Review Date: December 23, 2007
Released by: Echo Bridge
Release date: 07/03/2007
Region 1, NTSC
Full frame 1.33:1
Over the years I’ve exhibited a pretty love-hate relationship with the Ghoulies
franchise. The notorious poster for the first attained mythic status for my friends and me as kids, so much so that I’d protest going to the bathroom until near self-implosion. Of course, upon finally viewing the first film, it was about the equivalent of said bowel movement. But then there’s Ghoulies II
and Ghoulies Go to College
, which are both God’s gift to brooding young horror fans. As if seeing a creature emerge from a toilet wasn’t already the holy grail to any kid bred on the notion that the fart jokes are legitimate entertainment, but they also had more deaths, more swears, more boobs and more genuine mayhem than the Gremlins
films could ever offer. I’m sure nostalgia alone make these films incapable of fair appraisal, but let’s be honest here, is there any better high concept than having creatures that emerge from a toilet attend a post-secondary institution? I think not.
With the four year gap in between the third and fourth films in the series, I’m sure most of the target market had done as I had and grew up (relatively, of course). Ghoulies
was a series of a time, and by 1994’s Ghoulies IV
that time had expired. While I continue to actively lobby for a Ghoulies Go to College
Criterion, it never really bothered my that the severed finale went for me unseen. Upon reviewing Prom Night a few months past though, I saw this humble sequel amongst Echo Bridge’s assortment of bargain bin titles. Now was the time. So with Ghoulies IV
, is there some amazing, underappreciated socio-political subtext, or, as would be fitting for the series, is a turd simply a turd?
Well, this should be fun. So we’ve got a woman in leather (falsely listed as Barbara Alyn Woods
on the box) doing another makeshift séance on the floor of a warehouse. In her trying, she accidentally opens a path to the netherworld, where, uh, Faust appears and informs her of the calamity. He’s lost a precious jewel, and the only way for him to make the jump into reality is if it is reclaimed. Wait. This is like the first movie. For the love of God. And Jack Nance is dead, so not even he can save this. Oh wait, what’s this, a couple of ghoulies also crossed off into the real world…but they are in potato sacks, and they one is played by the elf from Bad Santa
. Welcome to the doghouse, my friends.
So these two “ghoulies” also roam around the city, but they really do nothing to serve the plot, so that’s the last I’ll mention of them in the synopsis. Instead, this is a movie about a drunken cop (Peter Liapis
, Jonathan Graves from the original), who has reclaimed this jewel and used it to get Hulkian powers. Back in his séance days he had a fling with the leather lady and so here he is again dealing with his past personal, uh, demons. If the film weren’t already unbelievable enough, this schlub also apparently has two other women fighting over his gaze – one is a reformed call girl, and the other his old partner on the force (the real Barbara Alyn Woods
). The drunk self-admittedly can’t even get it up, yet he’s got an entourage of beautiful women clenching at his loins. Take note, lonely readers.
So eventually this jewel gets into the wrong hands, and call girl Jeanine ends up kidnapped and tied up for sacrifice. It’s up to Jonathan to clean up his act, rescue the girl, sever ties to the bondage bitch, reconcile with his witty female partner, and send the ghoulies and the series as a whole, back to the toilet.
reunites us with the protagonist of the first film, yet fans of the films knows the heart of the series lies with the little toilet dwellers. Theoretically this sequel should be a return to the series roots, but without the titular beasts, it couldn’t seem further off course. That’s right, it’s a Ghoulies
film without any real ghoulies. Now, there are two midgets in potato sacks and masks, but anyone who has seen Troll 2
knows that they are goblins. And that they don’t exist. And instead of wreaking havoc like in the previous films, these ghoulie imposters are instead do-gooders. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a ghoulie rescue a woman held up at knifepoint by clubbing a mugger with spare construction equipment. Yeah, these little fellas have none of the edge of the originals. Their most valiant attempt – ogling at women in a “Playpen” magazine, seems so disturbingly off-base that it actually sent me in a philosophical query as to the nature of lust and desire.
Would a ghoulie really be attracted to a woman? Would it not be more enticing for them to see a slimy creature partially submerged in fecal matter? Does reading a “Playpen” thus constitute a form of bestiality? I’ll give these creatures the benefit of the doubt, since they really don’t seem to know what they are doing – considering they observe prostitutes and think the street corner is a good place to thumb a ride rather than finger a pick-up. Whatever the case, the magic of John Carl Buechler’s inventive creature effects are lost to the little people here.
Now, the original ghoulies do make somewhat of a cameo, but only through some out of place flashbacks to the original. The ghoulies from the original sucked anyway. Are they friends with these other ghoulies who crossed onto earth, and if so, why are they such pussies? Instead of getting a movie where monsters tear up the landscape, we instead get another about a drunken cop, a leather clad devil worshiper and a little people version of Jason Takes Manhattan
Now, it’s not a complete loss. The acting isn’t terrible (the back of the box proudly boasts “…one of the more better-acted films of the genre…”), with likable performances from the leads. If you get past the fact that this is not a creature feature, then the lightweight, satiric story isn’t totally without interest either. But still, no death by toilet, no pummeling by plunger, no frat house bedlam. It’s just not the same. Not even a final self-referential promise of “Goulies IV 2” by the goblins can incite any sort of excitement. No, Ghoulies
was a gift to the children of the eighties…we grew up, they grew down. Until the inevitable remake, may we all flush in peace.
It would be fitting that a Ghoulies
movie look like shit, but this one is more just mediocre. Shot and presented here in 1.33:1, there’s a fair bit of grain visible throughout. The cuts between the original film and the fourth are pretty seamless, in that both have a layer of grain and a fairly bland color palette. It’s interlaced, like all Echo Bridge discs, but it still retains a fairly nice clarity. The print is fairly clean, too. It's not reference quality, but it'll at least retire those VHS tapes.
Mono. No problems.
Not even a courtesy flush is included here.
They may have already graduated from college, but this movie is pretty dumb. The film tries to return the series to its roots, but with the ghoulies pushed to the background, it’s little more than a cheap buddy cop film. The image and sound are average, and without any extras, this is a release for fans of the first film only. All other ghoulies fans would be better signing some sort of online petition for the release of the masterpiece that is Ghoulies Go to College
. It is only then that the stench of neglect this trademark eighties series has received will finally dissipate.
Movie - D
Image Quality - B-
Sound - B-
Supplements - N/A
- Running time - 1 hour 23 minutes
- 1 Disc
- Chapter Stops
- English mono