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HOBGOBLINS

1987, dir. Rick Sloane
92 min. Not Rated.
Starring: Tom Bartlett, Paige Sullivan, Steven Boggs, Kelley Palmer.

Review by Noel Wood

There's a lot of bad movies out there. Tons of 'em. There's different levels of bad movies in the world. There's GLADIATOR bad, a bad in which the film is so grandiose that it tricks the average viewer into believing that it's good. There's MATRIX RELOADED bad, which tricks its viewers by having pretty visuals and lots of words they don't understand. There's WATERWORLD bad, which is just plain old bad. There's PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE bad, which is so bad it's good bad. There's STEALING HARVARD bad, which is so bad it's bad bad.

And, well, then there's HOBGOBLINS bad. A bad that exceeds all boundaries of all that is holy.

HOBGOBLINS would likely have drifted off into nothingness had it not been rescued one fine day by the trio of Mike Nelson, Crow T. Robot, and Tom Servo on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 in that show's final year. This seems to be the method in which those unfortunate enough to have experienced the power of HOBGOBLINS have had their chance to see it. The cast of that show spent a decade watching some of the worst fare that the cinematic world had to offer, but HOBGOBLINS may well be the most horrid thing that they ever were privy to. And while HOBGOBLINS might have translated exceptionally well as an MST3K episode, it sure is a bad, bad, bad, bad movie.

The film itself is a pretty blatant ripoff of several 80's horror franchises, namely GREMLINS and CRITTERS. It's about these furry creatures who attack and kill. Well, not so much creatures, more like out-of-control ugly plush dolls. I mean, I realize this was a low-budget cheesy horror film from the mid-80s, but you can at least try and articulate your monsters a bit. I was more afraid of an episode of Rainbow Brite than I was of anything from HOBGOBLINS, but then again, Rainbow Brite generally scares the piss out of me anyway. Anyway, so yeah, these are little Gremlin-type things, except they have a twist to their ability to wreak havoc on teenaged victims: They can make your fantasies come true and use that as a weapon against you. Kinda like the Sta-Puft Marshmallow man scene from GHOSTBUSTERS, except sucky.

The film stars, well, nobody. I mean, there are actors in it. Wait, let me rephrase that. There are people in it, and some of them do a fairly decent job of balancing looking frightened with moving the plush doll that's supposedly attacking them with their hand, but I'd hardly call what they're doing acting. There is one guy who you may have seen before, given that you've seen PULP FICTION and remember the sodomist pawn-shop harbinger named Maynard. Everyone else is nobody.

One such nobody plays Kevin, some stupid kid who takes a job working security in an old movie lot. He works with a man who has to be 140 years old, and they're guarding some alien spacecraft that landed here many years ago. Or something. I'm not precisely sure exactly what the real back story here is, and frankly, I'm not really inclined to care. Actually, for the first time in ages I'm actually writing this without any point of reference. No IMDB to get important things like actor names and characters and stuff. So If I fuck something up, so be it.

So anyway, the Hobgoblins eventually get away. I think there's a scene involved wherein the Hobgoblins all comandeer a golf kart and drive away, each of them sitting as still as a stone. Then they decide to go and make life miserable for Kevin and his stupid friends. And I mean it, these are stupid people. Besides Kevin, we've got his girlfriend, who is a prude; her best friend, the sexpot; the sexpot's boyfriend, a thuggish Jarhead; and then some random guy who hangs around with them and wears bright red shorts all the time, who is very obviously gay but still manages to fantasize about some hideous woman named Fantasia. The plot goes as follows: Teenagers sit around. Horny boyfriend comes home. Sexpot girl dances. They fuck. Horny Marine challenges Kevin to a fight with broomsticks. Prude girl disappears and goes to Club Scum where she dances like a stripper. Friends go to rescue her. Marine blows himself up with a grenade. Marine isn't really dead. And then some other stuff happens that also really sucks. But what do you expect from a movie in the bottom ten of the IMDB's all-time movies?

Because, well, quite frankly, this movie sucks. It's basically like a parody of an 80's teen sex/horror/comedy movie, except that it's not intended as a parody. Somebody was completely serious when they made this abomination. There is one saving grace to its existence, and it's the band that plays at Club Scum: The Fontanelles. I've been searching KaZaa and WinMX for ages looking for their work. Think the B-52's and the Cramps rolled together and seasoned with a little bit of Iggy Pop, and you've got them. They do a song called "Pig Liquor", or at least that's what the robots on MST3K thought they heard. They make the one scene slightly more enjoyable, but not really. The movie is still a big bunch of suck.

I really think they missed the boat, however, in the merchandising department. I'm sure there was a huge calling for HOBGOBLINS memorabilia. I mean, the plush dolls are the obvious one, because that's all they seem to use in the film for special effects anyway. But just think of the possibilities beyond that. HOBGOBLINS T-shirts. HOBGOBLINS breakfast cereal. HOBGOBLINS lipstick cases. HOBGOBLINS chicken-soup flavored snack crackers. HOBGOBLINS faberge eggs. the possibilities are endless.

It's probably impossible to find a copy of the movie anywhere, but really, don't sweat it. i mean, you may have a friend with the MST3K episode on tape, and that's really the only way you'd ever want to watch it anyway. If ever there were a pinnacle of putrid entertainment, you've found it. Its name is HOBGOBLINS.

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All Material Copyright 1998-2006 Movie Criticism for the Retarded.

For questions, comments, or the occasional stalking letter, send mail to Noel Wood. Please give proper credit when using any materials found within this site.


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