Ghoulies is a 1985 American horror comedy film directed by Luca Bercovici in his directorial debut, and co-written with producer Jefery Levy. It stars Peter Liapis, Lisa Pelikan, Michael Des Barres, Jack Nance, Scott Thompson, and Mariska Hargitay in her film debut.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byLuca Bercovici
Produced byJefery Levy
Written byLuca Bercovici
Jefery Levy
StarringPeter Liapis
Lisa Pelikan
Michael Des Barres
Scott Thompson
Mariska Hargitay
Jack Nance
Music byRichard Band
Shirley Walker
CinematographyMac Ahlberg
Edited byTed Nicolaou
Ghoulies Productions
Distributed byEmpire Pictures
Release date
  • January 18, 1985 (1985-01-18)
Running time
81 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$5.5 million[1]


Malcolm is about to sacrifice his child named Jonathan Graves when his mother, Anastasia, places a talisman around his neck that shocks Malcolm. He orders a participant named Wolfgang to take the child away, and sacrifices her instead. Twenty-one years later, an adult Jonathan and his girlfriend Rebecca inherit his late father's estate, where they find several books on magic and a basement full of occult paraphernalia. When they later throw a party and invite their friends, Jonathan recruits them to perform a ritual in the basement for fun. Everyone leaves when nothing happens, but a small creature begins to materialize in the basement.

The next day, Jonathan tells Rebecca of his decision to quit college and work on the estate instead, which she expresses concern. While cleaning up the house, Malcolm influences Jonathan to go into the basement to perform another ritual. Rebecca's concern grows when Jonathan refuses to eat, explaining that he is fasting. That evening, he conjures several creatures called Ghoulies and proclaims as their master, demanding them to hide their existence from everyone but him. One day, Rebecca comes home to find Jonathan performing a ritual, much to her shock. He explains that he is trying to learn about his parents he never knew, and promises to stop his behavior. While they both lay in bed, a Ghoulie draws an occult diagram which prompts Jonathan to chant in another language, and a furious Rebecca leaves him.

Jonathan summons two dwarves named Grizzel and Greedigut to his service, who promise to give him everything he desires. They explain that he must perform a dangerous ritual with seven other people to obtain the knowledge and power he seeks. Later, Rebecca returns and asks Jonathan to leave with her, but he refuses. He then reveals his glowing eyes to her and she runs away, but the dwarfs bewitch her to return to Jonathan. He invites his friends and bewitches them to participate in the ritual. As Jonathan chants, Malcolm is resurrected from the grave. After the ceremony, Jonathan's friends remain oblivious and are invited to stay the night.

Malcolm proclaims himself as their real master to the Ghoulies and dwarfs, and commands them to kill the group. Meanwhile, Jonathan apologizes to Rebecca and breaks the spell by placing the talisman around her neck, but she falls into a deep sleep. She eventually wakes up to see Jonathan in a trance, and runs away. After she removes the talisman around her neck, the Ghoulies attack her and she falls down a flight of stairs. Jonathan brings her to the basement to resurrect her, where he finds the dead bodies of his friends underneath sheets.

Malcolm appears with the dwarfs, revealing that he used Jonathan to resurrect him in order to capture his youth and sacrifice him. As a battle ensues, Malcolm resurrects Rebecca to distract Jonathan, but the dwarfs alert him of the trap. Wolfgang appears with his own magical powers and fights off Malcolm. The house begins to crumble, and Wolfgang defeats Malcolm before they both disappear. Jonathan's friends and Rebecca are resurrected, and they escape to drive away as the dwarfs watch. Riding with Jonathan and Rebecca, Mike asks about what happened, but Jonathan assures him it is over. However, Mike is alarmed when the Ghoulies rise behind him.


  • Peter Liapis as Jonathan Graves
    • Jamie Bronow as Jonathan Graves as a child
  • Lisa Pelikan as Rebecca
  • Scott Thompson as Mike
  • Ralph Seymour as Mark "Toad Boy"
  • Mariska Hargitay as Donna
  • Keith Joe Dick as Dick
  • David Dayan as Eddie
  • Victoria Catlin as Anastasia
  • Charene Cathleen as Robin
  • Tamara De Treaux as Greedigut
  • Peter Risch as Grizzel
  • Michael Des Barres as Malcolm Graves
  • Jack Nance as Wolfgang
  • Bobbie Bresee as Temptress
  • Brian Connolly, Annie Stocking, and Craig Talmy as the voices of the Ghoulies


Ghoulies originated as a one-location horror film by Luca Bercovici and his writing partner Jeffery Jevy. The concept was pitched by Bercovici to executive producer Charles Band, with whom he previously worked as an actor on the film Parasite (1982).[2]

Principal photography began on January 30, 1984 in Los Angeles, California after being in pre-production for five months.[1] During its fifth week of filming, Hemdale Film Corporation was initially set to handle the film's domestic distribution. However, the company remained uncredited when they later filed a lawsuit against executive producer Charles Band and Ghoulies Productions, citing "misrepresentation" after Band allegedly misled the company regarding the home video sales and distribution.[1]

Coincidentally, the film was in production at the same time as Joe Dante's film Gremlins (1984) which Warner Bros. briefly sued the filmmakers from using the name, but the latter lost. Halfway through shooting, Band ran out of money and the filmmakers scrambled funds for months, which allowed Gremlins to be released first.[2]


The film premiered in Los Angeles on January 18, 1985, opening in 350 theaters before premiering in New York on March 1, 1985.[1]

Critical response

Vincent Canby of The New York Times dismissed the film as "a cut-rate 'Gremlins'" with "unexceptional performances" and "a lot of badly simulated gore."[3] Variety wrote that the film "has a quaint corniness about it, as of it were a cheapie horror movie from the 1950s ... Special effects and production values are mediocre, which in this case is part of the fun."[4] Michael Wilmington of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Cinematographer Mac Ahlberg contributes eerily lit camera work that occasionally achieves surprising atmosphere and delicacy, and John Carl Buechler's creations, the ghoulies themselves—foul, reptilian little beings coated with some obscene glittering, mucous-like moisture—have a certain nauseating charm. From there, however, it's a steep slide downhill."[5] Kim Newman of The Monthly Film Bulletin called it "an unashamed rip-off which contrives to ignore its obvious inspiration (Gremlins) and comes up with yet another prime example of the comic book-ish vitality, wit and simplicity which has become Band's trademark."[6]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 0% approval rating, based on 11 reviews.[7]

See also


  1. "Ghoulies". American Film Institute. Retrieved August 24, 2018.
  2. "Interview with Luca Bercovici (Ghoulies)". Retrieved August 24, 2018.
  3. Canby, Vincent (March 2, 1985). "Film: Occult Creatures Evoked in 'Ghoulies'". The New York Times. 10.
  4. "Film Reviews: Ghoulies". Variety. January 23, 1985. 16, 18.
  5. Wilmington, Michael (January 21, 1985). "'Ghoulies': Flush With Chagrin". Los Angeles Times. Part VI, p. 2.
  6. Newman, Kim (April 1985). "Ghoulies". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 52 (615): 114.
  7. "Ghoulies (1985)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 24, 2018.
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