Charles Band Spotlight (Part 2: Ghoulies)
Welcome back to our look at Charles Band productions. Last time we checked out his most famous works, which was the Puppet Master franchise. Next up we have a film that I actually had no idea his name was even on. This time we’re hitting up Ghoulies.
When I’m talking about iconic box art, I think a lot of people can remember Ghoulies. In fact I remember this movie kind of came back for me when I was trying to remember the name of it. My friend and I were standing there trying with all out might to remember what the name of the movie with “the little monsters coming out of the toilet on the cover”
I definitely remember this movie from when I was a kid in the video store. I just wish that the box art wasn’t the best thing about this it. Before we go into the movie, let’s talk about that cover. So we have a Ghoulie coming out of a toilet? I always wondered what that was supposed to imply. The story goes that, they just sent the image to the studio as a joke, but it tested so well that they actually filmed a scene in the movie with it after the fact. Oddly though, in the picture that Ghoulie is wearing a t-shirt and suspenders. He’s actually naked in the movie so…yeah weird.
Ghoulies was released by MGM on good old fashioned analog in 1985. It was supposed to be directed by Charles Band himself but that “honour” went to Luca Bercovici.Band kept the producing credit by way of Empire Pictures, which he was a part of before Full Moon. It achieved moderate success on the home video front. It’s a horror-comedy and for a movie that came out before Puppet Master, it really showcased Bands “leanings” I guess you could say. He always seems to have, the idea of a big mansion with a bunch of hapless people in it. Add a bunch of little guys that are adorable while being deadly and you have the basic premise.
I really wish I could give you a real idea about what goes on in this movie, but it’s so absolutely all over the place it’s kinda hard. The entire movie jumps from scene to scene and situation to situation. Even with all of the strange decisions about editing, it’s not a complex plot by any means.
Basically Jonathan and his girlfriend Rebecca move into a big old mansion that belonged to Jonathan’s parents. The idea is that they’ll fix up the house while going to college. It doesn’t take long until Jonathan discovers old books about black magic and satanic rituals. He becomes compelled to perform these rituals by some unknown dark force.
They throw a party and for some reason decide that a good time killer would be holding a summoning of some kind. Like that would honestly be suggested at a party with a bunch of college kids. “Hey guys, who wants to summon demons?” They didn’t strike me as the D&D crowd. They do the ritual but nothing happens right away; of course though they managed to summon one of the Ghoulies that looks like a rat on steroids.
Jonathan starts to act stranger and stranger, the scene where Rebecca finds out he has been moonlighting as a Satanist is hilarious. Picture this guy in the basement in a fancy robe with a fucking trident that looks like it was made by a high school theatre class. He’s there just screaming his lungs out and boom, his girlfriend walks in with a well placed “What are you doing?” He just stands there looking totally shocked like she just caught him jerking off to some messed up porn. Worse! She caught you roleplaying!
The acting in this movie is cheesy as all hell. It’s not the worst I’ve ever seen but it’s pretty bad. Dialogue is so stiff and completely random. Attempts at humour are pretty awkward. It’s even worse when they are trying to be dramatic. One scene, Rebecca is trying to run away from Jonathan who is pretty far gone at this point, she falls down the stairs and while she is falling she screams “Why Jonathan why!?” Needless to say the parts that are supposed to be serious will get the best laughs.
I know what you’re thinking, this post is half over and you haven’t said anything about the “Ghoulies” yet. You know what this movie is actually about? Well welcome to my world. The Ghoulies don’t actually show up to do anything until about halfway.
The Ghoulies seem to be summoned to do the bidding of whoever is calling them. In that way they’re loyal to Jonathan. They look ridiculous, even by 80’s creature standards. They’re clearly just fancy hand puppets, sprayed with water to make them look slimy or something. Some scenes are decent with them, but most of the time all I kept thinking of was how they are like Jim Henson’s nightmare.
Oh I forgot, the Ghoulies aren’t the only things that get summoned, there is also two midget servants named Gizzel and Greedigut. They seem to be just more powerful servants, who have knowledge of magic.
The mysterious dark force drives Jonathan to perform one big ritual, and it all becomes clear who was really pulling his strings and who truly commands the Ghoulies.
The “deaths” if you could call them that, all come at the very end and in quick succession of eachother. I put deaths in quotations because…fuck it I’m spoiling something. For some reason, they all are alive again at the end of the movie. They get chewed up and attacked by the Ghoulies and other things. Then they all writher and snake their way to the basement like zombies; then at the very end they all run out of the house together, no injuries whatsoever. I seriously don’t get it.
When I was young this movie was great, but I think that it really is an example about how some things just don’t age well as you get older. The special effects are bad, the creatures are pretty bad and whatever plot there is, isn’t exactly inspired. Even by horror movie standards. That being said, Ghoulies spawned a bunch of sequels and pretty good cult following. I should point out that this movie is fucking Shakespeare compares to Ghoulies III: Ghoulies go to College.
Stay tuned, we’re gonna take a look at one More Charles Band Production before we close the toy box on this one.