To cash in on the success of Joe Dante's “Gremlins” in 1984, an old project was reworked by veteran exploitation house Empire Pictures, and carefully edited to ensure a fairly broad audience.
While the first half begins as a classic B-movie, with star Peter Liapis discovering the mysterious paraphernalia in the basement, the movie veers into less controversial terrain by having the ghoulies (technically ghouls feed off cadavers, but I guess they acquire a taste for carrion after tasting some of the living?) terrorizing the cast of college kids (largely played by college grads), with Michael Des Barres chewing the scenery in his inimitable way. No nudity, no nasty gore, and very PG-13 for the rental market, “Ghoulies” is also notable as the screen debut of Mariska Hargitay (TV's “ER” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”), and like her fellow castmates, she earns deserved sympathy for her Big Hair, and classic Eighties attire.
MGM's anamorphic transfer is made from a very clean print, with nice colours and a good mono soundtrack, featuring an early score co-composed by Shirley Walker (with Empire house composer Richard Band).
The anamorphic trailer is in decent condition, using an overly lighthearted narrator, and the iconic ghoulie-in-the-toilet finale – the anti-“Gremlins” logo, so to speak.
Because the world demanded it, a sequel appeared in 1987.
© 2003 Mark R. Hasan
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