Ghoulies Go to College is admittedly my main goal in picking up this disc set. As a fan of Charles Band's work I seek out all that I can which includes the Ghoulies series. Band had little if any involvement in Ghoulies 3 but never the less this is a curiosity worth seeking out. The original Ghoulies from 1985 is an oddly accurate portrayal of medieval familiars in the guise of "ghoulies." Summoned by their occult master they perform tasks to assist in their master's witchcraft. Familiars could be portrayed as standard animals, the typical being a black cat, but they can look like nearly anything. So a coven of satanist brewing up a bunch of familiars isn't as goofy as modern audiences might imagine. This is especially the case with Ghoulies.
The film opens 21 years earlier in about 1970 (it's worth noting that Animal House is set in 1962) as a fraternity member calls forth the power of the ghoulies by reading out loud from a comic book. The character gives the impression of knowing full well what he is doing although is quickly assailed by the demons. Originally the first film used the sight gag of a ghoulie springing from a toilet bowl which was then heavily run in adverts and its use continued into Ghoulies II. Now in this third entry a toilet bowl is shown to be a caldron of ancient origin which is used to summon the familiars with the phrase, "open now the porcelain vessel." The filmmakers have incorporated the franchise's main selling point into a Gothic center piece which they showcase right away to slate the audience. The masterless familiars proceed to jam the would be sorcerer into the toilet "Super" bowl business end first. Before he can be disposed of our hapless victim manages to proclaim, "Transform me now into consuming fire!" Destroying the assailants and himself in the process. This is an effective opening sequence with an old school faux rain storm, model fraternity house, nod to EC Comics and jumps straight into the phantasmal fantasy of the film. It also quickly and handily establishes the crux of the story.
Back to the present day, 1991, the film establishes right away that this is prank week here on campus. A little bit can go along with school age pranks and this over shoots the mark with a long drawn out series of episodic pranks during the opening credits much like Superman 3. Not a great way to follow up a smash opening and just dares its viewers to press the eject button.
|Break away tiles for emergency reading material essential to any dorm.|
|Is this a toilet fetish or a fetish toilet?|
After the credits have rolled through we are immediately teased with the ghouls when a fraternity member stumbles upon a secret cache in the bathroom concealing the comic book from the opening sequence. How it got there is a bit of an unanswered question but someone still alive in 1970 must have know its significance. Our frat boy reads a few incantations out loud causing the ancient toilet tomb in the stall next to him to boil and bubble. But alas he puts the comic tome away to read in the day during classes.
|Hey Kev you've got li'l thing on your shoulders there...|
|No, no, Mr. McCarthy... It's just this li'l thing... there...|
|Ah... Never mind... Looking good. Sir!|
|K thru C doesn't change much.|
|Eva La Rue gives a nice nod to fantasy myths.|
|"Class let us set aside a few moments to study in detail this exemplary body of work."|
|Tobin's Spirit Guide chapter on Ghoulies|
|Even "Reindeer Games" takes on new meaning at college.|
|Hey babe why don't you Do-Re-Mi.|
Keeping with the comedic spirit our second murder sequence is a repeat of the pre-credits opening with our post-copulated male being dispatched first with a toilet bowl scrub brush to the testicles and then flushed down the toilet. This is inter-cut with a dissatisfied girlfriend working out while she frustratingly waits for him to return to bring her satisfaction. Once again exercise equipment substitutes for sexual coitus. Of the five murders in this film three of them take place in a bathroom. The toilet accessories are also later used again as a murder weapon. The combination of sex, genitals and bodily waste is rarely so intermixed in horror unless used for comedic effect.
|"That's right ladies work it."|
|"Bend and Stretch. Bend and Stretch."|
|Do mine eyes deceive me?|
The dean plans to pit the rival fraternity against each other by having the ghouls steal the yanking crown. There is a certain jealousy for the dean; probably because short spans of yearly stupidity is rewarded by this crown while his years of study and high position garners little respect from the student body. The dean put these years of study into good use to unlock the power of the Ghoulies and figures out that the comic book is linked to the familiars. Any harm to the book is harm to the Ghoulies. There is a certain amount of irony that all his volumes of texts cannot equal the power of a collection of funny pages. The dean also figures that if he were to merge with the Ghoulies he would become a powerful creature able weld their dark powers directly. In order to do this he plans to have the ghouls kill their summoning master; himself.
After killing his personal assistant Marcia Wallace, who really was on Bob Newhart, against his wishes the dean sends the familiars to the Greek sorority house. The specifics of why are not given but the implication is that by the killing his female assistant he somehow feels the need for revenge against the world by having his minions kill another female. His own nonacceptance by the younger opposite sex, who flocked to the younger boorish boys, must also have been a irksome notion as well that need to be reprimanded. The Ghoulies NSFW antics at the Greek house will follow after the jump.
|"Let us pause in a moment of silence for our fallen comrades; the dead soldiers."|
|When laying a trap...|
|Be sure to use fresh bait.|
To a certain degree this can be seen as progress for feminists. Exerting power over males even if it is somewhat sexually degrading is an age old portrayal. Young boys trying to take advantage of these young girls soon find themselves crawling on the floor while our modern women topple over them taking advantage to beating them into submission... PILLOW FIGHT!
|Miss July '85|
|Disappointed to find no Peeping Toms.|
|Pantyhose counts as panties right?|
She clearly doesn't seem to mind playing the hapless victim and seems confident enough that she'll get the part because she uses the phase "have a date" to affirm the notion as a fact. This role reversal not only makes for a contrast to the accompanying panty raid but also contrast to the typical woman in distress by intentionally placing herself in danger and welcoming her place as sexual exploitation for men.
Her exhibitionist tendencies aside the very notion of the scene is that she's asking for whatever comes her way. The question "what where you doing dress like that in that part of town" becomes apt in any horror film where's a character's sexual forays get them brutally killed. Veronica invites trouble from the worst kinds of creatures and succumbs to the very demons which inhabit her sex craved soul.
Of course you can't have a horror movie without a shower scene anymore than you can have a college comedy without multiple girls showering in a sequence. Its use in horror is rather self explanatory as a way to make a victim seem more vulnerable. Being stark naked and distracted is a clear way to indicate to an audience that a character is not prepared to react in a dangerous situation and helps to build the suspense.
|Female intuition kicks in for two of the three.|
|This one stays behind even after all the creepy sounds flushed out the other two.|
The girlfriend's death uses three different shots to emphasize the appliance for the special effects to make it more and more extreme. Iterations of three is a good rule of thumb for comedy and they follow that here. Toilet humor has been a mainstay for comedy especially in a college setting. For horror it is a little less common although comedy itself has had a rocky road in horror films. While films like Young Frankenstein or Scary movie have been successfully the mixture of these two genre's rarely equal box office success.
At first glance the girlfriend's death can appear gratuitous in nature but both death scenes are very similar when broken down into their basic elements. The deaths also follow scenes of coitus or in the case of the girlfriend sexual behavior. Both are punished for their sexual proclivity in similar circumstances characteristic of slashers of the era. An interesting change is that the assault on the boyfriend's genitalia is not repeated on the girlfriend. A man can be hit in his testicles for comedic effects but a shot to the vagina would only be seen as a sexually violent act not unlike rape. This would be out of bounds for a comedy. So instead the girlfriend's mouth takes the abuse. The comparison to fellatio is clear but the action of taking a plunger to a woman's face is more like irrumatio. "Giving head" is also another common term for oral sex and "head" is also slang for a toilet. A woman naturally wears lipstick to attract attention and labia has often been compare to lips. Some women even apply lipstick to their labia minora to give it a similar appeal. The association of toilets, sex and death are made repeatedly in this film. By circumventing the taboo actions of penetrating a woman's genitals by a weapon the film actually seems to be making a more de-rogatory comparison that society as a whole would find more accepting and even humorous.
|She died the way she lived.|
Then she sleeps with Skip so now she can be killed again and so can he. Breaking the rules here in the early nineties was a nice touch that reaffirms a healthy attitude towards sex. Although a vacuum cleaner is introduced to the scene it's more of a callback joke and it can be seen as perhaps the first step toward adult domestication. The fact that they reference the fact that her would-be suitor did not have his own vacuum seems to re-affirms that. Now that Skip knows the whole truth together they will confront the dean to get Skip re-instated. This proves more difficult that originally anticipated as Erin's cast aside has plans as does the dean. The plot's able to burn our heroes at both ends which helps to build a frustratingly tense finale.
There's some pretty good bondage action as Eva La Rue is tied up like in a library sexual fantasy, stripped down like Fay Wray and has "Overdue" stamped violently on her midsection. There is a special kind of humiliation to branding and one of the Ghoulies even says, "I'll give her my stamp of approval" with the usual sexual connotations. The phallic blows to her womb can also feel like outright rape. The woman in serialized distress is further emphasized by having a dangling light fixture about to fall on our helpless maiden's head. A classic staple in the thriller repertoire. It's also a bit of a callback to another Empire Picture Re-Animator.
In the end Kevin McCarthy merges with his familiars and becomes the thing he most hates; a colossal douche bag wearing the yank crown. He's flushed down the toilet along with his comic book to return to the womb of hell from which his familiars were spawned. There's also a nice hellfire finish in the end; smelling like a lighted fart to be sure. Skip's rival nemesis is thrown out of college for a stunt didn't really do (which fits well with the actual crime) but kinda did (but doesn't fit so well with the actual crime) and Skip earns the yanking crown after all. Which seems to indicate that it doesn't really matter what your woman wants so long as you show her you have other qualities she'll approve your boyish behavior (now and then).
Everything culminates rather well with this and the second ending is enough of a twist to please audiences as this still comes in at under 90 minutes. As Kevin Smith is often familiar with saying you never want to make a comedy that's over an hour and a half because it'll outstay its welcome. Sometimes simple storytelling is the best story telling if you can keep the action moving. By having a lead character involved in pranking, wooing back a love interest, trying to stay in college, battling a dean, battling a rival frat, battling his own frat brothers and finally a supernatural force which could very well be fate itself this keeps the audience's attention for the brisk ninety plus minutes.
|Product Placement; like flushing your money down the toilet.|