The Monster Squad
(1987, Dir. by Fred Dekker.)
Why It's Here:
For a child of the '80s or beyond, there's no better introduction to what horror is than The Monster Squad. It's often been compared to The Goonies due to its battle between a squad of kids and evil forces, but it's really not fair to either film to make such comparisons. (Besides, they're both awesome.) Dekker's film comes with a surprisingly adult edge for such a child-centric flick (which may have been enhanced by Lethal Weapon/The Last Boy Scout/Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang scribe Shane Black helping with the script), including references to Nazi death camps, the slasher craze of the '80s, and even - you guessed it - NARDS. The result is a film that's endlessly watchable, even to the older version of those kids who learned horror from it.
The Moment That Changes Everything:
As I alluded to above, there's some odd stuff going on in The Monster Squad that's above many kids' heads. Perhaps the most haunting moment in the otherwise tongue-in-cheek film is the first encounter between the Squad and "Creepy German Dude" which ends with the reveal of his wartime past. Amidst all the goofy moments - like the standoff with the Wolfman and a lot of hammy Dracula action - it's this kind of reveal that really adds depth to the film for me.
It Makes a Great Double Feature With:
Dekker's other '80s classic, Night of the Creeps. While the aliens/zombies/frat parties/Tom Atkins epic is a bit more adult than this Squad, both films offer a great balance of humor and action for fans of all genres. And you could watch both films in under three hours, which means you could even triple up with something else from the goofy '80s like Night of the Comet.
What It Means To Me:
As you might have guessed, I'm one of those kids who learned a lot about horror from The Monster Squad. It's pretty hard for me to take an unbiased look at the film, but that doesn't change the fact that I can still watch it today and feel like I'm enjoying something that's more than just a blast from the past. This is an important piece of horror to me, and I hope it will live on as a nice supplement to the classic monsters that I believe are the foundation of horror cinema.