Halloween horror marathon: The Monster Squad
I first wrote about Monster Squad, Fred Dekker‘s excellent homage to the old Universal monsters, when it came out on DVD back in 2007. It was an old favorite from when my mom and dad used to let my siblings and I rent videos on the weekend. Having watched it several times in the years since I bought it, I’m still surprised at how good it is.
Monster Squad has held up far better than many of my childhood favorites, and not in the “so bad it’s good” kind of good, but genuinely entertaining. The kids act the way we did when I first saw the movie – foulmouthed, into things that are gross and sick, and borderline abusive to your friends — come to think of it, things haven’t really changed that much for me.
Still, the movie’s special effects (with the exception of the bats on strings) hold up, the story’s fun, and it even has a wonderful ’80s montage as the Squad gets ready to do battle. It has everything a kid wants in a comedic horror film. Seriously, there’s nothing I wanted more as a kid than to see violence, funny stuff, and monsters. That still holds true.
Having rewatched the original 1931 Dracula on Saturday, it’s worth noting that Dekker’s villains have a little more teeth (pun intended) to their villainy than the quiet villains of the ’30s and ’40s. These guys are motivated to break a hole to some evil dimension and rule the world, whereas the originals were fairly fine with finding a bride.
Frankenstein’s monster, however, is kept his unfortunate self, though, making him more a hero and part of the squad than villain, which is nicely in line with his presentation in the original films. The Wolfman is also almost tragic, an unfortunate victim of circumstance, rather than maddened man-beast.
Seriously, though — watch the hell out of this with your kids, if you have any. You’re going to have to explain some things (“What’s a virgin?”), but damn if your ten year-old won’t apreciate seeing a wolfman blown to bits with a stcik of dynamite or watching vampire brides get dispatched one-by-one. The fact that Fat Kid — sorry, Horace — gets to become the most bad-ass of them all is also a pretty inspirational bit of movie-making.