Sometimes it happens. It fact, it happens more often than we probably care to acknowledge. Here we offer proof that when people say things like “Sequels suck” or “Sequels are never as good as the originals,” they’re being stone cold idiotic.
First of all, let’s get one thing straight: the Ghoulies movies are not Gremlins rip-offs. Ghoulies went into development at least a year before Gremlins came out (under the title Beasties, at that). So there.
The first Ghoulies (1985) was about a guy who lives in an old mansion with his girlfriend and he conjures a bunch of little demons (the Ghoulies of the title, you know) as he’s worshipping Satan or something. And from there, madness ensues. Yeah, it’s a tough act to follow, especially with that rather brilliant marketing campaign that features a Ghoulie coming out of a toilet for no particular reason, which prompted all sorts of hate mail from parents who were trying to potty train their kids. Truly.
Ghoulies is certainly a delight, especially in the scene where the one guy tries to breakdance and almost cracks his head open, but it’s Ghoulies II (1987) that really works that old black magic. The sequel is bigger, goofier and really doesn’t give a damn that the rest of the world sees it as a Gremlins rip-off. It goes for broke in all departments (starting with snagging an R rating over the original’s PG-13) as the Ghoulies descend on an amusement park/carnival-type place. Thing is, the Ghoulies hide out in the haunted house – and everyone thinks they’re just part of the act! From there, the Ghoulies find out there’s no business like show business as they start bringing in the big audiences and the big money. But after an attempt on their Ghoulie lives goes awry (because they start killing the customers), the little beasties seek revenge and go on an all-out rampage throughout the stinkin’ sordid fairgrounds.
Isn’t that a better premise than having them run around an old mansion as some Satan worshipper moron freaks out all over the place? The possibilities are endless for all sorts of Ghoulie mischief! And director Albert Band (the father of the guy who came up with the toilet marketing campaign for the original movie) plays it up for all its worth, all on a budget of about forty bucks. There’s a scene where someone gets run over by a bumper car. There’s a scene where the Ghoulies eat a clown’s arm, because everyone hates clowns, especially Ghoulies. And, of course, there’s another toilet scene, and you’re damn right it tops the one from the first movie (which was added in last-minute after the marketing campaign was such a hit).
The original Ghoulies hangs its head in shame at the mere mention of Ghoulies II. As does Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go to College (1991), which features talking Ghoulies and Matthew Lillard.