A young man and his girlfriend move into an old mansion home, where he becomes possessed by a desire to control ancient demons.
Im sure that everyone of my age group will have fond memories of browsing the shelves of their local video shop, being mesmerised and intrigued by the sheer number of awesome looking video box covers. And I'm sure that, like me, a good number of you would have one or two particular titles that both intrigued, but you never got to see!
For me, one of these titles was Ghoulies. There was just something about the image of a goblin type creature, emerging from a toilet that sent my 7 year old imagination into overdrive.
I did eventually get to see the film, about 10 years later, when i purchased an ex rental cassette from our local Blockbusters. Boy was i disappointed. Not that it was the worst film i had ever seen, but it didn't live up to my 7 year old self’s imagination.
So, what exactly is Ghoulies about?
Originally released way back in 1985, Ghoulies(directed by Luca Bercovici) follows Jonathan Graves (Peter Liapis) and his girlfriend Rebecca (Lisa Pelikan). They have just moved into a dilapidated old mansion that was previously owned by his father. After making the place a bit more liveable, he starts to learn truths about his old man that he
never knew. In essence, dear old Daddy was a Satanist!
From here, some unexplained, evil force starts to take possession of Jonathan, and he starts to become obsessed with learning more about his dad’s occult pastimes. He manages to summon a horde of tiny, goblin type creatures, and worryingly a pair of Demon Midgets! From here, Jonathan invited 6 of his best friends to the mansion for a dinner party, where he plans to sacrifice them as he believes this will resurrect his dead father.
Now, I've been around the block enough now to realise that you cant count on the cover art of a film to tell the whole story, but with Ghoulies i actually did feel cheated. The title, artwork and even the trailer to the movie all had you believe that the movie was all about the Ghoulies, the toilet dwelling goblins from hell. But that couldn't be further from the truth. If anything, they seem like an afterthought(the iconic toilet scene from the front cover lasts all of 5 seconds). The main focus of the film is Jonathan’s battle with his fathers evil spirit.
The acting in the film is just what you would expect from an 80’s horror film. Peter Liapis, although a little cheesy, does perform well most of the time. The rest of the cast range from 100% pure over the top cheese, to unspectacular.
Where the film does fall down though, is the cheap looking special effects, and VERY cheap looking costume design. The Ghoulies themselves(when they are afforded screen time) look very cheap and rubbery. The natural comparison to the Ghoulies, are the Gremlins. Even if you take the difference in budget into consideration, the difference is like night and day.
The matted in special effects, like the lightening bolts and “demonic” eyes and the like, are at times hilarious, and caused my other half to laugh at the sheer “naffness”(her word!).
The plot itself, seems a bit conflicted to me. Its almost like the script was locked in, then the studio’s marketing team decided they wanted the film to be “just like Gremlins”. This leaves a few “what was that about” moments in the film. I wont spoil them, as they were some of the most(unintentionally) entertaining. The narration o the film, is very hit and miss, appearing randomly at the most obscure times.
Its not all bad though. When they do appear, the Ghoulies are very entertaining. The sheer number of different types is impressive. Also in contrast to the naff costume design, the set design really is appealing.
To sum up, if you saw this movie as a kid, you will love it to this day, but if you built it up in your head(like me), it may be best left alone. One thing is for sure though, the new Blu-Ray release that i watched made sure that Ghoulies never looked so good!