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When Good Ghouls Go Bad

review by Zach B.


Rated PG

Studio: Fox

Running Time: 93 minutes

Starring Christopher Lloyd, Joe Pichler, Tom Amandes

Teleplay by Patrick Read Johnson & John Lau
Story by R.L. Stine

Directed by Patrick Read Johnson

Retail Price: $19.98

Features: Featurette

Specs: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Dolby Surround, English Closed Captions, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Scene Selection (12 Scenes)

Released: September 4th, 2001

Oh no! Danny Walker has just moved to a small town because of his father (who used to live in the town himself) and is an outsider! Oh no! Because of a weird kid back in the magical year 1981, the town refuses to celebrate Halloween! Oh no! Everyone's paranoid about the subject and no one can even say the word, interrupting with "SHHH!" OH NO DAMMIT, OH NO. WE'RE TREATED TO ANOTHER DIRECT TO VIDEO MOVIE WITH CHEESY ACTING, A TERRIBLE AND CORNY STORY WITH GOOD CHEERY SPIRIT ALL FROM HORROR MASTERMIND R.L. STINE WHO PROBABLY HAD THE IDEA FOR THIS WHILE SLEEPING ON A BIG PILE OF MONEY.

Whatever happened to R.L. Stine anyway? He used to be quite famous and noteworthy author, but it seems he's vanished into oblivion lately. He did those "Fear Street" books or whatever, and of course, the over-franchised and over-merchandised and over-crappified "Goosebumps" books that raked in millions and million. Remember those? He used to write one like every week. And then they were spinned-off into 8000 different series. Anyway, so this is what he's been doing while not taking in checks and counting his money... the main selling point of this flick is that it's a STORY BY R.L. STINE. WOW, THAT WILL PULL KIDS IN! DO KIDS REMEMBER HIM? WOW HE'S SUCH A GREAT, TALENTED STORYTELLER AND HE DIDN'T EVEN WRITE THE TELEPLAY FOR THIS. Enough of my Stine ranting, he doesn't seem like a bad guy and who can blame him for cashing in? Still, you get my point. AND YOU JUST HAVE TO LOVE THE TITLE OF THIS MASTERPIECE - "When Good Ghouls Go Bad" JUST LIKE AN ANNOYING REALITY SERIES ON FOX. WOW, BETTER GET THOSE AMATEUR TAPES READY AND THOSE VIDEO CAMERA ROLLIN'!

The movie is just so clichéd and a whole cornfest. The dialogue and plot is laughable, not to mention how stupid and predictible it is. Still, the main demographic for this movie is kids. The filmmakers aren't trying to please 18-49 year olds here, they're trying to please kids and that's what counts and that's what is important I suppose. So young kids, maybe even pre-teens will like this. Still, it's just another crazy story about some great thing we all know and love that some town has gotten rid of and in the end, unites them together. AND IT HAS CHEESY SPECIAL EFFECTS AND A HEART-TUGGING SUBPLOT ABOUT THE BROKEN BOND BETWEEN A SINGLE FATHER AND HIS SON!

The acting is terrible... B-rate actors are in this and they just overplay it all. But the star is the sole exception, and that is the wonderful Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Fred. Yes, he stars and narrates this tale. He takes the role of Fred and runs with it. He gets the kookiness down straight and makes it a lighthearted and warm performance. He really fits the bill perfectly and is worth watching, actually. Like usual, Lloyd is strong and gets into what he's playing. His performance is not cheesy at all. Lloyd does a lot of these sort of deals - why he does a lot of great films, he sure does a lot of not so great ones too. But hey, an actor's got work and make money. Still, I liked his performance and the kids should too.

I believe this was made as a made-for-TV movie, not direct to video. It sure seems like it and feels like it. Despite the dumb humor, bad dialogue and corniness, kids may want to look into it. You could do far worse. A bad family film, but it's really for the young ones.

Wow, for some reason, we got a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and it looks rather fantastic. The only main problems I noticed in this transfer are some shimmering now and then. Other than that, it's rather breathtaking to my surprise. Black levels are solid, while colors, hues and fleshtones are really, really well saturated. They're vibrant and bold. Detail is also good. Overall, a rather great image!

Aren't we lucky! "When Good Ghouls Go Bad" has English closed captions, English subtitles, Spanish subtitles, an English Dolby Surround track and an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track. The 5.1 mix isn't special and I was expecting a little bit more activity within it. It doesn't feel that haunting, and only has weak .1 LFE in the mix. Surrounds aren't that powerful and it feels more stereo of such to me. Yes the "creepy" music and haunting noises (pumpkins rolling, doors creaking) give it atmosphere... but it's more of a cheesy atmosphere. Dialogue is crisp and easy to hear, no overpowerment here. So, it's simply an "eh."

What? No trailers for other family titles? Nope! You got a 11 minute Featurette. The featurette has clips from this flick, and features interviews with the cast and crew. It's all light promotional fluff and plays like a big commercial. I find it laughable how the actors like through their teeth when they call this a "great movie." All of it is in non-anamorphic letterbox. Come on, make it anamorphic if you're gonna make it widescreen!

Kids wil enjoy this one, but anyone over the age of thirteen will love to mock this nice little piece of kiddie fare (that includes me!). Still, if you're throwing a Halloween party for a child or need a good laugh, pop this disc in (though I don't think the children will enjoy the widescreen aspect ratio). The presentation is nice, the price is good and it's bare bones. So uh, if you want to waste money on crap fare or want to surprise your kid with this corny number, pick it up.

(2/5 - NOT included in final score)




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