Movies

‘The Monster Squad’ a Cult Classic Ahead of Its Time

Lions Gate Home Entertainment

We all have that one moment in our childhood that we still get excited about even as adults. Whether this moment includes a personal victory, family memory, or a song or a movie, one thing is for sure; these types of moments are great to experience more than once.

From such an experience comes today’s topic regarding a movie from my childhood that actually made me feel very excited about to see again this past week, The Monster Squad.

Now, if you’re unfamiliar with The Monster Squad, think of The Goonies, but include Dracula, Wolfman, The Mummy and a very sweet and friendly version of Frankenstein’s monster.
Kids set out to stop monsters from opening a portal to bring evil and other monsters back to roam the earth. As I turned the movie on, and I was back into my childhood. Now, I was watching with an adult mind, and I was actually impressed with what I was watching.

Writer and Director Fred Dekker, with credits such as; House, Night of the Creeps and 2018s The Predator, gives us a coming of age story that centers around what appears to be (but due to copyright infringement, they are not) Universal’s Monsters. It makes for an interesting and entertaining feature.

The younger actors in this movie were very convincing as a group of “tweens” who were into the horror genre. Even though it appeared that attempting to defeat monsters did not phase them, each kid had his own way of subtly revealing its affect. Even if it was just a slight change in a facial expression.  One good example was when Ryan Lambert as Rudy had to take out some junior varsity vampire henchman, you could tell that it affected him emotionally.

This movie was made in 1987 and again, centered around some of the more popular monsters like Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster. As a viewer you would probably think to yourself, “1987 combined with the most basic, but never old, monsters you could find. How cheaply done is this movie going to be?” Shockingly, I was more surprised with how well the monsters appeared and translated to screen while watching it in 2018. Academy Award-winning makeup artist Zoltan Elek really did a fabulous job with his team. He created these monsters without having them look as though the costumes and makeup came from the local K-Mart up the road. You can see that time and detail paid to each and every monster was done so as to tell the story the correct way. I think that’s one of the reasons that I love this movie so much.

Watching this again, I remembered being afraid of the vampire girl at the start of the movie, and of the part where Dracula is half-bat-half-human head during his transformation. I look at the movie now and can completely understand why it creeped me out back then, instead of thinking, “Oh my gosh, was I really scared of THIS?”

The film actually did not do well at the box office when it was released, and was considered a flop. It only ran a few weeks theatrically. I do think that the kid-adventure genre may have been overdone. I also think that this particular movie was so one-of-a-kind that studios did not know how to market it.
I remember loving this movie so much that I wanted toys and action figures, but, there was never any merchandise out. I’ve only found some recently. It wasn’t until the later VHS release and cable showings that The Monster Squad gained a following and an appreciation for what it was. To this day, its following still holds strong.

The makeup effects were ahead of their time in 1987, and that goes hand-in-hand with why it may also have flubbed. While the “kids go on an adventure together and have to run from villains” plotline may have been overplayed in the 80s, this was the only one where kids banded together and decided, they were the ones who were going to stop the evil. The Monster Squad is a flick that just cannot be passed up if you ever come across it. Perhaps you even seek it out, and judge for yourself.

 

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