Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The Monster Squad (1987)

Written by Happywax    July 2011
Rating 7 out of 10

Director - Fred Dekker

Andre Gower - Sean
Duncan Regehr - Dracula
Tom Noonan - Frankenstein
Tom Woodruff Jr - Gillman
Carl Thibault - Wolfman
Mike Mackay - Mummy
Jack Gwillim - Van Helsing

Hey all you Monster Maniacs, Happys got a Great movie lined up for you tonight,  Everybody knows that cult movies can't be "made," they just have to "happen." Do you think that "Night of the Living Dead" (1968) or "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" (1975) became cult classics overnight? (Actually, they did.) "The Monster Squad," like nearly all cult movies, was dismissed by most critics and audiences upon its 1987 release.

The movie, a sort of cross-pollination between four distinct sources - "Ghostbusters," "The Goonies," "Stand by Me," and all the classic Universal Pictures monster movies - that combines these elements of such distant cult favorites and rolls them into its own creative universe. I loved watching this movie when I was a teenager.

"The Monster Squad" is purely nostalgia. What happens here, is that Count Dracula is in town, with a few days to kill. Apparently he wants to bring about the end of the world and he needs an ancient amulet to help him do it. So he calls upon the classic movie monsters (who have each been given a present-day update by special effects wizard Stan Winston may he RIP) - Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, and the Gillman - for further support in his devious plans.

To the rescue - who are you gonna call? - the Monster Squad, Dekker's teenage "monster-busters," if you will. Led by courageous young Sean (Andre Gower), and his friends and fellow monster hunters Patrick (Robby Kiger), "Fat Kid" Horace (Brent Chalem), Eugene (Michael Faustino) and Rudy (Ryan Lambert), they sharpen their stakes, round up silver bullets (using mom's fine dinner utensils), and make garlic necklaces and prepare for an epic showdown in town square. Sean also happens to be in possession of Dr. Abraham Van Helsing's diary, which holds the key to defeating Dracula, and he enlists help from the Scary German Guy (Leonard Cimino) who lives down the street to translate it so that they can save the world.

OK, so "The Monster Squad" is fairly cheesy, with many faithful nods to the monster movies of yesteryear and updating that material for a brain-dead '80s audience. Those not accustomed to the in-joke humor and references will probably look at this movie as cheesy '80s nostalgia. It is indeed nostalgia, but it's good nostalgia from an era that's still fresh, especially if you're still a kid at heart.


And of course, there are a lot of hokey performances (Tom Noonan's Frankenstein stands out here) and one-liners (that attempt to make the movie look cool and sometimes fail). You can dismiss that, if you wish. But if you can get past those very few short-comings, then "The Monster Squad" is one of the best experiences you'll never forget from your childhood.

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