Most horror fans would agree that GREMLINS and CRITTERS are among the most beloved pint-sized puppet monsters to ever grace the big screen. While I love those movies along with some of the sequels, I’ve always been a big fan of their often overlooked counterparts, the GHOULIES, as well. For starters, GHOULIES has the best name of the bunch, and most of us were introduced to them in what was perhaps one of the greatest monster showcasings in the history of b-movies: The GHOULIES poster!
Although many people haven’t even seen the original flick, the image of a green ghoulie dressed in a shirt & suspenders while emerging from a toilet is absolutely iconic and instantly recognizable to generations of horror aficionados. No video rental store horror section was considered complete without at least one copy of this glorious VHS cover art gracing their shelves. Now, GHOULIES is a fun flick for sure, but it was GHOULIES II that would prove to be my favorite in the series.
Sure, the poster would lead you to believe it’s just more of the same, but the sequel came with one big distinction: it takes place in a carnival spook house. Allowing the ghoulies to cause havoc in a haunted carnival attraction? You couldn’t ask for a more perfect setting for those menacing little demons.
Naturally, when watching fine celluloid like this, it’s always important to enjoy some good laughs along the way, but you should also try to learn some valuable life lessons as well. With that in mind, I’m going to share with you some nuggets of knowledge that I was able to extract from GHOULIES II. Let’s dive right into this toilet of mischief, shall we?
LESSON #1: Listen to the Wisdom of Old Drunkards
One of the best characters in the film is Uncle Ned (Royal Dano). He’s a veteran of Satan’s Den, a traveling carnival attraction in which he used to perform as a magician known as “The Great Fausto.” Sadly, nowadays he spends most of his time as a disgruntled, elderly boozer, so most people don’t want to give the poor ol’ guy the time of day. Still, I’m convinced he has plenty of valuable information to share with the world, even while inebriated. Just look at a few of these gems that came from his geriatric yapper:
- “You wanna be a magician, nephew? You got to pay attention to the moon.”
- “That’s the fullest moon I’ve ever seen. It’s a magic moon, nephew. A magic moon…”
- “Evil drug, caffeine… it wakes you up.”
- “A carnival runs on magic.”
- “I don’t need any demons. I got my own private ones.”
- “I’m a magician, you sons of bitches! You can’t kill me!”
Unfortunately for Uncle Ned, that last one proved to be untrue… but everything else he said? Pure gold. So let this be a lesson to you all: listen to your elders, even if they are three sheets to the wind. You just might learn something.
LESSON #2: Gas Stations Double as Toxic Waste Storage Facilities
I’ve been taking my car to the same mechanic for ages, but I never realized I could be making use of the large drum of toxic waste he must keep stored in his garage. If GHOULIES II is any indication, you can visit your local mechanic after hours and not only find their garage completely unlocked, but you’ll discover a large, uncovered vat of toxic waste inside for you to do with as you please. And here I thought all along that the EPA was stricter with what facilities can store hazardous materials… Apparently not. Either way, don’t try to dispose of any ghoulies in the stuff, because they’ll swim in a drum of toxic waste as if were a soothing, natural hot spring. Make no mistake about it, though… the liquid found in gas station toxic waste vats is extremely corrosive to human beings. It’ll melt the flesh right off of your bones within seconds, but hey… if you’re looking for a quick & easy body disposal method, you can thank GHOULIES II for the tip.
LESSON #3: Never Wear Your Best Attire Around Ghoulies
Ghoulies may look like adorable little monsters you’d want to hug (after all, they came out in the same era as My Pet Monster and Boglins), but even if you’re on their good side, you’d better wear some clothes you don’t care about when they’re in close proximity. You see, they have the ability to spew forth a nasty, green, viscous fluid onto you from a surprising distance. Sure, they’ll do it for their own amusement… but then you’ll be out a really nice shirt. And don’t even think about locking lips with a loved one if they’re nearby, or you’ll likely find yourselves adhered to one another with ghoulie mucus. So, I guess the best advice here is to treat any encounter with ghoulies as if you were attending a GWAR concert: wear the cheapest, most disposable clothing you can find, since you’ll likely end up getting slimed. Or murdered. Yeah, getting murdered is a definite possibility too. You should probably just avoid ghoulies altogether.
LESSON #4: All Kids in the ’80s Carried Ninja Throwing Stars
To many fans of the film, one of the most surprising moments in GHOULIES II is when one of the kids randomly pulls out a ninja star from his back pocket, and throws it at a ghoulie. Sure, it’s impressive enough to see the ghoulie eat the star with ease as if it were snacking on a Wheat Thin, but it’s the fact that the kid had a throwing star to begin with — as if to suggest this was a perfectly normal thing — that really gets people. Well, I’m here to tell you that it was a perfectly normal thing. Ninjas were all the rage back in the ’80s, and every kid was purchasing a variety of ninja items from their favorite mail-order martial arts magazines at the time. Everything from blow-dart guns and grappling hooks to nunchaku, full ninja costumes and more were all there for the taking. Throwing stars were particularly easy to come by, to sneak into school and impress your friends with. Hell, if you couldn’t buy real throwing stars, you learned how to make an origami one from your classmates. Unfortunately, throwing stars clearly pose no threat to ghoulies whatsoever, so if you encounter one, you’ll want to buy some smoke bombs to make a quick ninja escape instead.
LESSON #5: If You Have Shitty Customers, Hire the Ghoulies
So you’re trying to run a business, but business is slow, and the only people showing up are cocky teenagers who want to mock you and your establishment. What do you do? You hire the ghoulies! For starters, once word gets out that you have some incredibly realistic-looking creatures crawling around in your joint, people will start flocking to it in droves just to catch a glimpse of ’em. Even better, the ghoulies will weed out your worst customers by trying to murder them. Will you get in trouble for it? Absolutely not. Your good customers will just think the murders are all part of an elaborate show you’re putting on for their amusement. Also, if you happen to own some medieval torture devices, you’ll be happy to learn that ghoulies are surprisingly adept at putting them to use. If you don’t have any, well… that’s what Craigslist is for. Fetch!
LESSON #6: Ghoulies Can Do Far More Damage With Bumper Cars Than You
If you’ve ever gone for a ride in bumper cars before, you know they’re fairly limited in terms of speed and power. I guess the ghoulies never received that memo, however… because when a ghoulie is at the wheel of a bumper car, there are no rules. For example, one of the ghoulies manages to get a girl knocked out of the bumper car she was riding in. Next, while she’s lying injured on the ground, another ghoulie drives its bumper car straight into her. Wait… strike that; the ghoulie drives its bumper car over her. Do you know hard it is to make a bumper car go off road like that? That takes some seriously impressive driving skills to pull off. So, if you ever see ghoulies riding around in bumper cars, let them finish their turn before you decide to take one for a spin. Your life just may depend on it.
LESSON #7: Hollywood Agents Should Start Scouting Carnivals Immediately
We’re always wondering who the next great actor of a generation will be, but finding another Daniel Day-Lewis is no easy task. If you ask me, GHOULIES II proved that some of the finest actors have been hiding right under our noses in traveling carnivals all these years. Take the amazing Sir Nigel Penneyweight (Phil Fondacaro), for example. That’s right, I said Sir Nigel Penneyweight. This distinguished title suggests Nigel was knighted at some point — presumably for his tireless contributions to the carnival arts. And while he may be a little person in stature, Sir Nigel has a personality that’s far larger than anyone else in the entire GHOULIES franchise. With every word he speaks, you feel as though you’re listening to the most dedicated Shakespearean actor the world has ever known. It’s no wonder that when it came to reciting a Latin passage entitled “Expulsion of Demons Through Demonic Intercession” in order to stop the ghoulies’ reign of terror at the carnival, they turned to Sir Nigel to speak the magical words. Sure enough, his poetic voice did the trick and saved the day. If you don’t find the acting of Sir Nigel Penneyweight to be anything other than awe-inspiring, I suppose his own words would best describe you: “Philistine!”
LESSON #8: Before Using a Toilet… Always Check for Ghoulies
Unless your name is Corey Hart, there’s no reason why you should be wearing your sunglasses at night. In fact, if you ever see somebody doing so, do not trust them under any circumstances. Chances are they only have their own interests in mind at all times, and will happily trample over yours in order to get what they want. Take Phillip Hardin in GHOULIES II — this is a guy who screams of douchebaggery from the moment he drives onto screen in his Porsche with a license plate that reads “HARD-1.” Unsurprisingly, he’s looking to shut down Satan’s Den and replace it with a ladies’ mud wrestling attraction (something hardly worthy of Sir Nigel Penneyweight’s skills). So, when the ghoulies eventually wreak havoc on the entire carnival one night, does he try to help out the terrified patrons? Nope, Phillip only cares about himself, so he and his sunglasses run to hide in a trailer in hopes of waiting out all the chaos. Too bad for him; his eyes must have not adjusted to the light when he removed his sunglasses, otherwise he would’ve noticed the ghoulie waiting for him in the toilet. Presumably because he was about to shit himself in terror from all the havoc taking place outside, he squats onto the toilet without even realizing there’s a ghoulie inside the bowl. You can do the math on what happens next. Well, look at it this way… Hardin served a purpose. He was the vessel through whom the filmmakers delivered a scene in which somebody finally gets killed on a toilet by a ghoulie (something that should’ve happened in the original film). And now, thanks to him, we’ve all learned to check toilets for ghoulies before using them. In fact, all restaurants should post that notice in their bathrooms: “NOTICE: Employees must wash hands before returning to work. Also, please check toilet for ghoulies.”
So there you have it. Another seemingly mindless monster b-movie from the ’80s revealed to contain a plethora of valuable life lessons. For those of you who’ve seen GHOULIES II, now it’s your turn. Drop a comment on our Facebook page and let us know what important lessons you learned from this movie!