The Monster Squad (1987)
April 18, 2018 8:03 AM - Subscribe

A young group of monster fanatics attempt to save their hometown from Count Dracula and his monsters.

NYTimes: The comedy is cheerless. The performances are either inept or unlovably coy. Though the previous film credits (''Star Wars,'' ''Aliens,'' among others) of the special-effects people are impressive, ''The Monster Squad'' looks like a feature-length commercial for a joke store that sells not-great, rubber monster masks.

The movie also has a certain amount of nerve in introducing a Holocaust survivor as the one fellow in town who recognizes Dracula and his pals for what they are.

Empire: One of the reasons this failed to find its audience is that it was ludicrously stuck with a 15 certificate. There are some great monster effects—a mummy gets a bandage caught and unravels like an old cardigan, and the Wolf Man is literally blown to bloody fragments—but the certification was for one (very funny) joke about the teenage heroine’s virginity which will go over younger children’s heads.

Otherwise, this is full of moments you’ll relish: the Fat Kid blasting away at the Creature, Wolf Man getting kicked in the nards, Dr Van Helsing giving a ghostly thumbs-up to the teenage hero, and the final appearance of the bewildered army to deal with the crisis. Also, in a few very sharp semi-throwaway scenes, the film effectively contrasts the innocent wonder of the monster squad as they take on the creatures of the night with the less simplistic troubles their adult friends and relatives have to deal with. Spot on.

AV Club: Squad joins The Lost Boys, Fright Night, Gremlins, and Poltergeist in a winning '80s subgenre dedicated to ghoulies invading the suburbs. Like its more commercially successful peers, Squad oozes geek-love for its subject matter; it's clear the filmmakers are just as enamored of things that go bump in the night as their fearless kiddie vampire-slayers. That ingratiating affection for classic horror permeates every facet of the film, from the way monster-maker Stan Winston takes on ubiquitous horror icons to Black and Dekker's snappy banter to the fine performances of monsters Tom Noonan (as Frankenstein), Jon Gries (as a tormented werewolf), and the elegantly understated Regehr. Squad's gleeful monster mash anticipates bloated CGI orgies like Van Helsing, which likely cost a hundred times as much, yet boasts a hundredth of Squad's scrappy, ramshackle charm. At a lean 82 minutes, the film also boasts a virtue increasingly lost to the past: brevity.

Slant: I liked The Monster Squad better when I first saw it. Unlike Dekker’s masterpiece, Night of the Creeps (which I covered here last year) its allure must have worn off as I aged. Still, I was engaged during this viewing, and there are nostalgic touches I still enjoyed: Frankenstein’s first encounter with Phoebe pays homage to the tragic little girl scene from the 1931 classic. A candle designed to “ward off monsters” conveniently goes out just before the climactic attack. A drinking game can be made from the blatant product placement of Burger King and Pepsi. The closing credits rap song is even worse than the one in Dragnet. And Fat Kid does what no one else ever considered in a werewolf movie: He kicks the monster in the nuts. As the monster stoops in pain, the late Chalem utters the film’s most quoted line:

“Wolfman’s got nards!”

So does The Monster Squad, though they’re not as big as I remembered.


The Lasting Legacy of ‘The Monster Squad’

The Monster Squad Is the Only Dark Universe We Ever Needed

30 Things We Learned From ‘The Monster Squad’ Commentary

The Monster Squad at 30: The Cast on First Impressions and Rudy's Smoking

Looking back at The Monster Squad
posted by MoonOrb (4 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I always order garlic on my pizza because of this movie.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 10:09 PM on April 18, 2018

Monster Squad is one of the greatest movies of all time... full stop. Some thoughts in no particular order:
- I was wearing my "Wolfman's Got Nards" t-shirt last night. It's my favorite shirt but I wear it rarely to keep it from falling apart too quickly.
- The powers that Dracula displays are just wild. Besides some normal ones that you'd expect, like turning into a bat, he has the ability to: light fuses at will, deflect bullets, summon lightning, and turn a car intangible and ghostly. In fact Dracula's main method of attack seems to be dynamite based.
- Mummy and Gill-man are hilariously ineffective and never present a real obstacle or threat to the kids.
- Wolf-man too is barely a threat despite his ability to reform from his constituent pieces. Once a bad guy has been taken out with a nut shot it's hard to take them seriously.
- I too did not understand the virgin jokes when I saw this movie the first time.
- That link is right and Monster Squad is better than all the "Dark Universe" movies combined (is Dracula Untold part of the Dark Universe?)
posted by runcibleshaw at 1:56 PM on April 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have never seen this film but I know the virginity joke — I remember it being discussed at lunch in junior high.

Also I recently found out that a woman I work with did one of the intl movie posters for this, which is pretty cool.
posted by roger ackroyd at 11:13 PM on April 19, 2018

I understand the 80s were a different time. But the amount of homophobic slurs casually thrown around by children in this movie is jarring.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:23 PM on June 23, 2019

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