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So Bad It’s Good #9 : The Monster Squad (1987)

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So Bad It’s Good #9 : The Monster Squad (1987)

Wolfman. Got. Nards

Guilty Pleasures that we enjoyed – even though we don’t quite know why.

Movie Title : The Monster Squad
Released 1987
Starring Andre Gower, Robby Kiger, Stephen Macht, Duncan Regehr, Tom Noonan, Brent Chalem, Mary Ellen Trainor, Stan Shaw
Directed By Fred Dekker

What is it? A cult hit. Much to everyone’s surprise – particularly its cast and crew. “The Monster Squad”, a huge flop when it was released theatrically in 1987, is now considered a straight-up out-and-out cult classic because, well, it’s so infectiously tacky and incontrovertibly culpable fun. Written by Fred Decker and Shane Black and directed by Dekker, it’s a “Goonies” like romp about a bunch of kids that team up to bring down all the movie monsters – including Dracula, The Mummy and the Wolfman.

What’s wrong with it? The Plot. There isn’t much of one. And as the Washington Post noted in their review (in 1987) it’s an “unapologetically scrambled mixture of “Goonies,” Hardy Boys adventures, “Ghostbusters” and Abbott and Costello monster films”. They’re right. It is. Its best bits from all those films stitched together. The paper may also have been right when they said it features “bad actors wandering around in bad makeup and rubber masks”… for the most part, the acting isn’t that stellar, and the make-up is pretty atrocious, but all these years later, I think it’s that cheap way about the film that’s part of the appeal. Oh, and they get to say ‘Shit’.

What’s right about it? Unlike a lot of the so-called kid’s films today, “The Monster Squad” actually gives its audience – in this case, youngsters – what they want, and not just give in to what the studio executives believe kids want. Thanks to the ingenuity of its young writer/director Frank Dekker (“Night of the Creeps”), this one spoke straight to the kids – in the same way say, “The Goonies” did. But more so, this one let the kids swear… not many kids movies these days even feature a single ‘shit’ let alone an ‘asshole’ or ‘bitch’… and it’s not often you’ll find references to ‘virgins’ in the family film, either. It truly was a landmark film for its time – something that was seemingly made whilst big brother (in this case, Mr. studio head) turned his back.

Why is it so bad it’s good? The plotline was rather thin – a bunch of kids team up to take on all those classic movie monsters – but it was the execution of it that worked. The production design; the energetic performances; the dialogue (Shane Black co-wrote the script with Dekker) and the sheer thrill of seeing all these movie monsters share the screen was a thrill for kids.


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