Little Monsters (1989)
Director(s): Richard Greenberg
Writer(s): Terry Rossio, Ted Elliot
Starring: Fred Savage, Howie Mandel, Ben Savage
Although Halloween is my favorite Holiday (insert big DUH here), I would boldly say that the best years of this macabre filled day of joy is mostly centered in my youth. This would be surprising for some that know me because with the help of some chums, I have kept this holiday very sacred to me and as a result, there have been plenty of EPIC years filled with great group costumes, fun events, chance at romance and PLENTY of libations. Even with all the laughs, ladies and booze however, my fondest memories of this holiday are centered around watching horror flicks in my living room for the price of ZERO since there were plenty of channels that were drowning in horror flicks of all kinds ready for viewers like me. Today, I have enough streaming apps to choke an average set of eyeballs and turn the brain to mush but there was something magical knowing as a child that in the month of October, channels had no choice but to cater to my tastes and I always found a great deal of magic in that feeling that can only be produced by a child.
There were plenty of horror flicks that would graze my screen but the ones I’ve always thought were most fun were the spooky flicks that were more kid-friendly…hear me out folks; I watch horror flicks all year and my youth was when I was in full-octane horror binge mode since I was building my library that would later be enjoyed (arguably) as the FEARTastic Vault! For some reason, perhaps it’s changed since then but the family friendly macabre flicks were rarely shown on television and the money I had to rent flicks were always reserved for things a little more…adult so October would be the perfect time to catch up on some of the more youth friendly horror themed flicks that would grace the screen in impressive numbers throughout the cable channels. There were the obvious favorites such as Beetlejuice, Monster Squad, The Addams Family (both flicks) and of course, Ghostbusters (both flicks…of course) but it seems Little Monsters always gets lost in the mix when talking about nostalgic spooky flicks. I know that this movie has a strong cult following and once in a while you may catch it on basic cable around October but other than that, I don’t hear about it too often when comparing it to the greats and for me, this movie has more heart than most Christmas flicks (yeah, I SAID IT) and that’s what makes it truly special.
The movie follows a friendship between a kid (played by Wonder Years LEGEND, Fred Savage) and a monster from under his bed named Maurice (played by Comic LEGEND, Howie Mandel). The plot itself is simple enough as the two start off as enemies and end up being best friends. Although the transition is contained in the 1 hour, 40 min times span of the flick, it is done in a way that’s very believable since the monster himself is basically a kid…with sharp teeth…horns…and a penchant for trouble. The kinds of hijinks the pair get into are what a kid like me could only hope for with a best friend. The chemistry that a punk rock monster and an angsty kid had on screen made me a bit jealous that I couldn’t have the same sort of mischievous friendship. The makeup of the monsters and creatures in the underworld in the flick were quite good to the point where you had to remind yourself that it was a kid’s flick. The main villain called The Boy (who is a bonafide FREAK) and his burly henchman were quite disturbing at times and blended well with the era of horror that dominated the 80s. It was actually MUCH later in life that I found out that the main monster Maurice was played by Howie Mandel, who at that point was another hero of mind for simply creating the cartoon, Bobby’s World. By the time I caught Howie’s stand up act, it made perfect sense why he was cast as the manic but heart-warningly charming character of Maurice the monster.
The flick was able to introduce brand new worlds, some scary moments and a heartwarming lesson in loyalty in friendship in such a short amount of time. By the end of the flick you feel a surprising tug at the strings that happen to be attached to your heart. Maurice was the monster you wanted by your side because he can turn on the scary but like a switch, a softer side of a monster would come out and be the best friend that you can count on in any situation. It’s the type of character that’s important in today’s world where we can take something scary and give it substance so that it eventually becomes a friend. It is with this spirit of loyal friendship that I induct Maurice the Monster played by Howie Mandel into the FearTASTIC Legends Vault for his portrayal of a character that for a moment, became the best friend of all children that were the best kinds of weird.
FearTASTIC LEGENDS VAULT 2020 Inductee
Maurice the Monster (played by Howie Mandel)
Life is FAR more interesting when we take interest in things that scare us.