A group of monster-loving kids must stop Dracula (Duncan Regehr), The Wolfman, Gillman, and The Mummy from gaining control of an ancient amulet that will allow the monsters to rule the world.
Nostalgia can be a cruel bitch sometimes. Occasionally, you will see a film as a child and LOVE it. When you grow older, you yearn for that feeling you got when you watched a specific film. When you re-watch it, though, you find that your tastes have changed or that the film is nowhere near as good as it was when you were 12. That is the case with The Monster Squad for me. As a child, I adored this film. What’s not to love? Kids fighting the classic Universal monsters (despite not being made by Universal). Well . . .as I grew older and have watched many, many more films, I find that The Monster Squad just wasn’t as good as it was in my childhood. It is still a damned entertaining romp, it just isn’t as good as I remember it.
At this point in my review, I usually go into a little more detail regarding the plot of the film I am reviewing. With this one, there is no need. Everything you need to know about the film is in the first sentence of this review. Other than the fact that Frankenstein’s Monster is actually a good guy in this and helps out the kids. There. That’s all you need to know.
In the mid-eighties, there was a glut of movies made with kids as the heroes. The Goonies and E. T. The Extra-Terrestrial are just a couple. The Monster Squad is a direct rip off of The Goonies, just with monsters instead of pirate gold (and Sloth, of course). Much like The Goonies, it is a little more harsh than you might expect. There is certainly some foul language and quite a bit of gore for a film marketed straight to children. It is a PG-13 rated film, but it is a little shocking in today’s politically correct society that they got away with as much as they did.
I watched this as a child. As well as The Goonies, The Terminator, and all of the Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street films. Not to mention Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. 1 and 2. And I grew up fine. I realized the difference between what is on screen and what is real life. I have played video games since Atari 2600. I have listened to heavy metal since I was a teenager. I have never shot up a school. Nor have I ever desired to, despite being bullied a bit. Why do I bring all of this up? Because the films of the ’80’s, where the kids talked like they actually talk, spouting off swear words, were more realistic, despite their fantastical plots, than anything you see today. People are afraid of what they don’t understand. Which is surprising considering a majority of parents also grew up watching films like this. This is why this film was a little shocking to me. We have been coddled to a point where people expect the politically correct atmosphere. When a 12 year old busts out a ‘shit’ people lose their freaking minds.
Now that my rant is out of the way, I do have to warn you about this disc. The transfer is terrible. The sound is not good. In fact, it doesn’t look like they did anything to this other than put it on Blu-Ray. There are no special features. There is the film and that is all. If you can get this for a budget price, it is worth picking up to watch. DO NOT pay a premium price for this disc. The film is not worth a premium price for such a bad transfer. I paid $8 for it and kind of feel ripped off.
I watched this with my four year old and he loved it. That is saying something. He does not like to sit still for anything other than SpongeBob SquarePants. He sat on my lap and watched the entire film, fascinated by the monsters on screen. Of course, he doesn’t sleep in his own bed anymore. . . yep, parenting fail on my part as I am relegated to the couch when he steals my spot in bed. Lesson learned, though, and I am paying my penance with a sore back continuously by sleeping on the sofa. He now watches no horror other than Goosebumps on Netflix. Since watching this, though, that is all he wants to watch. Scary movies.
So, re-reading this review I find that I completely derailed from actually reviewing the film. I think that is ok, though. This is a decent The Goonies rip off that is worth watching, especially in the month of October in preparation for Halloween (it is on my list of Horror films to watch for Halloween). In hindsight, I wouldn’t let a four year old watch it, but if you have older children it is a film that they could get behind and will probably love, especially if they are monster freaks. Give it a shot. You just might find yourself liking it too.
**1/2 out of ****
BIZZAM!! Fun Facts!
- Domestic total gross: $3,769,990 on an unknown production budget. Yes, the movie was a flop. I saw it in the theater, though.
- Liam Neeson was paid for a bit part that wan never filmed.
- Liam Neeson was also considered for the role of Dracula.
- The face of The Wolfman was modeled after special effects maestro Stan Winston.