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October 6, 2009

The Monster Squad

1987, Dir. by Fred Dekker.

When most think about horror comedies of the 1980s, most think of Gremlins and Ghostbusters. That's fair. But in my mind, The Monster Squad deserves a place next to those two films in any discussion of the decade's best supernatural laughers.

Featuring no less than re-creations of Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, the Wolf Man, the "Gill Man", and The Mummy, this movie put all these monsters I loved watching and reading about as a kid in one place...and I was loving it. I must have checked this out from the local library dozens of times, and the thrill of getting to say "Wolf man's got gnards!" never got old. Well, until I got older and the VHS copy from the library went away.

The Monster Squad then became one of those films that gets lost in a person's life. That is, until 2007 when it was FINALLY released on DVD (if you think that's bad, we're still wating for Fred Dekker's other classic Night of the Creeps to be released - which it will be on 10/27!). What's shocked me upon multiple revisits over the past two years is that, like Ghostbusters and Gremlins before it, The Monster Squad's got some pretty adult themes going on at times.

One of my favorite moments that shows off this edge is a scene involving the "creepy german guy", where he gets into a discussion with one of the youngsters about how much he knows about monsters, and as the scene ends the camera pans to reveal the tattoo on the old man's wrist. Anyone with a bit of an education in 20th Century world history will recognize the signifiacnce of the shot, and it really adds to what could be seen by some as a film only for children. There are several other moments I can think of which add to the film in this regard, making it truly one of the few children's films I can think of that can make the transition to adult viewing so easily. This isn't another Mad Monster Party that's only for the young.

The Monster Squad's definitely aged, but if you still love the '80s you'll get some love out of this brisk little romp. And if you're a fan of the "classic" monsters, it's an absolute must see. In fact, this is just one of those movies that I have a hard time belieiving ANYONE could dislike. And that's more than enough to earn it a few more viewings and a spot in The Mike's Legends Series.

1 comment:

e said...

I actually bought this recently, I've been on a kick to show my kids movies I loved as a kid and remembered this being a favorite.

While I enjoyed it, my husband was not as thrilled with the viewing as I was, citing violence and adult themes as being over the top in his opinion.

A small aside: He had no childhood, when I told him that "The Office" had jumped the shark a season or two ago, he had no clue what that reference meant and had never heard it, so we take his opinion of all things pop culture w/ a grain of salt. Who's never seen Happy Days??

Anyway - great blog! I've added a lot of your rec's to my Halloween viewing list. Thanks!