Ghoulies II (4K UHD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Jun 26, 2024
  • Format: 4K Ultra HD
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Ghoulies II (4K UHD Review)


Albert Band

Release Date(s)

1987 (July 9, 2024)


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

Ghoulies II (4K UHD)



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 one of the titular monsters popping up out of a toilet with the tagline “They’ll get you in the end!,” frightening little children everywhere (sarcasm). 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 breaks 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. Things begin to pick up when a group of small monsters show up and become a part of the act, murdering customers and causing general mayhem, sideshow-style. Throw in a love story, a sympathetic old drunk, a young guy out to prove himself, and a mustache-twirling carnival owner and you have the makings of a commonplace Empire Pictures plot line, with little mischievous monsters.

As schlocky as it is, Ghoulies II is an improvement over the first film in that the characters are a little more interesting, there’s a spookier atmosphere, and there are much better-realized make-up and animatronic special effects. There’s even a chance for the aforementioned human antagonist to run into a bathroom and deliver on the promise of the poster 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 as a whole, and remains a favorite today.

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 debuts both the 90-minute PG-13 theatrical cut and the 91-minute unrated cut versions of the film on one triple-layered 100GB Ultra HD disc containing a new 4K 16-Bit restoration of the original camera negative, graded for High Dynamic Range in HDR10 and Dolby Vision. MVD had previously tried to bring both versions of the film to UHD, but due to varying rights issues and being denied access to the film elements, was only ever able to produce a Blu-ray containing the older HD presentation of the theatrical cut. Thankfully, everything has been cleared up as both cuts are now fully available in one release. (It’s also worth noting that the film now opens with the more modern MGM “An Amazon Company” logo.)

To say the least, this is a vast improvement over its predecessors, but not without a couple of minor caveats. Very light photochemical grain is present, and the unrated shots now look as good as the rest of the presentation. Even scenes featuring stop-motion animation blend better. There are only a couple of oddities along the way. The replacement shot in the theatrical cut during the dunk pool scene to cover up the gore, lasting from 69:49 to 69:53, is still present, but it’s not as noticeable as past presentations. The other oddity is in the encoding, which is the reverse of what you would normally expect. Bitrates during darker scenes sit between 50 and 70Mbps, while daytime scenes tend to run between 30 and 40Mbps, sometimes even dipping into the 20s. That said, nothing appears smeared or blocky, but the bigger the screen, the more likely it could be evident. It’s an otherwise organic picture with deep blacks and perfect contrast. The color palette has been given some boost thanks to the new HDR passes, giving the carnival setting much more depth. Extremely minor speckling can be seen, but it’s primarily a sharp, clean, and stable presentation, one that (minor caveats aside) puts all previous versions to bed.

Audio is included in English 2.0 LPCM with optional subtitles in English (the Blu-ray contains 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. The stereo option folds out nicely into the surrounding speakers.

The 2-Disc 4K Ultra HD release of Ghoulies II sits in a black Amaray case alongside the previous 1080p Blu-ray (featuring MGM’s 2K scan of the interpositive that was used for Scream Factory’s release of the first two films), as well as a single-sided “4K LaserVision” poster featuring the original theatrical artwork, which is also used on the insert and slipcover. The following extras are included:


  • Introduction by Dennis Paoli (4K w/SDR – 1:15)
  • Trailer (4K w/SDR – 1:22)


  • 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 – 7 in all – 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)

This is the same great extras package included on the previous Blu-ray release from MVD. 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 unrated trims not included in the PG-13 presentation. The Photo Gallery offers 22 photos of behind-the-scenes stills and posters. The rest of the extras consist of trailers, including one for the film itself. Missing from various releases from around the world 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.

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 4K UHD release of Ghoulies II tops its Blu-ray predecessor with a more satisfactory presentation and a fine set of extras.

- Tim Salmons

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