• Hobgoblins

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: October 25th 2016.
    Director: Rick Sloane
    Cast: Tom Bartlett, Paige Sullivan, Steven Boggs, Tamara Clatterbuck, Duane Whitaker
    Year: 1988
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    The Movie:

    Directed by Rick Sloane in 1988, Hobgoblins will forever live in infamy thanks to a fairly ruthless skewering it received on Mystery Science Theater 3000. For those unfamiliar with the film, it begins at an old unused movie studio. Here an aging security guard named McCreedy (Jeffrey Culver) tends to his post while a younger guard named Dennis (Kevin Kildow) goofs off, acting like a rock star – only to disappear. It seems Dennis went to that part of the lot that McCreedy told him not to go to. Oops. McCreedy’s boss at the security company isn’t happy about this but he assigns him a new partner, a nice guy named Kevin (Tom Bartlett). They hit it off well enough, but again, McCreedy warns him to stay away from that one part of the lot, without really properly explaining why. He does give Kevin a gun though, so there’s that.

    After his shift ends, Kevin heads back to his place where his girlfriend Amy (Paige Sullivan) is hanging out with their friends Kyle (Steven Boggs) and Daphne (Kelly Palmer). Soon enough, Daphne’s boyfriend Nick (Bill Frank), fresh out of basic training, shows up in his van. They screw and then for some reason Nick engages Kevin in ‘hand to hand combat’ resulting in a really long scene where they hit each other with rakes on the front lawn. Then Kyle calls a phone sex line. With this out of the way, we eventually get to the titular monsters – see, the Hobgoblins, for some reason, live in that part of the studio lot McCreedy was yammering on about. They’ve escaped and unbeknownst to the younger characters, they have the ability to trick you into doing things you secretly want to do but never would under normal circumstances and then kill them. It’s an odd power to be sure, but it means we get to see the different characters do some dumb stuff – Kyle hooks up with the phone sex lady in person, Amy turns into a stripper and performs at an awesome dive called Club Scum. Basically, this leaves Kevin and McCreedy with some help from Nick and his contraband grenades in charge of wrangling the Hobgoblins back to where they came from and make the world a safer place for all of us.

    Hobgoblins defies logic. It’s really a series of barely related set piece sort of strung together by way of the rubbery puppet creatures that the film is named after. There are logic gaps. MASSIVE logic gaps. There are pacing problems (the lawn front rake fight goes on forever). Characters do things that make little sense even when not under control of the titular beasties. There is dancing, oh so much dancing, in a scene where Kyle and the girls are just jamming the fuck out to the same synth sequence looped over and over again. A Hobgoblin impersonates the sound of the horn in Nick’s van which brings Daphne out, then later, Amy too. While they are on the lawn, Kyle just keeps going. We can see him in the window, he’s dancing like a man on fire. It’s beautiful, really.

    The Club Scum scene is the highlight of the movie. When they all arrive, a crummy punk band is playing and an M.C. (Daran Noris) hits on a girl named Pixie (Kari French) who sports a massive beehive. Amy then gets up on stage and does a sexy dance, and then after that when the Hobgoblins are spotted Nick just starts throwing grenades around. Some random background guy knocks over a table. Nick gets set on fire somehow and Amy throws a grenade down a cops shirt – but he doesn’t blow up, it just explodes and sends him reeling towards the wall. Later, Nick fights a guy brandishing some nunchucks.

    The performances are all bad. The movie makes no sense. The creatures are kind of cool looking but it’s obvious that they really are just rubbery puppets. The movie slides of the rails well before the ending but that finale? What? Hobgoblins, motherfucker!


    Hobgoblins looks staggeringly good on this Blu-ray release from Vinegar Syndrome. Presented in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.78.1 widescreen taken from a new 2k scan of the original 35mm negative, it’s a massive improvement over what fans have had in the past. The movie was released by Retromedia on its own and as part of a compilation called Mad Monster Rally and then in 2009 as a 25th Anniversary Edition through Micro Werks. All of those transfers were tape sourced and looked pretty lousy. This new transfer blows the older releases out of the water in every way you could hope for. Detail is great, the colors really pop here in the way that late eighties movies can with all their garish hues, and black levels are nice and strong. There’s plenty of texture, (you can almost feel the rubber puppets!) while skin tones look nice and natural. The image is also surprisingly clean. There’s a natural coat of grain evident here but virtually no print damage whatsoever.

    The only audio option on the disc is an English language DTS-HD 2.0 track with optional subtitles available in English only. Clarity of the audio is just fine. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion and the levels are properly balanced. The repetitive synth score sounds… good and the dialogue remains easy to understand throughout the film.

    Extras begin with an archival commentary track with director Rick Sloane that was recorded for the 2009 DVD release. He talks about casting the picture, how he secured the locations for the film, working with the different actors on the shoot, the film’s ‘legacy’ and quite a bit more. Sloane is amusing enough to listen to here but also able to offer up a lot of genuinely information about how and why this low budget clunker has become the cult phenomena that it is.

    From there, dig into the twenty minute Hobgoblins Revisited featurette, which is a brand new making-of piece that is essentially an interview with Sloane. He talks here about how the project came to be and covers a lot of the same ground he does on the commentary, talks about the MST3K connection, but then he take us on a pretty cool tour of quite a few of the locations used in the shoot including the studio and the house featured in the picture. Also new and exclusive to this is reissue is a new interview with ‘Hobgoblin creature fabricator’ Kenneth J. Hall.

    Carried over from one of the older 2009 DVD release is a half hour featureted called Hobgoblins: The Making Of A Disasterpiece that is made up of interviews with Sloane, Hall and most of the core cast members - Tom Bartlett, Kelley Palmer, Steven Boggs, Billy Frank, Tami Clatterbuck and Darran Norris. Lots of fun stories here about what it was like on set, working alongside the puppets created for the movie and having to do everything they could to finish the film on a miniscule budget. The disc also carries over the Hobgoblins Invade Comic-Con featurette where the creature themselves appeared at the 2009 San Diego Comic Convention. Rounding out the extras are the film’s original trailer, menus and chapter selection.

    As this is a combo pack release, a DVD version of the movie including identical supplements is also included inside the clear Blu-ray keepcase. It’s also worth noting that this disc comes with some cool reversible cover art.

    The Final Word:

    Hobgoblins remains an enjoyably goofy low budget creature feature for those who don’t mind wallowing around a bit in the bottom of the barrel. Vinegar Syndrome have done an amazing job ensuring that it looks as good as it does on this release, and they’ve included a pretty impressive selection of extra features as well. Fans of this film – and you know you’re out there – should consider this essential.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. moviegeek86's Avatar
      moviegeek86 -
      Truly batshit insane fun and that upgrade in picture quality is amazing.