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  Ghoulies Hit 'Em Where It Hurts
Year: 1985
Director: Luca Bercovici
Stars: Peter Liapis, Lisa Pelikan, Michael Des Barres, Jack Nance, Peter Risch, Tamara De Treaux, Scott Thomson, Ralph Seymour, Mariska Hargitay, Keith Joe Dick, David Dayan, Victoria Catlin, Charene Cathleen, Bobbie Bresee
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Some years ago, there was a black mass held in the cellar of this Hollywood mansion led by arch Satanist Malcolm Graves (Michael Des Barres) where he planned to sacrifice his own infant child. However, just as he lifted the knife, his wife couldn't bear to see him carry out the vile act and interrupted him, grabbing the baby from the altar and denying Malcolm his sacrifice - he tried to stop her, but she had placed a magic amulet around the neck of the child which sparked when he tried to touch it. Then occultist Wolfgang (Jack Nance) intervened, vowing to stop the evildoer no matter what it took...

When Gremlins was released, it stirred something in the heart of cheapo movie producer Charles Band, and lo he began to churn out many horror flicks which featured little rubber monsters causing havoc - see also his more famous Puppetmaster franchise. But there was also his Ghoulies franchise, which thanks to a poster which depicted one of said monsters emerging from a toilet with the caption "They'll get you in the end!" stuck in the minds of many frequenting video stores in the eighties, probably because it was so ridiculous but additionally because it spoke to a deep seated fear of something emerging from the bowl when you were sitting on it.

It also stuck in the minds of British video store patrons because that title may as well have been replaced with "Bollocks!", for they meant the same thing in that country, although whether that encouraged or discouraged rentals goes unrecorded. As it was, many who did take a chance on it might have been of the opinion that it may have been all too accurate a name for a film which plodded along as if reluctant to reveal the characters everyone watching it wanted to see. So on settling down with what you were hoping would be a prime slice of eighties cheese, what you actually got was a bunch of low-jinks and some briefly glimpsed rubber creatures which had very little to do with the plot.

Designed by makeup effects man John Carl Buechler, the Ghoulies weren't much to be proud of, basically green, fanged glove puppets that would convince nobody, certainly nobody old enough to be watching this, so as if recognising the disadvantages of building the movie around the little guys there was a heavy Satanist aspect to the story. What this looked more influenced by was The Amityville Horror as Malcolm's unwitting son, now grown to be Jonathan (Peter Liapis), moves into the mansion with his wife Rebecca (Lisa Pelikan), and before they can settle down he is raiding the library for all the occult books he can find, while his eyes take on a glowing green hue as the spirits possess him.

Or rather, he puts in cheap fluorescent contact lenses - really, this was Poverty Row of the eighties we were talking about here. Luckily for his soul and that of his wife and friends (who occasionally show up for the odd party), Wolfgang is still around as the housekeeper, but they evidently had secured the services of Eraserhead's Nance for a limited time, because he's hardly in this, a pity when his accustomed weirdness would have given the movie the boost it desperately needed. Otherwise, Jonathan gets further into trouble with the dark forces until he has ensnared Rebecca too, and brought those friends along for a massacre by Ghoulies, who are accompanied by a clown doll inspired by the one in Poltergeist, and a couple of dwarfs who aren't monsters (one is Tamara De Treaux, who played E.T. once upon a time) but act as Jonathan's minions, though in effect do very little. But then, very little happens here when you get down to it, leaving mediocrity. Music by Richard Band and Shirley Walker.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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