The Monster Squad
|This article is missing information about the film's production. (July 2016)|
|The Monster Squad|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Fred Dekker|
|Produced by||Jonathan A. Zimbert|
|Music by||Bruce Broughton|
|Edited by||James Mitchell|
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Box office||$3.8 million (US)|
The Monster Squad is a 1987 horror comedy film written by Shane Black and Fred Dekker and directed by Dekker (who also wrote and directed Night of the Creeps); Peter Hyams was one of the executive producers. 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.
While not being a major success during its theatrical run and receiving mixed reviews from critics, the film has gained a positive reception from audiences and has become a cult classic in the years since its release.
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The Monster Squad is a society of pre-teenagers who idolize classic monster-movies and their non-human stars. They hold meetings at a tree-clubhouse in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 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 abates when he finds it is 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 so 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. With the next day of balance happening within a few days, at the stroke of midnight, the kids realize they must gain possession of the amulet and 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.
Nevertheless, Dracula 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 a B-25 Mitchell in flight, containing Frankenstein's monster (Tom Noonan), thus completing his army. However, Frankenstein's monster 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 always sought, and they become friends. After Phoebe proves to the Monster Squad that Frankenstein's 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 taking it. The Monster Squad finds and removes the amulet and narrowly escape Dracula's grasp. 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. Meanwhile, Dracula destroys their clubhouse with dynamite, drawing the attention of Sean's father, Police Detective Del, who has been charged with investigating the strange occurrences in town of late (as caused by Dracula's cohorts), but remains quite skeptical about their supernatural causes. Del is further puzzled when he receives a warning from the Wolfman that his family is in danger, as in his human form, the Wolfman is merely a reluctant pawn of Dracula.
Unfortunately, the doors to the cathedral are locked, so the incantation must be read on the stoop, leaving the Squad vulnerable. They enlist Patrick's beautiful elder sister Lisa (Lisa Fuller) to help them, as she's the only virgin they know who speaks German. Unfortunately, with time running out, the incantation fails since Lisa is actually not a virgin anymore. As Dracula's Brides and the other monsters close in, the kids deduce that five-year-old Phoebe must complete the task of opening the portal, 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, Dracula's consorts, the Mummy, the Gill-man, and the Wolfman are defeated. Dracula arrives and is about to kill Phoebe when Frankenstein's monster intervenes, 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. Sean impales Dracula with a wooden stake; then Van Helsing appears, having briefly escaped from Limbo, off to which he hauls Dracula. Although Phoebe tries desperately to hold onto him, Frankenstein's monster has no choice but to enter the portal; yet he accepts a gift of a stuffed animal to remember Phoebe. The portal then closes, ensuring the world's safety.
In the aftermath, the United States Army arrives on the scene, having received a letter from Squad member Eugene (Michael Faustino) earlier on asking for their help against the monsters. When the confused General fails to make sense of the situation, Sean steps forward and presents the man with his business card, identifying himself and his friends as "The Monster Squad". With that, Patrick and Sean exchange hugs with their sisters and the rest of the Squad while the townsfolk cheer them.
- Andre Gower as Sean Crenshaw
- Robby Kiger as Patrick Rhodes
- Brent Chalem as Horace ("Fat Kid")
- Ryan Lambert as Rudy Halloran
- Michael Faustino (brother of David) as Eugene
- Ashley Bank as Phoebe "Feeb" Crenshaw
- Duncan Regehr as Count Dracula
- Tom Noonan as Frankenstein's monster
- Carl Thibault as the Wolf Man
- Tom Woodruff Jr. as the Gill-man
- Michael MacKay as the Mummy
- Jonathan Gries as Desperate Man/The Wolfman
- Stephen Macht as Detective Del Crenshaw
- Mary Ellen Trainor as Emily Crenshaw
- Jack Gwillim as Dr. Abraham Van Helsing
- Gabriel Dean as Wiley "the Worm"
- Jason Hervey as E.J.
- Leonardo Cimino as Scary German Guy
- Stan Shaw as Detective Rich Sapir
- Lisa Fuller as Lisa Rhodes
- David Proval as Pilot
- Daryl Anderson as Co-Pilot
- Jake (dog) as Pete
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Though the film was not a success on its initial release, it subsequently developed a cult following. Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 53% of 17 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating was 5.4/10. Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times wrote that it is "fun for the kid in all of us". Vincent Canby of The New York Times called it "a feature-length commercial for a joke store that sells not-great, rubber monster masks".
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 contact 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. In 2007 a soundtrack album was made available from the Intrada label; La-La Land Records issued one in 2015 with additional material, including the Michael Sembello-produced songs.
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 region-free Blu-ray version of the film on November 24, 2009, which contains the same extras as the above-mentioned DVD. This edition is now out of print. On February 19, 2013 Olive Films released a region A locked Blu-ray, which does not include any extras.
- "The Monster Squad". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2015-04-24.
- Palopoli, Steve (2006-05-24). "Cult Leader | The Monster Squad". Metroactive. Retrieved 2014-11-07.
- "The Monster Squad (1987)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-11-07.
- Thomas, Kevin (1987-08-14). "Movie Review : 'Monster Squad' Is Fun For The Kid In All Of Us". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-11-07.
- Canby, Vincent (1987-08-14). "The Monster Squad (1987)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-11-07.
- "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.
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