New Horror Releases: Ghastlies (2017) - Reviewed

Ghastlies is a new micro-budgeted horror film that pays homage to the creature feature movies of the '80s, about a group of sorority sisters who run into extraterrestrial ghouls during a weekend getaway. While it does an excellent job of encapsulating the spirit and look of the '80s, it never quite hits its stride and ultimately suffers from being far too slow.

Essentially a low budget camp horror sci-fi film comparable to Ed Wood, Troma, or Empire International Pictures, Ghastlies doesn't quite embrace the shear campiness of its plot and the fact that their tiny creatures are obvious puppets. There is something inherently amusing about low budget murderous puppets and cheap looking alien spacecraft props, leading to at least a few funny moments. The problem is the filmmakers appear to be attempting to present a faithful horror homage when they don't have the necessary tools available to them.

The story attempts to truthfully recreate something that we have come to expect from '80s VHS era horror. They actually do a pretty good job at it, with stereotypical characters and dialogue that could have been plucked from one of those films. The props and outfits were particularly well done and they should be commended for the fine attention to detail, from cassette players and the spandex workout gear to the big hair and wild makeup. The pacing is the most glaring issue, as it is a slow go even with a minuscule 76 minute runtime. Granted there are kills mixed throughout the picture, but there is a great deal of sitting around talking in the same location with no action.

The movie surprisingly looks good most of the time, in fact, maybe too good. It's a bit too crisp and clean. I wanted to see a degradation of the quality, like it was shot in 16mm and then transferred to a VHS tape. The '80s synth score is a standout from Tomb Dragomir and covers a spectrum of music that originated from that era.

There is a sufficient body count, blood, and gore contained in this to satisfy horror fans, the major issue is its quality. Yes, it is all practical effects, but they are done rather poorly. And not in a fun campy sort of way, but in a that was disappointing way. The puppet monsters have to be the best part of the picture. They are fairly crude, yet fun.

Ghastlies has its moments of both good and bad. It's doubtful though that many horror fans will be interested due to its slow pacing and subpar practical effects.


Raul Vantassle