The Monster Squad
|The Monster Squad|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Fred Dekker|
|Produced by||Jonathan A. Zimbert
Neil A. Machlis
|Written by||Shane Black
|Music by||Bruce Broughton|
|Editing by||James Mitchell|
|Studio||Home Box Office
Keith Barish Productions
TAFT Entertainment Pictures
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Running time||82 min|
|Box office||$3,769,990 (USA)|
The Monster Squad is a 1987 comedy/horror film written by Shane Black and Fred Dekker and directed by Fred Dekker (who also wrote/directed Night of the Creeps). It was released by Tri-Star Pictures on August 14, 1987. The film features the Universal Monsters (re-imagined by a team of special effects artists including Stan Winston), led by Count Dracula. They, in turn, combat a group of savvy kids out to keep them from controlling the world. This is also a twist on horror movies as it reimagines classic monsters unleashed in a 1980s setting, and the film also makes a barb at incessant horror sequels when a "film within a film" is questioned as to how many times can a serial killer come back from the grave.
The Monster Squad is a society of young pre-teens who idolize classic monsters and monster movies and hold their meetings in a tree clubhouse. Club leader Sean (Andre Gower), whose five-year-old sister Phoebe (Ashley Bank) desperately wants to join the club, is given the diary of legendary monster hunter Dr. Abraham Van Helsing (Jack Gwillim) - but his excitement is toned down when he finds it's written in German. Sean, his best friend Patrick (Robby Kiger), and the rest of the Monster Squad visit an elderly man, known as the "Scary German Guy" (Leonardo Cimino), actually a kind gentleman, to translate the diary. When the Monster Squad wonders how the German man is knowledgeable about Van Helsing's battle with monsters, he wryly comments that "he has some experience with monsters" and his shirt sleeve briefly reveals a Concentration camp number tattoo.
The diary describes, in great detail, an amulet that is composed of concentrated good. One day out of every century, as the forces of good and evil reach a balance, the otherwise indestructible amulet becomes vulnerable to destruction, and the next day of balance falls within a couple days, at the stroke of midnight. The kids realize they must gain possession of the amulet before the day of balance arrives; once they have the amulet, the kids can use it — with an incantation from Van Helsing's diary — to open a hole in the universe and cast the monsters into Limbo. As shown in the prelude, Van Helsing had unsuccessfully attempted this one hundred years ago in order to defeat his old adversary Count Dracula (Duncan Regehr); his apprentices then emigrated to the United States to hide the amulet, where it was out of Dracula's immediate reach.
Dracula, meanwhile, seeks to obtain the amulet before the Monster Squad does, so that the Count can take control of the world and plunge it into darkness. To this end he assembles several of his most dangerous and monstrous allies: The Mummy (Michael MacKay), The Gill-man (Tom Woodruff Jr.), The Wolf Man (Carl Thibault), and in addition, three school girls (Mary Albee, Joan-Carrol Baron, and Julie Merrill) whom the Count transforms into his vampiric consorts. Dracula then steals a crate from an old World War II bomber in flight, inside the crate was The Frankenstein Monster (Tom Noonan), thus completing his allies. However, Frankenstein is reluctant to aid Dracula, and wanders into the forest where he encounters Phoebe. Rather than being afraid, she shows him the kindness he has also sought, and he gets acquainted with her. After Phoebe shows the Monster Squad that the Frankenstein Monster is not evil, he chooses to help the boys instead of Dracula.
The amulet turns out to be buried in a stone room, under a house that Dracula and the other monsters now occupy and where Van Helsing's diary was found. The secret room is littered with wards which prevent the monsters from simply taking it. The Monster Squad finds and removes the amulet, and escape Dracula's grasp only with sheer luck and a talent for improvisation (like using a garlic pizza to burn the vampire's face). The German man informs them that the incantation must be read by a female virgin. As midnight approaches, the Squad makes their way to a local cathedral to make their last stand — and in the nick of time, as shortly after they leave, Dracula destroys their clubhouse with a stick of dynamite. This also calls up another helper for the Monster Squad: Sean's father, Police Detective Del, who has been charged to investigate the strange happenings in town of late (as caused by Dracula's cohorts) but has been quite skeptical about their supernatural causes, not to mention Sean's hobby, in the first place. Del is further puzzled when he is getting warnings from the Wolfman that his family is in danger, as the Wolfman is actually also a reluctant pawn of Dracula in his human form.
Unfortunately, the doors to the cathedral are locked, so the incantation must be read on the stoop, leaving the Squad vulnerable. The Monster Squad has the assistance of Sean's father and Patrick's older sister (Lisa Fuller), as she's the only virgin they know who speaks German. Unfortunately, with time winding down, the incantation fails since Lisa is actually not a virgin anymore. As Dracula's Brides and the other monsters close in, it is realized that Phoebe, being five, must still be a virgin, and the German Guy attempts to help her read the incantation as the rest of the Squad fends off the monsters.
In the ensuing battle, the vampiresses, the Mummy, the Gill-man, and the Wolfman are killed. Dracula arrives and is about to kill Phoebe when the Frankenstein Monster turns against him, impaling him on a wrought-iron fence. Phoebe finishes the incantation, opening the portal which begins to consume the bodies of the monsters. Dracula, still alive, attempts to drag Sean in with him, but Sean is saved at the last minute by stabbing Dracula with a wooden stake, and Van Helsing, who briefly escaped from Limbo and takes Dracula to his doom. Although Phoebe tries tearfully to hold onto him, the Frankenstein Monster says that he must also enter the portal, but accepts a gift of a stuffed animal to remember Phoebe. The portal then closes, ensuring the world's safety.
- Andre Gower as Sean Crenshaw, leader of the Monster Squad
- Robby Kiger as Patrick, Sean's second-in-command and lieutenant of the Monster Squad
- Brent Chalem as Horace, Sean's third-in-command and sergeant of the Monster Squad
- Ryan Lambert as Rudy, Sean's corporal of the Monster Squad
- Michael Faustino as Eugene, Sean's private first-class of the Monster Squad
- Ashley Bank as Phoebe Crenshaw, Sean's younger sister and private of the Monster Squad
- Duncan Regehr as Count Dracula
- Tom Noonan as the Frankenstein Monster, Dracula's second-in-command, later joined the Monster Squad
- Carl Thibault as the Wolf Man, Dracula's sergeant
- Tom Woodruff Jr. as the Gill-man
- Michael MacKay as the Mummy
- Jonathan Gries as Desperate Man
- Stephen Macht as Detective Del Crenshaw, Sean and Phoebe's father
- Mary Ellen Trainor as Emily Crenshaw, Sean and Phoebe's mother
- Leonardo Cimino as Scary German Guy
- Jack Gwillim as Dr. Abraham Van Helsing
- Stan Shaw as Detective Rich Sapir
- Lisa Fuller as Patrick's sister
- Gabriel Dean as Wiley "the Worm"
- Jason Hervey as E.J.
- David Proval as Pilot
- Daryl Anderson as Co-Pilot
A 20th Anniversary Reunion of The Monster Squad was held with cast members and Director Fred Dekker in attendance in April 2006 in Austin, Texas at the Alamo Drafthouse. This reunion was put together by the staff at Ain't It Cool News, who were longtime fans of the film and on a whim decided to reach out and try to connect the cast for a special screening. Two shows were held at the theatre; both sold out with lines formed around the block; some audience members flew from as far as California to watch the film. It was at this screening that Dekker had urged any interested fans to write the copyright holders via snail-mail. Ain't It Cool News also broke the news of the DVD release in January, 2007. Michael Felsher of Red Shirt Pictures approached Lionsgate Studios to produce and release the 20th anniversary edition.
The Monster Squad two-disc 20th anniversary special edition DVD was released by Lionsgate on July 24, 2007, and contains a wide range of special features including a 5-part 90 minute retrospective documentary, 2 audio commentaries, deleted scenes, the theatrical trailer, a TV spot, animated storyboards, and more. A soundtrack album is available from the Intrada label.
The Alamo Drafthouse held two sold-out screenings of the Monster Squad on January 9, 2010 with stars Andre Gower, Ryan Lambert, and Jon Gries along with writer Shane Black and director Fred Dekker all in attendance. The screenings were celebrated with a limited edition poster by artist Tyler Stout.
The special edition DVD also makes a few references to the death of Brent Chalem, who died of pneumonia in 1997. Chalem played the character Horace.
Lionsgate released a Blu-ray version of the film on November 24, 2009.
- "Movie Review : 'Monster Squad' Is Fun For The Kid In All Of Us - Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. 1997-08-01. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
- "The Monster Squad". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-12-01.
- "Ain't It Cool News: The best in movie, TV, DVD, and comic book news". Aintitcool.com. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
- "The Monster Squad : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". Dvdtalk.com. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
- "The Monster Squad DVD Specs *UPDATE*". Horror-movies.ca. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
- "Brent Russell Chalem; Actor and UC Graduate". latimes.com. 1997-12-13. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
- The Monster Squad at the Internet Movie Database
- The Monster Squad at AllMovie
- The Monster Squad at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Monster Squad at I-Mockery (also includes rare Monster Squad Commodore 64 game)
- Recent Q&A with cast and crew
- The Monster Squad at Comic Con 2007 at Dread Central