“Hobgoblins” (1988) is not a film that is seen so much as survived. This direct-to-video horror comedy was one of the many “little monster” movies that clung onto the coattails of Joe Dante’s “Gremlins,” though the titular hobgoblins appear to simply be unarticulated, inexpressive hand puppets.
A security guard named Kevin (Tom Bartlett) is eager to prove his manhood after losing a rake fight on his front lawn to his soldier buddy Nick (Billy Frank). While searching for a burglar, Kevin opens a (suspiciously unlocked) vault and frees the hobgoblins. Elderly guard McCreedy (Jeffrey Culver) explains that the hobgoblins are aliens who can make a person’s wildest fantasies come to life, though the fantasies always turn deadly. The hobgoblins stalk Kevin’s relentlessly horny friends, leading to several squirm-inducing sexual encounters and an explosive finale at the seedy dive Club Scum.
“Hobgoblins” is a poisonous mixture of side-ponytails, cheesy effects, shrill characters, and queasy sexual politics. At one point, Mike, Tom, and Crow try to flee the theater, replacing their silhouettes with cardboard cutouts. Their contempt for the film was so deep that they brought out another cutout to play “Hobgoblins” director Rick Sloane, digging into him so much that the real Rick Sloane was stunned. Still, Sloane had the last laugh — he directed “Hobgoblins 2” in 2009.