Ghoulies II (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Aug 31, 2023
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Ghoulies II (Blu-ray Review)


Albert Band

Release Date(s)

1987 (September 12, 2023)


Empire Pictures (MVD Rewind Collection)
  • Film/Program Grade: B-
  • Video Grade: B+
  • Audio Grade: B+
  • Extras Grade: B-

Ghoulies II (Blu-ray)



One of Empire Pictures’ biggest money makers in 1985 was Ghoulies which, despite having a theatrical release, became a staple of the home video market. The ad campaign stirred up a bit of controversy as its poster and TV spot depicted a monster popping up out of a toilet with the tagline “They’ll get you in the end!” However, the publicity did nothing but generate more revenue for Empire, enough to make a sequel, Ghoulies II, which was released in 1987. Though two additional sequels were made, most regard the first two as the “best” that the series has to offer.

Oddly enough, the original Ghoulies wasn’t really about the monsters at all, despite being promoted as such. The plot involved an evil sorcerer trying to come back to life by possessing his son and summoning evil forces in a dilapidated mansion. The monsters didn’t play much of a part in the story until the last act when all hell broke loose (which takes an eternity to get to). Ghoulies II manages to throw all of that out the window and go in a completely different direction. The story focuses on a group of down-on-their-luck carnies who are on the verge of being put out of business. Business picks up when the tiny titular monsters show up and become a part of the act, murdering customers and causing general mayhem, sideshow-style.

As schlocky as it gets, Ghoulies II is an improvement over the first film with characters that are a little more interesting, a spookier atmosphere, and better-realized make-up and animatronic special effects. There’s even a chance for the human antagonist to run into a bathroom and deliver on the promise of the tagline by getting it in the “end.” It’s definitely more entertaining, and was a video store essential among the many that Empire produced during this timeframe. And for many, Ghoulies II was their introduction to the Ghoulies series and remains a favorite.

Ghoulies II was shot by director of photography Sergio Salvati on 35 mm film using Arriflex cameras and spherical lenses, finished photochemically, and presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The MVD Rewind Collection brings the film to Blu-ray in the US for a second time with what appears to be the same 2K scan of the interpositive that was used for Scream Factory’s release of the first two films. Eric Wilkinson of MVD has stated that he wanted this to be a 4K Ultra HD release, but circumstances beyond his control prevented that from happening. However, he’s still working to try for it in the future. It’s an organic-looking presentation with evenly-layered grain levels and texturing. Some surprising depth and strong detailing are on display, and the color palette comes to life during nighttime carnival scenes. Blacks are deep with decent contrast and the image is stable. It’s not entirely clean as there’s speckling and scratches, heavier in certain moments than others, and there’s a shot at 69:46 to 69:50 (about 4 seconds of screen time) that appears to have been pulled from lesser elements, for whatever reason.

Audio is included in English 2.0 LPCM with optional subtitles in English, Spanish, and French. The film was released in Ultra Stereo, and this appears to be a dual-speaker approximation of that experience. There’s definite stereo movement, with minor sibilance on the dialogue. It’s not overly intrusive, but it’s there. The Scream Factory release featured 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks, though the 5.1 option was a mostly front-heavy presentation. This new stereo option folds out nicely into the surrounding speakers.

Ghoulies II on Blu-ray sits in a clear amaray case alongside a single-sided poster featuring the original theatrical artwork, which is also used on the insert and slipcover. The following extras are included:

  • More Toilets, More Terror: The Making of Ghoulies II (HD – 16:50)
  • Under a Magic Moon: An Interview with Dennis Paoli (HD – 33:36)
  • Deleted Scenes (HD – 2:43)
  • Introduction by Dennis Paoli (HD – 1:15)
  • Photo Gallery (HD – 22 in all – 1:50)
  • Trailers:
    • Ghoulies (SD – 1:55)
    • Ghoulies II (HD – 1:23)
    • Vampire’s Kiss (Upscaled SD – 2:04)
    • Swamp Thing (Upscaled SD – 1:31)
    • The Return of Swamp Thing (HD – 1:27)

The majority of the extras carry over from the Scream Factory release, although a couple are new to the US. Aine Leicht’s More Toilets, More Terror features interviews with producer Charles Band, actors Donnie Jeffcoat, Kerry Remsen, and special effects make-up artist Gino Crognale speaking about the film. Under a Magic Moon and the Introduction both showcase screenwriter Dennis Paoli speaking on behalf of the film. The Deleted Scenes are the R-rated trims not included in the main PG-13 presentation, which mostly feature additional gore. The Photo Gallery offers 22 posters and behind-the-scenes stills. The rest of the extras consist of trailers, including one for the film itself. Unfortunately, the R-rated version of the film could not be obtained. Also missing from various releases overseas is the WASP music video for Scream Until You Like It, a random assortment of special effects behind-the-scenes footage, and 2021 podcast interviews with special effects artist Kenneth J. Hall and actor Phil Fondacaro. Hopefully in the future, the rights issues surrounding the Deleted Scenes will be worked out and a more satisfactory presentation of the film will finally be commercially available in the US. As it stands, the German Blu-ray release from NSM Records is the only way to legally own it.

Despite a number of Gremlins knock-offs throughout the 80s and early 90s, Ghoulies remains one of the more interesting franchises to come out of it. MVD Rewind’s Blu-ray of Ghoulies II isn’t the upgrade fans have been waiting for, but it’s good to have it back in print, which is always important. Hopefully that 4K version can be worked out soon.

- Tim Salmons

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