The 1980s are famous, especially in the horror and fantasy genre’s, for its practical special effects. This was before the days of CG and all of those creatures, goblins, monsters, blood and gore had to be created with real materials and the results were often quite spectacular. With the advances in puppetry thanks to innovators like Jim Henson, a wide range of creations came to life before our very eyes. In 1982 it hit a new high of realism with the arrival of E.T. but two years later it got more crude and rude with Joe Dante’s Gremlins. That films spawned years of imitators, one of the most infamous coming less than a year later with Ghoulies.
In a creepy old Hollywood mansion, Jonathan Graves (Peter Liapis) has come home to settle his father’s affairs after his passing. While searching through his father’s belongings, Jonathan uncovers a collection of occult paraphernalia and attempts to summon up demonic forces to try and gain supernatural powers. But the ritual only manages to bring forth an invasion of slimy goblins who overtake the manor and terrorize all who participated in the ritual.
In Ghoulies II, the little monsters escape the mansion and end up taking up residence in a travelling amusement park funhouse called Satan’s Den. The funhouse becomes a smash hit when visitors assume the Ghoulies are just part of the attraction, but when guests start turning up dead.
Ghoulies and Ghoulies II are just bad movies. But they are also a heck of a lot of fun. Most of this is thanks to the outrageously simplistic and badly puppeted Ghoulies themselves. They are barely articulated and really seem to just be crudely running around killing folks for both movies, but this does result in hilariously put together scenes of badly edited effects, crude puppeteering, and gore. But if you are having a retro horror movie night with friends, Ghoulies or Ghoulies II will definitely do the trick. Insanely bad dialogue, over the top gore, and after school special quality acting combined with scenes almost directly stolen from other movies makes for some great laughs and fun. The new Blu-ray double feature from Shout Factory seems to have really given these movies a better treatment than they deserve with great new transfers and loads of special features including new interviews, deleted scenes, commentaries and more. For fans of 80s cheese, this is a gem.