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‘The Monster Squad’ 4K UHD (Blu-ray review)

Kino Lorber

“Science is real, monsters are not…” Fortunately for us, they are definitely real in this movie!

Years before the kids from Stranger Things ventured into the Upside Down, before Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Scooby Gang guarded the Hellmouth against the forces of darkness, (but well after Scooby Doo, Shaggy and friends unmasked a myriad of fake spooks in their animated adventures), another group of valiant pre-teens fight ancient evil in 1987’s The Monster Squad.

Co-scripted by Shane Black, (writer of Predator, Lethal Weapon, and so much more), and director Fred Dekker, this is a love letter to Universal Monsters and the kids who love them.  And I bloody loved it.

Our story begins in 19th century Germany, as occult expert Professor Van Helsing uses a magic amulet and spell to restore the cosmic balance of good and evil- as the cheeky caption says, “he blew it”, and the poor old sod is sucked into an Evil Dead II-esque vortex.

The world must wait an entire century for another chance, which is where our titular heroes come in.  The Monster Squad are a gang of 12-yr old boys obsessed with classic 40s horror movies and everything about them, plus annoying little sis Phoebe and chain-smoking cool teenager Rudy, whose main interest in joining seems to be the nubile blonde whose bedroom is opposite their treehouse!

When a reluctant werewolf, (aren’t they all!), a mummy, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Frankenstein’s monster and Count Dracula himself show up in town, literally dropping in by cargo plane, the Monster Squad are our last line of defense.  Considering their shocked realization that “Alucard” is an anagram of “Dracula” means they aren’t exactly the sharpest tools in the box, but since most of the adults would never believer them, they are all we have.

It makes a refreshing change for movie characters to actually know something about monster lore rather than the usual exposition dumps.  Naturally there are plenty of Easter eggs and nods to those Universal classics; for example, the scene where “Frank” befriends little Phoebe is a charming nod to the infamous flower scene from Karloff’s 1931 version.

Manhunter’s Tom Noonan imbues the creature with a surprising amount of humanity behind a ton of prosthetics although Duncan Regehr’s Dracula is a bit too fond of throwing sticks of dynamite for my personal taste.  The tone is spot on, with tension, great character moments, genuine laughs and a spot of fantasy violence- there are a few “shits” in the dialogue. but overall this movie is definitely a great way to break younger fans into the wider world of horror.

Extras include commentaries, archival documentary, archival interview, deleted scenes, storyboard sequence, gallery, tv spots, trailer and documentary, Wolfman’s Got Nards.

Frankly I’m amazed that it’s taken me so long to finally catch up with this delightful flick. I recommend you don’t make the same mistake!


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