Tuesday, 1 January 2013

The Monster Squad (1987)

Fred Dekker has, to date, only directed three movies. One of those movies was the very poor Robocop 3. Thankfully, his other two movies were two classic horrors that fans still hold dear almost 30 years after their initial release, Night Of The Creeps (this Bluray plays on all players) and The Monster Squad. While the former was a fantastic call back to the best of the '50s sci-fi horrors, The Monster Squad was a love letter to the big icons of horror, the monsters that Universal made into movie icons in the 1930s and '40s (and one from 1954).

Written by Dekker and Shane Black, The Monster Squad is all about a bunch of kids who make up the titular gang. They spend their time chatting about monsters and having fun but it's nothing serious, of course. That all changes when Dracula (Duncan Regehr) comes into town, bringing with him a monster (Tom Noonan) that was made by a certain mister Frankenstein, a mummy, a werewolf (Jon Gries) and The Creature From The Black Lagoon a gillman. He's in town because he's desperate to get his hands on an amulet that he only has a chance to destroy once every hundred years in an attempt to tip the balance of power in favour of all things evil. It's up to The Monster Squad to get the amulet and keep it safe.

The squad members are as follows: Sean (Andre Gower) the leader, Patrick (Robby Kiger) is Sean's best friend, Horace (Brent Chalem) is a bullied, overweight lad who finds acceptance in the club, Eugene (Michael Faustino) is the youngest member and Rudy (Ryan Lambert) COULD be the oldest and coolest member if he passes the entrance test and then stays interested in the activities of the group. While The Monster Squad is about the monsters, and while it has a number of great one-liners throughout the script, it's also very much about the kids and how they grow with the help of one another. Whether it's tackling bullies, learning methods of killing monsters or just spending time away from weary adults, the squad is always much more important than the childish escapade that outsiders choose to label it and it becomes, of course, an essential defence when evil forces invade suburban America.

Funnily enough, the movie actually holds up even better today than it did when released in 1987 because back then it seemed to me to be nothing more than an attempt to ride on the coat-tails of the great success of Ghostbusters. There was even the tagline that said "you know who to call when you have ghosts but who do you call when you have monsters?"

Perhaps others felt the same way. That would explain the relatively poor performance at the box office although there's also the fact that people might not have realised just who it was aimed at. While there isn't too much here to traumatise hardy children, it's not really one to stick on while babysitting some pre-teens (a fantastic sequence involving the werewolf holds up as a nice selection of grisly practical FX work). The reputation of, and love for, the movie may have grown over the years and it may be completely obvious now that it's aimed at true horror fans but it wasn't quite so obvious 25 years ago. Such is the way of marketing, I guess.

It certainly looks great throughout, making the most of that modest budget, and the performances are all wonderful. Regehr is superb as Dracula, Noonan is wonderful as Frankenstein's monster, all of the kids are great fun, Jon Gries is highly entertaining and Leonardo Cimino is excellent despite not being onscreen for all that long. I could mention so many others - Ashley Bank as little Phoebe, Mary Ellen Trainor and Stephen Macht as Sean's parents and everyone else who bagged a credit -but I'd just be boring you and taking up time that could be spent actually (re)watching the movie.

Suffice it to say, I'm sure that Messrs Dekker and Black will be pleased to know that fans of the film STILL grin from ear to ear whenever they hear or see a reference to the line "wolfman's got nards".


Fans will be delighted to know that this superb Blu ray plays on all players - http://www.amazon.com/Monster-Squad-Anniversary-Edition-Blu-ray/dp/B002NPY7FO

No comments:

Post a Comment