tek's rating:

The Monster Squad (PG-13)
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streaming sites: Amazon; FandangoNOW; Google Play; iTunes; Vudu

This came out in 1987, and I'm sure I must have seen it sometime in the late 80s (though I'm kind of surprised it didn't come out earlier in the 80s than '87). I'm writing this review after watching it on DVD in 2017. I suppose I didn't remember much specifically about the movie, beyond the basic premise and the fact that I had enjoyed it the first time I saw it. (I also remembered a bit about the kids in the monster club asking questions to initiate an older kid into the club, and a line about Wolfman having "nards," and a line about someone not "counting"- in a way I don't want to spoil.) But anyway, the movie is even more fun than I remembered. And also has some serious touches I either didn't remember or didn't get, way back when. (One kid's parents are having marital problems, and there's an older German character with a reference to knowing about monsters that is actually an allusion to the Holocaust.) But mostly the movie is a comedy, and a very 80s comedy, at that.

So... it begins with some expository text about Abraham Van Helsing and some others trying to get rid of monsters 100 years ago, and then a brief scene where we see just that. Unfortunately, they failed, and the story flashes forward to the present (1987). There's a group of kids who are fans of monster movies, and they have a little club dedicated to that. I think most of the members are twelve years old, though one kid seemed like he must be younger. The main character is a kid named Sean, who has a 5-year-old sister named Phoebe, who wants to be in the club, but they don't allow girls. And... I really couldn't keep track of the names of all the kids, but there was one named Horace who we first see getting picked on by bullies (one of whom was played by Jason Hervey, best known from The Wonder Years). An older kid (in junior high) comes to his rescue, and is later inducted into the club.

Meanwhile, Dracula is on a charter flight that is taking him to, you know, wherever these kids live. And he has a crate with him that contains Frankenstein's creature. And um... I should say that Sean's father is a cop. He and his partner investigate the disappearance of a mummy from a local museum. (Well, they're called in to investigate, but they don't actually do anything about it, because they don't take it seriously.) And that same night, a guy claiming to be a werewolf (played by Jon Gries) tries to get police to lock him up. Anyway, before long we see that Dracula has assembled a group of monsters to help him with a goal that will be revealed later. But first, Sean's mom had bought him an old book, which turned out to be the journal of Van Helsing. Unfortunately, it was in German, so he and his friends had to get "Scary German Guy" (who turns out not to be scary at all) to translate it for them. They learn about an amulet that could either get rid of evil creatures by banishing them into "limbo," or could change the balance of good and evil so that evil would rule the world. To banish evil, an incantation must be read by a virgin by midnight on a day that occurs once every hundred years. (Oddly enough, it never seems to occur to any of the young boys that any one of them should be able to perform the ceremony, because apparently they think only girls can be virgins.) But the film does have some nice touches. Like the scene where Frankenstein's creature approaches Phoebe for the first time is very similar to a scene from the 1931 Frankenstein movie. And the fact that he's really not a monster. And the fact that Wolfman, when human, wants to help the kids. And um... I dunno. There are a couple other monsters, including the mummy, but he's not really important; and another creature who's even less important, but I did really like the scene where we first see him, just because I totally didn't see it coming. Oh, but also there are the three "brides" of Dracula. (Wikipedia mentions Dracula turning three school girls into his "consorts," but if that was in the original film, it certainly didn't happen in the DVD I watched; and besides, they were present in the opening scene 100 years ago. Unless those were three different consorts. It's not like we get a good enough look at them in the past or the present for me to notice whether they were the same people, I just assumed they were.) Anyway, they're of the least importance of any of the monsters.

Well... the kids all work together to thwart Dracula's plan to obtain the amulet and use its power for evil, or whatever. And I dunno what else to tell you. But it's just a really fun movie, and rather nostalgic for me, despite not remembering it well from my youth. And I'm really glad to have seen it again, finally.


family horror index
tek's nostalgia

Novel: Dracula
(The following is a list of things I've seen or want to see. There have been countless other things that have adapted or parodied the novel.)

Adaptations: Dracula (1931) * Bram Stoker's Dracula
Other movies: Nosferatu * Taste the Blood of Dracula * Dracula 2000 * The Batman vs. Dracula * Dracula Untold
TV: Buffy vs. Dracula * Dark Prince (2000) * Hellsing * Dracula (2006) * The Librarian 3 * Dracula (2013)
Parodies: Blacula * Dracula: Dead and Loving It * Mina Murray's Journal
Ensembles: Drak Pack * The Monster Squad * Van Helsing * Hotel Transylvania * Penny Dreadful

Novel: Frankenstein
(The following is a list of things I've seen or want to see. There have been countless other things that have adapted or parodied the novel.)

Adaptations: Frankenstein (1931) * The Curse of Frankenstein * Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
Loose adaptations: Young Frankenstein * I, Frankenstein * Victor Frankenstein
Parodies: The Rocky Horror Picture Show * Frankenweenie (1984) * Transylvania 6-5000 * Mary Shelley's Frankenhole * Frankenweenie (2012)
Ensembles: The Munsters * Drak Pack * The Monster Squad * Van Helsing * Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl * Hotel Transylvania * Once Upon a Time * Penny Dreadful