Well, the time has finally come. Scream Factory finally dug around in the MGM back catalogue and unearthed the minor cult classic that is Ghoulies, and it’s first sequel; Ghoulies II.
But surprise, surprise! Scream deemed the original Ghoulies movies good enough to push the boat out and create some new special features for both movies too.
“Come. I order thee. In the name of the most holy trinity”
Remember Freddy’s Dead? The sixth (and final) nightmare of the original series? Originally when shown in theatres – some home video markets, and latter DVD – the finale was shown in 3-D. The main character in the movie put on her magical glasses to travel through Freddy’s brain, as we, the audience did the same. Thus the 3-D began and saw Freddy’s demise in rather murky red and green anaglyph 3-D until the main character took the glasses off. It was a neat little trick that made no real sense other than to get viewers into theatres. Because of which, most home video transfers of the movie are in regular 2-D, and the clunky ending now consists of characters pointing things at the camera rather pointlessly. SO, what do you think it would have been like using almost exactly the same gag for Ghoulies? Well, it was closer than you think.
About midway through Ghoulies, Jonathan has been instructed by his two conjured dwarves that in order to gain “knowledge and POWER” he needs to perform a very dangerous ritual with seven other acolytes – or in this case his unwitting friends and girlfriend. It begins at a dining room table filled with a cornucopia of food and wine. The only thing which seems a tad weird (aside from the many demons frolicking in their food) is that they are all wearing sunglasses! I’d always figured it was so that the guests didn’t spot the monsters in their food – and the fact that Jonathan’s eyes glow green the more “evil” he gets. Well, no. Not exactly. The gag was supposed to be the same as that in Freddy’s Dead. When the characters had their glasses on, so should you! That whole sequence was supposed to of been filmed in 3-D! Just as parasite (Band’s previous movie) had been shot previously. A full day was shot using the 3-D camera but according to Band, many theatres wouldn’t carry the film due to the two different dimensions; 2D AND 3D! So the idea was quickly scrapped, but the sunglasses remain. A great little titbit of information learnt from Scream Factory’s new Blu Ray release!
Ok. So there have been a few reviews abound the net complaining that the HD transfer of Ghoulies isn’t quite up to scratch. And it’s true! Why? Because the movie is THIRTY years old and shot on a shoe string budget! MGM struck both the transfers for Ghoulies and Ghoulies II some years back when their MGM HD channel began showing their back catalogue. I doubt for one moment, MGM would have struck a transfer for any other occasion – especially not for an individual release from that big of a studio!
Suffice to say this transfer is about as good as we’re going to get without striking a new one from the original negatives. Regardless, Ghoulies has NEVER looked (or sounded) this good! This new BD showcases the drool and detail far better than the DVD did. I recall when the original MGM double feature DVD came out. Everyone was raving, saying it looked amazing! Well, inevitably we have become jaded with the sheer amount of re-mastered and re-struck 2k and 4k movies available right now. Sure, Ghoulies carries a little more grain than Ghoulies II. But it’s a much darker movie, and looks rightfully like one. This version of Ghoulies (struck from the same master as the previous DVD) is superior in every way. Any Ghoulie fan will be very happy with the picture. But what about the audio? Scream Factory have added a brand new 5.1 DTS track to this release (along with the original 2.0 track), and it is awesome! Yes, it’s a little front heavy as expected. But the bottom end is impressive! This is an extremely bassy track which will give your sub a good run for it’s money. A prime example is when Grizzle and Greedigut are conjured up. The SFX which accompany their appearance is deep and firey! It really opens and immerses you in the film. I’d definitely recommend opting for the 5.1 track when viewing. It’s killer.
GHOULIES II (1988)
“To me Officer, it was those teenagers playing that heavy metal-Devil music”
By the time Ghoulies II came round in ‘88 horror had changed. The Lost Boys had come out and rock music was becoming all the more popular in teen culture. Ghoulies pretty much put Band and his Empire on the map, and now with a studio in Rome, it was time for a sequel the original movie poster promised.
Ghoulies II is a great monster movie. Plain and simple! If you’re a fan of creature features, there is nothing not to like in part 2. Didn’t like part 1? I bet you’ll still get a kick out of II!!
We begin at a Gas Station, and an old guy attempting to dispose of a sack full of Ghoulies in a barrel of Toxic Waste….. Or acid. Regardless, the kinda thing you never see in a Gas Station – but it’s the 80’s so it’s ok! – and this old guy who is pursued by three young fella’s in red hooded robes chucks the ghoulies in this barrel before coming to a gruesome end himself. Soon a travelling Ghost Train stop to fix a leaky radiator, and the Ghoulies hitch a ride to a nearby carnival. This isn’t high brow stuff, and that’s exactly why it works. It isn’t pretending to be anything other that a B grade monster movie.
The majority of the movie is five monsters spitting green shit over patrons and killing their friends for entertainment, until the carnival workers figure this out and unwittingly let the Ghoulies out of the spook house and into the carnival to cause more death and destruction.
Again, the film looks great! Even better than Ghoulies. A bigger budget and more controlled environment probably counting for a lot of that (the entire fairground was a set, built INSIDE a studio). The lighting scheme is great. Bold pinks and greens in Satan’s Den, and the transfer really shows off the cinematography by Sergio Salvati.
The new 5.1 is again a great improvement over previous mono tracks. It doesn’t boom quite as much as the first film but it’s definitely the better track over the 2.0.
Ghoulies II suffered more cuts by the MPAA over the first film. So lets compare this release to other available versions. Firstly, I’m happy to say that the “kiss” between our two leads has been re-inserted – which was confusingly removed from some DVD versions. So we have the fully uncut PG-13 version of the movie, even if Scream Factory were contractually obliged NOT to put back in the available deleted scenes. Who knows why, but contracts are weird. We do however get the scenes deleted from the R rated cut as an extra. They look great, they’re feature quality, and to further explain exactly which were the moments cut, the PG13 rated scenes that bookend the R Rated footage are in black and white. Only when the gory cut stuff is shown do we get it in full colour. A bit odd, but in no way that distracting. And still very much possible to cut the exorcised footage together and produce an R Rated fan edit. Here’s a rundown of the FIVE deleted sequences. Each of these are just slightly longer (and gorier) versions of the scenes in the PG13 version.
1. PATTY: The first is probably the most intense. According the BBFC, who worked from the R Rated version to produce the 15 rated UK cut, there was a great deal of “trampling” by Cat Ghoulie. This isn’t really the case at all. It’s actually the two Ghoulies holding Patty down that do the most damage onscreen. We have two Ghoulies holding Patty down via each arm. The gore comes from the two Ghoulies chomping and chewing on her wrists. It’s quite drawn out and is probably the goriest effect in the cut footage. We still cut away before Cat Ghoulies slices her with the straight razor.
2. MERLE: Merle’s reaction once the blade slices through his belly. And yes, I’m happy to say, we see the pendulum cut open his skin. No cutaway’s here folks! All but the money shot is present in the UK version.
3. DUNK TANK: Ok. This is where it gets a little complicated. In the PG-13 rated version we cut to Fish Ghoulie rising out of the clean water of the dunk tank after biting the clowns arm off. In the UK version we had a bloody Ghoulie rising out of the water. And in the R rated scene we have Fish in the bloody water complete with bloody severed arm floating in front of him. Now. In the PG13 cut this shot has always shown a lot of print damage. I suspect, simply because they had to cull some footage from some of the B roll to insert instead of the footage rejected by the MPAA. The complete scene shows no damage at all and is on par with the quality of the rest of the footage.
4. BUMPER CAR: A VERY short shot of the girl run over by the bumper car is here. Complete on the UK version it is simply a shot of the dead girl with blood trickling out of her mouth.
5. BUTT MUNCH: Yep. This is the one you’ve been waiting for since the first movie. A Ghoulie eating someone’s ass while he sits on a toilet! Unfortunately for the gorehounds, there is really nothing to see here. It just plays out as it should, with more squirming, wincing and screaming from the sleazy Accountant who finally gets his… in the end!
As for the rest of the extra’s. We unfortunately don’t get another commentary on this occasion. Albert Band is unfortunately no longer with us, and although it would’ve been nice to hear Charlie’s thoughts on the movie, we do get another short documentary. And for my buck, I enjoyed this one even more than the slightly longer Ghoulies doc. Mostly because there was information here I didn’t know about the second movie.
I know that Scream approached William Butler to participate in the extras. And I have no doubt he would have. Mr Butler has moved into writing and directing now and he’s a very busy guy. So I would’ve imagined it was a scheduling thing as opposed to a non interest component. I have been trying to get hold of William for an interview for a short while and his schedule is insane. Let’s hope we’ll get his story regarding the filming of Ghoulies II one day!
Aside from trailers of Ghoulies and Ghoulies II, that pretty raps up the extra stuff. I must say that, although not extensive, Scream Factory have treated these lowly cult classics with the utmost respect and I have to commend their enthusiasm on a release which must’ve been a guilty pleasure to the team over at Scream!
This is a great Blu Ray with Ghoulies and Ghoulies II looking the best they ever have. Some fun extras and the holy grail of deleted scenes for Ghoulies II. Yes. We’re still awaiting the cut scenes for Ghoulies to arise from the depths of the cutting room floor. Aside from that small gripe, you won’t find better a release for the Ghoulies fan’s out there!