The Monster Squad (1987) Movie Review

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Folks, if you have NOW TV Movies, you can watch this now, and if not, consider their free trials.  I didn’t know about this movie until recently, and to be fair, I feel the same way as most people who found it as well.  As a bit of a cheapskate and occasional scrooge, this film is quite hard to get outside of a Region-A Blu-Ray player.  But now that I’ve seen it, I can say a lot.  This is Monster Squad.

So what’s the story?  Well it starts off with Van Helsing unsuccessful in defeating Dracula by getting sucked into Limbo via Portal (Intended for Dracula).  Fast forward to 1987, it’s about a group of kids, Sean (Leader), Patrick (Best friend with cute older sister), Eugene (Youngest, naive 1, with Doggy Mascot), Horace (Fat Kid…literally, that’s what they call him) and Rudy (a 16 year old Greaser and basically The Cool Kid) who run their own clubhouse known as the Monster Club, where they basically just hang around to talk about Monsters (More specifically, classic movie monsters).  When Dracula decides to come to their hometown with Frankentstein’s Monster, The Mummy, The Wolfman and be joined by Gill-Man (The Creature Of The Black Lagoon) in order to find the amulet of concentrated good (to destroy it and prevent the Limbo portal from opening ever again) and Van Helsing’s Diary, it’s up to the boys (and some of their family members and friends) to stop them…Because guess who has Van Helsing’s Diary?  That’s right!  Sean, whose Mum bought it in a garage sale for him.

Now for the stereotypical parts of my review:

The Acting is actually really good, within context.  A majority of actors in this film are kids, and while they might not be as “up there” with the Goonies or Stand By Me, the kids all still did a great job…think 1993’s Dennis The Menace.  They actually behave like kids and none of them are boring.  Then there’s the adults, who were all really good and even broke the mould a little bit with a light-heartedness, even within some of the more adult themes.  Such as Sean’s parents having marriage troubles due to the nature of his father’s job as a Detective.  The Monsters either put on good performances or amusing, Shatner-eque performances that gladly turned up the cheese.  To put it simply, there were no “Oscar-winning performances”, but everybody appeared to have fun, and it was.  It really was.

The Characters are all, or at least most of them, stereotypes.  But they’re stereotypes done well.  You have the Monster Squad kids who I’ve described already, you have Sean’s younger sister Phoebe who wants to join the club (despite “No Girls Allowed” on the treehouse door), Patrick’s older sister who “encourages” Rudy to join, via view of her bedroom window, Sean’s parents Del and Emily, who actually come across as great parents despite their marriage troubles.  They both encourage the hobbies of their children, and even take part in them from time to time – Especially Del when it comes to Monster movies, eating Burger King and drinking Pepsi (You can tell who was sponsoring this film by its product placement).  Then you have the Scary German Guy who lives in the creepy house (There’s more to him, and it’s a great twist, and he does help the boys), Del’s partner Detective Rick Sapir (played by Stan Shaw)

The Story is written by Shane Black – and if that name doesn’t ring a bell, I’ll provide you with this; He’s 1 of the funniest writers in Hollywood.  Predator, Lethal Weapon 1 and 2, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3 (He also directed the last 2) – Even when he’s not writing a pure comedy, his humour shines through, and Monster Squad is no different.  Despite being presented as a kid-empowering story, it’s very much a borderline family film beating the crap out of the (at the time) truly heavy weighing PG rating.  None of the kids are squeaky-clean outside of Eugene.  They all swear, and as an older kid, Rudy both smokes and expresses his interest in Patrick’s sister in a teen fashion.  Also the Monster battles are very creative, and it’s full of cheesy ’80s one-liners.  However, 1 thing I will say.  Throw all logic and reality out the window, because it’s incredibly silly, incredibly ’80s…and awesome.

The Music is incredibly ’80s and suits the film, but no song or tune particularly stands out. No Huey Lewis or Gerard McMann in this 1.

Cinematography-wise, it’s very well shot and lit.

The Special Effects are hit and miss with some great explosions and strong make-up effects (especially Monster make-up).  However you’ll notice a rubber bat and its string at the beginning.

Even though it was made in 1987, to the disbelief of some folk, there is some CGI in this film.  It’s about as good as a Terribly Good Syfy film, but in its day it would have looked awesome, so it’s no big deal.

Would I recommend The Monster Squad?  Yes!  It’s 1 of the most messed up, overly violent, bad-message-sending, stuck-in-1987, films ever made…and yet the fun factor is through the roof.  And with both director Fred Dekker and Shane Black reuniting to create the new Predator instalment scheduled in 2018, I look forward to see how much they’ve grown since this.

Acting: ***3/4

Characters: ****1/4

Story: ****1/2

Music: ***

Cinematography: ****1/4

Special Effects: ****1/4

CGI: ** (Now) **** (In its day)

Overall: ****

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