Blu-ray Review: Hobgoblins

During the ’80s, a mom and pop videostore could only afford to buy a few copies of a hit movie on VHS to rent. Each tape cost about a $100 to buy from the distributor so a shop owner didn’t want to go nuts stocking the shelves since they needed the title to continually rent for nearly two months to turn a profit. This meant a lot of people would show up to rent Germlins 2 only to find the empty boxes on the shelf and the tapes already checked out. But since they gone through the misery of driving to the Videorama, why go home empty handed? If you couldn’t watch Gremlins 2, perhaps you’d want to rent Hobgoblins that has critters that look like the evil gremlins on the cover? Perhaps its a flustered parent who can’t tell the difference between Gremlins and Hobgoblins? The price of the Hobgoblins VHS was less so there was an incentive to keep it on the shelf near the always missing Gremlins box. Now you can enjoy Hobgoblins in Blu-ray without getting confused that its not that other film.

An old security guard and the newbie hire are supposed to make the night rounds of an old movie studio. The newbie is told to not worry about one space, but the kid wanders inside anyway and finds a protected vault. He opens it up and has a massive vision of being a rock star. Before he can live his dream, he’s found on the floor ripped apart by the old guard. Kevin (Tom Bartlett) immediately gets hired to be the new newbie and there’s no talk of the sudden vacancy. He wants prove to his girlfriend Amy (Paige Sullivan) that he’s a tough guy. On his second night, he and the old guy chase an intruder around the lot. This has Kevin find the vault and open it up. That’s when he releases the hobgoblins. The creatures will tap into a person’s fantasy before killing them. They are also attracted to bright lights. It’s up to Kevin to track them down. Trouble hits close to home when the hobgoblins attack the home of Amy and her new wave friends. Can he protect them from the menace he unleashed on Los Angeles?

The film was severally low budget. Director Rick Sloane (Vice Academy) claims it cost him $15,000 to make which is astounding for a 35mm production. A bit part of that budget must have been for puppet fur. The acting performances have that kind of awkward nature normally reserved for adult films made in 1988. Although when you’re acting against puppets, you can be a little bit off. The film is goofy fun especially the visit to Club Scum where Amy shows her non-prudish side.

While it’s easy to say Hobgoblins cashed in on Gremlins, I sense that this movie inspired a studio and Oscar-winning director to rip it off as payback. What TV series is about a bunch of furry creatures locked up in a vault on the studio grounds that escape and cause wacky havoc? Sounds like Animaniacs owes its premise to Hobgoblins. Did Warner Brothers and Steven Spielberg take from Hobgoblins as much as it took from their film?

Hobgoblins has remained a popular while so many of its clone kin have ended up decomposing like the VHS stock of abandoned mom and pop videostores. Why? Because Mystery Science Theater 3000 used it as a weapon of pain against Mike, Crow and Tom Servo during season 9. Although unlike many MST3K films that need the riffs of the Satellite of Love crew, Hobgoblins is unintentionally hilarious without help. This is an ’80s cheesy horror delight.

The videos is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfer brings out the garish and bright ’80s fashions and the details on the hobgoblin puppets. The audio is DTS-HD mono. The level and mix is rather good for such a low budget flick. Seems like they didn’t scrimp on an audio crew. The movie is subtitled.

Archival Commentary Track with director Rick Sloane recounts how he put together a low budget film with puppets.

Hobgoblins Revisited (18:55) is a rather fine documentary from Ballyhoo. They make the MST3K bonus features. They get cast and crew to describe the joy of working with evil puppets.

Interview with hobgoblin creature fabricator Kenneth J. Hall (10:58) allows the writer of Nightmare Sisters to show us how he made his critters. He traces how he got involved in the film world.

Hobgoblins: The Making of a Disasterpiece (27:38) brings together cast and crew to discuss how this movie has changed their lives. We get to meet the original typewriter used to produce the script.

Hobgoblins Invade Comic-Con (4:51) has Rick Sloane and actress Kelley Palmer roaming around the San Diego mega-event. They do a signing to promote a previous DVD that doesn’t look nearly as good as this Blu-ray.

Trailer (2:06) sells the critters.

DVD has all the features of the Blu-ray.

Vinegar Syndrome presents Hobgoblins. Directed by: Rick Sloane. Screenplay by: Rick Sloane. Starring: Tom Bartlett, Paige Sullivan, Steven Boggs, Kelley Palmer. Running Time: 88 minutes. Rated: Unrated. Released: October 25, 2016.

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