Monsoon-A-Day ‘The Ghoulies Series’

Welcome to Monsoon-a-day.
Where I watch and review a movie a day. Or whenever I fucking feel like it.

Day 68

I’m catching up on all the horror franchises I had either never finished or missed completely. But I’m only reviewing the films in the series I missed. So, if I’m in the middle of a franchise, you will be as lost as I am. All you get is cliff notes summaries. You’re in the shit now, boy.

 

It’s easy to dismiss Charles Band as just another purveyor of cheaply made schlock but the fact of the matter is, he busted his ass to turn his name into an instantly recognizable brand. Producers like Roger Corman, Lloyd Kauffman and Charles Band have been synonymous with B level horror for over 30 years and I respect anyone who works outside of the Hollywood system. The true renegades of cinema, who make their own rules and constantly have to roll the dice with every production. I respect that. Having said that, Charles Band doesn’t necessarily make “good” movies.

There’s an argument to be made on whether or not they’re entertaining but on the whole, his output isn’t very strong. Case in point, Ghoulies. If you frequented any movie rental chain through the mid 80’s to the mid 90’s, there’s a strong chance you saw the Ghoulies poster hanging up somewhere on the wall. Depicting a green little goblin with a blue shirt and suspenders popping out of a toilet with the tagline “they’ll get you in the end!”, the poster has some how burned it’s way into my subconscious.

And it’s a goddamn lie.

At no point in this film, does a ghoulie pop up out of a toilet nor do they wear fucking clothes. They’re naked little hedonists, flaunting their naked green bodies all over the place. Disgusting.

The film is about a man who discovers some black magic paraphernalia in his recently inherited family house. He becomes increasingly obsessed with it and then naturally fucks up and accidentally summons not only some demons (the ghoulies) but his dead father as well.

It’s not good. It’s not a good movie.

The ghoulies of the title don’t show up till the 3rd act and even then barely do anything. The acting is mediocre at best, the plot is slower than cold molasses and the directing is worse than tv quality.

And I repeat: No. Fucking. Ghoulie. Pops out. Of. A. Fucking. Toilet.

 

 

Would you like to take a guess what the most successful aspect of the first film was? You guessed it fictitious person that guessed, it was the marketing. Parents actually called to complain that their stupid ass kids were too afraid to take a shit because a ghoulie would get them.

That poster made that film a legitimate hit. It made Scrooge McDuck money. So a sequel was inevitable. And a sequel meant one thing: toilet popping ghoulies on the poster.

And I love the “just not giving a fuck attitude” of not only reusing the same idea for the first one but this time, putting two ghoulies on the poster instead of one. Genius.

And that’s not the only thing they doubled down on; this thing is bigger in every way. The directing is better (it’s directed by Albert Band, Charles Band’s father. He directed the incredibly underrated I bury the Living. Check it out) the plot is better (the ghoulies actually do something) the acting is better and since it’s set at a carnival, it actually has production value.

The film opens with a guy getting chased by a cult because he stole their ghoulie. I think. I have no idea what the first 5 minutes are supposed to be setting up but I guess the ghoulie hitches a ride on the traveling carnival truck that coincidentally happened to be near by. I honestly can’t remember because the cult is never mentioned or seen again.

Once the ghoulies arrive at the carnival, it’s business as usual. Every ten minutes, some will walk into the haunted house attraction and the ghoulies will kill them. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

But that’s not a bad thing.

Horror always gets shit for being cliche and derivative but when it strays from the formula, it hardly ever works. The first was just a collection of scenes that just kind of meandered without any purpose. They didn’t check any of the horror movie boxes till the last 15 minutes and by then, it was far too late.

Ghoulies 2 might follow the formula to a T but it’s a patented formula that works. And the ending actually goes for it. It’s an ambitious as hell finale that instantly puts this film above 90% of everything Full Moon/Empire ever released.

Oh and a ghoulie pops out of a toilet. So it at least delivers on the fucking poster.

 

 

Remember all those positives I just listed for part 2? Well, the third film flushes all that goodwill down the toilet. (Pun intended)

Instead of summoning the ghoulies with a book like the last two movies, this time it’s a comic book, they can now talk for some reason and the entire film plays like an Asylum (studio that only produces knock off’s of popular blockbusters) rip off version of American Pie. But with murderous hand puppets.

It’s not bad enough to make fun of nor crazy enough to remember. I watched it last night and I can’t remember anything other than a death involving a guy getting flushed down a toilet.

It’s not funny. It’s not scary. It’s not entertaining. It’s like white noise. Avoid.

 

 

There’s a story I’ve heard that I’ve always loved. Back in the day, John Landis and Joe Dante used to go see every single film that would come out. Everything that was released that month. One day, during a particularly terrible film, Landis turns to Dante and says “You know, time is precious.” And they both got up and left.

I’d like to imagine that this was the film to break them.