HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Ghoulies/Ghoulies 2
HTS Overall Score:60
WARNING: THE SCORES ABOVE ARE A COMBINED SCORE FROM BOTH FILMS, THE INDIVIDUAL SCORES ARE CONTAINED BELOW IN THE INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS OF THE REVIEW
I am proud to give you our first review from famed horror boutique label, Scream Factory. With more and more catalog titles being shifted away from the majors and into boutique label arms I thought it was high time we started reviewing these classics (and some not so classics), especially in the horror genre. As some of you may know, Scream Factory is a sister label to SHOUT Factory, whom we have reviewed for in the past, but with a focus on horror and the macabre in cinematic history.
To start out the fun we have a double pack of “Ghoulies” and “Ghoulies II” on Blu-ray disc. I was barely 5 years old when Ghoulies hit theaters but I remember being terrified out of my gourd when I saw it on broadcast television a couple years later. I still remember the trailers and TV spots like it was yesterday where no kid during the 80s wanted to sit down on a toilet seat without looking beforehand. They were bad movies back then, and still are bad movies today, but there is a sort of hysterical fun to be had with them as you “die” laughing at the horrible puns and deaths on screen.
Jonathon (Peter Liapis) and Becky (Lisa Pelikan) are willed an old family home that came from his decades dead parents and are moving back into the creepy mansion. Seems normal, right? You get willed a big mansion and want to get a new start in life without a mortgage. Only what happens when daddy dearest was a mentally disturbed dark magician who practiced evil sorcery and tried to murder you when you were an infant? Wouldn’t that put a damper on move in process? Luckily for Jonathon (or unluckily as you will find out), he is not aware of any of this when the pair move in and innocently go about their business. While Becky likes the new place, Jonathon has an unnatural bond to the place, inexplicably pulled to in and craving to learn more about his parents. Dropping out of school, he pours his heart and soul into restoring the old building and in doing so uncovers his father’s old belongings, including a book of incantations and spells. As a party gag, the young man tries to summon his father’s spirit only to fail miserably…..or so it seems. Moments after leaving the room mystical little creatures appear and start to hide around the mansion.
From that moment on Jonathon’s desire to learn become an outright obsession. Driven by an unseen force he craves knowledge, and ultimate power in his family’s magical bloodline. Summoning magical midgets (you read that right) and more ghoulies he sends them out to do his bidding along the grounds as he tries to summon an even greater force to complete his powers. Once this summoning is complete he finds out just who this mystical force was that drove him to do these deeds. It seems daddy dearest (Michaell Des Barres) has been reaching out from beyond the grave in an effort to have a father/son bonding moment. One which just may entail killing Jonathon in the process.
“Ghoulies” is a mixed bag as it tries too hard to be too many things at once. On one hand it tries to be an occult horror movie, but then moves to creature horror with the ghoulies tearing up the mansion and killing off his friends one by one in true monster fashion, all the while thumbing its nose at the audience with goofy gags and puns in truly comedic fashion. This stumbling around in the dark is the movies undoing as it turns into a jumbled mess that just can’t find its footing. “Ghoulies” is one of those horror movies that really isn’t meant to scare anyone a majority of the time. Sure it has some jump out moments and some gruesome monster chomping, but the movie tends to gleefully wink at the 4th wall and have the audience laughing hysterically at the bumbling and the wild overacting. Oh the overacting! Malcolm (daddy dearest) and Jonathon throw themselves into the roles as wizards with incredible gusto, leaving me on the floor with side pains from the giggling. The rest of the cast are your typical horror icons. The drunk and stoned friends, the over sexed stud muffin, the loose girl, the nerd and of course the innocent female counterpart (Becky). One by one they all get knocked off, but the ending is a bit of a copout with the reversal of much that has gone on.
I’m not sure whether to think that “Ghoulies” is the best worst movie ever, or the worst best movie ever, as it is truly horrifying and bad on an epic scale. We have everything from monsters that are summoned for no apparent reason, mystical midgets, and a good vs. evil Wizard battle with lightning shooting from the eyeballs in a way that would make some of today’s DTV work look incredible. It’s not as awfully awesome as say, “Troll 2”, but it certainly makes a dent in that rating.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=42666[/img]Ghoulies II :3.5stars:
The toilet dwelling demons are back, and this time because……….ok, I’m not even sure why they’re back. All we know is they hitch a ride on a carnival horror house truck after a botched attempt on their lives by a well-meaning holy man. It seems that the truck they hitch their wagon to is the last truck in a carnival, a carnival that is under audit for poor profits, and the main money drainer is the horror house, called Satan’s Den. Modern audiences seem to be a bit too sophisticated for cheap pop up scares from the fun house and money is down, but that doesn’t stop Larry (Damon Martin) and his Uncle Ned (Royal Dano) from doing their best at keeping the annoying account manager for the Carnival owners (J. Downing) from closing them down.
The place gets a sudden influx when the ghoulies infest the horror set, with people truly creeped out by the little monsters. People go in and get the living daylights scared out of them, but unfortunately not everyone comes out alive. Soon the body count starts adding up and Larry and midget associate, Sir Nigel Penneyweight (Phil Fondacaro) realize that things are getting out of control. Trying to destroy the vicious beats they accidentally unleash them upon the entire fairgrounds where the ghoulies mischief becomes a lot more noticed and a lot more widespread. With physical force not taking care of the job, Larry has to rely on his Uncle’s old books on magic to see if he can send the monsters back to whence they came.
“Ghoulies II” came out three years after the original movie made a bucket load of money and decided to take itself in a totally different direction. If you haven’t seen the original, don’t worry, you don’t have to. Besides having ghoulies in the movie, there is nothing similar or crossed over between the two films. Instead of going all supernatural mystical, the creators decided to turn it into a completely focused creature feature. The monsters are now the main focus of the movie and you get to watch them wreak terror on the theme park from the minute the movie starts (almost). Interestingly, the movie was originally R, but ten edited down to PG-13 to match the rating of the original for some reason. For fans of the gorier cut, they are included on the disc as extras and you can see them in all their gooey glory. Despite the disappointment at having the softer cut, the movie really doesn’t seem to suffer from the editing, and maintains that level of ooey gooey creep that the first movie had during the last 20 minutes.
Sequels are rarely better than the first, but “Ghoulies II” is the exception. “Ghoulies” was a film that didn’t know what to make of itself, but this one is a lot more focused and streamlined. The movie is still downright cheesy bad, but its cheesy bad in a completely enjoyable way. I remember being in pajamas and watching these movies over my brother’s shoulders on TV, and it’s just as goofy fun to watch them with a 6 pack of beer and some popcorn as an adult. The lines are awful, the writing clunky, and the clichés are through the roof, but you can’t help but just giggle and have a good time with the animatronic demons from hell.
Rated PG-13 for adult situations, violence and action.
The “Ghoulies” movies from the old MGM DVD pack always looked rather beaten up, and these look like they were sourced from that old aging master. The same speckles and flickering that went on in those discs is present in this presentation as well. “Ghoulies” looks a bit cleaner, but “Ghoulies II” has a few more speckles and dirt specks on the disc than the first movie. Detail is a decent step up over the DVD, but it’s still soft and rather low on the fine detail scale. There’s some noticeabgle aliasing going on, but other than that the artifacts are kept to a minimum. Black levels are hazy and show noticeable washing out with some minor crush in dark sequences. By all accounts both movies look VERY similar to each, both in filming style and the quality of the transfer. Overall it’s a step up from the DVDs, but I wouldn’t go in expecting a miracle restoration.
The back of the case lists the audio as DTS-HD MA Mono, but in actuality, both movies have a 5.1 DTS-HD MA track as well as a corresponding 2.0 DTS-HD MA stereo track to enjoy. The old DVDS weren’t great in the audio department, as the low budget horror movies didn’t really get the A+ treatment in the mixing department. They were always a bit boxy, tinny and harsh on the highs. Those same tracks have been given a lossless upgrade, and while they sound a bit fuller and richer than the DVDS, they maintain those same flaws from the DVD 2 pack I compared to. The bass is a bit overcooked, but reasonably full and the dialog is a bit muted compared to the effects. A/Bing back and forth I have to say that both tracks have their own pluses and cons. The 5.1 choice is a bit fuller on the surrounds and the LFE, but the 2.0 track has clearer dialog and more localized effects. So it’s rather a personal choice here (though I have to say my choice is the 2.0 stereo track).
Ghoulies II :2.5stars:
“Ghoulies II” is the worst of the two audio wise, as it was recorded REALLY poorly back in 1988. The vocals are harsh and the highs and treble range pretty much ring with distortion, especially during dialog moments. There is some wavering in the volume for the vocals and some of the voices were actually recorded off mic so you can see the lips moving a few times without any sounds being hard. LFE is hot like the original, but its pleasing enough, but those highs and vocals really sound scratchy and thin. I have to come to the same conclusion, I like the 5.1 remixes for the added ambience, but the 2.0 tracks feel more natural in the vocal department.
• From Toilets to Terror: The Making of Ghoulies
• Audio Commentary
• Still Gallery
• More Toilets, More Terror: The Making of Ghoulies II
• Deleted Scenes
• Still Gallery
The Ghoulies series is not what you would consider high art. Most horror isn’t, but the good old days of creature feature horror movies with guts, blood and monsters chomping on people is a guilty pleasure genre all its own. Michael Des Barres himself says it best in the audio interview. “This isn’t Citizen Kane, this is GHOULIES man”! The disc is forged from some old and beaten up masters, but Scream Factory (much like many boutique labels) works with what they are given and the two short films tossed on a nice BD-50 looks reasonably good considering the source materials they are working with. Definitely a rental for those of us who grew up in the 80s.
Starring: Lisa Pelikan, Peter Liapis, Michael Des Barres : Damon Martin, Royal Dano, Phil Fondacaro
Directed by: Luca Bercovici : Albert Band
Written by: Luca Bercovici, Jefery Levy : Charlie Dolan, Dennis Paoli
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 (Both Films)
Studio: Scream Factory
Rated: PG-13 : PG-13
Runtime: 81 minutes : 89 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: April 14th, 2015
Buy Ghoulies/Ghoulies II Blu-ray on Amazon
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