A broke-down carnival haulin’ big rig, a sack full of monsters, and evil cultists…
Besides sounding like a typical Tuesday ’round these putrid parts, these three things kick-off 1987’s Ghoulies II, the sequel in creatures only to 1984’s, Charles Band (Puppetmaster) produced, mini-monsters run-amok pic Ghoulies (bet you didn’t see that one coming) that finds our eponymous creatures livin’ that sweet carny life!
When an escapee from an evil cult deposits a sack of pilfered Ghoulies at a rural gas station, our hero Larry
(Damon Martin) and his booze-soaked uncle/ex-magician Ned (legendary character actor Royal Dano) inadvertently pick up the horrific hitchhikers seeking repair for their eighteen-wheeler.
So, monsters secretly in tow, Larry and Ned return to the carnival… which is facing economic hard times… so much so that the new owner (thanks to his family founding the carnival) wants to make wide-spread changes in order to rake in more cold, hard cash… including eliminating Larry and Ned’s dark ride, Satan’s Den.
Speaking of that ride, the Ghoulies soon make it their home, and their ridiculous and violent antics soon begin to make Satan’s Den the place to be at the carnival… but that popularity may soon wane however, as the titular terrors keep killing people left and right!
As mentioned previously, director Albert Band (Dracula’s Dog, Doctor Mordrid… though better known as a prolific producer, and yes, he’s Charles Band’s pappy) and screenwriter Dennis Paoli’s (Re-Animator, From Beyond, Castle Freak) Ghoulies II keeps the creatures but not the concept or characters from the first outing, but keeps the wacky nonsense (the best kind) and ups the monster madness by a large fraction!
To that end, returning effects maestro John Carl Buechler (Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, among many, many others) and his crew ups the ante considerably with the Ghoulies appearing on screen for much of the film’s runtime, and this time everything from puppetry (as in the first film), to stop-motion animation (courtesy of Empire/Full Moon mainstay David Allen), and full-on man-in-suit action are utilized in a display of creature feature artistry that is a devious delight to behold!
Speaking of delightful, the acting talent on display here is just that, with a sympathetic turn from Dano, a large, surprisingly Shakespearean supporting role for the always awesome Phil Fondacaro (who has been in more cool stuff that you’ve seen than you can imagine) as a member of the Satan’s Den crew, an appearance from Italian exploitation cinema regular Romano Puppo (Escape from the Bronx, Robowar, After Death (a.k.a. Zombi 4), and many more) as the sideshow’s strongman, and a lead romantic role for A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, and Pumpkinhead‘s Kerry Remsen as a former trapeze artist turned belly dancer that falls for Larry… not literally, because she isn’t a trapeze artist anymore…
Honestly some of my favorite actors are the crowd extras that shout “Rats! Rats! Rats!”… a cheer which drives the Ghoulies into a frenzy to up the shenanigans to a fever pitch in order to appease their adoring fans. That is the very definition of “some hilarious shit”, believe you me!
Also in a letter from the “Fuck Yeah” department, the end credits play to the tune of W.A.S.P.’s Scream Until You Like It… and if you’re keeping score at home, my favorite Ghoulie is the cat one because it’s shifty as fuck and has a voice that’s just someone trying to sound like a cat… albeit a demented one…
As for the special features on this Blu-ray release from MVD Entertainment (through their Rewind imprint) we get a new “making of” featurette, an interview (and intro to the film) from Paoli, a selection of deleted scenes, a photo gallery, and a collection of trailers from the Rewind label (Ghoulies II included).
Additionally, a re-edited version of the film’s one-sheet (featuring two Ghoulies and a toilet instead of just one like it’s predecessor… you can just go ahead and say 2 Ghoulies 1 Toilet and get it out of your system… also, someone make a t-shirt of that and send me one… )
Ghoulies II is as absurd as it is awesome, and that makes for one fine funny fright flick through and through… and this edition is the perfect way to “Roll up! Roll up!” to the horror hijinks on hideous hand!