Classics of the Corn: Ghoulies (1985)

Congratulations, Johnathan (Peter Liapis)! You’ve just inherited a creepy, old mansion full of satanic relics, mice and cobwebs. What’s that? You’ve decided to move in and bring your girlfriend Rebecca (Lisa Pelikan) along? Wonderful! The creatures in the basement are highly anticipating your return.

Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP
They’re waiting…

What’s that you say, now? You’ve never been to this mansion before? Well, of course you have, Johnathan… you were almost sacrificed here as part of a satantic ritual twenty-ish years ago!

(Johnathan has not an inkling of his past as an almost-sacrifice, of course, but when he throws a party at his new estate and gets the bright idea to perform a ritual with his drunken friends, he’ll soon find out.)

Those pesky basement-dwellers waiting patiently in anticipation of reuniting with Johnathan are none other than the Ghoulies, a handful of Gremlin-ish (but much uglier) creatures cooked up by the minds of Jefery Levy (Man of God) and Luca Bercovici (Rockula). Bercovici, in addition to his co-writing credit, also directs this Classic of the Corn.

It was love from the first frame between Ghoulies and I. The film opens with an extreme close-up of one of the “Ghoulies” (see above), making apparent from the get-go just how bad/good the special effects are going to be. Follow this up with a mob of robed people and a man wearing fake horns all gathered together to perform some sort of hilariously corny ritual and you’ve got me hooked.

I think I just found my obscure, movie-related Halloween costume! (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
I think I just found my obscure, movie-related Halloween costume!

This film is corn of one of my favorite types: the self-aware ’80s B-movie. Killer Klowns from Outer Space, which remains extremely highly ranked in the Corny Cliff Hall of Shame, is another example of this distinctive Velveeta sub-genre, though that filmis even more enjoyable than this one!

Many varieties of cheese and corn are thrown into the Ghoulies recipe as its running time progresses: over-dramatic narration, an exciting (but also over-dramatic) score, awful dialogue (“They call me Dick, but you can call me… *pops beer can tab* DICK.”) , over-the-top performances, ’80s fashion, ’80s dance moves and hyper-conventional gags meant to provoke little jumps from the viewer are a-plenty. Instead of jumps these moments provide big laughs, and that’s completely okay — I have an inkling the filmmakers knew exactly what they were doing when they tossed this corn fritter into the deep-fryer.

Meet Dick, John's pervy friend who parties in the haunted mansion. (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
Meet Dick, John’s pervy friend who parties in the haunted mansion.

Peter Liapis and the special effects team (including whoever did the weird Ghoulie voice effects) bring on the majority of the corn here but credit must be given to his supporting cast as well. You’ve all met Dick, but he’s not the only “witty” friend in Johnathan’s circle. One tries to break dance by spinning on the floor, two get in a fight with a dummy thinking that it’s a ghost and another talks almost exclusively in cartoonish voices. Johnathan’s girlfriend, for her part, is completely baffled by his new-found affection for ritualistic behavior, but she seems more angry over the fact that he won’t eat when she cooks dinner than she is over his new hobby of wearing robes and reciting chants to himself in the basement. Best of all, there’s Mariska Hargitay looking somewhat like an ’80s version of Rebecca Black:

Partyin', partyin' (YEAH!)... partyin', partyin' (YEAH!). FUN FUN FUN FUN. (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
Partyin’, partyin’ (YEAH!)… partyin’, partyin’ (YEAH!). FUN FUN FUN FUN.

I’m sure if you’re an avid follower of CotC or a fellow corny film fanatic you’re already convinced to watch this film, but in case you need a little extra prodding, here’s Johnathan to compel you:

COME NOW AND WATCH GHOULIES
COME NOW AND WATCH GHOULIES!
ALL OF THE FUN IT BRINGS WILL LEAVE YOU SHRIEKING!
ALL OF THE FUN IT BRINGS WILL LEAVE YOU SHRIEKING!
(Or screaming, if that's your preferred method of vocalization.)
(Or screaming, if that’s your preferred method of vocalization.)
...and if you don't watch, this Ghoulie will show up under your bed and perform a fertility ritual that causes you to birth new legions of Ghoulies.
…and if you don’t watch, this Ghoulie will show up under your bed and perform a fertility ritual that causes you to birth new legions of Ghoulies.

THE END.

*All screen captures in this post were taken by Lindsey for TMP. No stealing, please!

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