I’ve written in great length about director Fred Dekker’s “The Monster Squad” over and over. I love it. I’ve loved it since I was a kid, and I love it now. I wore out the VHS when I was a wee lad, I had a bootleg DVD in my collection when it was out of print for many years, and ever since I love to re-visit it whenever I can. “The Monster Squad” is a drastic departure from director Fred Dekker’s other cult classic “Night of the Creeps,” but like it, “The Monster Squad” is an unabashed love letter to horror movies, and the horror genre in general.
Sean is a horror buff who hangs out in his tree house with his friends Patrick, and Horace obsessing over monsters. Dracula is re-awakened after many years of slumber, and is dropped along with Frankenstein’s body in to a local lagoon in Louisiana. Under the cover of darkness, he regroups at an old mansion where he begins assembling his forces to re-open limbo. Sean has been given the diary of Abraham Van Helsing, a detailed account of mysterious spells and thoughts that Sean decides to read using the help of “Scary German Guy” (Leonardo Cimino), who dictates to them that the forces of good and evil are finally balanced–thus the ancient amulet which contains the forces of good–is now useless and can be destroyed to open limbo.
Although yes it’s built primarily to ape off of the success of “The Goonies,” I will take “The Monster Squad” all day every day. The premise is a lot of fun, the movie knows how to balance out horror and Amblin-tinted awe just right, and manages to pay great respect to the Universal monsters, allowing them to look as horrifying as ever, which says a lot considering in the eighties, their monsters were mostly masked maniacs hacking and slashing teenagers. Dekker even notes the subtle irony in one scene where central hero Sean watches a slasher movie with his dad, as Dracula (Duncan Regehr is immense as Dracula) lurks in his mansion preparing to destroy the world.
“The Monster Squad,” despite including some themes that haven’t aged well (the slut shaming sub-plot with Patrick’s sister goes nowhere), is still a wonderful, near flawless ode to everything horror and garners some excellent performances, especially from Andre Gower, Ryan Lambert, Tom Noon, and Brent Chalem, respectively.
This release from Kino Lorber is impressive, with some wonderful special features included for fans. Along with the 4K edition and the Blu-Ray edition, the features include star Andre Gower’s excellent “Wolfman’s Got Nards,” the ninety minute hit documentary from 2018 that explores the legacy of “Monster Squad” and how much it’s influenced the horror community in spite of flopping in theaters. It’s a stellar documentary especially for fans of the film, I emphatically recommend it. There are also two audio commentaries included. One features writer/director Fred Dekker, who is joined by the cast of Andre Gower, Ryan Lambert, and Ashley Bank, all of whom share some great stories about working on the film, and discuss how they’ve fared as adults.
Thankfully they have done well for themselves. The second commentary features writer/director Fred Dekker and cinematographer Bradford May; the duo use this opportunity to discuss the technical aspects of the film. This one I recommend mainly for the film buffs and filmmakers of the audience. Included is also Monster Squad Forever: A Five-Part Retrospective about the film that includes almost eighty minutes of interviews, behind the scenes, and more, which covers all aspects of making Monster Squad. There’s the nine minutes “A Conversation with Frankenstein” which is an interview with Frankenstein actor Tom Noonan who discusses how he portrayed the character, and the film legacy of the monster.
There are also fourteen minutes of Deleted Scenes including some extended scenes from director Dekker’s personal copies of the film. There is the two minutes Animated Storyboard Sequence: a side-by-side comparison of the storyboard sequence and actual footage of the great scene where the squad is trying to fight The Mummy on a moving vehicle. Smell ya later, band aid breathe! Finally there is a still gallery including production photos from the film, and the original Theatrical Trailer and TV Spot for the film.
This new edition from Kino Lorber is about as close as we’ll get to a Deluxe Edition of “Monster Squad” and I’m fine with that. Ideally, someday soon I’d love an edition outfitted like Van Helsing’s notebook with bells and whistles like lobby cards, perhaps a collectible “Monster Squad” membership card, and a copy of Eugene’s letter to the army.
A fan can dream.