A travelling carnival has hit upon hard times. Ned (Royal Dano), who runs the carny's house-of-horror - called Satan's Den - has taken to boozing in a bid to avoid the fact that his livelihood may well be on the way out.
One morning, the carnival financier's son (J Downing) turns up in a sharp suit and announces that they intend to go through the business's accounts with a fine toothcomb - and put paid to any of the attractions which are heavily in debt. Of course, this spells the imminent end for Satan's Den. Ned's assistant, dwarf Nigel (Phil Fondacaro), is particularly put out by the suggestion that he can serve as a novelty freak aspect to the proposed replacement act: mud wrestling!
Things are looking bleak and the travellers need to come up with ideas quick if they're going to save their skins. Fortunately (?) Ned and his nephew Larry (Damon Martin) inadvertently picked up four of the surviving demons from the original GHOULIES while stopping for fuel a few nights earlier.
Ned's still pissed when he discovers the little critters among his belongings. He'd been toying around with a book of spells moments beforehand and drunkenly believes he's summoned the demons to help him out. This they duly do, transforming Satan's Den into a must-see attraction.
But of course, these creatures are unruly motherfuckers and trouble lies ahead...
GHOULIES 2 was released in 1988, four years after the resounding success of its predecessor original. This time around, the action is directed by veteran Albert Band (I BURY THE LIVING, ZOLTAN HOUND OF DRACULA etc). He's the father of Charles Band, whose Empire company produced this movie. And, of course, Charles' brother Richard is at hand once again to provide his distinctively upbeat, electronic score.
From the aforementioned music to the use of colour-filtered lighting, through the unmistakable fashion disasters and rubbery monster FX work (take a bow, John Carl Buechler and team), there's no denying from which era this film came. Like its predecessor, it acts as a perfect time capsule of everything that was craptastic about 80s exploitation cinema. It even has a bad hair rock song on the soundtrack (the brilliantly naff "Scream Until You Like It" by W.A.S.P.).
Yes, GHOULIES 2 is a guilty joy from beginning to end. Probably even more fun now than it was back upon its original release, such is its gleeful evocation of its era.
It looks and sounds akin to a PUPPET MASTER film: tonally, the balance of humour and horror is very similar, as is the visual élan and even the vaudeville-type music. Performances are broad but proficiently so; the plot is fuss-free, allowing for a perfect evening of brain-switched-off engagement.
The demons - rubber puppets for the most part - are used more in this sequel, and are perhaps edged more towards comedy. Conversely, this is also a more violent film than its predecessor once it gets going (which doesn't take long). The carny scenes are enjoyably colourful too, at times resembling the likes of VAMPIRE CIRCUS and even bordering on a level of Jodorowsky-style colourfulness here and there.
But, of course, it's not high art: it's daft fun. And it's very good at it, benefitting from Dennis Paoli's savvy screenplay and a taut direction which doesn't waste a single scene in terms of pacing or madcap storytelling.
GHOULIES 2 is presented uncut - 89 minutes and 43 seconds inclusive of the opening MGM logo - on 101 Films' UK blu-ray disc. The original 1.85:1 ratio is respected and the picture is enhanced or 16x9 televisions. Presented in full 1080p HD as an MPEG4-AVC file, the film looks very good. There are occasional flecks on the print, meaning this film looks ever so slightly to the unbelievably clean GHOULIES transfer (also released on blu-ray by 101). But you can count on deep, solid blacks; a complete lack of noise; clean sharp images; and vivid, true colours.
English audio is given the 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio treatment and sounds great throughout.
The disc opens to an animated main menu page which is set to a fast-paced montage of clips from the film along with the sounds of W.A.S.P. in full flow. From there, there is no scene selection menu but you can access the film by 8 remote-navigational chapters.
There are no bonus features with this release.
GHOULIES 2 is a worthy successor to its 1984 original, and looks great on 101 Films' blu-ray.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by 101 Films|
|see main review|