Everything you always wanted to know about werewolves but were always afraid to ask...
I grew up on the Universal Monsters. While the other boys on my street were talking up Jason and Freddy, I was tuning into AMC every Saturday afternoon to watch the black and white classics. Eventually it seemed like I had seen them all. So on one Friday afternoon sometime in the early 90s, my dad, brother and I went down to the video store in search of anything to watch besides Dracula for the 40th time. After what seemed like hours we left with The Monster Squad. Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, Wolfman, Mummy, and Gillman all in one movie and in color. My mind was blown. I must have watched that VHS tape four times that weekend, and for years my memory would go back to it. When it was finally released on DVD in 2007, I immediately went out to pick it up, desperately hoping that thing I hadn't seen in 15 years would hold up. Did it? Absolutely.
One could accuse The Monster Squad of being Goonies minus pirates minus "The Spielberg Touch" plus Monsters. They'd mostly be right, but the movie certainly has a charm all its own. Dracula has once again risen from the grave, this time he's in America to hunt down an amulet he can somehow use to take over the world, and he's bringing a who's who of the monsters from the Universal era with him. A group of kids who love classic movie monsters are drawn into things, and given their extensive knowledge on the subject, are the ones best suited to stop Drac and his minions.
Though it's clearly a love letter to the Universal pictures, this is not a Universal film, so the interpretations of the monsters needed to be a little different. Luckily they got none other than Stan Winston to reimagine them, and the character designs and effects still look really great. It's tough to follow in the footsteps of a makeup job that's as iconic and definitive as Boris Karloff's monster, but this one still works really well. The Mummy and Creature are great, too. This also falls into what I call "80's kids on an adventure" territory, complete with many of the hallmarks of that genre. They curse, one of them smokes and spies on a girl getting dressed, but the kids are pretty funny. They're also very quotable. Not only will The Monster Squad show you what happens when you try to blow Wolfman up with dynamite, but it will answer the even bigger of question of whether or not he has nards.
The Monster Squad has become a perennial favorite of mine, it's what I kicked my Halloween movie binge off with this year and I'll likely end up watching it again before the season is over. It's one of those too rare movies that are spooky and good for kids (as long as you're not prudish about a few things) and it's still a total blast for adults who enjoy that kind of Goonies adventure thing and deserves a place amongst similar, more well known movies like it. It's also on Netflix now, which seems weird to me given how hard to find it was for so many years.
Just don't call the fat kid "Fat Kid."
SCARE RATING: 1/5
OVERALL RATING: 4/5