The Monster Squad (1987)

MARCH 21, 2008


There’s a certain risk involved when re-watching movies as an adult that you really liked as a kid. The risk being that they don’t hold up to your memory, and as a result you no longer like the film at all. It happened with Critters last year, and pretty much all of the Nightmare On Elm St sequels (except 3. Dream Warriors owns). So even though I bought the Monster Squad DVD when it came out last year, I never opened it, because I was afraid of it happening again. I had only seen the movie once, when I was like 8, so I didn’t remember ANYTHING except liking it. However, when the New Beverly announced they would be screening the film with Fred Dekker in attendance, I couldn’t pass it up. Plus, if there was any hope for enjoying the movie as an adult, it would be at the Bev, with 300 of my closest friends (and of course, a few smuggled in beers).

Luckily, the gamble worked. I had a blast. It reeks of the '80s at every turn (having Mary Ellen Trainor, patron saint of 80s action movies, doesn’t help, as MILF-y as she may be), but it’s fun all the way through, and a far better way for a modern audience to be introduced to Wolf Man, Dracula, and Frankenstein than that crappy Stephen Sommers movie.

One thing I never realized as a kid was how the movie was essentially missing a middle. The monsters come, their plan is revealed, and they are stopped. Instantly. The first time half of our characters even SEE the monsters is when they are having their big showdown. Men In Black was the same way; they spend a good hour introducing us to everyone on both sides of the conflict, and then less than 20 wrapping it up. It’s a short movie anyway (82 minutes with credits), but this odd structure makes it feel like 60.

Still, as a kid I didn’t get why all of the kids were trying so hard to get the photo that Frankie took, so it evens out.

Anyway, now that I felt “safe” to do so, I went home and opened the DVD, finally. I wasn’t aware that the documentary on the disc was longer than the film itself, but it was quite good. I wish they had assembled more of the actors (where’s Eugene?), and that they had spent more time on the film’s reception, however. Still, a must for fans, and very well put together. I was saddened to learn of Horace’s passing 10 years ago (of pneumonia), but not really surprised – for some reason I find that whenever I watch a movie from the 70s or 80s, I later discover that one of the actors died at an early age. It’s depressing.

Maybe Riggs and Murtaugh can help them fight off Dracula.

There are also two commentary tracks. I listened to the one with Dekker and the kids, but not the one with Dekker and the cinematographer. Why? Well, cinematographers are 99% of the time the boringest people in the world to listen to on these tracks (nothing against them personally, and I'm sure if you want to be a director of photography yourself they are fascinating, but for the rest of us listeners...), and between the doc, the commentary, an Dekker’s Q&A at the screening, I highly doubt there’s a lot more I need to know about this movie. Still, it’s a great package (there are also deleted scenes, storyboards, etc), the type of set I wish all movies would get eventually.

What say you?


  1. This movie is an all time favorite of friends and i would sit and watch this on a recorded VHS tape from HBO...crappiest version ever...and when i lost it i was crushed...i found this was being released at work and me and the geeks rejoiced...bought it..watched it and still love it...just remember..."wolf mans got nards" :)

  2. I rewatched this a couple of years back and enjoyed it again as well. I remember as a kid being quite moved by the Wolf Man's plight, even getting a little misty when he tells the kid "Thank you!" after being shot. I didn't particularly care for the Creature from the Black Lagoon's redesign, nor Dracula's "Count Lloyd" makeup, but then they were all done in a cartoony fashion. But my favorite line still packs a wallop--cool kid with the crossbow going to face the monsters, and when one of the nerdy kids says, "What are you doing?" He turns back and says grittily:

    "I'm in the goddamn club, aren't I?"


  3. well... this was aidan's first real foray into horror. jeff let him watch it because he can reach it on the dvd rack and he figured its not too much different from monster HOUSE, which is an actually sort of scary animated movie that aidan adores.

    aidan LOVED monster squad and wanted to watch it all day, but he only got to watch it the one time. but alas, at night he thought monsters were coming through his wall, and he unfortunately WASN'T so stoked about it.

    maybe a few more years.

    but i still love this movie, i always loved it and i always will!!!!

  4. this movie is awesome..
    and when they put out the 20th anniversary 2 disc, i pooped myself.

    I was surprised to find it was just as enjoyable now the age I am, as it was when i was little.

    fun stuff!


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