We're back again with another film about killer puppets. Mind you, I don't mean that literally, since Full Moon has done at least 8 films about that! This is the second film in the Ghoulies quadrilogy, a pair of words that sounds really strange together! After the creative misfire that lead to the original film being retitled and shot by different people, the Bands got their shit together and made this movie in 1987. So, how did they up the ante? For starters, we got more ghoulies and the effects work is better...which means that it is merely sub-par. The story goes off in a new direction, although there are definitely some issues. In spite of that, I can say that this is directed by Charles Band himself, which is a big deal...if he did not direct 80% of the Full Moon catalog. They got a couple of new stars involved this time, however, so there is hope. Let's find out just how much of it there is in...
The film begins with a truck making a stop at a gas station in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, they are not alone there. You see, someone has trapped the ghoulies in some cans and plans to kill them. Unfortunately, he gets distracted by the arrival and the things escape. They dump his body in the container full of acid that he planned to dump them in! By the way, where did he get that from? Is he best friends with a Bond villain or something? Anyhow, the arrivals fail to notice the monsters or the smell of melted flesh made some five minutes earlier. The monsters get on board the back of their truck and head to their new home- a circus sideshow. As it turns out, this portion of the show is not doing well, as people are neither scared nor entertained. This really puts off their head midget (Phil Fondacaro from Troll and The Creeps), especially considering that the guy who is threatening to close them down in the old boss' son. Don't you just love that cliche? You would think that a guy who ran a circus for his whole life would have a kid who felt the same, wouldn't you?
As things go on, the ghoulies settle into the Haunted House while the staff figures out what to do. They come up with the idea of updating their House with some real scares to get the kids to come in. Unfortunately, a real scare shows up in the form of the ghoulies, who kill the old, drunken magician. The monsters hide the body, however, a skill that they got...somehow. Maybe there is a Ghoulies 1.5 film that explains stuff like that, how they got captured and where the new ones came from. Oh right, this is Full Moon- they just make shit up like that. Because this movie loves cliches, we also get a blooming romance between our two young leads, but that does not really matter. The only potentially-progressive idea is having Phil be obsessed with literature. Of course, he already did that same roll in Troll a year earlier! The show actually begins to draw people in, although the ghoulies use this as an opportunity to kill more people. Somewhere during all of this, Phil is forced to dress up as a gorilla. Charles Band- progressive filmmaker.
Eventually, our hero figures out that something is up and unites the forces of the circus to take them down. If you ever wanted to see a circus strongman battle a flying puppet, this is your movie. The whole thing becomes very chaotic as scared extras flee from the nearly non-existent threats. Only one solution presents itself: summon a giant ghoulie to kill them. Yeah, this logic has worked well with cane toads! Things only get worse, however, as the giant ghoulie turns on them. I think we're going to need a bigger circus! We get a climactic chase involving our young heroine facing her fear of heights to get the magic book they need. They also use Phil as bait, since he is tiny and tastes like chicken...or so I'm told. Ultimately, the day is saved, although one of the ghoulies is left around. He pops out of a toilet as our heroes go on with their lives, finally giving us payoff to both movies' posters. Better late than never, guys! The End.
This movie is not bad, but it is not great either. The setting they use is a good one and is certainly better than the giant house from Part 1. The acting is pretty average across the board, although Fondacaro has the same kind of unexplainable presence that he's always had. I seriously don't understand what it is, but he has it. The special effects are better, but still not that great. If you like 80s films with a semi-comic tone, you can certainly do worse. A lot of the times, the balance is extremely out of whack, leading to films that are neither funny or scary. In this film's case, it is a pretty safe film with silly monsters that neither scare nor offend. Like I said, you can do worse. For example, there is always Troll 2!
*Next up, you're probably expecting me to do Ghoulies III. Sadly, it is out-of-print, so you will just have to make due with Part IV. On the plus side, it is an actual sequel...sort of. Stay tuned...