Movie Reviews: Ghoulies (1984) – MVD 4K/Blu-ray

September 12, 2023

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Young Jonathan Graves (Peter Liapis) has just inherited his late father Malcolm’s (Michael Des Barres) estate and moved the hell on in with his girlfriend Rebecca (Lisa Pelikan).

While exploring the arcane abode, the duo find an absolute ass load of Pappy Dearest’s Satanic paraphernalia, which quickly becomes an obsession with our hero… so much so he decides to invite guests (who you absolutely have to see to believe, and who’s ranks include Law & Order: S.V.U.‘s Mariska Hargitay) at his swingin’ new wave housewarming shindig to partake in an occult ritual… you know, just for funsies… right after some spontaneous breakdancing. And if you just said “awesome” to that, you’re already sold on this baby!

However, said ritual appears at first glance to be a dud… but unbeknownst to one and all, one of his father’s homunculus demons, a titular Ghoulie if you will, is summoned forth.

Meanwhile, Jonathan’s mood and life decisions grow ever shittier as he quits college to practice his magic rituals… which admittedly he gets really good at which results in the creation of even more Ghoulies… who he commands to both stay hidden (good luck Chuck on that one… those mother fuckers never stop screaming and hissing like the absolute raving lunatics they so absolutely are), and obey his every command… which at this point will probably turn rather sexually uncomfortable as Rebecca has flown the coop thanks to Jay’s non-stop Devil biz, including mid-coitus… which is a pretty cool time for such things as it fits the whole motif and all…

Anyway, that separation doesn’t last long as Jonathan’s newly conjured, little people/D&D character assistants, Grizzle (Peter Risch) and Greddigut (Tamara De Treaux) simply use their evil powers to make Rebecca do whatever Jonathan wishes… and before long he wishes to resurrect ol’ Malcolm himself!

Director/co-writer Luca Bercovici’s (along with producer Jefery Levy filling out the other part of the writing equation) Ghoulies is absolutely everything you think an ’80s horror movie would be as it’s filled with: dubious fashion, mini-monsters, party-hardy ‘tude, comic book-style Satanism (remember this was unleashed during the height of the infamous “Satanic Panic” that gripped the mind of simpletons throughout the ’80s), slime, zombies, and that rad animated energy that always looks badass… and it’s all brought to you courtesy of Charles Band’s pre-Full Moon Features company Empire Pictures, who’s output absolutely dominated my VHS rental dollars in the heyday of Mom and Pop video stores… hell even Eraserhead‘s Jack Nance shows up here and there…

It’s just this type of psychotronic, anything fucking goes style of filmmaking that just ticks off oh so many boxes in my batty brain… now add in some top notch practical effects courtesy of Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood director/special effects maestro,  the late John Carl Buechler, a delightfully scenery chewing performance from rock star turned thespian Des Barres who comes off like the eponymous vampire in Marvel’s Tomb of Dracula comics… all grand gesture, flowing capes, and Gothic super villain soliloquies, and a nifty score courtesy of Richard Band and Shirley Walker and you have a solid gold wicked winner in my beastly book!

Adding to the fun on this 4K (though this release from MVD Entertainment, through their ‘Rewind’ imprint, comes with an additional Blu-ray… but we’ll get to that in a minute) are a duo of archival audio commentaries featuring Bercovici, and while both provide plenty of information (some over-lapping), the second of the two tracks is my preferred of the two as it’s moderated (by Jason Andreasen of Terror Transmission), and contains less dead spaces.

About that aforementioned DVD… it too contains everything mentioned above, but additionally it features: a video introduction by Bercovici, a half-hour “making of” featurette, interviews with editor/Subspecies franchise director Ted Nicolau, actor Scott Thomson, and Bercovici, theatrical trailers for both Ghoulies and it’s first sequel, an image gallery, and a series of TV spots advertising the film.

Also included is a folded mini-poster displaying a modified version of the film’s one-sheet… and you know the image of a green monster gussied up like Kelly LeBrock coming out of a toilet even if you’ve never seen the film!

Off-the-wall, funny, and vastly entertaining, Ghoulies is a horror comic book flavored wicked winner from start to frightful finish, and this edition is superb!



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