Scream Factory continues its relationship with Producer / Director Charles Band by releasing their Double Feature Blu-ray edition of “Ghoulies” and “Ghoulies II.” Spawned out of the same “Gremlins” craze “Munchies” and “Critters” were birthed from, these two horror / comedy hybrids are B-movie budgetville gold. The two films differ in tone, but both accomplish what they set out to.
The original “Ghoulies” centers on Jonathan (Peter Liapis), who was almost killed by his father Malcolm (Michael Des Barres) as a child during a satanic ritual. After being saved and raised by Wolfgang (Jack Nance), who has kept him unaware of his background, Jonathan inherits Malcolm’s house and moves in with girlfriend Rebecca (Lisa Pelikan). During a party, he jokingly performs a ceremony described in one of his father’s books on black magic, not realizing he has unleashed small, demonic creatures known as “Ghoulies.”
In “Ghoulies II,” the pint-sized monsters hop aboard a traveling carnival, where their violent behavior and grotesque looks are most likely to go unnoticed. There, the creatures find a new home in a haunted house attraction. As they earn their keep by scaring visitors, the carnival finds itself running in the black for the first time in years. But things quickly turn sour when, to the shock of carny Uncle Ned (Royal Dano), the Ghoulies start taking bites out of the customers.
“Ghoulies” is more serious in tone and plays straight much of the time. However, a group of idiotic partying young adults pave the way for sporadic moments of bad decisions and juvenile hijinks. “Ghoulies II” takes itself less serious and really finds its stride in its last act. As soon as the little creatures take over the carnival and its rides, deadly mischief and mayhem unfold and hilarity ensues. I found the sequel more entertaining and lighthearted because it seemed like it wasn’t taking itself as serious as the original did.
Both “Ghoulies” and “Ghoulies II” are rated PG-13 for violence and gore, profanity, alcohol, drugs, smoking, frightening and intense sequences, and adult situations. Apparently there’s an R-rated version of “Ghoulies II” floating around. According to content notes on IMDb, there’s not much difference between the PG-13 and R versions.
Many religious folks will be offended by the amount of satanic chanting and magical incantations are found in the first “Ghoulies.” I’m not really a fan of it myself and usually just turn down the sound. The sequel is tamer in that aspect and fully embraces its cheesy and schlocky aspects without as much of the seriousness found in the first film. I do have a problem with the fact that they defeat the little monsters by using dark magic to summon a bigger demon to take them out. I never have gotten the whole concept of fighting evil with more evil.
Scream Factory gives fans a healthy dose of bonus material for the “Ghoulies / Ghoulies II” Double Feature Blu-ray. Special features for “Ghoulies” include audio commentary with Director / Co-Writer Luca Bercovici. New interviews with Executive Producer Charles Band, Composer Richard Band, Actor Michael Des Barres, and Special Effects Makeup Artist John Vulich are found in a 30-minute featurette. It also contains a theatrical trailer for the movie.
Special features for “Ghoulies II” include new interviews with Executive Producer Charles Band, Actress Kerry Remsen, and Special Effects Artist Gino Crognale. There are also deleted scenes and a theatrical trailer found.
Scream Factory’s “Ghoulies / Ghoulies II” Double Feature Blu-ray is a great reminder of what movie magic was like before CGI took over. Just like the “Gremlins” films that launched these creature features, we get entertaining puppeteering that makes the movie even funnier when humans are attacked and sent screaming in bloody terror. Stop-motion photography is utilized to perfection as well. If you like your Gremlins a little nastier than what Joe Dante and Steven Spielberg served up, you’ll love Charles Band’s Ghoulies.
Scream Factory’s “Ghoulies / Ghoulies II” Double Feature is available now on Blu-ray.