Hobgoblins (1988)

Be careful what you wish for... You just might get it!

Year of Release: 1988
Genre: Horror/Comedy
Rated: R
Running Time: 88 minutes (1:28)
Director: Rick Sloan


Tom Bartlett ... Kevin
Paige Sullivan ... Amy
Steven Boggs ... Kyle
Kelley Palmer ... Daphne
Billy Frank ... Nick
Jeffrey Culver ... McCreedy
Tamara Clatterbuck ... Fantazia
Duane Whitaker ... Roadrash
Kari French ... Pixie
Daran Norris ... Club Scum M.C


Nothing attracts attention more than a sealed box... And old McCreedy, the studio's night watchman, should have known that he was courting disaster when he warned Kevin, the new trainee, to stay away from the old vault. But now it's too late... The Hobgoblins make no exception for idle curiosity. They're loose and they're ready to make all your fantasies come true... But, be warned, the results are deadly!


Hobgoblins, remindin' us that nothin' scares a prowler quite like a fresh-faced college boy who visibly winces just squeezin' off a warnin' shot. Oh yeah, he seems comfortable an proficient, dude best be gettin' his roustabutt outta there before the kid gets *mad*.

An speakin' of people who oughta have their guns taken away, me an about 40 other people witnessed a pretty ugly scene at the Videodome Friday evenin' between Amos Anderson an that harpy wife of his, an rumor has it that after 34 years they're finally headed for divorce-ville. I have no idea what he *ever* saw in that hag, an just about anybody you talk to'll tell ya the dumbass shoulda married Carol Maynard when he had the chance, although I've heard that Amos's dad pushed 'im into it cause he thought the boy needed discipline an figured the army wasn't tough enough to straighten 'im out. I was just in there mindin' my own business, grabbin' MAC and Me (that's Sadie Bonebreak's girlfriend's idea of a scary movie, an she thinks she needs to be involved in everything we do) to play durin' the poker game I had planned with the guys, when all the sudden I hear "you disgusting degenerate!" from the checkout counter an immediately recognize the shriek of Amos' wife - Nan "the Raging Cuss" Barnabas. So I poke my head out from behind the Sci Fi section to see what'n hell's goin' on an apparently Edgar Mastrude'd charged Amos a $0.75 late fee for bringin' Night Eyes 3 back a day late an caused Nan to launch into an old fashioned public shaming. Was kinda funny watchin' everybody pretendin' to go about their business though - Buzz McCulloch grabbed a random tape an made like he was readin' the back cover synopsis, not realizin' some wise-ass (I'd bet money it was Richard Fawner, but that's just speculation) had put Brokeback Mountain in the Action section an that he was standin' there holdin' it in front of half his bowlin' team, Fannie Ogglesby overfilled 'er root beer til it ran clean down the counter into 'er shoes, an Grover Umpleby ended up knockin' the cardboard Freddy Krueger over an durn near fallin' on it tryin' to get a better angle on the conversation.

Nan's tirade on the other hand wasn't funny at all - I'm tellin' ya, that man had a look of terror in his eyes seldom witnessed outside random drug test day at the halfway house, an of course nobody *else* was sayin' anything, so finally I stepped out an yelled: "Hey, Nan, you wanna wrap this up before you give every man in the building impotence? Edgar here's plannin' to get married this summer an it'd be a shame if he couldn't rise to the occasion on account of your scrote-shriveling voice box!"

"Who's that?!" she squinted. "Oh, the little drive-in creep. What would you know about marriage?!" she demanded.

"I know you just validated the bachelor's lifestyle of every unmarried man in a three mile radius with that portal to Hell you call a mouth!" I shot back, an that was it, she was after me like a doberman after a Jehovah's Witness, an lemme tell ya - she's pretty spry for a 52-year-old caregiver. Almost had me when I ducked behind the wrestlin' tapes, but fortunately she slipped in Fannie's root beer pond an I got out the door before she could regain 'er footing.

Had to hide out inside Tijuana Tom's Mexican Cuisine and Custom Pinata Palace for 20 minutes pretendin' I was gonna order somethin' before Nan's Volvo finally squealed outta there an I could go back to pay for MAC and Me, an of course Nan'd left without Amos, so I figured I'd be one heck of a nice guy an drop 'im off at Carol Maynard's place an explain what'd happened to 'im - Carol's a sweet ole Christian lady, an so she agreed to take 'im in for the night. I think those two kids're gonna get along just swell, an as for Nan, well, I think she learned a valuable lesson... either that or she'll use 'er position on the city council to make my life a livin' Hell. She don't scare me though, I just refuse to fight a woman is all. Specially ones that can change a tire without usin' a jack.

I guess it wasn't all bad, particularly since those free tortilla chips I got at Tijuana Tom's might be the last thing I eat til Friday on account of Sadie cleanin' me out again at our poker game while 'er neurotic bimbo girlfriend got all weepy-eyed watchin' the little herpes creature from MAC and Me rescue the crippled kid from drownin'. Again. Any other time I woulda never gotten away with shovin' Hobgoblins in the VCR around what's-'er-name, but after explainin' that I was just continuin' the theme of pint-sized space aliens with skin problems they let me do it. Damn fortunate for all you lucky people at home too, cause as you prolly already know, Hobgoblins is the last flick of my salute to the 10 most enjoyable Mystery Science Theater movies of all time, an man is it a doozy. Now, you may be thinkin' to yourself: "oh, goodie, another Gremlins rip-off, how come he never reviews anything good, like Thelma and Louise?" Well, mostly cause I don't hate myself, but back up there, cause this ain't just another Gremlins ripoff, an Hobgoblins has lotsa stuff Gremlins never even thought of, like garden tool ninjutsu, homicidal sex-line operators, an a complete disregard for the female demographic. We could very well be lookin' at the cinematic poster-child for the Gamergate movement, an if you're still not sure just what'n the hell I'm gettin' at, check out these three magnificent models of misogynistic masochism an all will become clear. First, nobody likes gettin' head from a hooker with 4' of beehive hairdo; makes ya feel like Cousin It's up in your face an judgin' the heck out of ya. Second, if you're on a date with a freaky tramp in a leopard print blouse, sometimes the most important form of protection is the parking brake. An third, if you can't master a hoe, you've got no place in a Rick Sloane movie.

Seriously though, can you imagine what it must be like to appear in a movie like this, abandon acting, an 10 years later have your co-workers at the office find out about it? Or worse still - all your co-workers on a construction crew? Next thing you know you're gettin' all sortsa witty questions like: "Hey Steve, the guys an I're curious - when did you first discover your affinity for rollin' around on the ground with stuffed animals, an what lasting effects did it have on your sex life?" That's great for the ole career prospects, cause from that point on you're *always* gonna be the weirdo with the plush fetish. Actually, the desk job scenario might even be worse, cause when the boss realizes your 10 year anniversary's comin' up an plans a surprise party for ya, you just know there's gonna be that one asshole who suggests they screen the movie on the conference room wall as a joke - an so you're sittin' there drinkin' unspiked punch an eatin' cheap ice cream cake from Dairy Queen, while 28 nerds in khakis roll on the floor laughin' atcha for 88 solid minutes. Good grief, Senator McCarthy couldn't do to a man's career what this movie's capable of. Jerry Lewis shoulda told those sick kids to take a hike an held a telethon to benefit the cast of this film so's they wouldn't hafta fight the subconscious urge to steer their cars into an oncoming 18-wheeler every day just to avoid another round of ridicule from their peers. Actually, it could even be worse than that, I mean, say you work at Bob's Bible Emporium an Big Bob finds out about it - you're lookin' at an 8 a.m. meetin' with Bob himself where you're told in no uncertain terms that your past behavior in conjunction with your current employment is puttin' a strain on his personal relationship with God an that you'll hafta complete an SAA (Stuffed Animals Anonymous) course in an Indiana rehab facility before you'll be allowed back on the premises. Nevermind what your mother-in-law might say if she found out about it, prolly be somethin' like: "And just when were you planning to tell my baby about this?! Did you ever stop to think about the welfare of my future grandchildren?! Or the SHAME Harold and I have to endure at church every Sunday with the knowledge that our entire congregation knows we have a plushophile in the family?!" I'm just ramblin' now, but seriously, all you kids out there thinkin' about participatin' in a friend's indie film project - take a good hard look at that script an imagine bein' known as *that* character for the rest of your natural life, cause this could be your future.

The movie begins in the parkin' lot of a film storage vault where this old man security guard who scrunches his face up like Matlock takin' a dump all the time (McCreedy) is browbeatin' his apprentice an generally furrowin' his furry eyebrows cause the kid won't stop blastin' his eardrums with the new Kix album. Basically he lays that tired old man's "disappointment" trip on the kid until he pretends to be ashamed an then the two of 'em go out to make sure there're no film geeks skulkin' around waitin' for an opening to sneak in an steal the blooper reel from The Seven Year Itch where Marilyn Monroe forgot to wear underpants. Only McCreedy ends up gettin' a callback on a Walmart door-greeter gig over his walkie talkie an leaves the kid unattended, an next thing you know he's down in the film vault on a sound stage spazzin' out like an epileptic Mick Jagger until he falls off an gets turned into teenage ptomaine by some unseen snarl monsters who need hankies. So now McCreedy hasta tell the boss man the kid had to quit to dedicate himself fully to conquering The Legend of Zelda an ends up hirin' this straight-edge wimp (Kevin) who looks like the kid everybody gangs up on in dodge ball to take his place, an McCreedy shows 'im the ropes of the job until they come to the hallway of the forbidden vault an McCreedy tells Kevin never to go down there or else he'll make 'im listen to stories about the good ole days until he develops a drinkin' problem. The next mornin', Kevin comes home to his girlfriend who wears a chastity belt over her frozen underwear (Amy) an is immediately razzed by her bimbonic plague-carryin' friend (Daphne) for bringin' home a movie that don't end in "Does Dallas." Then Daphne's meathead boyfriend (Nick) comes over an the two of 'em defile the gene pool in the back of his van an Amy busts Kevin's balls about his inability to do anything manly enough to impress her friends from crochet class, while Kevin's little eunuch friend (Kyle) makes long distance phone sex calls on Kevin's dime. Kevin's basically the guy The Offspring were singin' about in Self Esteem. Oh, I forgot to tell ya - Nick's just come back from basic training at Fort Expendable, so he's impressin' the chicks left an right with his muscles an his smarmy "yeah, that Gorbachev guy dunno who he's messin' with" attitude. This leaves Amy no choice but to metaphorically cut off Kevin's dugong an slap 'im around with it until he agrees to duel Nick with garden tools in the yard, an after Nick twirls his rake around like a majorette awhile he stops screwin' around an drops Kevin faster'n the Army's physical fitness requirements durin' wartime.

Then Daphne an Nick go apply some fresh blacklight stains to his van's upholstery while Amy supportively explains to Kevin that until he learns how to handle a hoe like Nick he's not gettin' anywhere near her topsoil. So later that night Kevin goes to work an starts whinin' to McCreedy about Frigid Nielsen, but McCreedy lucks out an spots this leather jacket hoodlum on the surveillance monitor an ends up gettin' captured when he goes to investigate, forcin' Kevin to scare the guy off by firin' a warnin' shot into the boom mic. Then McCreedy goes to report a false alarm on his Life Alert bracelet while Kevin tries to keep the punk outta the studio's junk an gets the idea he musta ran into the vault an shut the door behind 'im, only when he opens it up he accidentally releases the nappy little psoriasis monsters from the vault like a horde of out-of-print Disney flicks, at which point they commandeer a golf cart an escape. McCreedy immediately goes into old man meltdown mode an explains that 30 years before he decided to powder his hair like Mal Arnold in Blood Feast, the critters landed in an outer space food processor an started usin' their alien voodoo powers to give all the studio execs whatever their hearts desired until the place went bankrupt from all the paternity suits an that he only survived the interplanetary purge by havin' absolutely no hopes or dreams for the monsters to prey upon. Unfortunately, McCreedy's too old an McCreaky to stop 'em now, so basically the world hinges on Kevin gettin' out there an doin' the monster mash before they turn the whole damn planet into a Utopian Socialism. Conveniently, the basement dwellin' pleasure trolls show up at Kevin's house where Daphne, Amy, an Kyle are perpetuating the white dancing stereotype, until one of the predatory puppets lures Daphne outside an purt'near wrestles 'er out of 'er pink spandex/vagina veil ensemble before she manages to rake the mats out of its face an get back in the house. Course, that just brings the entire hot-glued brood inside with 'er an pretty quick it's startin' to look like the Meanie Babies're gonna spend the next day on the can strugglin' to pass swatches, but fortunately Nick shows up with a grenade he borrowed from work an just barely gets stopped by Kevin before he can blow the place up like a trailer park methtub an Kevin flicks the light switch off. See? *These* monsters are *attracted* to light, so they're totally not Gremlins. Which means Warner can't sue... I think. Anyway, they assume all the hairy fairies've moved on to greener actors an Kyle calls up the sex line again, only he don't realize he's got a velcro voyeur right beside 'im an pretty quick the terror toupee causes the aural sex worker to appear in the front lawn with a fog machine an the two of 'em drive out to Mountin' Mountain to pop Kyle's cherry.

Kevin sees what's goin' on an chases after 'em, but Kyle's drivin' approximately 96mph cause Perry Slattern's workin' his shifter knob an he knows he's only got 22 seconds to get there before his transmission drops. Weird thing though, cause once they get to Weinstein Ravine, the skank gets outta the car an starts tryin' to push it over the cliff with Kyle inside. Thankfully, Kevin shows up just in time to clobber Fuzzy Skuzzy, breakin' the illusion before the Tickle Me Bimbo can push Kyle's Hornet over the hill an turn 'im into a fried dork chop. Then Kevin an Kyle head back to the house where Kevin hasta bludgeon one of the Scabbage Patch Kids with a ratchet for rootin' around in his glove box, until Daphne tells 'im Amy left to go to Club Scum an that she didn't find that at all strange for a woman whose primary role model is Nancy Reagan. So everybody piles into Nick's van an they motor on down to Club Scum where Duane Whitaker bounces when he's not doin' unspeakable things to the cast of Pulp Fiction, an Duane gets a little confused when they tell 'im they're lookin' for a girl an ends up tellin' this hooker with Marge Simpson hair that they're lookin' for a group rate. Then everybody throws beer cans at this Boy George impersonator an these punkers sing a song called shit kicker... or pig sticker... or pit licker... I dunno what they were sayin' to tell ya the truth cause I was too busy watchin' the hooker with the mile-high haircut do The Swim, but after that things get real awkward when Amy comes out on stage an starts gettin' nekkid an uncorkin' lines from 50 Shades of Grey an ends up bobbin' for apples in Duane's shorts. Needless to say, the club ain't been this furry since 1974 on account of all these muppet mesmerists on the loose, an next thing you know Nick's staff sergeant shows up lookin' for the bee-hive hooker an gives Nick a buncha explosives and an uzi until he goes Rambo an starts huckin' grenades all over the room tryin' to blow up Bruno Mars, while Kevin manages to jam the brainwaves of the little booger givin' Amy the Everclear treatment an breaks 'er out of 'er knobgoblin phase. Then Nick's sergeant starts mackin' on Daphne an rolls a grenade onto the dance floor so Nick'll jump on it like a Brett Favre fumble an turn 'imself into a charcoal Niquette, only that gets Daphne so P.O.'d that she grabs one of Dick Sergeant's grenades an drops it down his pants, givin' im a blowjob he'll never forget. The monsters're pretty well in retreat by now, but they ain't dead yet, so I prolly better shut up before I go blabbin' the endin' all over the internet like an unfulfilled housewife dishin' about the neighbors at bridge club.

Alrighty, well, Hobgoblins was a little late to the dance in its attempt to cash in on the success of Gremlins, cause by July of 1988 we'd already gotten Ghoulies (1984), Attack of the Beast Creatures (1985), Critters (1986), Munchies (1987), and Critters 2, which released three months before it as well. Just beat Ghoulies II by a coupla months, and you could also count The Gate (1987) if your sole motivation is to spike the ball, but Hobgoblins was kinda the last gasp of this mini-monster boom of the mid to late '80s, and with the possible exception of Attack of the Beast Creatures, it's far and away the worst on a technical level. Some of the blame can be fairly attributed to the $15,000 budget, and more still is likely attributable to the fact that Rick Sloane was only 25 years old when he made it (though Don Coscarelli was younger than that when he made Phantasm), but at the end of the day Hobgoblins is simply one of the most poorly written/executed movies that Mystery Science Theater ever riffed. Admittedly, there's no good way to execute a garden tool duel between two grown men in plain view of the entire neighborhood, but that's just the kinda movie Hobgoblins is - uncompromising in its approach to sequences that, when originally written, should have been immediately ripped out of the typewriter, wadded up, and pitched into the trash.

It's actually a really good teaching experience for young filmmakers who think they can make their movie deliberately campy and stupid and get away with it because it's *supposed* to be that way. That rule is real and does work *up to a point*, but it's important to know where that line is before you go stickin' four inanimate stuffed animals in a golf cart. A lot of people can't stand this one even from a "so bad it's good" perspective, and unlike flicks like Soultaker or Squirm, I'm not gonna put up much argument on that front because it is such a poorly made movie, but I personally find it bad in all the right ways, and it's possibly my favorite of all the Mystery Science Theater experiments, right up there with Soultaker and Laserblast. I suppose another reason that it's probably looked upon so poorly is the rampant misogyny on display, because that's definitely one area where they spared no expense. If you think the feminists were rough on flicks like Carrie and Friday the 13th (or Horror flicks in general), I'd love to see their reaction to Hobgoblins, which unlike the previously mentioned titles, is legitimately degrading to women, where as movies like Friday the 13th are degrading to *everyone*. Normally I wouldn't bother bringing up PC culture, but this isn't even debatable, I mean, the movie has a total of four female characters, and here's how they break out: epic slut, emasculating ice cube in pearls who secretly wants to be a slut, a sex line operator turned slut via hallucination, and a prostitute. It doesn't bother *me* that much, but I can see why women probably aren't big fans of the movie, ya know, given how it plays like something written by a frustrated creep who's been friend-zoned one time too many.

I'm not gonna lie to ya - things're about to get pretty grim, but if you've got that rubberneck gene that causes you to stare eyes agape at a fatal car wreck, have I got a treat for you. The plot barely exists, and what little initiative it does take to guide our hapless characters from scene to scene generally plays out like a rejected I Dream of Jeannie script, with the characters only barely escaping grisly death when their wishes go south. I'm not gonna parade every single irrational unforced error around, but just to give you an idea of what I'm talking about: McCreedy's boss gripes him out for leaving the gate unguarded, yet the two security guards always do their rounds together, there's a prison cell around the vault door holding the Hobgoblins yet neither are locked, multiple security guards vanish after being killed by the creatures and those disappearances never cause any police action, the number of Hobgoblins never actually decreases despite periodic bludgeoning, Kevin can't figure out who's jacking up his phone bill with 900# calls despite Kyle constantly using it in private, and let's not forget that McCreedy somehow thinks he's doing God's work by guarding the Hobgoblins despite the fact that they'd previously destroyed the lives of everyone working at the studio and caused its closure. Essentially, by the time a character comes back to life after what should have been certain death, it doesn't faze you in the slightest to see him walk back into the movie virtually unscathed, because by that point you've seen so much nonsense it just doesn't affect you anymore. I guess it's more plausible than Jaws: The Revenge, but is that really the kinda distinction you wanna hang your hat on? The acting is not as bad as the plot, but then neither is steppin' in possum puke while barefoot. The principle cast is really green, and although nobody quite reaches the "terrible" threshold, they're all south of average. Not surprisingly for a low budget flick like this, all the best performances ("best" being a relative term) come from quirky supporting characters, like Duane Whitaker as Roadrash the bouncer, Daran Norris as the M.C., Tamara Clatterbuck as Fantazia the sex line operator, and Kari French as Pixie the hooker, whose hairdo threatens the functionality of ceiling fans everywhere. So, because of these secondary characters, there will be a few points awarded on the acting front, but it won't be many due to their minimal involvement in the movie as a whole.

Here's who matters and why: Kelley Palmer (The Visitants), Billy Frank (Dead End City, Grotesque, Vampire Knights), Tamara Clatterbuck (Hallowed Ground 2007, The Borrower), Duane Whitaker (Children of the Corn: Genesis, Dozers, Halloween II 2009, Trailer Park of Terror, Urban Decay, Feast, The Devil's Rejects, The Low Budget Time Machine, Groom Lake, From Dusk Till Dawn 2, The Haunted Sea, Within the Rock, Night of the Scarecrow, Tales from the Hood, Puppet Master 5, Deadly Dreams, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3), Jeffrey Culver (Time Barbarians, Bad Girls from Mars, Terrifying Tales, The Visitants, Hollow Gate), Daran Norris (Stargames), Ken Abraham (The Forgotten 2004, Girlfriend from Hell, Dead End City, Vampires on Bikini Beach, Hollywood's New Blood, Vampire Knights, Creepozoids, Terror Night), Don Barrett (Slaughterhouse), David Teague (The Visitants). I can't even imagine what the odds of three cast members surviving the reputation of Hobgoblins to work again must be, but the odds of them going on to have successful careers? You'd have to send away to NASA to calculate that one, and yet, it happened, so for those of you who wanna know which two (Duane Whitaker is a given) managed it, here are their mainstream credits: Tamara Clatterbuck (Alice Johnson on The Young and the Restless, Barb Reiber on Days of Our Lives), and Daran Norris (best known for voicing cartoon characters like: Cosmo on The Fairly Odd Parents, The Chief on T.U.F.F. Puppy, Knock Out on Transformers Prime, Dick Daring on The Replacements, Gordy on Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, and Spottswoode in Team America: World Police).

The special effects... what's the word I'm looking for... I dunno, what's a word that means worse than "abysmal?" Apparently Sloane didn't receive the puppets until the day before shooting was to start, and as it turns out the budget would only support one Hobgoblin that could actually open and close its mouth. I think that pretty well sums up the budget situation - basically they couldn't afford the money necessary to hollow out parts of a doll's face. You really can't even call most of them puppets - they're literally stuffed animals, and I think we've all seen a least one movie where the actors are called upon to pretend a doll is alive and actively fighting them, so you've probably got a pretty good idea of how things worked out even if you haven't seen the movie. There's also a little pyrotechnical work, the most significant of which sees a stuntman lit on fire - all of which was done without permits, a fire marshal, or really anybody who knew what they were doing, and not surprisingly the scene involving the flaming stuntman resulted in the club's ceiling briefly catching fire. They did get the fire put out without causing too much damage though, so what the heck. The shooting locations are definitely the high point, although that's like saying they're the tastiest entree at a British buffet. The TV studio was a parking lot conveniently located next door to a crack house (which makes you wonder if anybody was sneakin' over there when they needed a little inspiration), and Club Scum was a real club in Los Angeles called The Music Machine. I actually kinda like the club, despite its never having left the '70s. Beyond those two spots it's just Kevin's house (which is one of the plainest, yet believable looking homes ever put to film), and Reputation Road, neither of which add anything to the movie. The soundtrack is comprised mostly of droning, repetitive synth tracks, although the first half of what seems to be that same droning piece is a bit better. It plays over the opening credits, and for a while it's dark, with a minor fairy tale quality akin to what you'd expect for a movie involving miniature monsters, but after about 40 seconds it reverts back to its true form, which is generic and unendearing. You've also got the alt/punk rock song Kiss Kicker '99 by The Fontanelles, who perform it in full on stage to help pad out the movie's running time, and while that's a cheesy tactic used by a lot of low budget filmmakers (a statistically improbable number of which end up on Mystery Science Theater), the song's actually kinda decent. Doesn't have squat to do with the movie's premise, but it's enjoyable, so I guess that counts for something. Overall, Hobgoblins fails on every level, as can generally be expected by any movie directed, produced, written, shot, and edited by one guy. I still like the silly thing quite a bit and enjoy it even without commentary, but it's genuinely bad enough that - were its score based entirely on production values, the IMDB's 2.3 would actually be pretty accurate.

Rating: 48%