Horror Recommendation: Monster Squad (1987)

Posted: by Findlay

Monster Squad (1987); Directed by Fred Dekker

In One Sentence: A young group of friends do battle with the forces of the REAL universal monsters.

Why You Should Watch: I’ve seen grown men crying at the end of Braveheart. Like, that full bodied sob. Crying at a fucking Australian guy, playing a Scottish guy, getting killed in the most historically inaccurate film ever conceived. I never understood it. Those same guys will probably be the ones kicking my head in for crying at the end of Monster Squad when a young girl throws Frankenstein her teddy bear.

Monster Squad is a film by the fantastic Fred Dekker (whose other film “Night Of The Creeps” I reviewed late last year) which charts the mad adventure of a group of young horror movie-obsessed high schoolers, battling real life monsters trying to rule the world with the help of a beagle and a local 8-year-old neighbour. And it is, without a doubt, one of the best kids films ever made.

From the disorienting opening ten minutes in Transylvania, you know you’re in for something special. Creepy castles, Van Helsing, the dead rising from the ground, mystical gems and massive, consuming portals. Too good. Even in present day, Dekker throws in hundreds of references to horror films aswell as other pop culture references (“we’re at war with Vietnam, its in Rambo!”). But what makes all these references ~extra~ special is that Dekker and writer Shane Black freshen them up with little modern twists of despatching the monsters on their own, such as burning Dracula with a piece of garlic pizza and kicking wolfman in the dick. This is a kids film that doesn’t treat the target audience like kids. The film knows that children can be cheeky wee bastards, who act completely different when their parents aren’t around. This one is made for clubhouses and late night sleepovers. The film also features some really sneaky adult themes in there aswell, especially with the incredible revelation of the creepy German neighbour (which I happily wont spoil).

The films real strength lies in the characters and their chemistry. The Squad are genuine and feel like a group of best pals, whether its Junior High tough guy Rudy, or token Fat Kid Horace, the dialogue and riffing between characters is dense and fucking hilarious. My favourite relationship is between young sister Phoebe and Frankenstein which, not only references the original Frankenstein film, but flourishes into this incredibly sweet, loving friendship which as I previously mentioned, makes my cry my fucking eyes out at every time.

Now, Monster Squad gets compared to much-loved The Goonies a lot (madcap fun, group of young kids out their depth on an adventure, made in the 80’s) but for me it beats it in every way. The squad are more relatable, pretty tough wee cookies and they have a fucking beagle! Not only that but to me it feels more fun and less patronizing. Goonies is a film you’d watch with your mum at Christmas, Monster Squad is a film you’d watch with your best friends on a Friday night. It’s that easy. (it also features Tom Noonan and a banging 80’s montage song ).

Now the ending. The last ten/fifteen minutes of a film can make or break the whole story, and Monster Squads delivers with tense stand offs, characters redeeming themselves and people ACTUALLY dying. It’s the last two minutes that are the kicker though. They sucker punch you with an hilarious hand gesture exchange, then from nowhere, a completely heartbreaking, beautiful moment. It’s a rare teary moment in a kids film but it’s the emotional investment in the characters that give it that punch.

I cannot tell you to watch Monster Squad hard enough (if you hadn’t guessed), but if anyone needs more convincing, hit me up and yous can have a shot of my DVD copy of it.

 Favourite Line: [when talking about Wolfman wearing pants] “He had to wear pants, those movies were made in the 40’s! He had to wear ’em so you wouldn’t see his wolf-dork.”