MONSTER SQUAD, THE

THE MONSTER SQUAD: Two-Disc 20th Anniversary Edition.

Story: All of Universal’s baddies – The Wolfman, The Mummy, Frankenstein’s monster and The Gillman are all back and under the leadership of Dracula who’s planning to shift the balance of good and evil by destroying an ancient amulet. It’s up to a group of pre-teenage kids who call themselves “The Monster Squad” to stop them!

The Film Itself: Oh bliss! We’ve all been waiting a long time for this movie to make it’s way to a proper DVD release and I’m happy to say, it’s totally been worth the wait! I can’t believe it’s been 20 years since this flick hit theaters. Most fiends my age recall discovering The Monster Squad either via the local mom & pop video shops or through repeat showings on cable. (Or in some cases, both!) After all? How could a kid obsessed with monsters & horror movies pass up a flick whose box cover art boasted ALL the Universal monsters! In full color! I just re-watched the DVD and the movie truly is timeless and made me revert back to my 12 year old self when I first discovered this gem. First, the monsters. My personal favorite was always the wolfman, so I love the Stan Winston design for The Monster Squad’s wolfman. (Who in human form is played by Jon Gries aka Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite!) In the supplemental materials, most of the cast call Duncan Regehr’s Dracula “one of the top 5 Dracula’s” of all time. And after re-visiting his performance here as an adult, I can totally agree. Both him and Tom Noonan (Frankenstein) played their parts so straight that it should satisfy adult viewers of the film, along with the kids who watch it. Then there’s the squaders! As director Fred Dekker points out in the commentary, each and every one of these kids were an outcast in their own way and because of that, the audience often found it easy to connect or relate to one, if not all of them. All the aspects of this movie still play amazingly even today. The dialogue is funny and quite realistically how 12 year old kids would talk. The pacing is perfect, and the humor and horror are equally balanced. It’s a shame this wasn’t better received upon its initial release, because all of the above I just mentioned are testaments to what a great filmmaker Fred Dekker truly is. I hope now with the resurgence of interest in this film, we’ll not only get a special edition of NIGHT OF THE CREEPS on DVD, but also a few more new films from the under appreciated Dekker. How can anyone NOT enjoy this movie? A few more mentions of what I love before we head over to the special features: 1) Fat Kid. “My Name Is HORRICE!” God rest his soul! 2) “Wolfman’s Got Nards!” 3) Creative use of garlic covered pizza. 3) A 5 year old girl saying “Come on, guys. Don’t be chicken shit!” 4) Rudy, whom if you pay attention to closely ends up slaying like… 5 monsters in a row in the third act. 5) Eugene & Eugene’s dad – “Mummy came in my house!” – And I can go on and on…

Special Features: The movie itself is presented in widescreen format and there is also a commentary track by Writer/Director Fred Dekker who is joined by some of the “Squad Members” – Andre Gower (Sean), Ryan Lambert (Rudy) and Ashley Bank (Phoebe). The commentary is very light-hearted and informative with everyone sharing fun facts, stories and anecdotes. Dekker often points out the silly logic behind some of the films plots, such as what purpose the Gillman serves other then to retrieve Frankenstein’s coffin, or trying to figure out why the Mummy would visit Eugene. All this stuff can be overlooked by fans simply because of the sheer entertainment value of the movie as a whole. (It’s just so darned fun!) The DVD’s 2nd disc boasts an extensive 5 part documentary covering the entire history of The Monster Squad. It even covers the recent reunion at the Monster Mania convention. The funniest bit of the whole documentary is hearing Tom Noonan contradict every thing every one else is saying. (He recalls that Dracula was “kinda a prick” and that his 5 year old co-star was a bit “annoying”!?) Also included are a few deleted scenes, most of which show more trouble within the marriage of Sean’s parents. (Kinda glad they cut that stuff out, to be honest!) The trailer is included, as well as a classic interview with Tom Noonan in full Frankenstein make-up from the original shoot. Hands down, a must own DVD for any horror or movie fan! –Robg.

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