DECEMBER 1 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : GHOULIES III
As we start to segue into X-E's 2002 Halloween season, (yes, we have seasons) my writing interests slide a bit from the usual fare towards, of course, crappy horror movies. We've already taken a look at the first two Ghoulies movies, neither of which had any real justification in their existence. But there must've been a handful of people out there who really enjoyed the exploits of cheap rubber puppets and the idea of sitting through 90 minutes worth of film without any semblance of a plot, or else they wouldn't have made a third installment: Ghoulies Go To College!
Unleashed upon the world without warning (like they could afford advertising, c'mon) in 1991, this chapter in the ongoing Ghoulies phenomenon completely rewrites the past and goes a different route - the almighty spoof. Spoof movies are a safer genre for anyone who cares about the quality of their work. Even if Ghoulies III is terrible, they can always just say it was *supposed* to be terrible. "We're spoofing terrible movies by making them even worse!" I don't think the loophole really matters here, though. I can't see anyone involved with this flick really caring if you thought it sucked, because there's no way they went through the process of production without realizing it themselves.
Still, I can't get enough of the Ghoulies. This one is more comedic in nature - it all takes place on a college campus with warring fraternities and lots of out-of-nowhere titshots. It's fun because it mixes so many different levels of bad movies into one putrid-but-beautiful package. You've got your gore, sex, teens, college parties...it's all here. The 'jokes' aren't funny in the least, but you can't expect real comedians to spend effort scripting lines for puppets in a b-movie.
Oh yeah, if you've read the first two reviews, you'll remember the Ghoulies as small mean-spirited demons. They're still demons here, but they're much larger and suddenly know how to talk. They use the word 'schmuck' a lot. There's only three of the beasts this time, and if nothing else, the budget allowed for much better effects with the puppets. Here's what went down...
It's Prank Week on some archetypical college campus - a seven day stretch where the fraternities try to out-trick each other, leaving in their wake a slew of toilet-papered trees and missing panties. Professor Ragnar is your star villain, the school's dean who hates pranks with such unmitigated passion, he may very well call upon the demons of Hell to aid him in ridding them. Not that I wanna give any pertinent plots points away or anything.
There's two particular fraternities at war; one we're supposed to like, the other is full of the movie's assholes. Our main character is Skip - the good fraternity's leader and an all-around nice guy. There's a lot of people I recognize wandering about from other movies, but they've got bit parts so I'll save them the indignity of telling you they appeared in Ghoulies III.
Skip's having some trouble with his girlfriend, Erin. Seems she doesn't enjoy his constant pranking and total devotion to the fraternity. What about her? She needs attention too, you know. Skip tries to smooth things over, but it's too late: Erin breaks off their fling and starts dating the rival fraternity's leader.
One of the movie's main themes is Skip being forced to choose between his regal fraternity life, and his woman. The other main theme is everyone scrambling to find a way to include bare breasts in camera view for every other shot. The final theme has something vaguely having to do with little monsters, but the Ghoulies are more of an afterthought than anything else.
Don't worry though, they'll be here soon enough.
Ragnar starts glancing at a comic book he swiped from a student earlier, and notices some weird spells on the inside. Upon researching, he confirms that the spell is indeed a legitimate way to call upon the Ghoulies. So, he does what any other professor would do when faced with the chance to unleash unspeakable horrors to the world - casually recite the spell and hope for the best. Hey, it was written in Greek. He didn't spend all that time in graduate school to look foolish when handed something written in Greek. His pride's on the line here, he had to read the thing.
And it's a good thing he did, because now the fun can start. Ghoulies III is considered the best in the series by most. I haven't seen the fourth one yet, but it's hard to argue. The first two had Ghoulies here and there, but this one had them everywhere. Plus, the last two Ghoulies movies didn't feature the monsters making lewd comments towards naked chicks. That's a few bonus points.
If someone ever holds a gun to your head and make you pick one of the Ghoulies movies, I guess you should go with this one. Or maybe just take the bullet.
The Ghoulies appear in the middle of the frathouse after the spell is recited. The only frat boy around is in the middle of the movie's first sex scene, so he doesn't notice anything. It doesn't take long for the monsters to kill him off.
As said, there's three Ghoulies this time - they're around three feet tall, speak perfect English, and giggle a lot. Sadly, they don't have the same superpowers they did in the last movie, so don't watch it expecting anyone to get destroyed with toxic vomit.
Ragnar calls the creatures back to his office, and explains that they have to obey him. Turns out they have a sort of symbiotic relationship with that comic book, and if the book is destroyed, so are they. The Ghoulies aren't happy about having to take orders from somebody who costarred in Son In Law, but Ragnar's got 'em by the balls here.
Note that the Ghoulies are all wearing fraternity gear.
After Ragnar has the demons under his power, his mind starts racing, trying to think of a good way to put them to work. Finally, he decides that the Ghoulies are his ticket to ending Prank Week. Yes, Professor Ragnar conjured up Hell's worst so he could put a stop to the incessant pantie raids. I can't even make fun of that; it's brilliant in it's own special way. For the rest of the movie, the Ghoulies do all sorts of nasty shit, leaving the fraternities blaming each other.
Skip tries to get back in Erin's good graces, while his frat friends hit the soriority house to steal some underwear. It's really just an excuse to get a lot of titty scenes, and boy do they ever deliver. I haven't seen this many nipples since first exploring the photo section of the Mayo Health Clinic book. The girls end up turning the tide and stealing the guys' clothes, but it doesn't make a difference since they're all naked while doing it anyway.
Oddly, despite all the nudity, there's very few obscentities uttered here. If I was making a movie doomed for direct-to-video and slammed with an R or NC-17 rating right off the bat, I don't think I could resist the temptation to include the word 'shit' in every line of the script. I'd just tag it on at the end of every sentence. "Hey Skip, how's it hanging shit?" "Oh no, somebody kidnapped Jimmy shit." "What time is it shit?" It works even better if you throw the word in the middle of the sentences. Sort of like an adult version of pig Latin. Hey, this shit movie's shit pretty shit bad!"
Breasts, breasts, and more breasts. One of the cool things about the Ghoulies this time around is that they like looking at naked women while drinking beer. This doesn't mean they can't still kill the girls - it's just that they admire the ass before kicking it.
The body count in Ghoulies III never goes that high. Maybe four or five kills total. The gore's pretty low, too. Then again, I'm pretty sure they spent up the world's supply of fake blood and juicy viscera with the first two movies. Instead, this time the deaths are less stomach-turning, but a whole lot more creative. Here's an example:
GHOULIE PLUNGER MURDER.
A Theatrical First.
Eat your heart shit out shit Spielberg.
In between contacting Hell and ordering demons to kill kids, Professor Ragnar still has classes to teach. Nobody seems to pay any attention to the fact that's he's gone completely insane. But that's okay, half the cast already saw the monsters and nobody has mentioned them yet, either.
Ragnar threatens to expel our friend Skip for his continued pranking, and that's when things get serious. Sort of. Actually, I'm not sure what happened. I swear to you, I watched this movie the whole way through without my attention being diverted, but somehow this scene leads to Ragnar kidnapping Erin and preparing her for a human sacrifice...
See? No idea how this came about. Don't really care, either. Neither should you. What is important is that Erin's about to go through God-knows-what in Ragnar's secret office-converted-laboratory, and it's up to Skip to stop him. First, he escapes his rival fraternity's captive hands, and makes a bold leap into the laboratory - armed with a gun filled with super-glue. Apparently super-glue is the touch of death for monsters, because the Ghoulies die off once they're hit with it.
More crap goes on, and eventually, Ragnar and the Ghoulies are left in a smoldering green puddle on the floor. I think we're supposed to believe they're dead, but who can tell? They're not dead yet, of course. Instead, they've somehow all merged into one giant monster with a head growing out of it's stomach. Thanks to the Lord for the power of screencapping, because words just can't do this one justice:
Professor Ragnar returns, now merged with the Ghoulies and seemingly three feet taller. You know, for a guy who's main issue with the world was school prank weeks, he goes through an awful lot of personal sacrifice. He's willing to turn himself into the devil himself just so a few kids will stop covering the floors with slippery wax? That's dedication, and the kind of dedication you'd only find from a college professor.
By the way, in case you're having trouble recognizing him, Ragnar is played by Kevin McCarthy. Relatively famous guy who's been in every bad and good/bad movie ever made. I liked him best as RJ Fletcher in U.H.F., but let's not discount his fine work as Sergie in Dark Tower. I wonder if they had to pay him extra to dress up like a totem pole.
Skip uses the Ghoulies' dimensional portal (a bejeweled toilet) to send Professor Satan into the abyss. The battle is won - they've killed off all the Ghoulies, rid themselves of the annoying dean, and they won prank week. Erin is so excited to be alive that she gets back with Skip, creating the happiest ending anyone could've hoped for.
Ghoulies III is a different type of 80s horror flick. You shouldn't rent it alone - only if you've got one or two buddies around to laugh at it with. Then again, your buddies might not remain your buddies if you make them watch a Ghoulies movie. Try to get 'em stoned first. If you're planning to do any kind of monster movie marathons at a Halloween party or something this year, throw this one into the pot. It doesn't take itself seriously and is a nice break from all the equally stupid movies that do.
Overall: 76 out of 104 stars.