Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Review - The Monster Squad (1987)

“Wolfman's got nards!”

Director: Fred Dekkara
Starring: Tom Noonan, Andre Gower, Duncan Regehr,
Screenplay: Fred Dekkar, Shane Black

When I was just a young boy I can remember finding The Monster Squad in the video store and I was intrigued by the cover. Wolfman, Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, The Mummy and The Creature from the Black Lagoon? Get out of here a movie could not be that awesome to house these dynamos of horror. Then I saw not only was the movie graced with the heavy gang of monsterdom but kids would be leading the charge against the unholy terrors. Book me a ticket I’m sold.

Travelling the well worn path of nostalgia, I was expecting to be a tad disappointed watching the movie now. So does it hold up? Well no, it is a little goofy and the tonal shifts from family movie to horror movie elements can be jarring and make it not suitable for some children but, and this is a big but, I had still had fun. In a time where movies are taking themselves too seriously or action movies going to long because they thing they need to be an epic, it was refreshing to sit down and just enjoy the movie.

Now while the directing is pretty decent I wouldn’t call it spectacular and the acting is nothing to write home about. It gets the job done but I certainly won’t be remembering Duncan Regehr’s turn as Dracula as one of the greats, mind you he’s way better than one Richard Roxburgh. If I can digress for a little, when you’re scarier playing the Duke in Moulin Rouge than you are playing Dracula there is a problem. Okay back to The Monster Squad and back to finding out why I enjoyed this movie. It’s one name. Shane Black.

Shane Black has been the writer for The Last Boy Scout, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Lethal Weapon and the Long Kiss Goodnight. I can hear you already, “really Daniel you’re excited over the guy who wrote these movies?” Well yes I am because while they aren’t drama soaked pieces that make us question life, death and everything in-between, they are action movies that have great momentum and some really fun dialogue that dares to be nothing more than fun. Just like those movies The Monster Squad is the same. Yes the Wolfman has nards and to this very day I remember that fact.

I will also give big props to the look of the movie. Sure it’s seems like a typical product of the 80’s but when if comes to monster design, Stan Winston Studio’s have done a pretty good job in making the monsters look different, yet still retain the links to their Universal Monster roots. It’s this look that leads to one of my favourite scenes where the monsters are all gathered together for the first time, lightning in the sky, monsters crying into the night. That alone made this DVD worthwhile. When it comes to monsters I’m sentimental so sue me.

Overall I liked this movie but can see how badly the movie has aged and for most people there won’t be enough for them to really ever rate it too high in their collection. But with it being brisk and fun I would tell most people to give it a try and see what they think. If you are however a fan of the Universal Monsters and have yet to see this movie then what are you doing reading this review? Get out there now and watch this.