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The Monster Squad (1987)

  Tags: 80's, Andre Gower, Ashley Bank, Brent Chalem, classic, dracula, Duncan Regehr, frankenstein, Fred Dekker, Jason Hervey, Jonathan Gries, kids, Leonardo Cimino, Lisa Fuller, Mary Ellen Trainor, Michael Faustino, monsters, Robby Kiger, Ryan Lambert, Stan Shaw, Stephen Macht, Tom Noonan, wolf man

Your rating: None Average: 7.3 (6 votes)
Reviewer Rating: 
8

monstersquad.jpg
Rating #: 
8/10
Director: 
Fred Dekker
Runtime: 
82 minutes
Cast: 
Andre Gower, Robby Kiger, Stephen Macht, Duncan Regehr, Tom Noonan, Brent Chalem, Ryan Lambert, Ashley Bank, Michael Faustino, Mary Ellen Trainor, Leonardo Cimino, Jonathan Gries, Stan Shaw, Lisa Fuller, Jason Hervey


The 80's was a good decade for kids on film, with The Goonies in 1985, Stand By Me in 1986, and The Monster Squad in 1987. If you grew up in that decade or watched a lot of cable television throughout the 90's, then chances are you've come across this film. I've seen the movie numerous times when it aired on television, but I can't say I actually remember ever viewing it uncut, with its violence and language intact, until now. The film opened to theaters in 1987 to poor numbers, mostly believed to be due to the bad marketing campaign. Rated PG-13, with lots of language and violence, the movie was "too adult" for younger viewers and seemed "too childish" for older viewers, so it never really found its audience.

Over the next couple decades the movie would see itself on VHS and television screens, capturing a whole new audience and eventually creating a cult following. Those that grew up watching the film would try to seek it out as adults, but the out-of-print VHS was scarce, and online auctions had it at ridiculous prices. Regardless, people still sought it out and they'd usually end up with bootleg copies of it on VHS or horrible VHS-to-DVD-R transfers. I have no idea why it took so long, but it wasn't until twenty years later that Lionsgate would purchase the rights and finally give it the proper DVD release it deserved.

Co-writer and director Fred Dekker started his career as writer for the 1986 comedy-horror film House, then went on to do the awesomely-cheesy zombie romp Night of the Creeps shortly after. Being a movie buff with a passion for the old Universal monsters, he got an idea for a Little Rascals meets the Universal monsters film, so he and co-writer Shane Black got together and brought us The Monster Squad. Watching the movie all over again was a delight, but being older, I noticed things I didn't as a child. For one, the film has a huge number of plot-holes and scenes that seemed unintentionally hilarious, but then again, the whole premise for the movie is ridiculous, but that's also what makes it incredibly unique and fun.

Dracula using dynamite? intentional or not, I found it very hilarious -- he's supposed to be the badass boss of all bloodsuckers, yet he's seen here throwing around dynamite to get the job done! Then you've got some of the slowest-moving monsters you'll see on-screen, especially the vampire brides, who would casually walk (arms straight, as to not bump into things, I assume), giving one of our leads enough time to bust out his bow-and-arrow and take'em out.

So for those that, for one reason or another, haven't seen this film yet, the story starts off with Dracula getting a handful of legendary monsters together -- the Wolfman, the Mummy, Gillman, and Frankenstein's Monster -- in hopes of retrieving some sort of ancient amulet to help further his plan of world domination. However, the amulet and Van Helsing’s book have found their way into the hands of a group of horror-fanatic kids that have determined it's their duty to be rid of Dracula and his goons.

Naturally, much like in most films, Frankenstein's Monster ends up on the side of good, being that his mind is still that of a child and he has no evil intentions like his fellow "peers". The movie is full of funny and vulgar lines from the young kids that add to the comedy aspect of the film, with "Horace" character as the "fat kid" offering the funniest dialogue. The overall tone of this picture is that it's a film not to be taken seriously, which is why a lot of the plot-holes and ridiculous moments in it can be forgiven. When it called for, the movie is a little dark and violent, while other times it's light-hearted and comedic. It's just an all-around fun movie, and still to this day there are very few films that can offer the unique dark and light aspect it had to offer.

With effects done by Stan Winston, the look of the monsters were pretty much guaranteed to be a success from the beginning. The looks of the Mummy and Gillman were my favorites, while Wolfman offered an interesting more Lupine approach. Frankenstein's Monster looked decent and offered more variety compared to the original take, and they pretty much went for the classic Universal Dracula, who I personally thought was the weakest-looking of the bunch, but that's just my opinion, and I'm not a particular fan of the old Universal monster movies anyway.

This film was released on DVD July 24th '07 and sold out everywhere. I literally visited three different stores to discover it wasn't in stock. Even my usual haunts online had it backordered for another week-or-so. It just goes to show that the film has a huge following and I wouldn't be surprised if Hollywood (as unoriginal as it is now-a-days) catches wind of this and decides to remake the film. Hopefully that time will never come, but at this point, you never know. There have been some genre films from the 80's and early 90's that have tried to capture the fun and unique aspect this movie offered, by combining a bunch of different monsters together against a group of underdogs, but of course it was never successfully duplicated and they ended up as easily-forgotten attempts.

Fans may have noticed that during some television broadcasts (namely one from TNT some years back) some of the language and violence was edited, but were compensated with extended and deleted scenes that were never seen before. For some reason these scenes didn't make it onto the newly-released DVD, but you can find them easily on YouTube. When it's all said and done, Monster Squad has definitely taught us one important thing through the years and that is, yes, Wolfman do got nards, and when face-to-face with him, it's best to remember that.

There's a reason why this film has a huge cult following behind it, and that's because it proves to this day that it remains as one of the most fun and creative films to come out of the genre, and even now, still gains fans thanks to numerous television broadcasts, and hopefully with the new DVD release. Haven't seen it? See it now! Already seen it? See it again!

Posted on July 6, 2009 - 4:24am | FrighT MasteR

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