Earlier this week was the 25 anniversary of one of my favorite movies: The Monster Squad.
I’m not entirely sure about how popular this movie was, but whenever I mention it, I tend to get blank stares back.
This movie is about a group of kids who are part of a secret club devoted to worshiping movie monsters. They talk about monsters, go to the movies together, devise plans on how to kill said monsters, so on and so forth.
Over the course of the movie they learn that these famous movie monsters (like Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, and the Wolfman) are actually real. These monsters come into their town, led by Dracula, to find a magical amulet.
I will proudly support the claim that this is the best movie you wish you saw during your childhood — if you didn’t see it already.
There’s several reasons for that.
1. Co-written by Shane Black. Yes, that Shane Black. The one who wrote and created the Lethal Weapon franchise. The one who wrote and directed 2005’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. This was the first movie made from one of his scripts. And while it’s not as violent or adult oriented as all his other scripts, it still has the whip smart dialogue.
2. The movie isn’t pandering. Unlike a lot of kid’s movies, The Monster Squad doesn’t pander or speak down to kids. One simple way the movie achieves this is by having kids actually talk like kids. This isn’t some out of touch adult’s assumption of how kids talk, it’s an accurate representation. In recent years the pandering has become less common, but unfortunately for people my age and older, when we go back to look at movies we cherished as kids, we realize that it’s not good. That’s not the case with this movie. Not only does it still hold up, it borders on being a movie not intended for kids.
3. The depictions of the movie monsters are pitch perfect. I don’t just mean the costumes and visual designs. The filmmakers of this movie really captured what is the core essence of each movie monster. Sure, in this Dracula is a little more outright sinister. Frankenstein’s monster is almost comically dumb. But all in all, it’s great seeing all these monsters mashed together in one movie.
4. Scary German guy. I loved that in this movie, the filmmakers made the choice to never call the Scary German guy anything other than Scary German guy. It’s such a perfect reflection of how kids see the world.
5. Wolfman’s got nards. Nuff said.
6. At times, the movie is legitimately frightening. This sort of ties into not pandering to the intended audience. If you wanna make a scary movie, make it scary. Don’t dumb it down or neuter it just because it’s supposed to be a kid’s movie. Obviously there isn’t blood or torture or ultra violence, but there’s other, arguably more effective ways to scare and audience.
While the movie is a tad dated, it’s a fun type of dated. Plus, it was made in the 80s, so it has that cheesy charm only an 80s movie could have.
Unfortunately, Netflix does not have The Monster Squad as a streaming title, but it is more than worth it to seek out the movie to watch.