I’m kind of surprised that I’ve never seen 1987’s The Monster Squad before. It seems like it would be right up my alley and it would have been at all the video rental shops. My only explanation is my rabid hatred of the movie Little Monsters–I’m pretty sure I thought that this movie was connected to Little Monsters somehow. It wasn’t until I got into horror blogging and began reading horror publications that I realized how many people fondly remembered this movie. I probably wouldn’t even have watched it if my roommate hadn’t added it to my Netflix queue.
The movie starts in the past. A girl is trying to reading an incantation and a man is fighting in Dracula’s castle. I guess the incantation works because a vortex opens up and everything is sucked into it. The movie then moves to present day 1987.
Sean (Andre Gower) and Patrick (Robby Kiger) are in trouble for drawing monsters in science class. (Also, they call their teacher “meow mix” because her head is shaped like a cat’s head.)
It turns out that they’re the leaders of the Monster Club, a group of nerdy weirdos that get together to discuss monsters. They decide to recruit Rudy (Ryan Lambert) after he saves Horace “Fat Kid” (Brent Chalem) from the bully, E.J. (Jason Hervey, a.k.a. Evil Wayne from The Wonder Years.)
Sean’s dad is a cop and Sean notices weird things happening. A mummy disappears from the local museum and a corpse also goes missing. This isn’t just any ordinary corpse, though, it’s the corpse of a guy who claimed he was a werewolf. Sean puts the pieces together when his mom buys him an old German diary at a yard sale. The neighborhood Scary German Guy (Leonardo Cimino) translates the diary and gives the Squad pie. It turns out that the diary belonged to Abraham Van Helsing and it tells of an amulet of goodness that becomes vulnerable to destruction once every century. Yup, Dracula (Duncan Regehr) and his gang of Universal monsters are after the amulet.
The kids learn that Scary German Guy is actually nice and that he has prior experience with monsters, when they see his concentration camp tattoo. Awww! This simultaneously feels cheap and touching.
Dracula wants Van Helsing’s diary and sends Frankenstein’s creature (Tom ‘Effing Noonan, yes, Tom Noonan of House of the Devil and Manhunter) to kill the children and claim the diary. Unfortunately for Dracula, Sean’s little sister, Phoebe (Ashley Bank), befriends the Creature in a scene quite like the Universal movie.
The kids quickly accept the Creature as part of their gang.
There’s an Eighties Movie Montage of the kids getting ready to take on Dracula. At this point, the Wolf-Man, Gill-Man, and Mummy are basically cannon-fodder. This is all Dracula’s show. He blows up the kids’ tree-house with a snappy one-liner (and infinite TNT.)
The incantation requires a female virgin to be successful but, unfortunately, Patrick’s older sister isn’t quite a virgin. Phoebe ends up reading it, with the help of Scary German Guy. The amulet is safe but Frankenstein’s creature ends up sucked into the vortex, sadly clutching Phoebe’s stuffed bear.
I can see why this movie has become such a cult classic. If you’re my age or a little older than me then you’re at just the right age to remember it fondly. Ain’t it Cool News also helped resurrect interest in this classic, including hosting screenings of it with the cast and director. This may be apocryphical because I couldn’t find a scan of the original, but apparently Wizard magazine ranked the Dracula performance from this movie as number 30 on their list of top one hundred greatest villains. Honestly, this isn’t my favorite Dracula. I will always love Christopher Lee as the Count. He made Dracula sexy.
The movie’s funny enough but not particularly scary. The parental warnings on IMDB make it sound like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. The movie includes such violent acts as “a man storms into a police station throwing a violent tantrum and eventually is shot by police.” That is some violent tantrum.
I enjoyed the movie but it feels watching it feels like looking into a time-capsule. It’s so weird to think of a time when it was acceptable to have twelve-year-olds calling each other “faggot” and complaining that the principal “homoed-out” on him.” Also, I really hate the value placed on female virginity in horror films. Can this trope just stop, please? Every guy in the monster squad was twelve or under (Except for Rudy), I am so sure they were virgins and could have done the incantation. Just like when Max lights the black-flamed candle in Hocus Pocus!
This really isn’t my favorite horror-comedy, though. I know I’m going to be crucified for saying this but I’m just not a huge Universal monsters fan. I love Hammer and Amicus but but I have a hard time getting into Universal. I respect their contribution to horror history, their movies just aren’t my thing. That being said, there was a time in the seventies and eighties when Universal monster movies were shown a lot so I can see why a lot of horror fans love this movie so much.
- Scarina--the authoress and editrix of this site. I like scary movies and have dedicated my free time to cataloging horror--the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sometimes there are books too.
There's film criticism, literary criticism, and humor here. I can be highbrow but there's lots of pop culture too. And feminism.
I fervently love "Twin Peaks" and wish it were a real place so I could move there. I can't list my favorite scary movies because they change depending on my mood, the season, and how much coffee I've had.
I'm an artist looking for ways to blend creepy with cute. I try to channel my childhood nightmares, my love of horror, and my experiences with sleepy paralysis.
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