The Monster Squad is a Horror/Comedy classic released in 1987. When I say Horror, I mean it in the sense that it contains the Classic Universal Monsters to varying degrees. Which in my opinion is what really makes this movie as good as it is, because that certainly wasn’t the writing. Honestly I had never even heard of this film until about six months ago, and after looking into I have no idea how I missed this film growing up. I can’t feel that my lack of nostalgic goggles is bringing the film down or if it was just over-hyped. But for me as fun as it is, The Monster Squad feels like it’s trying to hard. As many scenes that are fun and memorable, there’s just as many scenes that fall flat. Coupled with how easily the majority of the monsters gets killed, looking at you Mummy and Gill-Man, they come off as weak and don’t live up to their iconic nature.
The Monster Squad follows pre-teen Sean Crenshaw (Andre Gower) leader of a monster fan club, The Monster Squad. His friends Patrick (Robby Kiger), Horace AKA Fat Kid (Brent Chalem), and Eugene (Micheal Faustino) comprise the rest of the club. Which quickly adds Rudy (Ryan Lambert) a cool Jr. High kid, who only wants to join so he can peep on Patrick’s sister (Lisa Fuller). Sean’s little sister Phoebe (Ashley Bank), also wishes to join, something he dead set against. Sean is given of Dr. Van Helsing’s diary a gift, but his dismay learns that it’s written in German. While this is going down, Dracula (Duncan Regehr) comes to town and starts gathering his monster allies, including The Mummy (Micheal MacKay), Gill-Man (Tom Woodruff), The Wolf-Man (Carl Thibault) and the Frankenstein Monster (Tom Noonan). Dracula also changes a trio of girls into his classic Brides. Sean takes the diary to the only person he knows that can speak German, The Scary German guy that lives down the street. Who turns out isn’t scary and is in fact a super chill dude. He translates the diary for them that describes an amulet comprised of good and a spell about how to use it to open a portal to Limbo. Van Helsing meant to use this portal on Dracula years ago, but failed and got trapped there instead and the portal can only be opened once every hundred years. Dracula sends The Frankenstein Monster after Van Helsing’s diary.But, after Frankenstein’s Monster runs into Pheobe and she greets him the kindness he’s always wanted, he turns on Dracula faster than a Jail House snitch. With his help Sean and the rest of Monster Squad make a plan to defeat Dracula and his monster allies once and for all… the plan includes blackmailing a teenage girl to take part in their ritual.
My one serious criticism is the unbalanced tone of the film. It has brief moments where it flirts with being a horror movie, but’s always ruined quickly. They also reduce the monsters to comic relief almost the second after they introduce them. It’s my opinion that if the filmmakers had taken the horror side of this coin more seriously, I would have enjoyed this film more.
My second criticism is one born of personal frustration and that’s with Frankenstien’s Monster. Due mostly to him having a name, while officially his never named in the novel, Victor does briefly consider naming him Adam and considers no other. So that in my opinion is his name, Adam Frankenstein. So calling the monster Frankenstein, not technically wrong. But he should at least be known as Adam, even I, Frankenstein got that right.
But other than that, movies solid with some really great moments. My personal favorite is when the children ask The Scary German Guy how he knows so much about monsters, his reply is he has some experience with monsters and it’s revealed he has a concentration camp number tattoo. This coupled with his straight up acceptance of the kid’s belief in monsters, makes him the hero of this story for me.
Final Thoughts, I just don’t get it and I know that falls on me. Maybe some of that inner child that loved movies like this and would watch Howard the Duck on a loop has diminished under the weight of time. Maybe I take my horror films to seriously to get the jokes, or maybe not seriously enough allowing me to get the satire. The Monster Squad does deliver a quality monster film that is child friendly… for the most part and it does it with an awesome feel of the 80’s. 8/10