The fear of evil things rising up from the grave has been a long time fear exploited in cinema since the very start. However there was another place that people feared something evil rising from that was prevented from being exploited in cinema. Thanks to various motion picture codes and snobby censorship boards. the toilet was one household item never shown on seen. It wasn’t until Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho that masses audience got an idea that movie people flush like they do. For decades Hollywood had to avoid the basic fear of something coming up from the toilet while you’re seated. This is not an unfounded fear. There are reports of snakes and rats coming up toilets around the world. Even in major American cities, things have entered instead of being flushed away. Ghoulies went straight to this fear with a poster featuring their demonic critter popping out of the commode. While the film was supposed to merely be a rip-off of Gremlins, Ghoulies quickly gained its own audience. Ghoulies/Ghoulies II brings together the first two entries of the successful series that was a constant rental on VHS at mom and pop videostores in the ’80s.
Ghoulies (1985 – 81:00) starts properly enough with a demonic ritual led by Michael Des Barres (Heroes & The Most Gracious Star in Showbiz). Hard to say what he’s doing with his evil glowing eyes in full effect and what appears to be a human sacrifice. This act turns into a mystery since after the credits, his son (Peter Liapis) has inherited the old man’s vast estate. While digging through the old man’s effects, he finds his various spell books. During a dull party, the kid decides to raise a little Hell with the forbidden words and rituals. This eventually leads to the arrival of the ghoulies. His unholy work sets him about setting up a reunion with his old man. The mayhem has just begun. The film also co-stars Jack Nance (Eraserhead) and Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order: SVU). Viewers will delight in the extreme ’80s hairdos used by the cast.
Ghoulies II (1988 – 89:43) brings back the demons hell and takes them to the circus. A priest’s exorcism ceremony goes to hell and the ghoulies escape on a truck hauling the big top. They take refuge inside the haunted house exhibit which really pumps up the ticket sales. However things go bad when the demonic wee beasties begin to kill the customers. Does a carnival carry insurance for people being devoured my creatures from Hell? Naturally at some point the circus people have to figure out how to kill off their new headliner. If you enjoyed the first Ghoulies, the second dose has enough changes to make it entertaining without losing it’s demonic child-like wonder.
Ghoulies/Ghoulies II is a fine double feature of what can be done when a filmmaker merely wants to get a little action by swiping elements of a major budget massive Hollywood release. Both films do have their toilet bowl surprise, but it’s not the trademarked attack of the ghoulies so it doesn’t become boring after the dozenth time. You’ll want to go to bathroom before you press play. You’ll never squat the same way again after double dosing on Ghoulies/Ghoulies II.
The video is 1.85:1 for both films. The 1080p transfers bring out the detail in the puppets faces and mangled teeth. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD and 2.0 DTS-HD. They do their best to make the ghoulies more creepy with the surround sound noise. The films are subtitled.
Audio Commentary with Director Luca Bercovici covers his experiences with the creepy puppets attacking his cast.
From Toilets to Terror (29:49) is the making of Ghoulies. They talk about making the movies and making a film that captivated and audience on a shoestring. Charles Band, crew and cast discuss the making of the sensation. Band was pals with Stan Winston who helped him understand making the creatures even though he couldn’t afford when Band could finally make the movie. Band admits he made this film cashing in on Gremlins. Band used this film to be his first distribution effort. Luckily Ghoulies was a hit. Michael Des Barres shares his memories and proves he’s the most gracious star in showbiz.
More Toilets More Terror (16:50) covers Ghoulies II. They shot the film in Italy with the carnival set up inside a soundstage to not have to worry about night shooting and weather. Charles said it was kind of nuts with their budget.
Alternate Scenes (2:43) is a bit more gory than what ended up in the film. Those ghoulies are just plain evil.
Ghoulies Theatrical Trailer (1:55) has those party people ready for a ritual. “They’ll get you in the end” is the perfect slogan. Ghoulies II (1:23) pushes the demonic creatures coming to the circus.
Still Gallery (3:32) is a montage of production pics and promo material. Gallery for Ghoulies II (2:12) has all the rides.
Ghoulies/Ghoulies II makes the gremlins look like a sweet pet.
Scream Factory presents Ghoulies/Ghoulies II. Directed by: Philippe Mora. Screenplay by: Luca Bercovici & Albert Band. Starring: Michael Des Barres, Jack Nance, Peter Liapis, Lisa Pelikan, Damon Martin. Rated: R. Boxset Contents: 2 movies on 1 Blu-ray. Released: April 21, 2015.
Tags: Ghoulies, Ghoulies II, Scream Factory