Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Monster Squad

The movie Monster Squad came out back in 1987 and I probably saw it the following year on VHS. I remember watching it and thinking it was a lot of fun, but it's not a movie I've given a lot of thought to since. A couple of weeks ago when I was on Youtube, doing searches on the Universal Monster movies, I came across the trailer for Monster Squad and a couple of related videos. Decided that it might be a fun movie to add to my Halloween horror fest, so I stopped by Movie Stop one day last week to see if I could find a used copy on DVD. As it turned out, Movie Stop was having a sale on Halloween movies and they had the two disc 20th Anniversary Edition of Monster Squad marked down to six bucks for a brand new copy. Needless to say, I snatched that up.
Sat down and watched the movie Saturday afternoon and really had fun with it. The basic idea is that five of the classic monsters, Dracula, The Wolfman, Frankenstein's Monster, the Mummy, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, show up in suburbia, looking for a long hidden magical amulet that will allow the forces of good and evil to be tipped to the dark side giving control of the world to the creatures of the night. The only people who figure out what's going on are a group of kids who have a club dedicated to monsters of all kinds. Realizing that no one will believe them, they set out to stop the monsters on their own.
The second DVD contains a bunch of interviews with the cast and crew. Something that struck me as interesting was that the writer's initial concept was the Little Rascals meet The Universal Monsters, but when the idea was pitched to Universal Studios, Universal took a pass. So the idea went to another studio, making it necessary to redesign the monsters so that they didn't look enough like the original Universal creatures to get the filmmakers sued. In some ways that worked out well as most of the designs are very well done. Dracula didn't really work for me as he just looked like some guy in a Dracula costume, where as the other monsters looked like updated versions of the originals. The only unfortunate thing was the staging of certain scenes, because while the costumes and makeups looked really good, there are too many scenes of the monsters just standing around in a group, looking like backstage at a Universal Halloween show.
This is a kid's movie so it's not really very scary, though there are a couple of scenes near the end where you get some idea of just how unstoppable a Vampire like Dracula could be. Despite his Wal-Mart costume, actor Duncan Regehr actually manages to get a bit of menace into the role of the count. Tom Noonan is good as the Frankenstein Monster and a couple of scenes he's in are homages to Bride of Frankenstein and Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein.
The kids do a good job in this one, particularly Andre Gower, as Sean, the leader of the Monster Squad. For the most part the kids aren't as cloyingly cute or annoying as the kids in other 1980s kid movies like Goonies. Anyway, Saturday afternoon was the perfect time to sit back and watch this Saturday Matinee style movie. It would make a good double bill with Van Helsing, another cheesy movie that attempts to bring back the Universal Monsters.

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