A word of advice to all you young party goers, if a friend of yours suggests you all take part in a satanic ritual, you should consider getting new friends. I think another warning sign is if they invite you over to their house in the middle of the night for dinner and insist that you wear sunglasses for the duration of meal, your spider sense should be tingling. In other words, get the hell out of there, pronto. Peter, the “friend” mentioned above, and his girlfriend Rebecca move into an old mansion that contain some dangerous secrets, and Peter quickly comes under the evil influence of the house itself in 1985’s Ghoulies.
Let me back up a little bit, here. Peter’s father was some kind of satanic priest, and he tries to sacrifice Peter in a ritual when he is still a newborn. His mother begs for his father to let him live and she volunteers her life instead while one of the other followers, Wolfgang (Jack Nance), hurries the baby off and raises him on his own. 25 years later, Peter moves coincidentally into the house where the ritual took place. At first, everything is normal. Peter and Rebecca invite a few friends over for a housewarming party (including “Donna” played by Mariska Hargitay). At the end of the party, Peter suggest they all try to conjure up a spirit, and it starts to head downhill from there.
Peter and the guests don’t think the ritual worked because they didn’t see anything happen, but after they abandon the idea, it turns out that a few demons were actually summoned from another plane. These demons start to have an effect over Peter and he starts to change drastically. First, he drops out of college so he can “clean up the house”, but it’s really just an excuse for him to explore these demonic beings and the power they give him. Soon, he’s neglecting Rebecca and he becomes consumed with these otherworldly beings. What he doesn’t realize, however, is that these demons are using him so that Peter can bring back his long dead father so that he can regain his hold on the power of the underworld and can take over Peter’s body to use as his own.
Ghoulies is a movie I remember as a kid, and the cover of the video always used to scare me a little bit. I would always check the toilet to make sure some little demon in a blue shirt and red suspenders wouldn’t be popping out and trying to eat my ass. While the cover used to scare me, the movie on the other hand, does not. There’s really nothing to be scared of, and there aren’t really even a lot of moments where they try to throw in cheap scares to startle you. It’s basically a power struggle between Peter and his father in the end and the guests of the house are just victims of circumstance.
The characters all fit 80’s horror supporting player archetypes like the stoners, the hot chick, the nerdy guy and the hornball and his girlfriend. They all fill the roles well, but they’re never developed and end up just becoming fodder to the little demons that Peter summons (Michael Des Barres does do a great over the top job of Peter’s father, however). Speaking of fodder, none of the ways the victims are dispatched are ever really shown onscreen, except for in the clip below where Dick thinks with the little head in his pants instead of the head on top of his neck. The characters do each have their humorous moments, however, and they never take away from the real stars of the movie which are the demons themselves.
The demons are some of the worst hand puppets ever created – deformed latex covered in goop and little hairs with someone’s hand jammed up their asses. There are little green fetus type monsters who come out of water or toilets like the one on the cover, then there’s what you’d consider the main monster who gets summoned first who gnashes his teeth a lot. There’s also one that looks like he’s missing half a brain who just has goo dripping out of his nose and they must have spent half the monster budget on some kind of controls that would let them move his eyes around and look confused.
With all that said, Ghoulies isn’t a scary movie, but it is pretty funny and truly ridiculous. In one of the screenshots below, you’ll see how badly they did the green contacts, as they have Peter wearing them and the pupils make it look like his eyes are pointing in two different directions… classic! If you can put up with the monsters and the pretty flimsy story, you can find a lot of enjoyment in it. If you’re a Charles Band fan and you haven’t seen this, then this is another one of his movies that you’ll really enjoy. Ghoulies ends up getting 3 tongue lashes out of 5.