). That brings us to Ghoulies 2.
Disclaimer #2: I did not grow up with this one. I watched it much later and found it hokie. I came in toward the end of the picture as “SuperMegaGhoulie” was running amok. I disliked the animation style and really found that the lack of consistency between the first and second movies to be disheartening (imagine how I felt about Ghoulies 3 and 4!). In short, my nostalgia clitoris is extra small and hidden under the hood for this release.
This time around I enjoyed the carnival aesthetic and the continuing perseverance of strong 80’s influence on the sense of style. There are truly some memorable and funny kills in this picture. Ghoulies II comes off like a comedy rather than the more serious horror picture that the original sought to be (save for the added toilet sequence to promote the movie). The production value on Ghoulies II suffered in everyway except for the creature effects which, while I find them to be inferior to the original look, were actually technically better and more lifelike. Imagine that dichotomy. This time around I was able to find strong points in a film. I had previously renounced as one of my least favorite horror movies solely due to its relation and lack of respect for the original picture (yes, I hold the original with high regard, no you can’t change my mind about that), but I put all of that aside and found this a humorous monster picture that is a good entry level horror picture though the occult nature of the movie is more subdued. That may be the real reason that part 2 hadn’t worked for me before. Not dark enough. Too campy when compared to my expectation for a serious horror picture.
I have to agree with my friend Jordan over at B-Movie Film Vault; Phil Fondacaro’s performance is actually incredible. He’s a strong character and super emotive. This comes in only second to my love for his role in Troll. Royal Dano kicks some major ass too. He’s perfect for this type of semi-gonzo schlock.
While I’m glad to have had a chance to watch Hi-Def mini monsters torment and kill folks, there’s a really awesome reason to pick up this edition: the making of specials on each release are brilliant, especially the making of special for the original Ghoulies. Charles Band and company go through the whole back story of the production and really illuminate how independent horror happened and was promote before the direct to video market took off. Learn about the marketing of Ghoulies, the controversy surrounding the Ghoulies green band commercials and see Richard Band discuss the awesome score. It’s a long featurette with tons of juicy material. The making of featurette for the second film is somewhat shorter but also enjoyable. Both of the movies look fantastic on Blu. While I was impressed by the original looking so fantastic, especially since most of my memories of Ghoulies are on VHS tape recorded off another VHS tape, the second movie really looks superior. Sure it’s a newer movie, but this transfer really gets rid of the direct-to-video haze that I always saw in it on HBO.
I’m going to recommend you watch both movies especially if you are new to the Ghoulies series. For those of you who have seen the later entries in the series and enjoy them, you’ll want to stick closer to Ghoulies II for it’s off the wall antics and humor. Occult horror lovers, the original Ghoulies is a must watch. Laugh a little, but get scared in the second half of the picture. Watching the original is more like staring at album cover artwork.
You can pick up Ghoulies and Ghoulies II on double feature Scream Factory Blu-ray now.
Synopsis from Scream Factory:
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! Conjured during a party thrown by the mansion's new owner, the hairy, fanged demons waste no time wreaking havoc on the scene – and declaring the unsuspecting owner their new lord and master! Peter Liapis (Ghost Warrior), Lisa Pelkin (Jennifer), 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!
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! Deliciously outrageous special effects and over-the-top antics ratchet up the horrific fun! Kerry Remsen (Pumpkinhead), Phil Fondacaro (Troll), William Butler (1990's Night Of The Living Dead) and Royal Dano (Big Bad Mama) star in this creepy, crawly sequel that's got every bit as big a bite as the original!
--- GHOULIES ---
Audio Commentary With Director/Co-writer Luca Bercovici
New Interviews With Executive Producer Charles Band, Composer Richard Band, Actor Michael Des Barres And Special Effects Makeup Artist John Vulich
Original Theatrical Trailer
--- GHOULIES II ---
New Interviews With Executive Producer Charles Band, Actors Kerry Remsen And Donnie Jeffcoat, And Special Effects Artist Gino Crognale
Rare Deleted Scenes
Original Theatrical Trailer
Here's the whole mess together in one trailer reel: