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THE MONSTER SQUAD (1987): Retro Review…”Bitte Uns Nicht Mord Zu Tun”.

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The Monster Squad – 1987

A battle for good and evil, led by Dr. Abraham Van Helsing, fell short a century ago. Now, evil, in the form of classic Universal monsters, contrive to control the world. The world’s only defense is the self-proclaimed Monster Squad, a group of six children whose accumulated age doesn’t equal fifty.

After establishing the basic plot with the century-old battle between Van Helsing and Dracula, we cut forward to 1987 Los Angeles. We are introduced to Sean and Patrick, already in trouble with the principal for drawing morbid art. Horace is the film’s requisite Fat Kid, both in appearance and nickname. The noble rogue is Rudy. We are also introduced to Sean’s sister Phoebe and the somewhat orbital Eugene.   The director tries to build humanity into one of its leads by showing the relationship between Sean and his parents, this relationship strained by the father’s duties as a police detective.  Dracula comes to America in a scene that includes a cameo by David Proval (Mean Streets, The Sopranos). The classic monsters, also including Wolf Man, the Monster, the Creature (aka Gillman), and the Mummy, meet in a swamp to retrieve a magical amulet that keeps the forces of good and evil in balance.  As the climax builds, there is the requisite rockin’ 80s montage as our heroes rush to complete their task before the designated time of midnight.  The final act, with the climactic battle against the villains, is where the movie abruptly loses its urgency in its goofiness. We know the good guys are going to win, and it merely becomes a matter of how.

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“Nobody’s gonna do a thing about it…except us!

Ubiquitous Pepsi, Burger King & Fox Photo logos make damn sure you know who is paying for this movie.
At least one joke has improved with age. The quip about Groundhog Day 12, originally a poke at holiday horror-themed movie, now has an added dimension of humor with the Bill Murray vehicle to chuckle about.
It’s safe to say the target audience for this is under the age of sixteen — however, director Fred Dekker (Night of the Creeps) and co-writer Shane Black (The Long Kiss Goodnight; Iron Man 3) try to keep it entertaining enough for adults who may be stuck along for the ride, particularly those with any fondness for the old Universal-era flicks.  Legendary Stan Winston is in charge of the monster creation, and makes organic, breathing beast in all five of the monsters, whilst simultaneously paying nodding homage to the special effects of yesteryear. The Creature is most improved from its original Universal incarnation, which makes me disappointed he wasn’t used more.

A great movie for ages six to fifteen. The older they get, the scariness may evolve more to bemusement. If you were an 80s teen and have missed it, check it out. If you could sit through Goonies, you’ll probably have some fun with this.

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Uh, might wanna check behind ya there…

Dracula—Duncan Regehr (Blood Surf, Flying Virus); Frankenstein’s Monster—Tom Noonan (Manhunter, playing the original cinematic Tooth Fairy, aka The Red Dragon, Robocop 2);  Wolfman—Carl Thibault (Waxwork, Leprechaun 2); Gillman/The Creature—Tom Woodruff Jr.(Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant, Director – Fire City: End of Days—2015 — he has a largely respected career in special effects and the make-up department); Mummy—Michael Reid MacKay (X-men 2 — this is his debut movie, starting a career of looking gaunt and silent); Scary German Guy—Leonardo Cimino (The Seventh Sign); Del—Stephen Macht (Galaxina, Graveyard Shift); Detective Sapir—Stan Shaw (The Boys in Company C — failing to realize that he’s the black guy in a horror movie. Sorry, Stan); and Emily—Mary Ellen Trainor (The Goonies — playing her beloved role of 80s milf — Ms. Trainor unfortunately passed away May 20, 2015 from pancreatic cancer).

The Monster Squad—Suffering the career arc of youth actors, from forgotten, to mediocre, all the way to death: Sean—Andre Gower(Vault of Darkness) (Caesar and Otto’s Paranormal Halloween);  Patrick—Robby Kiger (Children of the Corn); Horace aka Fat Kid—Brent Chalem (1975–1997);
Rudy—Ryan Lambert; Phoebe—Ashley Bank(The Haunted); and finally, Eugene—Michael Faustino.

 

 

 

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