There are movies you watch because they have a reputation of being so-bad-they’re-good. And then, there are movies you watch expecting nothing but nostalgic cheesiness that turn out to be very good. Ghoulies, directed by Luca Bercovici and released in 1985, is one of the latter.
As a child, Jonathan was almost killed by his father during a satanic ritual. After being saved and raised by Wolfgang, who has kept him unaware of his background, Jonathan inherits his father’s house and moves in with his girlfriend. Through his explorations of the house he begins unlocking the secrets and latent powers contained within his new found home. But there are other dark powers at work in the house. It is foretold that Evil will triumph and Ghoulies will walk the earth…
Ghoulies is indeed cheesy B-movie goodness at its best but it also offers more than that. I was pleasantly surprised as the movie is more character-centered than I anticipated. In that regard, the title is misleading as the creatures are only a secondary aspect of the story and are not the main attraction. Instead, the movie focuses on its main character, Jonathan, who becomes obsessed with understanding a past he knows nothing about. Ghoulies is about Jonathan playing with evil forces rather than creatures causing mayhem.
The acting is overall what you would expect from a B-movie but Peter Liapis, portraying Jonathan, really shines and gave an excellent performance. Most of the characters are cliché and yet very likable, even the stereotypical jerk was not as annoying as you’d expect.
The design of the ghoulies was well-made considering the budget of the film. All the creatures are different so it adds a nice variety to the mix. Though the animation wasn’t very good and the eyes looked lifeless, they were extremely fun to watch. If you have any affection for 80’s B-movies, you will love them ! My personal favorite was the green goblin featured on the original poster of the film.
Rather than making another typical creature-feature, the director made the wise choice of building a real story integrating the ghoulies rather than use the script as an excuse to show them. Though they are not shown enough, they are used in a smart way as they seem to become a physical representation of Jonathan’s unhealthy obsession with the occult and finding out about his dark past.
To conclude, Ghoulies is a great B-movie experience which I highly recommend. I was expecting somewhat of a bad movie and was pleasantly surprised to watch a well-constructed story with interesting characters and really fun creatures.