The Ghouls (2003)

Sleaze. It seems to be a lost art these days. Even the recent "Grindhouse" trend seems a little too "Hollywood." Filmmakers like Eli Roth and Rob Zombie tried to recapture that lost period of film history when, sandwiched between porno theaters were little hole in the wall places where you could catch films like 'Maniac' or the latest release from Lucio Fulci. Yet, for all their efforts to amp up the gore and the dirtiness of their films, their is a sense of authenticity that is missing. Those films still felt like studio films, granted they were nasty, bloody studio films, but they were studio films nonetheless.

Chad Ferrins 'The Ghouls' certainly does all it can to remain authentic to it's sleazy, grind house roots. From the mini DV camera work and the poor lighting, to its copious amounts of blood and lack of any redeemable characters. 'The Ghouls' captures every bit of the ambiance it's supposed to. But does that make it any good? It depends on what you are looking for...

Eric Hayes is a stringer, one of those guys that listen to police scanners and try to get to crime scenes with their cameras before legit news sources or the cops do, hoping to catch some fucked up shit on video. The goal is to then sell said footage to a local television station (in this case headed by 'Day Of the Dead's own Joe Pilato) and support a lifestyle. Hayes' lifestyle involves ingesting  pretty much any drug he can get his hands on and smoking lots of cigarettes. Lots and lots of cigarettes. He is also a fan of drunk dialing his ex-girlfriend, showing up at her house and holding a gun to her throat while her young daughter watches. He's a hell of a guy - and no he doesn't get any better by the end of the film. if it's personal growth you are looking for, please avert your eyes from Eric Hayes.

Hayes happens upon what he thinks is a gang rape of a young girl, rather than stop the crime his first instinct is to grab his camera and film the happening. Only he realizes too late that it's not a rape, but the woman is being eaten by her attackers. His only problem is that, because he was blind drunk at the time, he forgot to put a tape in the camera. Knowing this could be his big score, he enlists the closest thing he has to a friend, Cliff (Trent Haaga) to help him track down the cannibals. Needless to say things don't turn out too well for Cliff in the end. When Eric gets his camera stolen by a kid with downs syndrome, he sinks even lower into the depths of his hell.

'The Ghouls' reportedly had a production budget of a mere $15,000. But it's the fact that the film was made on the cheap that lends to it's authenticity. Because it was shot on mini DV you feel like you are watching a home video or a snuff film. It makes the, often times over the top images seem much more real and that much more effective.

In an age where the big studios are looking to remake anything, a film like 'The Ghouls' seems like it would be right up their alley. Slight changes and it fits right in the new "found footage" craze. In many ways, that part of the film is ahead of it's time.

There is some pretty fucked up shit going on here. From the opening scene of actual news footage, to the way Hayes assimilates into the seedy underbelly of the city, you definitely need an open mind a fairly strong stomach to enjoy the film. If you enjoy films like 'Maniac' and 'New York Ripper', 'The Ghouls' might be right up your alley. If you prefer your horror with a little less red red stuff and a little more cerebral stimulation, you might want to let this one go.

1 comment:

  1. One of the most boring horror movie I've ever seen :-/