I’m going to be honest here. Ghoulies IV is pretty much the most widely disliked movie from the series, and I can see why. But it’s not to say it should be. For all of you reading this here’s my thoughts after just re-watching the forth part of the ever endearing seires. Ghoulies IV is a direct sequel to Ghoulies (1985) featuring our favourite ex-Satan worshipping, now cop; Detective Jonathon Graves. Peter Liapis reprises his role from the first movie as we catch up with him a little under ten years later. He’s seeing a prostitute, still has feelings for his ex-girlfriend/boss and has put his life of Satanism waaay behind him. But due to the fact that his other ex-girlfriend and fellow devil worshipper Alexandre, has escaped from the mental institution she was previously locked up in, he’s now forced to confront his past and save his other ex- girlfriend/boss he still has feelings for.
Let’s get the bad out of the way first. The ghoulies are not the usual rod/hand puppets we’re used to, but two little people in suits – and not the best ones at that (the suits, not the actors) – who don’t really progress the plot in anyway than to crack jokes whenever they are on screen. That’s not to say these two “new” ghoulies are bad, they’re just not what we’re used to seeing as ghoulies. Add to the fact that we are treated to flashbacks of Jonathon’s satanic work in the way of clips from the original Ghoulies ( the ghoulies themselves having unwisely been badly re-dubbed and unfitting music added to scenes thought to warrant more “excitement” in the original footage), which just goes to further cement the fact that the original ghoulies are hands down better looking than the ones featured in part IV. There’s also the fact of the visual effects used in Ghoulies IV being pretty poor. Obviously the money had to go somewhere and this wasn’t the place. Ghoulies wasn’t a big budgeted movie but it never pretended to be – that being part of the charm – Ghoulies IV has some of the cheesiest visual effects I have ever seen.
Now the good. Ghoulies IV is a very funny movie. It’s quick witted, without trying, the chemistry between the two leads (Peter Liapis and Barbara Alyn Woods) is free flowing and natural and there are some of the finest action set pieces I have seen in a movie of this budget. Ultimately Ghoulies IV is a LA set action/comedy cop movie that slowly bleeds together with black magic, murder and demons. It’s actually a really easy watch.
As I said in the beginning, Ghoulies IV is set as a straight sequel to the original. But the real continuity error is the added character of Alexandra, whom Jonathon is supposed to of had a black magic related relationship with before he gave it up and went straight. It’s a nice plot element and the movie couldn’t exist without it but, unless Jonathon went back to magic after fleeing from his house in terror (along with all his guests) at the end of the first movie the character, her intentions, and the relationship she had with Jonathon doesn’t make any real sense.
Ultimately if you’ve watched Ghoulies IV once and quickly dismissed it as bad. Re-watch it. It’s well acted, action packed, and full of quick witted (and some low brow) humour. If Ghoulies IV would of had a slightly higher budget/practical visual effects, or maybe even a longer shooting schedule, coupled with actual puppets as opposed to the rubber suited demons, Ghoulies IV could have been a better movie – and most likely a cult classic. As it stands it’s still well worth a watch, or if you’re a fan, a buy!