FearTASTIC Vault O’FUN #50
The Monster Squad (1987)
Director(s): Fred Dekker
Writer(s): Fred Dekker, Shane Black
Starring: Andre Gower, Robby Kiger, Ryan Lambert, Brent Chalem, Duncan Regehr, Tom Noonan
I’ve always appreciated the concept of friendship in relation to horror. There’s something even more touching to this black(ish) heart when a group of people become so close that they overcome obstacles even in the midst of the macabre, no matter how ridiculous. Perhaps it’s because your FearTastic host was lucky enough to grow up with a solid group of friends that I can always relate to any movie where a group of children are thrown into a situation involving ghosts/ghouls/monsters etc. that I can never help myself and shout out to the screen which character is which amongst the people I know. This theme was especially popular in the 80’s and consequently most folks from my generation are now experiencing a sort of renaissance of nostalgia thanks to recent offerings with excellent shows like Stranger Things and the remake of IT still breaking box office records as we speak! Perhaps we’ve reached the precipice of being “too cool for school” to the point where we yearn for a time where young children can defeat an obstacle most adults either scoff at or run from, but for me, I’ll always remember these flicks as a reminder that there’s a kid in all of us that wants to take a stand, bring people together and defeat a greater threat.
At first glance, Monster Squad to some horror snobs may come off as silly. Throughout this FearTASTIC journey, we’ve looked at films that have scared me to my bitter bones all the way to the ones that were so ridiculous it entertained me in a way where the gore and monsters were secondary but although this flick doesn’t slouch in the authenticity, what makes this flick stand out is the sheer HEART of the flick. I remember reading the premise and not being that interested, keep in mind at this point in my life (I believe it was the ripe old age of 10), I was already pretty deep with the horror community of flicks and already dabbled in in the classics of Universal Monsters. I’ve always appreciated the great makeup effects and the somewhat slow burn these movies present as they stalk their victim or maybe just misunderstood but what made them cool was how each classic horror movie was its own sovereign nation of character. I would never mix up Frankenstein’s monster with the Wolfman, yet the themes and tones seem to blend together with all the flicks so when I found out they were in the same cinematic universe, I wasn’t surprised but quite delighted. So when I first encountered Monster Squad, my initial reaction was skeptical, only because it seemed that this took all the legends that I’ve enjoyed and forcibly threw them into a kid’s movie (yes, I was a kid thinking this so the irony is not lost on me). I decided to take a chance and check out this kid’s flick and what followed was one of the most heartfelt experiences I had with a movie, regardless of genre.
The movie centers around a group of kids that are trying to stop a dastardly plot by Count Dracula who’s recruited other legendary monsters such as (at this point, I’ll call them by their formal names, regardless of copyright) the Wolfman, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Mummy and Frankenstien’s Monster! You see, Count Dracula wants an amulet that would let him reign terror and darkness to the world and it just so happens his arch nemesis, Van Helsing wrote in a diary how to destroy the amulet and send the monsters back to limbo using a portal. This diary happened to fall into the hands of the Monster Squad, a group of kids who are huge fans of classic monsters and now it is up to them in order to keep the balance of good and evil on Earth. First off, the kids were great in this flick, although they all fell into obvious archetypes (yes, there was a bad boy and a fat kid), there was something convincing about the way they worked together to reach the many goals the movie presented leading to a showdown with the Count himself. The movie even managed to squeeze in an adorable (but ultimately HEART BREAKING) sub plot involving Frankenstein’s monster forming a bond with a little girl because of course, that classic monster was always rooted in the search for meaning and ultimately, misunderstanding. I was shocked how organic the story was that led all the monsters to start working together and didn’t even flinch that they were after the same magical amulet that would throw the world into darkness. I could buy that because, why not? Classic monsters need a reason to rally somehow right? The monsters themselves were SO good as far as the make up and effects were concerned, yes even for the time they still looked damn good to me. I remember having to tell myself that this was a kid’s flick every time the werewolf came on screen because along with the sea creature and mummy, they were pretty damn SCARY looking to me!
What keeps this movie from becoming a parody is how genuine they presented the source material of the monsters. Sure, they’re evil in this flick but werewolf’s transformation was on point and the way the mummy moved wasn’t phoning it in. Dracula comes off as Bwuahaha sort of evil but not in annoying way, just in the way that one would be if they wanted to bring darkness to Earth. Frankenstein’s monster steals the show in this whole damn movie just by being simultaneously horrendous yet vulnerable. For any human reading this that didn’t feel a damn thing at the end of this flick needs to check their pulse and if there’s none, come work for me at the FearTASTIC Vault, I can always use more ghoulish guards to keep the undesirables away!
So for this year’s FearTASTIC Legends Vault Inductee, I decided that although there have been many individuals that have shaped my view and enjoyment of horror flicks, I think Monster Squad as a whole flick changed my view on how even a sub-genre of horror can steal make a heart skip a beat with how much they make it FEEL. This movie is by far one of my favorites to watch around Halloween season because in the midst of all the scares and blood, there’s always room for a little heart.
FearTASTIC LEGENDS VAULT 2017 Inductee – The Film, MONSTER SQUAD
Also, I’d like to say THANKS to all you degenerate freaks that followed me entirely or at least in part, to make it to entry #50! We are the blessed creatures of the night, take note and be proud!
Life is FAR more interesting when we take interest in things that scare us.