Sunday, 15 May 2016

Ghoulies (1984)

Another Charles Band direct-to-VHS staple from the halcyon days of the Entertainment In Video label now comes to Blu-ray courtesy of 101 Films. There now follows a review refreshingly free of all the cheap jokes you might have been expecting at the expense of a title that is just begging for all kinds of phrases that include the words ‘grab’ or ‘grabbing’. But not here, oh no, I’m above that sort of thing.

"You muppet!"
GHOULIES was Charles Band’s rip-off of Joe Dante’s GREMLINS but bears very little similarity to it, other than featuring tiny creatures that cause mayhem. Otherwise the storyline is very different (and somewhat less coherent). 

Melty ghoulie
At some kind of satanic ceremony, Malcolm Graves (a deliciously over the top Michael des Barres who’s almost the only one here who pitches his acting at the level of quality of the material) tries to sacrifice his baby son Jonathan while little rubber puppets and assembled coven members look on. He’s thwarted by Jack Nance (!) who then provides us with intermittent voice-overs throughout the film to assist coherence (not sure it works, though). He also turns up as some kind of wizard at the end.

Finding this random still in a film book would have made me want to see this film 

Now grown up, Jonathan (Peter Liapis, whose acting would only match the quality of the script if said script had been carved onto a rather dull oak tree) and his girlfriend Rebecca (Lisa Pelikan - the same) move into Jonathan’s old house. A 1980s party with 1980s friends and appalling 1980s breakdancing ensues, followed a bit later on by a 1980s satanic ritual that eventually causes the ghoulies of the title to appear. 

Graves back from the grave
I don’t think they’re ever referred to by name, by the way. In appearance they resemble a muppet collection that some child’s evil older brother has taken a blowtorch to but got stopped before they could melt the things completely. Their glove puppetness is amusing and actually a little bit appealing, but unfortunately (and typically for a Charles Band production) they’re not on screen for anywhere near long enough. 

Oh yes I'd want to watch a film with this in it too.
Instead the plot busies itself with Malcolm coming back to life and overacting even more than before. I do hope Michael des Barres managed to perform in the version of THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW in which he truly belonged. Otherwise all this stuff is a bit plodding, and despite a playful Richard Band score (with extra bits by Shirley Walker) the film feels longer than its 82 minutes.

Th-th-th-th-that's all folks!
An understandably bewildered-looking Luca Bercovici provides us with a special director’s introduction in which he refers to GHOULIES as a ‘silly horror film’ and says he’s amazed it’s still around thirty years later. He’s right on both counts. He also provides us with a feature-length audio commentary that completes the extras for this UK disc. 101’s Blu-ray transfer looks very nice, though. 

GHOULIES is out on UK Blu-ray and DVD from 101 Films now

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