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Nadine Van der Velde
Began life in 1983 as a project called "Beasties", which was to be directed by Charles Band, with creature FX by Stan Winston. The pair had previously collaborated on the monster movie Parasite (1982). See more »
During the levitation scene you can see a puppeteer's finger in one of the ghoulie's mouths when they are all screaming. See more »
[Mike falls over while trying to breakdance]
I think I broke my head.
[standing over Mike]
Oh, thank God. I thought that you actually hurt yourself.
See more »
"Ghoulies" is a classic example of prime 80s cheese.
Having inherited a new house, Jonathan, (Peter Liapis) and Rebecca Graves, (Lisa Pelikan) decide to throw a party to celebrate the occasion, and invite friends Robin, (Charene Cathleen) Donna, (Mariska Hargitay) Dick, (Keith Joe Dick) and Mark, (Ralph Seymour) to do so. As the party goes on, they decide to start playing games and eventually find an old spell book that allows them to perform a Satanic ritual, but are cut off before they can complete it. As they spend more time together and she notices how different he's been acting since his interest in the Black Arts has escalated, she learns of his plot to unleash a swarm of demonic beings upon them, and when their guests become the victims of their vicious attacks, they try to find a way of dealing with the deadly creatures and their true master.
The Good News: There was some good stuff with this one. Perhaps one of the best parts is the fact that this one is so cheesy, it's hard to really feel bad for it. From the look of the creatures, which range from frog-like things to lizard-styled and several other rather cool-looking designs that are portrayed with really fake-looking puppetry just adds a charm to everything that makes it really hard to stay terribly negative for too long. Coupled with the overall feel and tone of the actions in here, this one just has a special 80s-esque cheesy charm about it that it makes for a fun time for those who enjoy those kinds of films. Another big plus is that there's some creepy images here and there to give it an atmosphere which is missing from the cheesier moments and makes for some fun times. The opening séance scene with the cult is really good, due to the actions they take and how they go about them, from targeting a mother and how they stalk her is really good. The resurrection of the creatures is also rather well-done, as they're done in a creepy basement and filled with all sorts of great images, from them coming to life and how they interact with the surroundings and each other is pretty nice. The creatures get one big rampage through the house as they knock off the guests, and that is perhaps the highlight since it's where they get into action and can actually do some damage, which makes them look better and makes for some creepy moments as they play around in the mansion. That's preceded by a nice graveyard segue into it makes it all the better and really interesting. That it's also the longest scene in the film is of no surprise, which makes it so good because it has a chance to let loose and really go, which doesn't happen often. Also quite creepy is a disappearing-doll-gag that, while clichéd, does what it needs and does it well. The last good plus is the finale, which is part cheese and part fun, as it's a magic battle that takes place, which allows for some pretty good action when it needs it. These here are the film's good parts.
The Bad News: This one here is pretty problematic and bereft of several flaws. One of the biggest here is the film's undeniable 80s-era look and feel, which is very beneficial towards calling it cheesy. The characters are all prime candidates for this, in look, appearance and overall behavior, and they're all a big part of this, but the reason why it comes here is due to the creatures. They are so obviously plastic puppets being manipulated by wires around the set since they look very haggardly, display no real awareness of being in the scene required, and then there's their overall look. From the designs chosen here, they look incredibly fake and quite obviously like puppets that there's nothing which sets them apart from dolls and other such figures out there, and it's quite disheartening to see them. Another issue with this one is the fact that this is incredibly short, barely lasting over an hour and not even cracking a hour and twenty minutes of running time. This is far too short to be of anything important, since it's over quite quickly and without much of anything to really get into before that point, and as such there's a real feeling of disappointment here since it's so early into the film that this one just sort of stops without warning, and it's really jagged and noticeable. Another really big flaw in here is that the film just takes so long to get to the titular creatures that it's nearly forever that we get to see them, since the beginning is filled up with the family's dinner party antics, which aren't in the least bit fun or exciting and just prolong the film out even more. This one is just as bad on the other end, as the finale hardly features them at all and takes a back-seat to the magic-based special effects. That is certainly fun, but they take away from the fact that it's a creature feature, and with the creatures appearing late into the film and then having nothing to do but witness the finale without participating, it's almost as though they were an afterthought in their own movie, and therefore it's hard to take them as real threats. That is the film's biggest flaw, and part of why this one falls.
The Final Verdict: As a true example of pure 80s cheese, this one is pretty good but as a horror film, it's not all that great because of the cheesy effects. Recommended viewing for those with a taste for these kinds of films, while those interested should check it out and the ones who aren't into it should heed caution.
Rated PG-13: Violence, some Language and a mild Sex Scene
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