Last month, one of my favorite horror films of all time turned the dirty 30. Well, not just one of my favorite horror films. It’s one of my faves from ANY genre. A film that transcends horror. It’s scary, it’s hilarious, it’s heart-warming, it’s sad and it’s also a family film. So, join me as I wish The Monster Squad a happy 30th!
This is the part where I would usually give a spoiler-free synopsis to you all. But I am not going to waste time and finger strength waxing on about the plot of a film that’s almost as old as I am. If you haven’t seen The Monster Squad yet, immediately stop reading this and seek this film out any way you can. Oh, and smack yourself, because shame on you!
I first saw The Monster Squad while it was in constant syndication on HBO, during the summer of 1980-something. After that initial viewing, I was completely transfixed by it from that moment onward. How transfixed you ask? To determine this very important question, I posed an inquiry to someone that’s very special to me and might actually know the answer, my father.
How many times did I watch The Monster Squad growing up?
“Probably 150 times, too damn many.” – Papa Letourneau
It’s a response like that, that makes you folks at home think I had no life growing up. But believe it or not boils and ghouls, I had a very active childhood. We actually went outside to play in the ‘80s. I remember playing ‘The Monster Squad’ outside with my siblings. I of course was always Rudy, my brother was Sean and my sister was always Phoebe “the feeb”. This is just a testament to how much this film impacted my youth. Whenever it was on, we would watch it. If we hadn’t seen it for a while, we would rent it on VHS to get our fix.
The monsters were created and styled after the original Universal monsters by the Stan Winston Studio. To this day, the Wolf-Man is my favorite character. He was the one that truly scared me as a little kid. And not just because he had nards either. His ruthless attack and bellowing growls were truly horrific to me. The transformation scene in the telephone booth, was amazingly brought to the life by Winston himself. In my opinion, it was easily the best of its kind since 1981’s An American Werewolf In London.
I asked a couple of my fellow Syndicate writers what The Monster Squad meant to them and I couldn’t have agreed with them more.
“Seeing all of my favorite original monsters in one film, together against a monster club of kids…when I saw Monster Squad at 8, it was everything I ever wanted in a movie. A true kids’ horror movie.”
-Ray Marek III, President and overall badass of The Horror Syndicate
“Monster Squad made me the horror fan I am today. It’s the ultimate segue into horror from childhood to adulthood”
-Bryan Enright, Contributor and podcast badass of The Horror Syndicate
Riding the coattails of a much more popular film released two years before, one can’t deny the subtle similarities with 1985’s The Goonies. The witty writing, the comradery of the groups of friends and the fact that in both films the kids are being chased by villains while trying to find something. But what really separates this flick from The Goonies is the fact that they kill fucking monsters. No disrespect to the Goon Squad, but the kiddos from The Monster Squad were just more badass. They were cocky, perverted and very quick-witted. Which I think are a few of the reasons why the film got lost in the shuffle with other kid films over the years. It was too adult for most kids, but it also was a bit too kiddy for the adults. A movie in ‘no man’s land’ so to speak, no true demographic to cater to. It was lost in that shuffle for so long, that it did not receive a genuine DVD release until July 24th, 2007. Which is downright criminal.
But since its official DVD release, finally a whole new generation of youngsters have had the chance to feel what I felt that summer back in 1980-something. People my age are showing The Monster Squad to their kids and they are loving it. Proving that it can be a truly scary, yet family-friendly film that can be enjoyed by kiddies of all ages. That this film has stood the test of time and may live on for generations more to come.
I don’t think I could possibly give The Monster Squad the justice it deserves. Only what it means to me. To me, it is an all-around superb film, that hasn’t received the praise it should have over the years. But I will leave you with this. Movies like this don’t come around all that often. Its movies like this that broaden the imagination of the unknown and makes you feel like a kid again. It doesn’t try to scare you away, it actually tries to pique your curiosity. In a way, it makes the horror genre much more accessible to kids at a younger age, without scaring the living shit out of them. It makes you feel like you can tackle everything as a kid, take on any obstacle…
…Because if you can kill a mummy, a gill-man, a wolf-man or Dracula, you can pretty much do anything.
Thanks for reading and remember