in Shocktober

The Monster Squad (1987)

Looking for a frightening film that’s fun for the whole family? Watch Monster Squad and you’ll have a blast. Directed by Fred Dekker (Night of the Creeps) and written by Dekker and Shane Black (Lethal Weapons, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) Monster Squad is freaky fun for all ages. Just think of it as The Goonies but with classic monsters. Actually, I’d say this is a better film than The Goonies. I watched it last Halloween and it brought me right back to my childhood. The Monster Squad is a lost cult classic that more people need to see.

The Monster Squad is about a pre-teen club that loves everything monsters. They have meetings in the coolest treehouse you’ve ever seen and their ranks include; Sean: the born leader, Patrick: Sean’s loyal skateboarding best friend, Eugene: naive and the youngest member, Rudy: a badass in a leather jacket that smokes, and Fat Kid… Yes they call him Fat Kid and yes, he’s awesome. There’s also Sean’s annoying little sister Phoebe who begs Sean to let her in the club. So what happens when that club is put to the test? Yes, by some bizarre twist of fate; Dracula, the Mummy, the Wolf Man, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Frankenstein’s Monster are all brought together. What do they want? World domination! I know it sounds stupid, but Dekker and Black somehow manage to sell us on the premise with a sharp script and plenty of monstrously big laughs.

The tone is comedic but not dumbed down to a kid’s level. As a matter of fact, the film is rated PG-13 and even that’s pushed. You got kids firing shotguns, kids blowing up werewolves, and even the Wolf Man getting kicked in the nards. It’s got the action and the horror but it’s also got the heart. Sean’s sister Phoebe forms a friendship with the misunderstood Frankenstein’s monster. Not to mention the kids form a friendship with an old man they refer to as “The Creep German Guy” who helps the children against Dracula’s diabolical scheme. It’s a little bit of everything and it holds up surprisingly well. The sets are beautifully drenched in fog with lightning constantly a crackle. It’s a well made film that’s both entertaining and memorable. The only problem is not enough people have seen it.

I’m not surprised The Monster Squad still operates on a small cult level. None of the stars have gone to any big success with maybe the exception of the Wolf Man (Tom Gries aka Uncle Rico in Napoleon Dynamite.) I’ve also seen Frankenstein’s Monster (Tom Noonan) on a handful of TV shows. So possibly it’s the combination of no big names and a weird premise that kept the film from being a hit. It’s a shame when you look at a similar film like Goonies and see how huge that movie was. So if you haven’t seen The Monster Squad, or haven’t seen it since you were a kid then do so. You wont regret it… Or else.

P.S. Here’s Fat Kid’s finest hour.

Sigh… If only I’d been born earlier.