I am a grown ass man and I’m sitting in the dark at four in the morning watching Ghoulies. It’s at this point that one is given pause to ponder upon the decisions made in life. Then it hits me – Ghoulies is giving me an existential crisis? OK, so we won’t go all that far, but it has made me question my choices. I gladly volunteered to tackle this edition of Late to the Party – one of my favorite segments to cover here – and I had the option to review either Phantasm II or this… I chose Ghoulies. I’m almost ashamed of myself.
Oh boy, where to start? So I have not ever seen this movie until now, but (like most people) I know this movie from it’s infamous cover it – which upon reflection should have qued me in to what I could expect from this film. That being a little green Ghoulie rising out of a toilet. Somehow I used to think this was such a cool design. I was also seven at the time. Back then you could go to any movie rental, trick your parents that you were going to go check out Nintendo games and then sneak your way over to the horror aisle. There among all the Friday the 13th and Freddy movies you would see Ghoulies in all its toilet goodness. Something about that little green monstrosity was amazing to my little naive mind.
Ghoulies was also a product of the infamous Satanic Panic era that ran wild in the 80’s. If you grew up in a church-going home back then you’re probably well aware that Satan wanted nothing more than to rip out our little kiddie souls. According to the ultra conservative crowds NOTHING was safe. Smurfs were evil, He-Man figures were dragging us to Hell, and Saturday Morning cartoons were the portal to Satanism. You younger readers may think I’m over-exaggerating this a bit, but oh no. It was really that bad. Let my buddy the Cinema Snob tell you more about it right here:
The Satanic Panic was a very real thing. So naturally movies about demons and Satanism were all the craze, and a lot of times they went a little too far (little demon popping out of a toilet for example).
Ghoulies is all about Satanic practices. Our lead character Jonathan (Peter Liapis) inherits an old house from his father. Come to find out dear ol’ dad was deeply involved in the Occult, so much so that he nearly killed little baby Jonathan in a botched ritualistic sacrifice. Now, years later (and with no memory of nearly being a burnt offering as a babe of course) Jonathan discovers his dead father’s Satanic paraphernalia. What do you do when you find an old moldy book of black magic demon summoning spells? Why you throw a party and summon yourself some snotty nosed little demons right in front of your friends of course!
Demons – oh sorry, Ghoulies – are raised from Hell. Jonathan is impressed by his own demonic awe and makes it rain in his basement. He runs around in some really silly looking robes and uses an elementary-school theater prop as a trident of power! I’m sure this sounded absolutely killer on paper when the screenplay was hot off the press. What we get though is pure silliness as evil shenanigans take place in the house of goofy Hell. And they all play it so fucking seriously.
I know this movie is categorized as horror/comedy, but we gotta be honest here. American Werewolf in London, Return of the Living Dead, Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Little Shop of Horrors, Ghostbusters, Snakes on a Plane are all examples of how that genre works. Ghoulies feels like it falls into this category by default and not intentionally. The movie does feel like it could exist in the same universe of the Troll movies. Just as silly.
We are treated to some of the greatest over-acting imaginable as Jonathan grows in evil power, so much so that his eyes glow lime green. His evil Satanic dad is resurrected from the grave (I think completely by accident too) out in the back yard and it becomes a battle of the necromancers! I mean just look at this nonsense.
This is a movie I had way too much fun watching. I wish I could divide the film up into sections and just review or comment on each fragment. If ever a film deserved the Manic treatment it’s this one right here. So this has been you pal, Manic Exorcism. Thanks for joining me as we waded along the green stinking sewers of horror’s history. I hope everyone has a very Happy Thanksgiving. Safe travels to everyone, eat up, make memories and be safe on Black Friday. And once you’ve filled up on all the turkey or pumpkin pie Thanksgiving provides and make your way to the bathroom…be sure to check your toilet. This movie promises that they will get you in the ‘end’.