starring Andrew Gower, Robby Kiger, Stephen Macht, Duncan Regehr
directed by Fred Dekker
screenplay by Fred Dekker & Shane Black
Lions Gate (1987)
If I ever saw this movie as a child, I cannot recall. If I did, however, I'm sure I enjoyed it even more than I did when I watched it a couple of weeks ago. The movie pressed my buttons, awaking my inner-child, and made me reminisce about those days as a boy when the impossible seemed more attainable than it does as a grownup.
This movie apparently hit theaters the same year as The Lost Boys. If it was released after that 80s classic, it must have been considered a pale knockoff. The storyline of tween-aged boys waging war on a vampire is eerily similar, but The Monster Squad has the drawback of lacking any marquee names on the cast. Where The Lost Boys had the two Coreys (Haim and Feldman), plus Keifer Sutherland, Diane Weist, and others, the only person I recognized from The Monster Squad was Jason Hervey (of The Wonder Years fame) as one of the bullies.
I gotta say, there is something very 80s about a group of boys banding together to fight a menace on their own. Take a look back at some of those movies starring a cast of tweens and you'll see what I mean. In this one, Dracula has descended on an unassuming town--quite literally, as he and his precious cargo are dropped out of a cargo plane. His plans: to take over the world, of course. And to do that he has enlisted the help of the Wolfman, the Mummy, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Frankenstein (the monster not the mad scientist). It's like someone left the gates open at Universal Studios.
While makeup and costume heavily disguises the monsters, Duncan Regehr shines as a vicious and comically evil Dracula. You would think an immortal bloodsucker who can transform into a bat would have all the tools he needs to put a stomping on a group of kids, but this Dracula goes the one step further and actually uses dynamite at one point to blow up their tree house. Yeah--dynamite!
The other great thing about this movie is that the kids talk like kids, or at least how the kids I grew up with talked. Foul-mouthed, trash-talking precociousness. That's something that was lost when the 80s ended. I watch a kids movie now and the profanity is rare, if it happens at all--thank you very much, Disney Inc.
The movie doesn't reinvent the wheel, and at times borrows heavily from other films, but there's such a charm to it that I can't help but love it. Sure, the kids and their quest to find a virgin in order to stop Dracula is somewhat redundant--they're all virgins, after all--but plot holes like that are easily forgivable. I just wish they made movies like this today. Cheesy, but in a good way.