Monday, August 23, 2010

#62 - The Monster Squad - 1987

The 6th movie I decided to watch this week was the 1987 cult classic The Monster Squad. I remember seeing this one back when I was younger and I still love it to this day. This film has a much larger following and fan base than I ever imagined but it just goes to show how popular it is. I'm not sure if it was that popular at that time back it is very popular now and easily regarded as a cult classic by many, including myself! Below is my detailed review.

This film had a lot of different integral actors involved half of which were classic monsters. The basic plot of the film is that Dracula gathers all his monster friends to take over rule of the world but a group of young kids from the neighborhood who are monster fanatics and have claimed themselves to be the "Monster Squad" set out to defeat the evil monsters with the help of one of their own, Frankenstein. The "bad" monsters are led by Dracula and include The Mummy, The Swamp Thing, and Wolfman. Frankenstein who is originally brought back to life by Dracula ends up helping out the young kids in the movie but that is for later on. Another interesting character in the film is a actually listed as "the scary German guy" by the credits and actually was not called by name in the film. This rounded out the main cast for this film. The kids, the monsters, and the scary German guy were all great in their roles, especially Dracula so lets dwell on him a bit.

Duncan Regehr played the role of Count Dracula and played it perfectly. He was an ever so convincing Dracula and probably one of the best I ever saw on film. After some research on his role in this film it is overwhelmingly acknowledged by many critics and film reviewers that his interpretation of Dracula is one of the very best..ever! I dont doubt this for one second. His presence was ever so demanding in every scene he was in and he was easily the most dominant and striking character in this film. I found it kind of weird that Liam Neeson was considered for this role and as great of an actor that he is I think Duncan's performance would have been hard to top.

My other favorite characters in this film would have been Frankenstein and Wolfman as I thought they were quite accurately portrayed in there roles. The Mummy didn't have a very large role and the Swamp Thing's on screen time was even less yet they were decent characters that added to the films overall story. I did however find the Swamp Thing's face a little too corny for my taste. As for the "human" characters I obviously liked the leader of the group Sean (Andre Gower) the best followed by Rudy (Ryan Lambert) and Horace (Brent Chalem). I also thought it was pretty cool that the Mom from the Goonies was Sean's Mom in this movie.

There was a lot that I enjoyed about this film and Ill start with the setting. The first scene of the film takes place in Dracula's castle and it looks very classic, very Universal Studios classic horror film type classic. Did I wear out the word classic? I cant help it I loved it! The cave like castle setting, the skeleton dead people popping out, etc. was all great. Loved it! I also thought that the swamp like atmosphere where the monsters emerged on earth was pretty darn cool too. The weeping willow type trees and lush setting was very creepy. What was weird though was that it looked almost identical to the setting that was right behind Sean's tree house where they held their monster meetings. I loved that setting as well but I cant recall anything in the film indicating that where the monsters congregated together was only steps away from Seans tree house. It might have been though.

Who could forget the old mansion at 666 Shadowbrook Lane either. This was Dracula's makeshift castle and the outdoor shots of this mansion were more visually stunning and scary than the indoors and reminded me of the Disney film's version of the Haunted Mansion on the outside. Very cool looking. Another kind of spooky looking house was the house where the Scary German guy lived. The front of his house reminded me of the neighbors house in the Burbs with Tom Hanks. No up keep on the yard - check. Creepy guy looking out the front window - check. Last but not least was the Town Square scene at the end. I don't know why but the Town Square setting for this movie looked like it could have been filmed at Universal Studios even though I'm pretty sure it was not. Still I love how the movie culminated at the town square with the final action sequences taking place there.

There were a lot of scenes and references in this film that I enjoyed so let me start from the beginning. The shirt that Sean is wearing when first seeing him at school that states Stephen King Rules is awesome. You also gotta love the scene where EJ, the school bully is forced to eat a snickers bar off the ground after he beat up Horace (the fat kid) and Rudy comes to Horace's defense. You have to love it when a bully gets bullied, right? I thought the Monster test scene with Rudy was pretty cool too and I loved how all the kids were so into their club, very 80's style. As I stated before the scene were all the monsters gather was very cool and set heavy. I also enjoyed the scene where Sean went to his rooftop to watch a new movie that came out in the drive in movie theater across the way. It reminded me of when I could see the drive in movie theater near my house on Beach Blvd when I was younger, ahhh the good ol Highway 39 Drive In!

I thought the Mummy scene with the little kid and the obnoxious sarcastic dad was quite funny and I loved the advertisement for Pepsi in the scene where the kids talk with the scary German guy and have Pie and Pepsi, not Milk, but Pepsi. Too funny. All the scenes with Frankenstein were cool and it was kind of unique how he bonded a friendship with the 5 year old girl Phoebe. I liked that touch. It evened out the playing field. One of the funnier lines in the film is when Rudy shoots an arrow and de-mummifies the Muffy and states "see you later Band aid Breath! Hilarious!! Now even this film isn't without its flaws. The major one for me would be Wolfman getting blown into several pieces yet able to come back to life. A little too far fetched for my imagination, who does he think he is, Jason?? The final sequence of the film had a great battle scene specifically when Frankenstein saved the girl from Dracula. Although not dead it took Sean's final blow to Dracula to kill him as the film ended with soldiers arriving thanks to a letter from fellow Monster Squad club member Eugene. Very corny yes but well within the realms of this film. For some real fun I suggest seeing this film. It was funny, entertaining, and had some cool looking monsters in it so for me it was a win-win-win all around! Had it been a bit longer even though I read the directors wanted it under 90 minutes I would have given it the ultimate grade but still this one in my book gets an A!

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