The Iconic 1980s Horror Comedy With A Law And Order Icon, Stream Immediately

By Brian Myers | Published


Emmy Award winning actress Mariska Hargitay has dazzled viewers for more than 25 years on the hit show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. The arc of her storied film and television career has seen multiple appearances on everything from soap operas to prime-time comedies, with a few low-budget teen comedies thrown into the mix as well. But Hargitay’s first foray onto the big screen goes back nearly 40 years when she co-starred in the cult horror film Ghoulies in 1985.

The Set Up

Ghoulies opens with a scene that shows the leader of a group of Satanists preparing to sacrifice his child to the Devil. But his ritual is foiled when the baby’s mother places an amulet around his neck, thus giving him protection from his father’s sacrifice.

As he is frustrated by her actions, cult leader Malcom (Michael Des Barres) instead orders her death.

Twenty-five years later, the surviving child Jonathan (Peter Liapis) inherits his late father’s estate and is moving into the family mansion.

He and his girlfriend Rebecca (Lisa Pelikan) discover several books on the occult among his late father’s possessions, prompting Jonathan to try some of the rituals out for fun.

Things Get Dark

But what happens in Ghoulies isn’t fun for Jonathan, Rebecca, and their friends. After Jonathan conducts a basement ritual that seemingly fails, he becomes ill-tempered and difficult to be around.

Unbeknownst to him at the time, the incantation he read from one of his father’s old books was a success as it summoned a small, green creature.

Days later, Jonathan quits college and decides to dedicate himself to the mansion and the occult. He works more summoning spells and is successful in bringing more of these mean little creatures (called Ghoulies) over from another realm.

Jonathan also succeeds in summoning dwarfs that reveal to their new master the key to his ultimate power.

Ghoulies Arise


Unfortunately for Jonathan, his ritual for power was a ruse from the dwarfs. The act was meant to raise his father Malcolm from the grave, a plot which succeeds.

Now it’s a game of survival for Jonathan and his friends against his father and an army of Ghoulies that plays out until the film’s dramatic conclusion.

Ghoulies might seem a bit like a Gremlins rip-off, the latter film centering around mean little creatures that the film’s protagonist inadvertently creates.

While Ghoulies does have that in common with its cinematic predecessor, that’s about where the similarities end.

A Very ’80s Film

The film focuses heavily on black magic and human sacrifice, two elements that were pervasive in 1980s and 1990s movies. The Satanic Panic that sent waves of fear through parents, teachers, and ministers during that era certainly left its mark on entertainment, as erroneous as their claims were.

Ghoulies captures the darkest elements of that panic and brings them to life on the big screen like no other films did in the 1980s; the Satanic cult, child sacrifices, and spells that promise immortality are all well-used plot devices in the film, helping to add to the dark overtones.

The sets were fantastic, the Ghoulies creatures great for the time, and the cinematic score enshrouds the production under a blanket of eeriness.

Stream It Now



It’s no wonder that Ghoulies has grown to be a cult classic. Though it lacks the terror of a John Carpenter or Wes Craven film from the time, it’s still a spooky watch.

You can stream Ghoulies for free on Roku, Tubi, and Pluto, or rent the film On Demand with Prime, Google Play, AppleTV, and Vudu.