While Stephen King Rules, The Monster Squad has some great fun in store.
When I was a kid, presumably on cable somewhere, I saw The Monster Squad. It created some vivid memories of the villains and even the scene where Rudy forces EJ to eat the squished candy bar.
That wasn’t a spoiler, stop.
Anyway, for years, and I mean like a decade, I would bring this movie up in casual conversation in the hopes that someone knew what I was talking about. At the time, I simply couldn’t remember the name, something that seems weird after repeated viewings, but true nonetheless. I was even including the detail of Jason Hervey’s involvement and Rudy lighting a match off of his boot. It would not be until college and the two-disc Twentieth Anniversary edition that I would finally have a name for one of the coolest films I’ve ever seen.
Cool is probably the best label for the film too. Written by Shane Black, perhaps best known for Lethal Weapon and Iron Man 3 and Fred Dekker, who had just come off of Night of the Creeps and also directed, The Monster Squad seems aimed to bring the feel of The Goonies into the world of classic horror. Though there is certainly an aspect of that in the final product, the film endures based on its expert execution of its premise: A group of outsider kids use their knowledge of the horror genre to combat the real deal.
And that’s it.
The Monster Squad works because it sticks to the concept and doesn’t waste any time. There’s really only a few parents, the kids and the monsters. Oh man, the monsters. Something fun is happening on screen for the entire hour and twenty minutes. A lot of films today could learn from this and I’m certain it was at least a little factor in getting Black and Dekker in on The Predator.
The other big draws here are the creature designs from the legendary Stan Winston. Though lacking the budget he would have on projects like Iron Man and Jurassic Park, Winston creates some of the most memorable interpretations of cinema’s great monsters. The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Mummy, The Wolfman, Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster all get satisfying updates. The Creature is especially impressive.The only drawback is that the film isn’t actually connected to Universal and they have to work around some copyright issues.
Regardless, The Monster Squad has defied its initial failure, and become a true classic in the monster movie canon. This is one you’ll remember for a long time.