It's been an awesome Halloween season for me, and I hope it's been great for you peeps, too. In a final celebration of my favorite time of year, I've worked on a Special Halloween Edition of FFS, appropriate for the occasion:
The Monster Squad is overall a timeless spooky film for all audiences, one that gained such a pleasant response a recent 20-year Anniversary Edition was released, renewing America's love for the mix of great acting, soundtrack, makeup effects, modern trends, and unique twist on old myths and legends.
This movie has it all: atmosphere, creepiness, comedy, drama, a mash-up of sophistication and history with child-like innocence and hijinks - The Monster Squad isn't too far down the line from The Goonies; just replace pirates with old time creatures of legend, and you have all you need for a decent mental precursor to this classic.
The film begins with a scrolling red-text overview on the history leading up to our present-day situation (1987, actually). Dr. Abraham Van Helsing, the anti-vampire hero of lore, grouped up with local freedom fighters in an attempt to permanently rid the Earth of vampires and monsters (your typical Halloween cliches: Frankenstein, Wolf Man, the mummy, and Creature From the Black Lagoon). Yet, as the text indicates before switching over to the visual summary... "They blew it".
We see some decent effects and camera work as an ugly bat turns into a caped man - Dracula, while Van Helsing and the group had busted into some kind of giant crypt, where a gorgeous shining stone lay embedded in a rock, and a vampire seductress gnaws on a rat carcass.
With their intervention, the vampire woman is killed, the stone is disturbed, and thanks to some words on a scroll uttered by a virgin, a huge vortex opens up, meant to swallow the forces of evil.
However, the corpses underground rise from the grave, the virgin and several others are sucked into the gateway, with none of the real monsters in sight, and the entire plan is fucked...
Now we're in present day, where Sean (Andre Gower) and his friend Patrick are being reamed out by the Principal for drawing monster pics in class. Their friend Horace (Brent Chalem), the token fat boy, is chillin' outside with a Snickers bar when bully E.J. and his goons show up to harass him.
Horace isn't the kind of kid who enjoys being a prick like these guys, but only mouthing the word "asshole" gets him beat up by E.J., with an entire crowd gathering.
Cue Rudy (Ryan Lambert), the senior (in comparison) kid all the others fear and awe over, showing up on his bike. As this Johnny Cool over here lights a cigarette, E.J. tries to play it nice, but it's too late. Rudy has him pick up Horace's squashed candy bar and eat it. Lol.
In the 80's us kids didn't have viral vids, satellite TV, or particularly good video games to talk about, which is why it's quite normal Sean and Patrick chat all the way home about their major interests, monsters and the theories surrounding them, as Sean's pesky (but adorable) little sister Phoebe follows.
You see, Sean and his friends have a secret monster club, and only those with superior knowledge and commitment on all things monster can enter. After Rudy's help that afternoon, though, Horace wants to induct him into the group.
Meanwhile, a couple of pilots are transporting crates and cadavers to an unknown location, when suddenly they hear banging from the back. The one guy gets up to check out the cargo, which for some reason is covered with rats - and then he gets buzzed by a bat out of nowhere.
He's freaked out but doesn't seem to find it odd these critters are on board a commercial mini plane, even though we know by now the bat is none other than....
Dracula!! He knocks the pilot across the cargo hold and seems super-interested in one of the cadaver crates, which actually says "Frankenstein" on it... maybe it was found in an expedition to Germany and they were carting it to the FBI HQ in Quantico or some shit, who fuckin' knows.
But either way, the pilot pulls the release on the trap door only to be horrified that Dracula is floating in mid-air! The Frankenstein crate drops, and our caped villain (Duncan Regehr) transforms into a bat to follow it down.
Later on that night, the back-to-human Dracula pulls up in a snazzy, all-black designer Hearse complete with silver skull hood ornament, which he apparently pulled out of his ass. His mission is to unite all the creatures of darkness in preparation for taking over the world...
And Sean is at home, admiring a new book his mother picked up from a yard sale, apparently written by Dr. Abraham Van Helsing himself. Only thing is, it's in German. He's also pissed he has to stay at home to watch Phoebe, as his dad - your basic stressed-out cop - is called into the station due to a series of strange occurrences.
First, a crazy man at the Police station is hysterically claiming he's a werewolf and needs to be locked up. After noticing the full moon and sending a dozen cops flying he's shot to death, only to attack the coroner's driver fully transformed, and run off into the night.
Then, museum security calls in to report a 2,000 year old mummy has been stolen. Of course, that mummy walked off on its own, summoned by Dracula.
And both the Wolf Man and the mummy are able to drag their asses unseen into the woods where Frankenstein's crate had crashed into a pond, meeting with Dracula. It's there that Draco raises the Black Lagoon creature (living in a 9-ft.-deep pond near residential areas of Everytown U.S.A.) to bring the crate to the surface, where a lightning rod shocks Frankie to life!
They eventually use Draco's pimped-out vampmobile to move into a decrepit, vacant old house nearby (666 Shadowbrook Road), which actually has secret passages that appear with the pulling of statue arms, and underground dungeons complete with rats, cobwebs, and torches.
Here Dracula keeps Frankie imprisoned in a cell, and shows up only to order him to find the children that possess Helsing's diary and retrieve it, killing them if necessary...
With Sean's dad back at home, he and his wife argue the night away as is customary, and Sean not only overhears the events of the night, but sees a note on the fridge about a "Mr. Alucard" that wants Van Helsing's diary. Naturally, it's a crappy pseudo-name for Dracula (backwards), and Sean immediately gathers all his friends together to explain all the monsters from legend are real and in town.
None of them really want to believe him, or the little boy with his dog, who actually had the mummy in his closet a short time earlier that night...
But the boys decide the best - and only - way they can ever translate the diary's contents are to meet with "Scary German Guy" (Leonardo Cimino), the name they've given to the immigrant recluse that lives in the neighborhood.
The group often stops on the way home to gawk at his property and see him peek out through the curtains, and it just so happens that on this occasion, German Guy steps out to confront them.
But quite contrary to what the boys have always believed, Scary German Guy isn't so scary after all. He's a kindly old man with a pleasant home and tons of good treats. But above all, he's only too happy to read from Helsing's diary, as he too is familiar with the legends.
"Boys... time is almost up... It's your last chance for pie!"
German Guy explains that all mythical monsters are, in fact, real, and every 100 years is the only opportunity humanity has for trying to rid the Earth of their presence. This is due to the fact that good and evil are only in perfect balance at such a time.
The amulet is an indestructible gem of pure good, yet, every 100 years at the stroke of midnight, is the only instance in which the gem is vulnerable. It's also the only time it can be harnessed by the creatures of evil; if the gem is in the wrong hands at the wrong time, it can be shattered, and evil will rule.
However, if good takes hold of the amulet at the appointed hour, and a pure individual (virgin) chants the proper rites, a whirlwind vortex into limbo will open, allowing mortals to trap the forces of evil forever.
And the appointed hour from 100 years ago... is tomorrow night!!!
The boys leave with a new-found love and respect for the former Scary German Guy, whom we find out knows more about monsters than even the boys. Poor guy.
But our boys get a real taste of scary when they return to the clubhouse to find none other than Phoebe with Frankenstein! He had approached her while they were at German Guy's house, and, after scattering around the yard like pussies, find that he was harmless, and Phoebe had befriended him.
They bring Frankie up to the clubhouse where one of them gets the dumbass idea of showing him a Halloween mask of himself - and Frankie's emotions just make your heart bleed.
Now we get a dumb 80's montage scene typical of films in the decade. A cheesy tune plays over scenes of Phoebe bonding with Frankie, Sean and his buddies sketching out traps and plans during class, and Rudy using his shop skills to sand wooden stakes and mold silver bullets.
Soon after, when Draco is finished feeding on a trio of Catholic school girls, changing them to vamp minions, he drugs up the dude that becomes Wolf Man at night. However, the man spits out his pills and manages to get to a phone booth and dial up Sean's dad to give a warning before turning.
The boys, in the meantime, convince Patrick's older sister, a hot babe Rudy's crushing on, to come up to the clubhouse so they can ask if she can play the part of virgin for their ceremony. It seems Frankie accidentally snapped a picture of her changing next door, which Rudy decides to use as blackmail.
Frankie then leads the Squad to the old abandoned house, where for some reason the amulet was hidden the entire time... Frankie gets crushed by a crumbling doorway, and the boys are soon cornered by Dracula, the three vampire vixens, and Wolf Man all at once.
But they pull down on the statue since they read it in the Hardy Boys, and of course, it works, sending them down to the dungeons.
Luckily, fat kid's garlic pizza saves them all from Draco, and they flee from the property, bumping into Rudy and the hot chick, and also smart little Phoebe, who ran to get German Guy while they were gone. They decide to head to a church in order to complete the rites, but on the way they're accosted by the mummy!
An arrow later, the thing unravels to nothing, and for all intents and purposes, it's dead.
Sean's dad Del (Stephen Macht), in the meantime, is speeding along with his partner, who thinks he's completely nuts, and they head back to his house, where Draco has just blasted the clubhouse with dynamite. He also manages to blow up several cruisers before turning into a bat right before Del and his wife's eyes - and now all involved know this isn't a joke.
Del uses Sean's walkie-talkie to locate him, and speeds to the church, getting there the same time as Draco. He shoots the bat, and enters a sports store to find him in a precarious position...ew.
Del would've blown the bastard up, except Wolf Man intercepts, and both he and Sean manage to stick some dynamite in his pants before crashing him out the window. Unfortunately, a Wolf Man can't be killed in such a way, so the pieces fly back together and the thing wreaks havoc on approaching policemen.
Rudy is the one who finally musters up the guts to load some silver bullets and blast it away, leaving a sincerely thankful man to die in peace.
But seriously one of the best parts in this film, and probably in all of family films, comes now. The Creature From the Black Lagoon shows up immediately after, coming out of the sewer manhole. He trashes several cops before going right for Horace, who tries to take cover in a restaurant which was locked by none other than... E.J. and a fellow goon!!
The timid fat boy does what needs doing, and faces off against the creature one on one, destroying it with a downed officer's shotgun. LOVE the catch phrase that follows:
In the meantime, German Guy has been trying to get the hot chick to repeat the rites to open the vortex, only to find out she wasn't a virgin after all... good thing the little boy with the dog pointed out what was right under everyone's nose the ENTIRE time - why not use Phoebe??
Too bad Draco comes in to spoil everything, actually lifting poor Phoebe right off the ground to utter one of the most memorable lines in the film, remembered long after its release:
Is it me, or is this dude just too fucking good of an actor for this film??
Anyway, the guy grabbing Draco is actually Frankie, who calls his actions "bogus" before impaling him on a steel fence post. Holding the little girl's hand, he watches as German Guy helps her with the rites, causing the rift to appear.
All kinds of shit is flying toward the vortex, and Dracula manages to free himself long enough to grab Sean and drag him along toward the whirlwind, when suddenly, who should appear from the void to lend a hand? Van Helsing!!
He gives a contented thumbs-up to the boys before disappearing into limbo with Dracula, but of course, the gate can't close yet, since one more monster still remains...
I'll admit, I cry every time I see the scene where Phoebe has to say goodbye to Frankie, throwing him her stuffed dog as he floats away into oblivion. Especially since he wasn't a monster at all in the sophisticated sense. But oh, well.
The vortex disappears and all returns to normal in the streets. Not a word is said about the five billion cops that happened to get sucked into an alternate fucking dimension, either. But no one says a word to the incoming army, who comes rolling into town like two seconds later, thanks to the little boy having sent them a letter in crayon...
Interesting Factlets (from bmoviefilmvault.com):
In The Monster Squad, Frankenstein's Monster was played by Tom Noonan, who portrayed drug kingpin Cain in Robocop 2 (1990). A year later, Monster Squad Director Fred Dekker would write and direct the highly unpopular Robocop 3 (1993), just before Orion Pictures went bankrupt.
Brent Chalem who played Horace in The Monster Squad died on December 9, 1997 of pneumonia in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was only 22 years old.
film (c) 1987 HBO, Keith Barish Productions, TAFT Entertainment Pictures