Thursday, October 23, 2014

Movie Review: "The Monster Squad" (1987)

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Movie"The Monster Squad"
Director: Fred Dekker
Year: 1987
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 22 minutes

Sean (Andre Gower), Patrick (Robby Kiger), Fat Kid (Brent Chalem), Rudy (Ryan Lambert), and Eugene (Michael Faustino) are members of a monster club. They hang out and talk all things monsters and horror. Sean is given a book by his mother (Mary Ellen Trainor) that she bought at a garage sale; this book is said to be the diary of Abraham Van Helsing (Jack Gwillim), but there is just one problem: the book is written in German. The club enlists the help of a man they all call Scary German Guy (Leonardo Cimino) to help translate it. He informs them that every hundred years, the balance between good and evil shifts and that the normally indestructible amulet that helps keep the balance becomes vulnerable. Dracula (Duncan Regehr) has gathered monsters, including Frankenstein's monster (Tom Noonan), the Creature from the Black Lagoon (Tom Woodruff Jr.), the Wolfman (Jon Gries & Carl Thibault), and the Mummy (Michael Reid MacKay) to help find and destroy the amulet. The club changes their name to The Monster Squad and takes it upon themselves to try and stop the monsters and save the world. 

This is an all-time favorite of BigJ's from when he was growing up and has since become a little bit of a cult classic. "The Monster Squad" holds a nostalgic place in his heart. It's nice to break up a month full of blood and guts and zombies and truly gruesome horror with a fun little ditty like this. Though I was reluctant to watch, I enjoyed this movie quite a bit for its camp factor. The movie is a little bit of a throwback in its own right, considering all the monsters and the makeup in the film are modeled after the early 1930's through 1950's horror flicks (which is also good since I am a die-hard 30's-50's monster movie fan). Of course, they have been slightly updated and look more realistic, but they definitely stay relatively true to their source. Speaking of the makeup, it is all pretty excellent. Except for some cheesy bats flying around during a few scenes, the transitional phases from bat to Dracula and man to Wolfman all look superb, as does Frankenstein's monster, the Creature, and the Mummy. These monsters aren't grotesque, but they are creepy, especially the Mummy in the closet!

Despite the early inspiration for the monsters, the movie itself is very, very 80's. The hair, the clothes, the music, the's all super rad, man! Rudy, the older kid of the group, has a banana seat bike, wears a leather jacket and sunglasses all the time, smokes cigarettes, and is essentially the epitome of 1980's cool because in the 80's, smoking cigarettes meant you were an awesome rebel. He is also able to make sharp wooden stakes and silver bullets in his shop class and steals a bow and arrows from his archery class. Oh, to be a child of the 80's, plus, all you need to do to get deadly weapons is to simply go to school! It's funny to hear 80's slang in 2014 because it seems so retro. We need to bring the words "dork" and "nards" back into the popular vernacular!! Who is with me?!

Unfortunately for most of the cast, they didn't end up doing a whole heck of a lot after this movie, though they all pretty good here. Phoebe, played by Ashley Bank, is super cute in this film, especially when she drops dirty curse words. There's just something so adorable about a young little kid saying the word "shit." Tell us we're not the only ones who think this??? The main Monster Squad characters get along really well on screen and you believe them as real-life friends, though the acting is not really what matters in a film like this. All in all, this is a family friendly monster/horror movie, one kids won't be completely scarred by,and one the adults can enjoy, too, though it does have some less than PC language for today's standards beyond simple cussing. The idea of having a monster club is something we wish we would have thought of when we were kids.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 53%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!
One year ago, we were watching"Jack Brooks Monster Slayer"

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