It was 1987 when I, a young little snot nosed kid one weekend; went to my grandparents house for the typical visit. Going to your grandpa and grandma’s house is always the best thing in the entire world, especially for me because Grandpa and Grandma spoiled us. Also, my father was the oldest of three brothers and my uncles wouldn’t have their own kids until I was in middle school. So me, my little brother and older sister were the first of the grandkids. Which meant we were the focus throughout the entire eighties! For anyone that wasn’t a kid during the eighties, let me try to explain. It was sweet!
One thing I remember was my Grandfather had the best television. Gramps had HBO so we were always watching movies before everyone else! Do you remember that balls to the wall HBO movie introduction?
It would start with the family sitting down for movie night as the camera pans out across the city streets. Then up across the country side where we would be launched into outer fucking space! Then these huge silver letters would come up and you would enter them where a spasm inducing light show displayed HBO Feature Presentation. The entire process was a surge of momentum with adrenaline pumping music that a ADHD kid like me was jumping up and down without even knowing what was coming on! I swear to God this was my first official moment of getting a boner. Even today this introduction makes me almost purchase HBO.
But this night gets even better folks, what was to come on this channel would be the movie that changed my life forever. This my friends, is the introduction of the world of horror into my life. Not necessarily the first horror film I had viewed… but the first horror film that made me realize my love for the genre! What movie am I talking about? None other than 1987’s The Monster Squad!
The Monster Squad
The Monster Squad is a 1987 all child casted horror film directed by Fred Dekker. It stars Andre Gower as Sean, Robby Kiger as Patrick, Brent Chalem as Fat Kid, Ryan Lambert as Rudy, Michael Faustino as Eugene, Duncan Regehr as Count Dracula, Tom Noonan as Frankenstein, Carl Thibault as the Wolfman, Tom Woodruff Jr. as the Gillman, Michael Reid MacKay as the Mummy, Leonardo Cimino as the scary German guy, Stephen Macht as Sean’s dad, Ashley Bank as Phoebe and Mary Ellen Trainor as Sean’s mom. The film completely bombed in theaters and received fairly poor reviews from a bunch of ass holes. I say “ass holes” instead of “asshole” because only something that spews shit would not like this movie!
A group of five friends that call themselves “The Monster Squad” find themselves in a world of nightmares as Dracula, Wolfman, Gillman, the Mummy and Frankenstein descend upon their town to terrorize. and open the dimensional portal to limbo. Cloaking all we know in total monstrous chaos! Armed with their knowledge of all things monsters and horror, the boys must come together to battle these blood thirsty creatures of the night!
Monster Mash That Is Good
You can probably tell that I absolutely love this movie. Since I started this marathon, I have always been anxious at involving The Monster Squad as one of the films I cover and now the itch has finally been scratched. The Monster Squad is a perfect film for anyone that absolutely loves monsters. It could be the very last and actually good monster mash film since 1943’s Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman.
It is always a hard thing to take a group of monsters and actually bring them together in one film without the movie totally sucking. I think about 2003’s Freddy vs. Jason, a movie that was actually thought of in 1988! But it never happened despite the desire and call for it to happen. We got a nice taste in 1993’s Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday where Freddy took Jasons mask down to hell. But then we finally got Freddy vs. Jason and it was a giant pile of pig shit! But then a year later we finally got a Predator vs Alien film. Another ideal matchup of two badass killers meeting up and causing all hell. But that movie sucked as well! But guess what! Hollywood does another monster mash film with Van Helsing starring Wolverine and that movie sucked as well! Even in recent years, Universals Dark Universe was a going to be the biggest monster mashup series of all time! But that thing flopped. It honestly seems that The Monster Squad is the only awesome monster mash movie of all time! Now, I know The Monster Squad was a bomb but it has a huge cult following now. The other mashup movies I mentioned are not even garnering their own cult status. They’re more like “burn it with gasoline” kind of status.
Best Monster Mash
The Monster Squad is a monster mash that takes all of the well known monsters we’ve come to love and gives them the best upgrade possible. Let’s start with my favorite the Wolf Man.
The Wolf Man
The Wolf Man is terrifying and has one of my most favorite transformation scenes in all werewolf depictions. Now this may be bold, but I love this scene more than American Werewolf in London and The Howling! Yea, I said it. Werewolf transformations always take forever. I think American Werewolf in London is over five minutes! It’s cool and really terrifying but what I love about The Monster Squad Wolf Man transformation is that it’s short and sweet. It could be because of lack of money for the effects but who cares. There is way more energy, aggression and violence involved in this transition that although only for a sweet couple seconds, lays on your memory like no other. That is called good editing! Who doesn’t quiver and grin at the trembling “He’s going to kill your son!” line?
Then we have the Gillman, which by all accounts might be one of the best depictions of that monster since Creature From The Black Lagoon. What I love about this version is he’s more repulsive than before. I love the Predator style fangs which tell me he’s from the deep bathypelagic zone of the ocean. He’s kind of like an angler fish man.
The only thing that sucks about the Gillman is that his screen time is much more limited than the others. This is just the fan boy in me wanting more I guess. I get that he doesn’t talk and probably serves as a pawn in Draculas scheme. But the one scene he does have is pretty awesome and also serves as Horaces moment of triumph. It also sets this kids movie above all others. Do you really think arming a 13 year old boy with a shotgun which he then blows a killer fish man in the chest with would even be acceptable in this age? If this is a kids movie then this is the most balls to the wall kids movie!
Although the Gillman is given short screen time, he is given a pretty glorious display of terror. He does kill three guys before meeting his doom, but that is much more than the Mummy. I love the mummy and he might be my only gripe with the movie. He looks great and they did a good job as giving him that ancient mummy like walk but he doesn’t really do anything. His death is well done and as a kid I loved Rudy’s “so long bandaid breath” remark. But it would have been cool for the mummy to actually kill someone. I think when Dracula blows up the police car and kills Detective Sapir. It would have been better if instead the Mummy had come out and killed him. Maybe a nice fist through the chest or drinking out his soul kind of death would have been bas ass. I know it’s asking a lot but it would have given the Mummy a better moment of glory. Either way, he’s still awesome looking.
Frankenstein is absolutely glorious and serves as the counter monster to the likes of Dracula. Which is suiting for who Frankenstein is. The original Frankenstein is a sad tale because this monster is actually just a misunderstood creature. Throughout the entire trilogy of Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein and Son of Frankenstein; we see Frankenstein as a dead guy that actually just wants love and friendship. He doesn’t want to be scary and when he kills, it’s out of fear and ignorance. The Monster Squad takes what we as lifelong fans know about this monster and turns him into this endearing character that actually does find friendship and a sense of belonging. I feel like The Monster Squad is the only movie that truly gives our favorite walking dead guy a good story in which we can feel like he turns out happy. Sure it sucks that he goes away in the end, but he obviously goes away happy and a changed monster.
Duncan Regehr as Dracula is absolutely phenomenal. He seems to take on the Christopher Lee persona of Dracula but with a more menacing and evil demeanor. This dude is so bad ass that he actually didn’t like spending time with the kids on the set while making the movie. I guess he wanted the kids to fear him so he kept his distance and it worked! How Dracula is displayed through this film certainly makes him the leader and most evil of the group. The guy is the devil incarnate and we see it when he’s talking to the wolf man and then goes to a locked door and feasts upon the three hotties. Then in the end of the movie, when he’s walking towards Phoebe and absolutely wrecking all those cops like they were blades of grass! It shows that the true terrifying carnage of who Dracula is. He doesn’t kill those cops cause he loves carnage or even to drink blood. He kills them because they’re lower than him. While the wolf man and gillman are savage pawns, Dracula is the deep thinker. His plan isn’t centered on killing one guy but enslaving and killing everyone! Then he picks the little girl up and calls her a bitch and shows his fangs. It’s the moment we’ve been looking for the entire movie and it’s brutally awesome. That kind of evil is exactly what makes Dracula the king of all monsters and The Monster Squad nails it.
A Terrifying Kids Film
I guess The Monster Squad is considered a kids film. Sure, I guess I can accept that. But man is this movie balls to the wall awesome! While most entry level “horror” films you see on channels like FreeForm tend to be family friendly, you will never see The Monster Squad on this channel. This movie may have a kid cast and have lots of comedy and lighthearted endearing moments. The movie is dark and filled with terrifying horror. It must something about the 80’s because I could never see a movie like this being made.
Movies like The Goonies, The Lost Boys and The Monster Squad gave adolescents characters that they could actually identify with. Young kids like myself saw this insanely cool group of boys and wanted to be them more than anything! Think about that! Up to this point in time, most of our heroes were mainly adult super heroes or Luke Skywalker and Indiana Jones. People I could never be. But here is this group of kids that are shooting werewolves with silver bullets and stabbing Dracula with a stake! While most kids are given super heroes to idolize and wish to be, kids in the eighties were being given heroes that were our exact age! Who the hell doesn’t want to be a Goonie or Monster Squad member? I remember being a kid and actually forming my own clubs where we would have a theme and battle monsters and go on adventures.
The Monster Squad is an amazing movie that gives you a little taste of everything. There is a good mix of horror, comedy, drama, adventure and action. There are moments that are well made horror moments like the wolf man in the ambulance scene and when the boys go into Draculas house. Yet the film has a surprising amount of heart and entertainment that shows it can be more than just scares. The acting of the kids is spot on and I always think about how cool it would be to be in their group. Although the movie is probably a little vulgar with the language, I can’t help but see this as a pretty solid interpretation how a group of friends actually exist together. I absolutely applaud this movie and feel fortunate I was growing up in a time when it could have a lasting effect on my life. Sure it may be very similar to 1985’s The Goonies but that’s ok. It’s a monster mash film of the highest caliber and that in itself is why it is my favorite film. That is why it has been chosen for day thirty of my Horror Movie Marathon.