Ghoulies 2 (1988)

I was really struggling with the thought of watching three more Ghoulies movies. But then I discovered two important things – one , that this actually featured the ghoulies more, making them part of the plot and not just window dressing; and two, that this is the last entry to have any involvement from Charles Band, as he sold the rights to the “franchise” to another company in order to try and save Empire Pictures, which was going through financial difficulties at the time. Whether those financial difficulties were anything to do with Band basically making the same movie over and over, doing it cheaply and never ever delivering on the promises put out in pre-release publicity is unknown.

I discover there’s a couple of books written about Mr Band, both of which seem to share my opinion of his work and attitude. The thought of spending that much time thinking about Full Moon makes me sad, but good work to Dave Jay for writing them both. One’s called “It Came From The Video Aisle” and the other is “Empire Of The B’s”, both perfect stocking stuffers for someone you don’t like very much.

Let’s get on to Ghoulies 2, though, which features a full moon prominently at the beginning, so much so that I wondered if this was where they got the idea for the company name from. But possibly not? Anyway, we establish immediately that the little critters laugh off being thrown in a vat of acid, by an unknown saviour of humanity; they stroll off and find the next passing truck to stow away in, which is one of the set trucks for a carnival (funfair?), on its way to its next small-town engagement.

Now, carnivals are rubbish. Always have been, always will be. Watching them set up is a profoundly depressing experience, with their spray-painted sidings always reflecting pop culture references a good decade out of date and their games which are designed to not be won, or to award pathetic prizes…although the carnival here appears more modelled on that in “The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies”, the all-time most miserable-looking carnival ever. There’s a few “freaks” (bearded lady, etc.), a bunch of scantily clad dancing ladies, and – the thing we saw the Ghoulies hitch a ride with – a chamber of horrors.

That attraction is run by old drunk Uncle Ned (Royal Dano), his nephew Larry (Damon Martin) and the midget who dresses up as a weird goblin thing to scare kids, Sir Nigel Penneyweight (Phil Fondacaro). They’re in danger of being closed down by the new evil corporate owner of the carnival, but “luckily” the Ghoulies start frightening asshole teenagers, who go and tell everyone, and then the haunted house becomes the no.1 attraction.

You’ll definitely side with the Ghoulies in this one. Divorced of any particular reason for their existence, they’re just little plastic puppets trying to live their best life, and are having a good time. Everyone else is just a money-grubbing carny. I guess there’s the love interest of Larry, one of the dancers, who rejects the advances of the owner and immediately helps out when Larry needs it, although she’s perhaps the homeliest-looking exotic dancer in the history of the movies. Nothing wrong with that, but I do wonder why she attracts the attention of so many different men.

It’s perhaps best to think of it as a cheap Gremlins ripoff. Although the first one predates the first Gremlins, it’s clear that Band and co learned their lesson – that lesson is “be as similar as possible to something which made a ton of money”. This just happened to be part of that sweet spot of time where one of Band’s obsessions coincided with a popular movie franchise.

I’m not sure what to say about this, really. It reminds one of the aforementioned “The Incredibly Strange Creatures…” and that is never, ever a good thing. It’s a bit more interesting than the first instalment, but that’s hardly a ringing endorsement. The ghoulies still look absolutely terrible, like they were knocked up in someone’s shed in the weekend before filming began, and the gore is still rubbish.

I’m really, finally bored of Charles Band movies. I wonder why anyone would be a fan of this sort of thing, really, enough to keep him going for over 30 years. There must be people in the world who look forward to new Full Moon movies? There’s not a single one of them that wouldn’t benefit from being 20 minutes shorter, and…treating them as a bit of a laugh, or cheesy fun, distracts from how mercenary and soulless it all is.

Or maybe I’m being too harsh. I don’t know. But I do know that when Ghoulies is done, I’m going to move on to something more fun.

Rating: thumbs down

PS. Oh yes, the toilet. The cover of the first movie has a ghoulie coming out of the toilet, but there’s no such scene – they sold the movie based on the poster, no doubt, and they suffered criticism for not carrying through on their promise (one of many lies they’d tell). So they put one in this, and it allowed them to mostly re-use the previous cover.

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