Saturday, November 5, 2016

HOBGOBLINS (Blu-ray Review) - Vinegar Syndrome

Directed By: Rick Sloane
Written By: Rick Sloane
Starring: Tom Bartlett, Paige Sullivan, Steven Boggs
Color/88 Minutes/Not Rated
Region FREE
Release Date: October 25, 2016

The Film
Kevin just got hired to be a security guard at a film vault and is warned by the aging veteran guard to stay out of one particular part of the building but curiosity kills the cat and Kevin accidentally unleashes a group of little ankle biter furball aliens who love to wreak havoc and cause chaos by taking over the minds of their victims! It's up to Kevin and his motley crew of friends to stop these devious little bastards before they take over the whole city.

HOBGOBLINS is part of a subgenre of puppet horror films that was quite popular in the 1980s. Films like Gremlins, Critters and Ghoulies became successes and spawned numerous sequels. There were plenty of other movies that incorporated mini monsters into their plots as well. It was a glorious time for pint sized terror. 1988's HOBGOBLINS is one of the most notorious films of the bunch. While this is technically a horror film there's nothing scary about it. This is an exercise in cheesemaking of the stinkiest kind. And stinky cheese is good cheese.

The monsters themselves are puppets with no movement which is incredible seeing as how they're able to escape a sealed vault, steal a Jeep and create all sorts of havoc throughout the city without the grace of movement. These green furballs are adorable in the same way an untrained puppy is. You hate to deal with the damage they cause but you love watching them cause it because they're just so damn cute. It helps that every character in this movie is an absolute idiot and a total caricature of the 80s. It starts with the slutty bad girl who is cheating on her boyfriend home on leave from the Army but still wears his fatigues (that is, a tucked in camoflage tank top) everywhere he goes and has a supply of grenades handy. And it keeps on going to the nerd who calls a sex hotline pretending it's his girlfriend, hilariously racking up the 900 number charges on everyone's phone bill but his own. And then there's the rough and tough crew at the seedy bar downtown called Club Scum who are among the softest tough guys in movie history.

HOBGOBLINS is inept in just about every way. It's cheap and stupid. The dialogue is childish and it's full of bad jokes. Director Rick Sloane apparently knew what he had created because he himself submitted the film to the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew which they took on to show and riff on. The cult classic show about bad B-movies turned HOBGOBLINS from an unknown obscurity destined to be lost to time forever into a fan favorite episode of MST3K and turning it into one of the best bad films of all time.

To be honest I had never seen the film without the MST3K presentation prior to this Blu-ray release and was skeptical that the movie would hold up on its own. Now, I don't mean hold up as a good movie, I simply mean hold up as an entertaining movie. Many of the reasons I loved to watch HOBGOBLINS is because of the jokes and skits in the MST3K episode. I am pleased to say that HOBGOBLINS on its own was an entirely new and wonderful experience in watching bad filmmaking. Being able to focus on the film itself instead of the commentary provided by the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew made me catch more bad dialogue and details I previously didn't notice and let me settle into the movie itself and really take it all in.

For what there is to take in, of course. HOBGOBLINS isn't going to scare anyone. It's not going to be featured on a list of best small monster horror movies, though it is featured on every list of small monster horror movies, there's nothing "best" about it unless we're discussing the best bad movies ever. There's a permanent place for HOBGOBLINS on that list and it's a reason this movie is infinitely watchable and entertaining. Right now I'm thinking about how much fun it's going to be seeing the single greatest hand to hand combat scene featuring lawn equipment ever committed to celluloid. Ahh, HOBGOBLINS.

The Audio & Video
Vinegar Syndrome makes Hobgoblins look like a million bucks which is far more than the movie cost to make! Their brand new 2K scan and restoration from the original 35mm negative is stunning and provides great detail depth in surfaces and textures. The film is rather colorful despite its incredibly cheap set design and those colors really sparkle here. Black levels are deep and show no signs of compression issues. The English audio is handled with a DTS-HD mono mix that sounds crisp and is free of any background noise, or damage like popping, wobbling or crackling. The mix is stable and levels are complimentary.

The Extras
-Archival audio commentary with director Rick Sloane
-"Hobgoblins Revisited" - A brand new making-of featurette
-"Hobgoblins: The Making Of A Disasterpiece" featurette
-"Hobgoblins Invade Comic-Con" featurette
-Brand new interview with creature fabricator Kenneth J. Hall

The Bottom Line
HOBGOBLINS has long been celebrated as a favorite cult oddity that we loved to riff on, or hear others riff on but now the film can stand on its own two feet having never looked better and can proudly say to us "Bring on the riffing!". Vinegar Syndrome's impressive release doesn't change the fact that HOBGOBLINS is a strong candidate for favorite in the so-bad-it's-good film tournament (if this tournament doesn't exist it needs to) but Vinegar Syndrome's release is an absolute gem and is packed with a slew of in depth and downright loving special features. This is an outstanding release.

HOBGOBLINS is available HERE

No comments: