In the year I turned 11 I do not think there was a movie I watched more or that helped shape some of what was to come for me later in my love of monsters. A film that was a child of the 80s introduction to the wonders that were the great Universal Monsters in all their beautiful campy glory in a way only that the celluloid of the 80s can. It also taught me about the holocaust at a young age. The movie is ostensibly for children and young teens though watching it with the eyes of someone who is supposed to be an adult I both wonder what people were thinking and thank them for thinking it.
The movie of course is the underground and somewhat cultish hit The Monster Squad. Directed by Fred Dekker and written by Dekker and Shane Black. Yes, that Shane Black – I am surprised the movie isn’t based around christmas somehow. While it lacks the action, for obvious reasons, that the Lethal Weapons, Long Kiss Goodnight and Tony Stark 3 had; you can see that Blacks writing hasn’t really changed much in twenty six years. Dekker himself is also responsible for Robocop 3 and the Richard Greico film “If Looks Could Kill.” With what I know now of what was to come for these two in the years after, as this is Blacks Second film and Dekkers third, I wonder even as I watched it tonight – why the hell is it so damn entertaining?
I think the answer to that is a combination of things: Nostalgia, the magic of the 80’s and a love for the classic Monsters that are surprisngly treated as well as you can expect.
The story centers around Dracula (Duncan Regehr) who is hunting for a mystic gemstone that when destroyed will allow the creatures of the night to make their beautiful music all over the earth. Between him and success is an unlikely group of kids (none of whom you know now) who have a club called the Monster Squad. They have a wicked rad tree house I would have killed for and a love for horror films. No I assure you I was not in this film. Along the way they encounter and befriend Frankensteins Monster and face off with The Wolfman, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Mummy and the Brides of Dracula.
As I get into the technical aspects of the film, let me be clear next to nothing of it holds up. There are a handful of Make-Ups and prosthetics that are still nice looking but they also are perfectly suited for the 80s. The CG is incredibly horrible and you can even see the wires on the sickeningly fake bats.
You leave the movie knowing a few things though, Silver Bullets are the only way to kill a werewolf, Frankenstein saying “Bogus” is awesome, and that wolfmans got nards.
Ok I have an absolute love for this movie. It is raw nostalgia and I know it. I burned out a VHS tape of it as a kid. It has a tone and feel to it that bring me back to a happier time; but even as I watched it tonight I know it’s not a good movie. Yes, there were even tears at the end for one of the scenes that get me today. Despite what they say, some children can act.
This one is to be watched for Nostalgia or curiosity alone.
Tomorrow’s review will be an old vs new, but wants to take you to prom.