This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (November 2017)
|Ghoulies (film series)|
John Carl Buechler
|Distributed by||Empire Pictures|
I: November 8, 1984|
II: October 5, 1988
III: August 19, 1991
IV: August 17, 1994
The Ghoulies film series are American horror-comedy films released in the 1980s and 1990s and centered on a group of small, demonic creatures that have a wide range of twisted appearances.
The plot of this film centers on Jonathan Graves (Peter Liapis) a young man who uncovers his late father's occult paraphernalia in his family's mansion. Graves tries to summon up the demonic forces his father dabbled with, in hopes of gaining supernatural powers. Consequently, the little Ghoulies arrive to descend on the manor and terrorize everyone who participated in the ritual.
Contrary to popular belief Ghoulies didn't originate under the un-produced Stan Winston and Charles Band project Beasties. It was an original one-location horror movie which was pitched to Band by Director Luca Bercovici with special effects by John Carl Buechler and his company Mechanical and Makeup Imageries Inc. After a November, 1984 UK premier, the film was released theatrically in the US by Empire Pictures in March 1985 and was a surprise success on home video.
According to stories that Charles Band tells on his Full Moon Horror Road Show, he was tasked to come up with a great campaign to promote the film. During a brainstorming session with Gary Allen, he came up with the idea to have the Ghoulie popping up from the toilet. Although Band has claims that the scene with the Ghoulie popping out of the toilet was shot after the fact to mirror the poster image, Director Luca Bercovici says that it was part of the original shoot.
Ghoulies II (1988)
Unrelated to the first movie, the Ghoulies hitch a ride with a carnival and end up hiding in an amusement park funhouse called "Satan's Den" which becomes a smash hit when visitors believe the little demons are part of the attraction – that is until people start falling victim to the evil creatures.
The film was again produced by Empire Pictures, and directed by Charles Band's father Albert Band. It was also the last entry to have any involvement from Charles Band, as he sold the rights to Vestron Pictures to save Empire Pictures, which was struggling financially at the time. Ghoulies and Ghoulies II were released as a double feature DVD from MGM Home Entertainment in 2003, and as a double feature Blu-ray from Scream Factory in 2015. Special features include theatrical trailers. Blu-ray special features include commentaries, interviews, still galleries and original theatrical trailers for both films. In 2017 Austrian company NSM Records released Ghoulies II on Blu Ray in a fully uncut R Rated version, which was the first time the movie had been seen uncut since the original cast and crew premiere.
Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go to College (1991)
In the third installment, the little demons are summoned at a college campus by Professor Ragnar (Kevin McCarthy), who is obsessed with the occult. Soon the creatures wreak havoc that is initially dismissed as elaborate pranks by the partying frat houses during the annual "Prank Week" – that is until a couple at the school realize the pranks aren't so innocent.
The third film saw Buechler step into the director's chair and was released straight-to-video in 1991 by Vestron Video after a theatrical release fell through. The film co-starred genre stalwart Kevin McCarthy and is the first film where the Ghoulies actually speak. The film is currently available on DVD from Lionsgate as part of an 8 horror movie DVD set. This is Matthew Lillard's film debut.
Ghoulies IV (1994)
In the final chapter of the series, Jonathan Graves (Peter Liapis) returns, this time a retired occultist turned police officer. His latest assignment finds him battling his former girlfriend Alexandra (Stacie Randall), who has escaped an asylum and tries to summon forth the demonic forces Graves trifled with in the first film.
The film also stars Barbara Alyn Woods.
The series' fourth and final entry was directed by Jim Wynorski and made by CineTel Films and also released straight-to-video in 1994 by Columbia TriStar Home Video. Original Ghoulies lead Pete Liapis returned to the series as Jonathan Graves, now a detective who must deal with a new pair of Ghoulies. This entry in the series has been criticized by the fans of the series because the 'ghoulies' in this film are completely different, however in recent years the movie has managed to receive a cult following for its humor and originality; instead of the usual puppet Ghoulies, the movie cast little actors in costumes. Ghoulies IV was released on DVD in 2007 by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment.
In 2018 a retrospective "Ghoulies Companion" book was released exclusively via Lulu.com. Written by Graham Le Neve Painter, the book includes features and interviews with cast and crew of all four Ghoulies movies.