Retro Review: GHOULIES: Satan’s Little Helpers Attack Splatter Cinema at the Plaza This Week

Posted on: May 8th, 2011 By:

By Mark Arson, Contributing Writer

Splatter Cinema Presents GHOULIES (1985); Dir: Luca Bercovici; Starring Peter Liapis, Lisa Pelikan, Michael Des Barres, Jack Nance; Tues. May 10;  9:30 pm; Plaza Theatre; $10. Trailer here.

GHOULIES (not to be confused with GOONIES) came out one year after GREMLINS. You could almost call it part of a wave of GREMLINS-sploitation; the following year there was CRITTERS, and later MUNCHIES. All these films revolve around tiny monsters, but GHOULIES is the only one where they are creatures summoned by a satanic ritual. The basic plotline involves a man named Jonathan Graves (Peter Liapis) who has just inherited a house with an evil history and his gradual discovery that he’s from a long line of, you guessed it, satanic cult leaders. Liapis gets more screen time than the titular creatures, and honestly, he deserves it. The thing that sets this film apart from the other GHOULIES films (as well as many of the aforementioned similar films) is his totally unhinged performance.

GHOULIES. Empire Pictures/MGM Home Entertainment

One might consider such a performance to be “overacting,” I’d say personally that there is no such thing as overacting in a movie where a man summons evil creatures and dwarves with satanic rituals. If there’s anyone who is a match for Liapis in this film, it would be Michael Des Barres as Jonathan’s late/undead/much more evil father Malcolm. The whole descent into madness/family destiny thing could easily be interpreted as a metaphor for alcoholism or abuse. I just think it’s great fun to watch actors see how far they can push their craft over the edge into something that resembles sheer madness. How loud can they scream during their unholy rituals? Pretty loud. Oh, and Jack Nance is in it too, but not for as long as you’d want him to be.

Peter Liapis and Lisa Pelikan in GHOULIES. Empire Pictures/MGM Home Entertainment

The other attraction here (the main attraction for most people, I’d think) is the ghoulies themselves. They were designed by the great Stan Winston (ALIENS, TERMINATOR), who gave them plenty of charisma. At times it even seems like they’re channeling the Muppets (that’s a good thing). They drool and squirm and their eyeballs roll back into their head. They also hide in toilets and other places, and kill people. Did I mention there were other people in this film? Well, they are mostly just there to do drugs, fall under Satan’s hypnotic trance, and get killed by ghoulies. It’s that kind of party, people. If you can’t enjoy a bunch of squirmy creatures running around attacking people and an angry satanic priest screaming with glowing green eyes, then you don’t know what fun is.

Category: Retro Review | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

© 2022 ATLRetro. All Rights Reserved. This blog is powered by Wordpress