THE MONSTER SQUAD, 1987
A couple of neighborhood kids set up a club dedicated to everything that has to do with monsters. However, their obsession with monsters turns into real life when Dracula and other legendary monsters return to rule the world. Together, The Monster Squad must device a plan to save humanity in battle between good versus evil.
Let’s all think back to the days of our childhood, where anything from comic books to chronic nose bleeds automatically got transformed into some sort of club. This was what was evoked from my memory after watching “The Monster Squad” except with a way cool tree house and what ends up being a true purpose for their monster inspired club.
You can’t save the world with a club dedicated to processed meat sandwiches. If you have a coin club, maybe you have a better chance.
In this harmonious blend of comedy, horror and dare I say…family? You might think, “Wait, is this The Goonies?”, but trust me, it’s not. Although, “The Monster Squad” features a similar group of ratty outsider kids, their adventures are on a different path. Sean, the leader of the club and played by Andre Gower, receives a Van Helsing book that his mom found at a garage sale. At that point, everything starts going wrong. Mom and dad hate each other, that stupid Van Helsing book is in German, and suddenly there’s word of monsters creeping the streets. What do they do? Luckily, the creepy German guy down the street is able to translate the books secrets whilst easing their nerves with joy-flavoured pie. At this point they discover that the only thing protecting them from the forces of the undead are an amulet, a discount find of Van Helsing’s secret diary, and a virgin.
The film is played by a number of actors whose existence is unknown, with exception to Michael Faustino starring as one of the youngest Monster Squad members, Eugene. Also pairing with the post Married With Children star was Jason Hervey as E.J. the Bully. If you don’t remember who Jason Hervey is, just remember him as the same furrow browed meat head in The Wonder Years. Regardless of whom these actors are, or what they’re doing now, they all seamlessly come together with such afoul-mouthed twelve year old childhood innocence. Alongside Sean, the leader of the pack, and Eugene the youngster wannabe, are also other great characters that come to their aid. Patrick, his trusty neurotic sidekick is accompanied by Horace aka “Fat Kid” (Brent Chalem), who plays the lovable pudge everyone overestimates. Then there’s Rudy (Ryan Lambert), the squad bad ass who has a knack for artillery weapons and a future in nude photography. Last but not least, there’s poor little Phoebe who desperately wants to be in her brother’s club and struggles to prove that girls know just as much about monsters as boys do. The combination of nervous kids and whiney sisters leads to some pretty hilarious one-liners, not to mention an intricate plan that seems to get executed under twenty-four hours of a gigantic crisis. I guess kids really are little miracles. The best part is seeing all their nerdy qualities coming together like an intricate puzzle and then seeing that puzzle kick ass!
It’s hard to hate a story that has a bunch of outsiders having evil eat pavement but most of all; it’s hard to hate a story that has amazing monsters. We actually get to see the monsters we know and love team up for an incredible comeback, which includes Dracula (Duncan Regehr), The Gillman (Tom Woodruff Jr.), Wolf Man (Carl Thibault), The Mummy (Michael Reid Mackay) and last but not least, Frankenstein (Tom Noonan). If you were to walk into a bar one day, are these not the same characters you would want to see sitting together with a pitcher of beer laughing and Dracula saying “You guys go ahead with the appetizers, I had a truck driver on the way. He was a real juicy one.” Amazing! However, this is not the scenario in the movie but I think it’s safe to say that the most memorable monster in the movie is Frankenstein, who much like Horace, is an underestimated force with his monster friends. Instead he becomes the “cool” slang talking monster and Phoebe’s new playmate.
Although I’ve already hinted at a comparison with this film and “The Goonies”, but for some reason I also feel a connection with “Little Monsters”. Perhaps it could be that familiar event of a monster crossing over to the “good side” and helping prevail over evil. Or maybe it’s the Fred Savage/Jason Hervey connection throwing me off… I mean whatever. Both show a bunch of kids banding together to prove the impossible.
There are several things that highlight this film, so without giving any spoilers, I’ll only hint at a few. Be prepared for a Horace’s hilarious comment regarding Wolf Man’s nether regions and his shining moment in the hour of panic. Also, pay close attention to things going on in the background, especially the kitchen blackboard in Sean’s kitchen. And I beg you to watch the credits, if not out of interest for the crew involved with the film but for what sounds like a last minute soundtrack to the film. Enjoy!
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