Wanderers, I’m very picky when it comes to what type of horror I will partake in. I don’t really know if there is a reason behind this, other than I find horror to be a very wide genre, and that my tastes for what I want to watch or read change depending on the mood I’m in. Which, yeah, fair enough, is probably the same for many of our dear readers. One type of horror I always like though is the classic Universal Monsters. Ah, those films are just glorious films to be watching, and are some of the best horror I’ve ever seen. But that’s a personal opinion, and not what we’re looking at today. Nope, today we are looking at a movie that pays a loving homage to Universal Monsters, and takes a fond jab at other cliches within the horror genre. And, at a PG-13 rating, it’s technically a family film. We’re looking at the 1987 cult classic, The Monster Squad.
Okay, so how to describe this film in a short summary? It’s about this group of kids who are huge monster fans, who end up having to battle against the monsters they idolise in order to save the world. It’s a bit simplistic, but I think that will do quite nicely. Directed by Fred Dekker, the movie is a cult classic, and having viewed it, I can say it’s for good reason. The Monster Squad clearly loves its source genre, and loves to point out the good, the bad, and the downright ridiculous in such a fond manner that you can’t help grinning along.
Now, like most movies that focus on a group of kids having adventures (shush, I’m generalising with broad strokes) the majority of the actual Squad itself is made up of young teenage boys. One of which is actually genuinely one of the coolest kids ever portrayed in film. My point is this; Dekker and writer Shane Black – yes, him who directed Iron Man 3 – made a point of making the dialogue feel realistic to the ages of the characters in the movie. This means that, yes, there are some uses of language that would make most of us cringe a little. However, Dekker has responded to this at a Q&A and did explain his aim of making it feel real in that sense.
Despite that, or perhaps because of it, the characters are all likeable people. They have their flaws, and their strengths, and are genre savvy enough to be able to know when what they are doing is a bad idea… but unfortunately, there isn’t anyone else around who believes them. Well, there’s Scary German Guy, but he’s old and … well, a scary German guy. (It makes sense in context. Sort of.) He’s also a really cool person, and spoilers if I go any further. Which happens with a lot of the good stuff of this movie, sadly. I want to tell you more, but it will spoil some of the little twists and turns, and even some camera work and scene set ups.
So, that leads me to wonder; what can I say about Monster Squad? Well, that it’s a really awesome movie with really cool visuals and some of the best monster designs in years. It’s also funny, and has a lot of heart, a lot of which is just due to the fact of how clearly the creators love the classic horror monsters. They are a legitimate and worrying threat in this movie, which is nice considering the rise of other horror individuals who have perhaps overshadowed the classics a little.
When you watch the movie, it becomes clear as to why it is so fondly remembered by many and, despite not actually having seen the movie until recently, I think I can safely join the list of fans. If you’re looking for horror that’s funny and self-aware, I’d definitely recommend this The Monster Squad.
Z McAspurren (knows there’s only one way to kill a werewolf)