Ghoulies Go to College (1991) Revisited – Horror Movie Review

The new episode of the Black Sheep video series looks back at John Carl Beuchler’s Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go to College

The episode of The Black Sheep covering Ghoulies Go to College was Written and Narrated by Andrew Hatfield, Edited by Brandon Nally, Produced by Lance Vlcek and John Fallon, and Executive Produced by Berge Garabedian.

Ok, I’ve thought about this long and hard, discussed with my local priest and therapist, and after much internal strife, I’ve decided it’s time. You hear a lot about rip-offs for franchises, particularly the big ones. We have Jaws rip-offs, Exorcist rip-offs, Halloween rip-offs, and more. What you don’t hear a lot about, and good lord do they exist, are the multiple rip-offs of Gremlins. Gremlins got its own incredible sequel and then finally this year its very own animated show that is… fine… it’s fine. But with Gremlins profitability came the clones. We got the fun and good with the Critters franchise, the bad with both Munchies and Hobgoblins, and the both good and bad Ghoulies. Ghoulies is a fun and interesting take on the mini creature craze, part 2 has gained some sort of cult status, and part 4 is just objectively bad. Part 3 though? Ghoulies Go to College (watch it HERE)? That, my little bears, is just right.

Ghoulies is one of the, let’s call it legacy, movies that came out of Charles Band’s Empire pictures, the precursor to his longer lasting and wildly successful Full Moon. Empire would produce some big hits like Ghoulies, Re-Animator, From Beyond, Dolls, and Troll to name a few but the whole collection is super watchable and fun. The first Ghoulies came out in January of 1985 and would make a quite frankly shocking 35 million on its 5-million-dollar budget. Of course, a second movie would be made in 1987 but have a much more limited release and I can’t find any numbers for it anywhere. It would also be the last one in the series that Band or his companies would have anything to do with. Vestron video would pick up the rights as Empire sold off many of its properties and would get a third movie released in 1991.

Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go to College, is written by Brent Olsen and directed by the legendary John Carl Beuchler. Olsen, well Brent Olsen I’m not sure is a real person due to the fact that writing today’s movie is literally all he has on his IMDb page. Beuchler though, Beuchler is one of us. While his directing credits aren’t anything too fancy apart from Friday the 13th Part VII and Troll, his make-up and special effects are extensive and important. He started in the late 70s with make-up effects and was doing overall special effects until the day he died. He worked on so many of Charles Band’s most famous Empire Pictures releases but also things like Hatchet and movies from both the Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street franchises.

Ghoulies Go to College (1991) Revisited – Horror Movie Review

In front of the camera, we have Jason Scott Lee, Evan Mackenzie, Eva LaRue, and Kevin McCarthy with a special appearance by everyone’s favorite Jason, Kane Hodder and the first appearance of Matthew Lillard. Lee would appear as Bruce Lee in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story a year after this and other cool things like The Jungle Book, Soldier with Kurt Russell, and Lilo and Stitch. He would also show up in a bunch of random sequels to Dracula and The Prophecy. Evan Mackenzie’s biggest claims to fame are this movie and Scanner Cop III but Eva LaRue made quite the career for herself. She started in TV in the 80s and after this movie would show up in RoboCop 3 and 153 episodes of CSI Miami. Then there’s Kevin effing McCarthy. The man has over 200 credits spanning from the mid-40s all the way to 2012 but my favorites are the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Piranha, and UHF with special mentions to The Howling and The Twilight Zone Movie.

The movie opens up with, well it opens with the wanton silliness that takes place throughout the movie. That’s what I want to stress here. This movie doesn’t take itself seriously at all and neither should you. I think it gets unfairly judged because it isn’t a serious movie but come on, it’s Ghoulies III, what are we looking for here? Apparently 21 years ago someone banished the titular ghoulies away using a comic book. After we see a very silly college with Kane Hodder related shenanigans, a stereotypical 90s college kid picks up the wrong comic on the ground and summons the ghoulies back again. A prank war ensues between rival fraternities and professor Ragnar, played with sneering hoyty toyty by Kevin McCarthy is stuck in the middle.

Our love triangle is set up between Erin, Jeremy, and Skip because the movie does attempt to be a college horror comedy at heart. Ragnar comes in and chews scenery like he hasn’t eaten in weeks and ends up with, wouldn’t you know it, the same comic book from before and lets the ghoulies out partially. Also, if you haven’t figured out that Ragnar is going to be a bad guy by the end of this then you need to go back and watch more movies. During a very 90s frat party with everything you would expect to see, Ragnar grades papers and finds out that the comic isn’t just junk but a legitimately powerful tool. Speaking of tools, the characters in this movie aren’t very likable outside of sweetheart Erin. Ragnar finally lets the stars of the show out and for the first time in the franchise, the ghoulies can speak! And they are idiots. Normally I’d hate this like when Michael Myers speaks in H2 or any other fundamental change happens in a horror character, but this is Ghoulies, part 3, at a college.

Their first order of business, besides probably being hated by a good chunk of the audience, is to mess with the couple that has been screwing for like 25% of this movie’s runtime. Before they can do anything serious, Ragnar zaps them to him with words from the book but then sends them back where they not only kill the guy out of the couple with a physics defying toilet gag, but they also get some sweet new threads courtesy of the frat house. They drink all the beer and I mean ALL of the beer before trashing the house. The next day the rest of the frat looks to clean the house but also find their buddy who is missing. This movie is a damn time capsule of the early 90s from the names to the haircuts and clothes to the music and that is a very good thing. It lends itself further to the goofy charm that this movie oozes with each scene. Is the movie scary? No, not even for a minute. Is it a fun piece of 90s sequel trash? I can think of few better with that title.

Ghoulies Go to College (1991) Revisited – Horror Movie Review

The Ghoulies have ingratiated themselves into prank culture and are ready to pit the two frats against each other. Think Yojimbo or A Fistful of Dollars or Last Man Standing, except, like, with ghoulies. Ragnar calls the ghoulies to him again and he looks rooooooough. He threatens to burn the comic that can control them and sends them to do his bidding in a master plan. What master plan I hear 4 of you asking? To get involved with the prank war of course. The ghoulies kill a librarian, at least I think she’s dead, she had more makeup effects on than was necessary to begin with and then we see the sorority planning for the panty raid. My buddies at Movie Dumpster spoke about this for nearly an hour and a half but this time capsule of a movie just wouldn’t be made anymore, in any capacity really. The ghoulies go full Animal House and risk double secret probation by creeping on the the girls but ya know what? So do the human protagonists, and I use the term loosely, so its hard to tell who we are rooting for here.

The ghoulies are here for a good time and join the panty raid while the sorority gives the rest of the cast a show and what we hear and see on screen just wouldn’t be made anymore. It feels like Roger Corman, Charles Band, and a skin flick rolled into one. Kevin McCarthy has now become evil Jerry Lewis and is a thing over wonder, turning his class into a discussion of good vs evil. Our main character finally gets the girl but the ghoulies have become as unhinged as our favorite professor and started killing more people. The bad fraternity captures skip while Ragnar captures Erin with the ghoulies but Skip fights back and heads towards the bad guys. The whole scene feels like an episode of the 70s Muppets show with Kevin McCarthy as the guest, and I mean that in the best possible way.

Skip is able to get Erin out of her chains while also incapacitating Ragnar and has to face off against the three Ghoulies. Thankfully the comic is still there, and Erin tells him that it’s the way to control them. He sics them on Ragnar and they all melt into a shunting that is somehow as gross as what we see in Society before we get a Kevin McCarthy ghoulie abomination that I didn’t know I needed until now. This is what you get when you enter a John Carl Beuchler joint and it does not disappoint. He has become the giga ghoulie and thinks he has unlimited power. We get the best line in the movie too with Erin asking what that is and Skip answering with “that is our humanities teacher”. The book now controls Ragnar too and can we just give a final shoutout to the great Kevin McCarthy? He is in an absurd costume and fully owning it while getting messy with the effects.

The movie ends with the ghoulies still wanting to party and an earwig that will stay with you for a longer time than seems necessary. Ghoulies III isn’t a serious movie. This isn’t directed by William Friedkin based on a script by William Peter Blatty. It’s a direct to video outing of a franchise that has no clue what it’s doing and that’s ok. Ghoulies III hits all the right spots and even ones you didn’t know you needed. It is a fun time to put on in any situation and will give you that endorphin you’ve been missing from the early 90s timeline. Rectify your mistakes and misgivings and give Ghoulies III the respect it deserves!

A couple of the previous episodes of The Black Sheep can be seen below. To see more, head over to the JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channel – and subscribe while you’re there!

Source: Arrow in the Head

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.