Ghoulies is one hell of a nostalgic for the DSC Team, being younger and hiring it under the old Roadshow VHS banner when we were lads. That little creature coming out of the toilet filled our minds with what could be an awesome fun movie in the vein of Gremlins, however we were treated to an offbeat, surreal occult thriller. As a kid I was confused as I wanted a mindless critter flick, the older I got however, the more I appreciated it. I get frustrated when people compare Ghoulies to Gremlins, as I will explain these are two drastically different (and wonderful) critter movies, in their own rights.
Ok so what is Ghoulies about; A young man named Jonathan inherits an ancient mansion on his 18th birthday in his fathers name; who was the leader of an occult sect that has previously carried out diabolical rituals. More and more Jonathan feels drawn to this old house and its past and even begins with transitioning into a Devil Summoner. He feels alienated more and more; feeling distant from his girlfriend, his friends and his previous life. At a party, he finally gets a ritual going and the “Ghoulies" enter in our world. These little slime pins have already then served his Daddy as henchmen and now perform the same service for Jonathan made. We have a really colourful cast of memorable characters within the group and surprisingly we become attached to them as the nightmare progresses.
The film slowly builds up the psychological and supernatural tension and his guests discover a real treat. As discussed; those going in expecting a Gremlins film may be surprised as the Ghoulies do not show up until later on in the film, this is a slow burn; but the build up and good pacing is rewarding. The Ghoulies can be classified in the same category as"Gremlins" and "Critters": Small slimy monsters who are hiding in every useful angle and just waiting for their victims and fun. Thus seeing a comparison by the general public. However, this is a Charles Band production so it has a camp feel to the entire film, unlike Joe Dantes slick Gremlins Warner bros production. They have a charm to them and each have their own personality and style thanks to some amazing special effects and puppetry. The second half of the movie really goes off the rails…more than we could recall. The wacky nature of it alone, with dwarf henchmen, green eyes etc make it worth picking up to bear witness.
However, one must say that the film has a certain 80s flair, a real innocent charm that makes it a blast. I adore 80s horror and this fits in perfectly in terms of its humour, effects and gore. It is considerably violent in parts despite its M rating. Actually, the real problem people have with the film, is the implementation of the story. One calls the movie "Ghoulies". People I have spoken with thus expected that the monsters are the focus so here (as with Gremlins). Lets put it this way; in Dawn of the Dead; the zombies are not the focus, but an element to the film, this is how I see Ghoulies. The little monsters are no more than one type Sidekick to the possessed occultist and pop up anywhere in the film; here and in between, and in the background.
To conclude; I recommend this film to any fans of cult cinema, it’s an essential, just a word of warning to recap, go into it expecting a supernatural occult thriller and you will have a much better time. Thankfully Glass Doll Films have used a foreign piece of art that shows off this element and nails the theme of the film perfectly. The film actually has three sequels, Ghoulies 2 which is a personal and childhood favourite of mine (and some would argue the best in the franchise), Ghoulies 3 goes to college (also brilliant) and 4…which is ahhh different. Oh by the way for Law and Order fans SVU (like myself, no shame) Mariska Hargitay makes an appearance.
Ghoulies here is presented its original Original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. For such a low budget production, it looks fantastic. It appears to have been struck from the same HD master MGM provided to scream factory and 101 films in the UK. But this is a PAL disc and ran a lot better in motion. There are no signs of dirt or print damage, its a very nice print with rich colours and black levels. Also no signs of ghosting or Noise reduction, this is as good as this film will look for now.
Ghoulies sounds...great. This disc has 2 audio options. An English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
and English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The soundtrack really pops; when you hear that mischievous soundtrack blasting; its incredibly sharp with no muffling or pops. The dialogue comes off very crisp and is overall a very solid mix.
Special Features: 5/5
Fellow Blu Ray maniacs living overseas you may want to (Not may you should) import this disc. The amount of effort that Glass Doll has put into this release really does make it the superior and best version to own worldwide.
Luca Bercovici Introduction
A great short intro explaining his joy that there is still a fanbase for this film and how much he appreciates it.
Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Luca Bercovici & Jason Andreasson
Very informative commentary going into the background and production history, makes you wonder if Gremlins actually ripped off Ghoulies as they were being made around the same time.
Just 'cos of the Chick, Man! - An Interview with Luca Bercovici
An exclusive and informative interview just for this release.
The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste - An Interview with Scott Thomson
Another fantastic interview with the actor who played mike; once again informative in how he got involved.
Editing An Empire - An Interview with Ted Nicolau
Yes, Glass Doll are aware how much we treasure the iconic art and haven't forgotten it.
A stunning full colour booklet on how Ghoulies helped build the Charles Bands Empire films, very fun and engaging read.
To conclude this is a must buy, a solid entertaining slice of Charles Bands history, Solid audio and Video and an insane amount of effort put into the packaging, extras and art. To have this this is a local Australian release has us pinching ourselves.