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Goblin (1993)

Directed by Todd Sheets
Video Outlaw VHS

Lots of good things happen in Goblin. It has genital mutilation, someone putting on socks while sitting on a toilet, and a goblin who wears stone-washed jean shorts. But the most exciting aspect of this movie is a dedication after the end credits:

“Thanks to Jesus for the salvaiion [sic]!”

Todd Sheets forged a career out of making ambitious backyard gore movies with no substance. Like Andreas Schnaas (Zombie ’90), Sheets makes movies because he enjoys pushing the limits of no-budget brutality within an innocent, sexless context. All of his movies feel like the product of a six-year-old who can’t stop squeezing raw hamburger through his fingers because it makes him laugh. But what sets Sheets’s work apart is something totally unexpected — his Christianity. Todd Sheets has been ripping out intestines on video for over two decades. According to him, none of it would have been possible without the help of Jesus Christ.

In other words, Jesus has finally used his powers for good.

A man, played by mega-mulleted Sheets stock player Jerry Angell, is raking thistles. He yells, “You can stick those damn thistles up your ass!” to no one in particular, which has to be a cinematic first. The man enters a barn and someone sticks a chainsaw in his stomach. This has nothing to do with anything, but this movie is about a giant goblin who kills people so what’s the big deal?

Next, a couple moves into a house with help from their friends. All of the men have ponytails and none of the women know how to speak. The guys find an ancient diary in the basement. Through the magic of faux-medieval voiceover, we learn that the house is haunted by a goblin. By reading the diary, the goblin is summoned from his pit of hell — aka a jacuzzi — to cause problems for whoever inhabits the house. Sometimes, the goblin looks like a combination of the killer from Don’t Go In The Woods and the monster from The Godmonster Of Indian Flats. Other times, he looks like an Armored Saint fan with dirty towels hanging from his neck. From there, a series of hilariously egregious gore scenes are juxtaposed with people walking around, getting dressed, and talking on the phone. Have you ever seen a goblin stuff a scythe into a vagina, then stick his whole arm up the vagina to pull out ten miles of guts? Me either. The same thing happens to a man’s asshole. This goblin is not discriminating and that’s refreshing.

Goblin can best be described as 68 minutes of a monster pulling stuff out of people’s holes while other people walk around the exterior of a house. It’s one-note, devoid of style, and completely dumb. The gore is made up of ground beef and chicken intestines. The blood looks like old coffee mixed with a cherry Slurpee. There are thunderstorm sound effects in broad daylight and the music jumps between one-finger synth solos and heavy metal that was hopefully recorded in Todd Sheets’s bedroom. These are all great things. In fact, the only un-fun to be had in this movie comes from self-aware references (“Quit acting like a bimbo in a b-movie!”), which were all the rage in 1990s shot-on-video horror. But just like Jesus, we espouse forgiveness.

Todd Sheets’s entire career is built on sincerity. That’s admirable, but it doesn’t always equal entertainment for an audience. Luckily, Goblin is less like Sheets’s Zombie Bloodbath and more like his Nightmare Asylum. It’s still derivative, plain, and disorganized. But it could only have escaped from Todd Sheet’s brain, and with his particular set of idiosyncrasies. Other people were making zombie movies in their basements during the early 1990s. No one else was making a movie that featured a goblin puncturing someone’s eyeball with a powerdrill, let alone one that was dedicated to Jesus Christ.

The last thing we see in this movie is text. It reads:

“Say NO to drugs! Get high on horror!”