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The Test of Time: Monster Squad (1987)

10.08.2015by: Ryan Doom

We all have certain movies we love. Movies we respect without question because of either tradition, childhood love, or because they’ve always been classics. However, as time keeps ticking, do those classics still hold up? Do they continue to be must see? So…the point of this here column is how a film stands against the Test of Time, if the thing holds up for a modern horror audience.

Director: Fred Dekker
Starring: Andrew Gower, Robby Kiger, and Tom Nooonan

Sometimes it’s pretty, pretty amazing when you come across a movie that you knew existed, but never found the time to see it. Then, after it’s done, the realization washes over that you don’t know how you survived life without it, without witnessing something that good.  Ok, maybe not that dramatic, but sometimes a movie does feel like you should have grown up with it, that it should have been part of that traumatic childhood thing. It seems like I grew up with every required movie for a proper upbringing, but somehow I missed this one.  

Under the examination: MONSTER SQUAD.

It's Mr. Show's Monster Party.

THE STORY: A group of boys, led by Sean (Andre Gower) and Patrick (Robby Kiger) don’t seem to have a lot to do but obsess over horror movies. Usually, this is pretty worthless information (I can attest), but it just so happens that Dracula (Duncan Regehr) has travelled to America and summoned every major monster (including Frankenstein’s Monster (Tom Noonan), Wolfman, The Mummy, and Gillman (looks like Black Lagoon bad guy) to invade their town. Along with the help of the non-PC named Fat Kid, older semi-tough guy Rudy and a few others, they all do battle with the great monsters.  

Don't f*ck with the Monster Squad. 

WHAT STILL HOLDS UP: 1987 was a good year for Shane Black. He had two scripts produced: LETHAL WEAPON and MONSTER SQUAD. One movie bitch slapped the action genre and created a monster movie star while the other…bombed at the box office but later became a cult hit.

Like I said before, somehow I made my entire life and never watched MONSTER SQUAD, but I’m sure as shit glad I found it. I, like EVERY other well-rounded person, considers GOONIES the best child/adult movie ever made. It’s perfect. If you don’t agree you’re an asshole (sorry but true). Now while many films have tried to imitate GOONIES, few have succeeded but without a doubt MONSTER SQUAD kicked ass. It never plays like a rip-off and manages to find that elusive balance between entertaining, funny, scary, and being fully fantastic. 

The acting is solid all around, which is even more impressive considering the film has no real name actors in the cast, especially the kids. But they all deliver, creating likeable characters that seem to matter. My favorite? Horace aka Fat Kid and the little girl Phoebe. Not the best actors in the world, but Horace does deliver the best line in the flick: “Wolfman’s got nards!” Perfect. 

They have great dinner conversation.

All those classic Universal monsters are also great, with Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster the obvious standouts. Even though Dracula’s costume is a little dated (I know it’s the classic look but it’s cliché now), Duncan Regehr works and probably should have been Dracula in about 10 more movies. Tom Noonan could be the biggest “name” actor in the cast (you might remember him from films such as LAST ACTION HERO, ROBOCOP 2, or MANHUNTER), and he gives one of the best Frankenstein performances. He’s the standout, and that final scene with him and the little girl brought a tear…just one. 

Well, the biggest name involved with MONSTER SQUAD comes from the late great Stan Winston, which is why the monster makeup, gore and effects all look (mostly) great. His best work is with Frankenstein’s Monster, as the man with the giant shoe soles looks terrifying (I’d wager some adults still chat with shrinks about him). Even more, the gore solid as should be expected with Stan Winston involved. The blood flies often; impressive considering this is a PG-13 flick.  

He has neck issues. 

WHAT BLOWS NOW: Honestly, to trash or even find fault with MONSTER SQUAD isn’t easy. Sure, it’s a silly movie with a silly ending, but it’s entertaining and on point. Isn’t that what movies are supposed to do? If I have a complaint, it’s with Wolfman’s makeup. Poor guy looks stiff as shit, like Michael Keaton in BATMAN unable to turn his neck even an eighth of an inch. Beyond that, I’d just be bitching. 

Hot vampire women in a kid's movie. Yes. Weird, but yes.

THE VERDICT: Even though MONSTER SQUAD is mostly made for the kids, it manages to do what great kid films do: function on two levels. One: the kids watching it see other kids being bad asses with a bad ass club house and bad ass things to say. Two: Adults will never be bored and it’ll take you back to that happy childhood spot buried deep. It doesn’t matter if you’re 13 or 43, if you’ve never watched MONSTER SQUAD, do it. It’s about as close to GOONIES as a movie could get without it playing cheap.

GET MONSTER SQUAD BLU RAY HERE

GET MONSTER SQUAD DVD HERE

Why, yes...that is Kirk Douglas' kid there. 

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