Pros:Fun, entertaining monster movie.
Cons:Little corny at times.
The Bottom Line: The Monster Squad was a little corny at times, but it was a very fun, entertaining monster movie.
Over the years, I have come to appreciate several older monster movies that I hope to eventually pick up on DVD. I have also started to watch more new monster movies as well with some of them being more entertaining than others. I recently read some things about The Monster Squad and thought it sounded like an interesting movie. I decided to take a chance on the movie when I found the DVD.
Abraham Van Helsing and a group of people working with him attempted to deal with Dracula and cast him into limbo with a special amulet where he couldn't cause any more harm. Unfortunately, things didn't go like they wanted and 100 years later Dracula was back looking for the amulet so he could take over the world. He was getting help from Frankenstein, Wolfman, Mummy and Gillman.
Friends Sean and Patrick had a monster club with a few of their other friends. They all enjoyed monster movies and knew how to kill the different monsters. Sean's little sister Phoebe kept trying to get in the club even though the boys didn't want her. They managed to get Rudy, a slightly older and cool boy, to join the club. Sean was given Van Helsing's diary. He had to go to an older German man who lived in the neighborhood to get it translated because it was in German. The diary explained how the amulet worked and they all realized that they only had a day or two until it could be used. The group, after being urged by Sean, decided to look for the amulet and to try to prevent Dracula from getting it.
When I was watching The Monster Squad, it seemed to me like it was inspired by the older Universal monster movies. All those classic monsters were represented, though they did look a bit different from how I remembered them. After watching the extras, I found out that the movie was inspired on those older movies. Originally they were going to do versions of the Universal monsters, but the studio wasn't interested in the project. The look of the monsters had to be changed a bit so that they were infringing on any rights. They all looked a bit different, and the swamp monster was called a completely different name instead of being called the Creature from the Black Lagoon. I thought the versions of the monsters worked very well.
The Monster Squad dealt with Dracula and a group of other monsters. The movie could be a decent introduction to versions of the classic monster characters to children. The different monsters still acted much like the classic versions and there weren't any add changes to things that would kill them like has been done in some other monster movies. I'm most familiar with Dracula and Frankenstein's monster, but the others seemed to act right based on the little I do know about them. In addition to trying to find the amulet so he could take over the world, Dracula did take some time to turn some women into vampires. The other monsters did go after some people, but I didn't think anything was that violent.
For a monster movie, I thought that The Monster Squad was fairly tame. Of course, I might have felt differently if I had seen the movie as a child. I thought everything that was going on was interesting without being scary. Certain things that happened, especially when a few of the monsters made their first appearances or attacked someone, might scare children. I did think the monsters all had good looks, but I didn't find any of them to be scary. Children might feel different about the things that I thought were predictable. Some special effects were used in a few scenes, mostly just to show when the portal to limbo was open. The effects looked good considering the movie was made in 1987. The looks for the monsters were all created with makeup and costumes created by Stan Winston. That did make them look more realistic since they were played by actual men in makeup instead of being created with CGI.
In some ways, The Monster Squad reminded me of The Goonies since both movies involved a group of kids going on an adventure. In both movies, there was one character who seemed to be leading the groups who managed to get them to keep going instead of giving up. This time, the kids had to face monsters instead of going looking for a treasure, but the kids did face some danger in both movies. It was just a different type of danger. This movie was a fun, mostly family friendly adventure that also had a little bit of action that wasn't too extreme. There was a bit of violence in some scenes that could bother younger children. Some of the kid characters did use profanity, though it wasn't anything too extreme. I do think this movie was mainly aimed at kids, but it did end up being rated PG-13, so parents should keep that in mind before deciding if this is a good movie for their kids.
The main characters in The Monster Squad were mainly the members of the club, with some of them being slightly more developed than others. Sean and Patrick were best friends who had started the club. Sean was the one who seemed to be in charge though and the one who got them all to agree to try to find the amulet. One of the their friends was almost always only called the fat kid and it wasn't until later in the movie before it was shared that his name was Horace. Eugene seemed to be younger than the others. Rudy was slightly older than Sean and Patrick and considered to be cool. The kids really weren't annoying or irritating, though they did seem to go a bit overboard at times.
Phoebe was Sean's little sister who kept trying to get in the club. She did annoy the boys at times, but she also managed to do something that turned out to be a big help. Sean and Phoebe's parents were only around in a few scenes, so they didn't have much to do. Their dad Del was a detective on the police force. He was shown working a few times and having some disagreements with his wife. That was about it for them. The older German man that the group went to for help was only identified as the Scary German Guy.
Dracula was controlling all the other monsters and he received a bit more attention than the other monsters. He was very focused on finding the amulet and he didn't have a problem killing to get what he wanted. The Wolfman was almost only shown in wolf form. When he was a man, he tried to stop what was going on. Frankenstein didn't say much. He did things his own way at times as well. The Mummy and Gillman were just sort of around as Dracula's lackeys. There just wasn't enough time to focus on those characters more. Duncan Regehr and Tom Noonan probably had the most to do as Dracula and Frankenstein. Van Helsing made a short appearance as well.
Ashley Bank - Phoebe Crenshaw
Brent Chalem - Horace
Leonardo Cimino - Scary German Guy
Michael Faustino - Eugene
Andre Gower - Sean Crenshaw
Jack Gwillim - Abraham Van Helsing
Robby Kiger - Patrick
Ray Lambert - Rudy
Stephen Macht - Del Crenshaw
Michael Reid MacKay - Mummy
Tom Noonan - Frankenstein
Duncan Regehr - Dracula
Carl Thibault - Wolfman
Mary Ellen Trainor - Emily Crenshaw
Tom Woodruff Jr. - Gillman
Fred Dekker - Director
A special two disc 20th anniversary edition DVD for The Monster Squad was released in 2007. That is the DVD that I picked up when I decided to get the movie. I found it for only $7.50 at Walmart. There are commentaries with the director, cast, and a crew member. Monster Squad Forever was a new featurette made for the DVD that had five parts. The parts were focused on different aspects of making the movie and included interviews with some of the cast and crew. It was very interesting. It was said in this featurette that the movie was inspired by the classic monster movies. There was also a new interview with Frankenstein, deleted scenes, and the original trailer.
The Monster Squad was a fun, entertaining movie. It was a little corny at times, but it was still very good and worth watching. It is a good movie to watch around Halloween and I'm glad I decided to add it to my DVD collection. It is a mostly family friendly movie, though there are a few things that parents might have concerns about.
This review is part of CaptainD's 2008 Good Movie Write Off.
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