‘Ghoulies II’ Blu-ray Review: Just When You Thought it Was Safe to Use the Toilet

After Ghoulies (1985) proved to be a modest hit for Charles Band’s Empire Pictures, it was inevitable a sequel would follow. Ghoulies II (1987) drops all the characters and the setting from the first film, retaining only those diminutive demons that sold the picture last time. Ghoulies struggled to find a balance between stark satanic horror and gallows humor. But, Ghoulies II knows what kind of film it wants to be so the experience is much more fun.

It also helps the cast is better this time around, too, featuring the rambunctious old rascal Royal Dano playing the leader of a carnival troupe—Satan’s Den—which provides a spook house that turns out to be the ideal lair for ghoulie mischief. John Carl Buechler returns for the special effects, bringing back most of the ghoulies from last time and adding a few more fiendish friends to the mix, too. This is one of those B-movies I used to catch on cable all the time in the ‘90s and I was pleased to find it’s still just as goofy and gory today.

Also Read: ‘Impulse’ Blu-ray Review: A Shocking Side To William Shatner

Satan’s Den, a traveling sideshow, rolls into town, led by charming drunk Uncle Ned (Royal Dano), and unbeknownst to its employees a gaggle of ghoulies has hitched a ride. Corporate bozo Hardin (J. Downing) wants to shutter the show because they haven’t been turning a profit, but when the ghoulies step out in the horror house attraction and start to slay the guests a strange thing happens: they become the hit of the show. Soon guests are lining up, eager to trade their dollars for a chance to check out these mini murderers. But their carnival carnage can only continue for so long before the show’s employees realize they need to figure out how to banish the little beasts back to hell before they devour every paying customer.

Royal Dano brings the same kind of unkempt, sauced-up hijinks he did in the opening of Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) and he’s the main draw outside of the ghoulies. His character of Uncle Ned is foolish enough to think he can control the tiny ghouls, when in reality his booze-soaked brain doesn’t understand how they actually operate. Phil Fondacaro, a frequent stalwart of Band’s films, pops up as Sir Nigel Penneyweight, playing one of the only characters to use his brain. It’s a sizeable role for the pint-sized actor.

Also Read: ‘Arcadian’ SXSW 2024 Review: A Deeply Satisfying Creature Feature

Horror aficionados will also spot William Butler and Sasha Jenson among the soon-to-be-dead crowd. J. Downing plays the epitome of an ‘80s corporate scumbag and his role is vital because he helps deliver on the promise of the first film’s poster – i.e. the toilet gag.

Until this most recent viewing, I had no idea Band not only shot this film in Rome, Italy but that the entire carnival is actually inside a massive stage. Once you know that it’s impossible not to see, especially when some later explosions illuminate the black curtain backdrop. But I’ve got to give the production credit for making the grounds look like they exist in a dark open field somewhere in the middle of America.

MVD Visual releases Ghoulies II on Blu-ray, though the company has made it clear a 4K Ultra HD edition is forthcoming… they just don’t know when. To that end, they’ve even left open the number “3” in their 4K LaserVision Collection line to slot this title in once those 4K elements are available.

Knowing that, how does this Blu-ray look? Quite good, in fact, and it is a decent improvement over the old Scream Factory double feature. The 1.85:1 1080p picture is ultra clean, with minimal flecks, moderate (not noisy) film grain, pleasing definition, and punchy colors. The carnival offers up a kaleidoscope of vibrant pops. A few shots show heavy damage but they’re quick singles, nothing lingering. Daytime scenes are bright and nicely defined. I’m not sure how much of an upgrade the eventual 4K will offer but for a Blu-ray, this looks great to my eyes.

Also Read: ‘Monkey Man’ SXSW 2024 Review: Dev Patel Delivers One Vicious, Entertaining Ride

Audio is available as an English LPCM 2.0 track and while it doesn’t have much presence it gets the job done without many issues. Some lines of dialogue are a bit choppy and/or muddy but they’re far and few between. The score by Fuzzbee Morse (that’s quite a name) delivers something to match the creepy comedy on screen. Subtitles are available in English, Spanish, and French.

Screenwriter Dennis Paoli provides a brief introduction (HD, 1:15) that can be watched prior to the film.

“More Toilets, More Terror: The Making of Ghoulies II” (HD, 16:50) is a concise piece with interviews from the cast and crew, discussing the fun they had making this movie. Sounds like at the very least everyone enjoyed a “free” trip to Italy.

“Under a Magic Moon: Interview with Dennis Paoli” (HD, 33:36), offers a long discussion with the film’s writer, who talks about coming up with the sequel idea, rewrites, working with Band, etc.

A handful of deleted scenes (HD, 2:43) are included. There is also a photo gallery (HD, 1:50). Finally, the disc contains trailers for other MVD releases: Ghoulies, Ghoulies II, Vampire’s Kiss, Swamp Thing, and The Return of Swamp Thing.  

Special Features:

  • Introduction by Screenwriter Dennis Paoli (HD, 1:15)
  • More Toilets, More Terror: The Making of Ghoulies 2 (HD, 16:50)
  • Under A Magic Moon: Interview with Dennis Paoli (HD, 33:36)
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 2:43)
  • Photo Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:23)
  • 2-Sided Artwork
  • Collectible Mini-Poster
  • Limited Edition Slipcover (First Pressing Only)
  • Optional English, French and Spanish Subtitles for the main feature
  • Ghoulies II
  • Special Features


Ghoulies II is more fun than the first and packed with more of the title creatures. This Blu-ray release is an admitted stop-gap until MVD can issue it on 4K, though, so if video quality is your top priority holding off might be a smart move. Otherwise, this is a handsome package with some good bonus features.



Sign up for The Harbinger a Dread Central Newsletter