Sunday, February 14, 2016

Retro Movie: The Monster Squad

What do you do when Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, The Wolf Man, The Mummy & The Creature from the Black Lagoon all descend upon your town? You call The Monster Squad for help! This delightful movie follows the adventures of grade schooler Sean Crenshaw and his best pal Patrick, who love classic monsters, and have a club devoted to them. They're a lovable group of misfits who don't seem to fit in with the rest of the kids. When strange things begin to happen, and the real Dracula shows up, in search of a mystical amulet that will allow him to rule the world, its up to Sean, Patrick and the rest of their friends to stop him. Director Fred Dekker’s 1987 film is a cross between The Goonies & Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, with a dash of The Little Rascals thrown in for good measure. And just like in that classic horror comedy, the scares here are serious.

Dracula & friends are up to no good in The Monster Squad
The movie was director & co-writer Dekker’s second effort after his debut, 1986’s Night of the Creeps, an homage to 50s sci-fi & horror films. It’s co-written by Shane Black, best known for writing the original Lethal Weapon. The monster designs were created by a team lead by Stan Winston, who went on to work on Aliens, Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Jurassic Park, among many others. The Monster Squad is done with an obvious affection for the classic Universal Monsters, and the actors portraying the creatures of the night all play it relatively straight, which adds to the film’s overall effectiveness. Duncan Regehr, who plays Dracula, and Tom Noonan, who plays The Frankenstein Monster, have some great moments interacting with the kids. The young performers who portray the members of the title club (including Andre Gower and Robby Kiger) are all appealing, and you’ll find yourself rooting for this band of young heroes to defeat Dracula and his fellow creatures of the night. But they'd better work fast, because the end of the world is coming.

The movie was not a great success upon its original theatrical run, but gained a cult following (much like Night of the Creeps) through constant airings on cable, and its later VHS release. The film continued to gain fans, and in 2007 a 20th Anniversary edition was released on DVD (and later on Blu-ray) with a ton of extras, including a making of documentary, deleted scenes and more. That edition is now out of print, but a movie-only Blu-ray was released in 2013. If you’re a fan of classic horror films, 80s flicks or those “motley group of kids team up to save the town” stories, you’ll truly get a kick out of The Monster Squad. It’s a fast-paced, fun little movie that runs just under 90 minutes, so it doesn’t wear out its welcome. It’s also a film that you can watch with the whole family on movie night, as there’s no real objectionable content. Here’s a link the film’s trailer:

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