Up until now, Vinegar Syndrome’s output has primarily consisted of vintage XXX titles and obscure (but almost always great) genre gems that rarely (if ever) got their due on home video. And then they announced 1988’s Hobgoblins. Part of the pint sized beast fervor that followed the huge success of Gremlins (including other titles like Ghoulies, Critters and a seemingly endless supply of Charles Band produced features), Hobgoblins features some titular, furry, green creatures (looking like a cross between Gizmo and the monstrous Gremlins) and a whole lot of camp surrounding them. It’s safe to say that nobody ever expected a Blu-ray release, and especially not one with this much care put into it.
Written and directed by Rick Sloane, who is most well known for the Vice Academy series outside of the two (how did this get a sequel!?) Hobgoblins films, assembled a cast of unknowns (most of whom only have this to their IMDB credit) and a single digit special effects budget to make one of the most ludicrous attempts at the Gremlins cash-in this side of Ghoulies Go to College. The setting is a film studio, with the titular monsters trapped inside of a vault (not sure why…) which does lend itself to some genuinely fun dialogue like “Roll me on that sticky floor and lick that buttery flavor off of my body!” and when the more ribald fantasy elements come into play (the Hobgoblins can make your wildest fantasies a reality!), it can get sufficiently ridiculous. Even at 92 minutes, this all wears thin pretty quickly and the creatures just aren’t in it enough for it to maintain interest. But, hey, it does have a rake fight.
Vinegar Syndrome have done the unthinkable and brought Hobgoblins to Blu-ray for the first time and it looks astounding. Even the worst films deserve to be seen the way they were intended, and something tells me that Rick Sloane likely never expected Hobgoblins to look this good. Scanned in 2K from its original 35mm negative, the source looks pristine. If I wasn’t already aware that this was a film from nearly thirty years ago (and it didn’t obviously appear to be a product of the late 80s), this could pass for a new release. The image is clean throughout, detail is strong – just look at the detail on the prosthetics when they’re actually on screen for more than 20 seconds – and grain is natural throughout. This is beautiful work and proves that VS can hold to their high standards regardless of content. Audio is a 1.0 DTS HD-MA track which preserves its original mono release and it sounds great, regardless of obvious channel limitations. It’s clear that this didn’t have the most professionally recorded track, but it has a low budget charm to it and VS’s package doesn’t add unnecessary polish to that. Great presentation all around.
For those who do happen to be fans of Hobgoblins, welcome to your new favorite disc. VS carry over the audio commentary from the DVD with Sloane, which is a great listen and actually makes the film both more bearable and puts it into a context that’s equally charming and sad. They also carry over the nearly half hour long “Making a Disasterpiece” feature from the DVD which follows Sloane searching for the cast to reunite and finding out that some are not all that proud of their involvement. Those who do choose to take part are game and offer some great info, but it’s hard to not find Sloane’s attempts and results a bit disheartening. New content starts with “Hobgoblins Revisited” featuring Sloane discussing the origins of the film and its road from production through distribution and even the MST3K popularity of the film. It’s a great watch for those who are fans as well as those who aren’t. Then we have an 11 minute interview with Kenneth J Hall who was responsible for the monster effect. Hall goes into as much detail as he can about creating the effects on a very limited budget and how his creations were used. Finally we get “Hobgoblins Invade Comic Con” which is exactly what it sounds like, with Sloane and actress Kelly Palmer heading to Comic Con with a Hobgoblin puppet.
It’s safe to say that nobody expected Hobgoblins to get the treatment that it has gotten from Vinegar Syndrome which is both a testament to the fandom of even the most inept cinema and to VS’s care with every title they release. If you aren’t a fan of the movie, this isn’t going to change your mind, but the presentation here is exemplary and the supplemental package will be a dream for fans. Now where’s our Munchies Blu-ray? Recommended.