For the Sideshow Freak in All of Us

When Ghoulies II finally gets some steam, it’s a manic delight. Of course, that doesn’t happen until the final 15 minutes or so when the little demon creatures escape into a traveling carnival to munch on people, or cause general death-laden mayhem.

Part of the post-Gremlins “tiny creature run amok” genre that spawned this, Critters, and Munchies (among a few others), Ghoulies II uses its minuscule production values wisely. It’s sensible that a cheap, failing carnival uses obvious plastic and rubber props, allowing the set designer leniency as to not focus on reality. The monsters themselves appear slightly better, and the limited puppetry barely gives them life. Yet, it works when it needs to.

Ghoulies II uses its minuscule production values wisely

Ghoulies II is the type of movie where young kids wander through the attractions alone, apparently hiding ninja stars in their pockets, which is convenient when trying to defend one’s self in this circumstance. Teens have sex (or try to, anyway) only to end up dead because the genre’s unspoken rule. Another guy dies on the toilet, and others succumb to the carnival props, which apparently use actual blades in the guillotine, safety be damned.

A moderate success, Ghoulies II made it into theaters on the back of is predecessor, and that was a hit only due to the ‘80s Satanic Panic. Brought to this world by devil worship, Ghoulies II briefly acknowledges this near the final moments. A worker blames, “heavy metal devil music” for everything that happened, as did some members of the public at the time. Ghoulies II runs with it, exploiting pentagrams and ancient spells for controversy. Whatever the case, it didn’t work, or at least, not well enough as the third Ghoulies went straight to video.

Part of that is because Ghoulies II isn’t a great movie, rather plodding in pace with odd, eccentric characters like a little person desperate to be a real actor and a tight rope walker terrified of heights. None of that matters really. Everyone comes to see the wobbly rubber puppets, and Ghoulies II never holds back in showing them. They kill and maim, but listlessly so on camera. Stabbings and biting deaths lack any charm; it’s when the critters begin dismantling rides as they spin and play around with the target shooting game that Ghoulies II finds some needed enthusiasm. That’s worth waiting for.


A rather mundane HD presentation services this low-budget knock-off well enough. The master appears somewhat older, lacking precision and image tightness. Film grain produces a coarseness that isn’t unnatural so much as from an older scan (likely so, anyway). Print damage and dirt follows Ghoulies II for the full runtime, but never aggressively enough to ruin things.

Ghoulies II shows more than enough definition to justify this release though, even if it’s on the rougher side. Facial definition looks great in close with wide shots of the carnival nicely defined. The creature puppets show excellent texture, with a touch of slime to help them pop.

Vibrant color preserves accurate flesh tones and the carnival is flush with bright paint schemes. Shadows dig deep, producing dense black levels (and consistently so). Ghoulies II hasn’t faded through the years either, spirited and bright.


PCM stereo works well enough, and the channel split is surprisingly wide. Dialog and action both bounce between the two speakers accurately, with a slight favoring of the left channel.

Overall fidelity isn’t exciting, but fine. Scratchiness in the dialog comes and goes. The minimal score sports a little range at its best, which is something to note.


Writer Dennis Paoli introduces the film and provides an extended interview that runs 33-minutes. A making-of piece lasts 16-minutes joined by a few deleted scenes, a stills gallery, and trailer.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Ghoulies II
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Once the mayhem (finally) starts, Ghoulies II is a dorky but fun example of the Gremlins knock-off genre.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 36 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:

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