One from the re watch pile…
Film: If you’ve read other reviews I’ve written on this site, you may have come to the conclusion that my favourite horror movies come from the 80s, and that conclusion is correct. All the films I truly love are circa 1979 to 1986, and Ghoulies is one which whilst I am not a huge fan of, I do think is a fun film to watch.
Little monster movies were a cool fad of my beloved horror period, and this film was one amongst those, along with Gremlins and Troll. Ghoulies was written and directed by Luca Bercovici, who is possibly better known as an actor, judging by his actor credits.
Our story starts with baby Jonathon (played as an adult by Peter Liapis), being spirited away from his cult leader father, Michael Graves (Michael Des Barres) by cult member Wolfgang (Jack Nance) after a his sacrifice is unsuccessful.
25 years later, Jonathon returns to the house, with his girlfriend, Rebecca (Lisa Pelikan) after his father’s death and decides to quit university to restore the old place. In his cleaning of the house though, he discovers an old book which he is drawn to and he seemingly knows how to cast the spells written within instinctively.
Quickly, he calls up a bunch of ‘ghoulies’, two of which, Grizzel (Peter Riche) and Greedigut (Tamara De Treaux) who inform him that if he want that which he craves, enlightenment and power, he needs to complete a ritual which will require the assistance of 7 of his friends, but will all of them survive the night?
This is 80s cheesy filming at its very cheesiest. All the staples of horror and ‘horror comedies’ of the time are present: the stoners, the awkward guy, the guy who thinks he’s cool but isn’t and a bunch of canon fodder disguised as flirty girls, including an early appearance of SVU’s Mariska Hargitay.
The misstep this film makes is the appearance of the Ghoulies and of Grizzel and Greedigut. This story is actually a pretty cool supernatural tale, but the addition of special effects artist John Carl Buechler’s pretty poorly designed puppets and the little people actors who look more like they should be in Willow than here detract from what could be an amazing movie. I also must say for the period, the lack of nudity is unusual for a film of this low caliber.
They are my only complaints though. The movie is quite short so at no time are you bored, and it is quite imaginatively filmed, so except for those dodgy effects, it does entertain.
Format: This review was performed with the Australian Glass Doll Films region B Bluray release which runs for approximately 81 minutes, and is presented in a clear, though occasionally artefact-y image 1.85:1 with a crisp Dolby DTS-HD audio track.
Extras: There’s a bunch of cool extras on this disc:
First there is a great commentary featuring Luca Bercovici, hosted by film historian Jason Andreasson which really tells some great behind the scenes stories.
The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste – an Interview with Scott Thomson sees Thomson, who played Mike, recall anecdotes and musings on the making of the film.
“Just ‘Cos of the Chick, Man” – with Luca Bercovici sees Bercovici, the writer/ director of Ghoulies, discuss his career in multiple roles in cinema, from dialogue coach to actor to writer.
Editing an Empire – An Interview With Ted Nicolau sees editor of Ghoulies Nicolau reflect on his career.
It’s an interesting collection of interviews which when all watching one after the other, don’t paint the prettiest picture of Charles Band.
There is also in informative booklet about the film by Dave Jay, and the cover is reversible, with the orphan poster on one side, and some cool fresh art on the other.
WISIA: 80s monster movies? Yeah, I’m watching them again!