Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Ghoulies (1985)

One of the more enjoyable Gremlins rip-offs to come along in the 1980s (though nowhere near as much fun as Critters), Ghoulies is a bit of inspired lunacy that almost provides fun entertainment. Almost. Unfortunately, the separate parts don't come together to form a completely satisfying whole.

There's a bit of hocus pocus from yesteryear to kick things off before the movie then moves forward to the here and now. Jonathan (Peter Liapis) and Rebecca (Lisa Pelikan) move into an old mansion and while they do all of the usual 1980s stuff - bicker at each other, throw a big party, wear some dodgy fashion choices - it's not long until Jonathan finds himself becoming obsessed with the occult and a plan to raise up and control the titular creatures.

When I first saw Ghoulies in the mid to late '80s, I had no idea that it was attempting to be both a horror and a comedy. I just thought that it was stupid. It IS stupid, but it's also relatively entertaining now that I'm old enough to see the humour. Directed by Luca Bercovici (who co-wrote the script with Jefery Levy), it throws in everything but the kitchen sink and it almost works.

The cast may not be all that great, but they're not all bad either. Liapis and Pelikan are involved in many of the more ridiculous moments so they do okay with what they're given, Michael Des Barres gets to be all menacing and over the top and Scott Thomson gets to be, as always, the guy who makes viewers say: "isn't that him from Police Academy?" There isn't really anyone else too recognisable in the cast, with the notable exception of Mariska Hargitay in the role of Donna (her feature film debut, a role that I don't think she mentions too often in interviews about Law & Order: SVU).

A lack of star power isn't too bad though, not when the ghoulies themselves are the stars of the show. While they may not be top tier practical creations, the puppets at the centre of much of the action have a great mix of personality and nastiness. As flawed as the film is, it has that one essential ingredient and that was enough, alongside a few enjoyable moments here and there, to lead the way towards a tidy profit and a few sequels.


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