Even if you’ve never seen Ghoulies, you more than likely have seen this iconic image of a ghoulie popping out of a toilet. It was used on the original movie poster with the clever tagline “they’ll get you in the end”, and the toilet theme continued for the posters of the sequels in the franchise. Sadly, these movies are not about demonic beings attacking your behind while going to the bathroom, although maybe that’s a good thing since that would potentially traumatize me from using a toilet the way Sleepaway Camp traumatized me from attending summer camp. Ghoulies is what you’d expect: a low-budget horror film that capitalized on the popularity of Gremlins although the two films are nothing alike.
In the beginning of the film, we meet Malcolm, who is dressed up in robes and conducting some type of ceremony at a gathering at his manor. It’s obviously some type of evil ceremony, as Malcolm demands that his own infant son needs to be sacrificed for the ceremony to take effect. However, a couple of the participants at this gathering think killing an infant is just taking things too far, and one of them, Wolfgang, takes the baby to safety. Flash forward many years later and we meet Jonathan, who is the infant child now all grown up. He has recently inherited the manor that belonged to his father although he doesn’t remember anything of who his father was. All we know is that his dad died some horrible death, and, unknown to Jonathan, is buried on the property. As Jonathan starts cleaning and fixing up the house with his girlfriend, Rebecca, he comes across dad’s old black magic guide and begins to read and experiment with the spells in the book. And little does he know that it’s dad’s spirit that’s guiding him to become more obsessed with exploring the realm of black magic, since dad wants to come back from the dead and finish the ritual he started at the beginning of the movie. So, Jonathan’s first order of business is to conduct a spell that summons forth the ghoulies, followed by another ritual that summons a pair of dwarves.
Okay, now things are getting really weird. And in the end, are these ghoulies and dwarves devoted to their master Jonathan, or their original true master Malcolm? And also, why were these things summoned in the first place?
This movie is decent, low-budget fun. So the plot doesn’t really make much sense, but I don’t think that really matters, and I found myself enjoying the storyline despite its silliness. Jonathan says in the movie he wants to gain knowledge and power as a result of dabbling in black magic, but overall those are some pretty vague goals. Knowledge of what? There’s no explanation into what the purpose of these dark rituals and ceremonies are. To be the most evil badass out there? And when the ghoulies do arrive, they kind of hang out for a bit, like pets, until later in the film when they finally start attacking people. We don’t know where they come from. Hell? Who knows? Either way, I liked these ghoulie creatures, and I felt like the movie could have made more use of them. If you’re going to call the movie Ghoulies, then let these guys be the center of attention and let them do some crazy stuff (I’ve only seen parts of Ghoulies II and they seem to get crazier in that one).
And then there’s Wolfgang, who disappears through most of the movie only to just show up and reveal that he is, indeed, more badass than Jonathan and Malcolm combined! Where did that come from? So while the movie is campy and absurd, I guess my only complaint is that the ghoulie action could have been ramped up more. Is this a great movie? Of course not, but that’s not why you seek out a film like this.
So just sit back, relax, and take in the goodness that is Ghoulies.