In this first film, one Jonathan Graves moves into an old family mansion together with his girlfriend. In there, he starts dabbling in the occult like his late father, summoning the Ghoulies, two dwarf servants and his dead father as well.
Rest of the movies in the series:
This film has examples of:
- Back from the Dead: Malcolm Graves is accidentally revived, and takes over the magicalities from his son, whom he intends to use as a sacrifice in a dark ceremony.
- Big Bad: Malcolm Graves, the undead sorcerer.
- Big Damn Heroes: Groundskeeper Wolfgang provides one by revealing that he too has powers over magic, and proceeds to save the day.
- Big "NO!": Malcomís lover Anastasia lets out one when he tries to sacrifice baby Jonathan. A perfectly understandable reaction, seeing as how sheís Jonathanís mother.Anastasia: NO! (takes baby Jonathan from the altar and holds him protectively) YOU PROMISED! You promised not our child!
- Creepy Doll: A jester doll is possessed, attacks a woman, starts shedding tears of mucus, and bursts open to reveal another ghoulie.
- Crusty Caretaker: Wolfgang, who tended the house until Jonathan took possession of it and returns at the end as a Big Damn Heroes wizard.
- Danger Takes a Backseat: The Sequel Hook has a bunch of ghoulies appearing in the back of Jonathan's car.
- Deus Sex Machina: Averted. Jonathan paints a ritual pentagram under his bed, then attempts to have sex with Rebecca there. Realizing that he's chanting under his breath, she catches on that it's one of his sick magical experiments, and kicks him out of bed.
- Depraved Dwarf: Grizzel and Greedigut, the two dwarf familiars Jonathan summons. Slightly subverted by the end, though.
- Developing Doomed Characters: The party guests have just enough screen-time to be obnoxious before the ghoulies start killing them off.
- Gory Discretion Shot: The movie deliberately cuts away every time one of the ghoulies attacks someone. Strangely, the mutilated corpse left behind is perfectly fine to be shown.
- Hollywood Satanism: The reason for Ghoulies' existence.
- Human Sacrifice: Malcolm intends to drain Jonathan's youth to restore himself. It's implied that the party guests' deaths serve this purpose, as he summons their bodies to the ritual chamber along with his ghoulie minions.
- Mama Bear: Anastasia. Right when Malcom tries to sacrifice an infant Jonathan, she intervened, and itís revealed that she was Jonathanís mother. She puts her talisman on him so Malcom canít touch him, then after Jonathan is taken away, she willingly dies in his place.Anastasia: (places her talisman on baby Jonathan, then glares at Malcom) You canít hurt him now, you bastard!
- No Ontological Inertia: After Malcom is defeated, all the people killed by him and his ghoulies come back to life for no apparent reason.
- Oh, Crap!: Anastasia has this reaction when she hears baby Jonathan crying during the sacrifice ritual at the beginning of the film.
- Overly-Long Tongue: Malcolm entwines one of the party guests in one of these, snapping his neck. It's the only kill in the movie that doesn't get a Gory Discretion Shot!
- Re-Cut: There are at least two television cuts that actually extend the film by ten-fifteen minutes, primarily by adding more scenes of Wolfgang during the middle of the movie.
- Rise from Your Grave: After the characters perform a ritual that ends with them screaming at the top of their lungs, late Malcolm Graves rises from his grave to join in.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Malcolm. In this case, the "can" is his grave.
- Sequel Hook: At the end of the film, Jonathan, Rebecca, and Mike drive away, with Mike questioning whether all this is really over. The Ghoulies then turn up in the backseat of the car.
- Shown Their Work: This movie has a surprising amount of genuine occult references. Jonathan invokes the demons Paimon, Vepar, Procel, and Astaroth, all from the Lesser Key of Solomon. Also, the two dwarf servants are also named "Grizzel" and "Greedigut," and "Grizzel Greedigut" is the name of a witch's familiar recorded in the 1600s by Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins.
- Signature Scene: One of the frog-like "amphibious" ghoulies popping out of the toilet. Whilst it's an incredibly minor scene in the film proper, merely being part of the montage of the various ghoulies emerging from hiding throughout the house once Malcom returns to take command, it was striking enough to be featured in the TV advertisement and on the poster.
- Sunglasses at Night: Jonathan wears them to hide his green-glowing eyes. He has his guests wear novelty sunglasses too, to pass it off as a party gag.
- Surprisingly Creepy Moment: While most of the film is too comedic and/or cheesy to be scary, the way the party-goers' corpses writhe across the floor like worms rather than standing up to head to the cellar is genuinely unnerving.
- Whole-Plot Reference: It's essentially The Case of Charles Dexter Ward with more sex gags and puppets.
- Would Hurt a Child: Malcom tried to sacrifice his own infant son at the beginning of the film.