"The Monster Squad" is a tough movie to judge. I loved this film as a kid and the 20th Anniversary version of the film brought back some legitimate flashbacks of my childhood so the film has lots of nostalgia credit going in its favor. Other than that, its still a tough film to critique due to its incessant demand that you have fun watching it. Which you will, undoubtedly, as the movie retains that happy go lucky ridiculous 80s vibe that makes it so much fun to watch. Unfortunately, it never really goes beyond that.
Our heroes, pint sized as they may be, are outcasts and nerds. Devoting most of their excessive time outside of school to worshiping and memorizing the details of classic 'monsters' (most of which stem from the Universal classics), they unwittingly come into the middle of a battle between the forces of good and evil as they come into possession of Van Helsing's diary and search for a mystical amulet that can spell glory or doom every 100 years. Of course, bad news is, Dracula has rounded up the ol gang (Frankenstein's Monster, the Creature, Wolfman, the Mummy, and of course his lovely brides) to get their hands on the amulet and let darkness reign on the Earth.
Fred Dekker, the man that brought to us the brilliant Horror/Comedy "Night Of The Creeps" and later on the atrocious "Robocop 3", strikes another solid balance of fun, humor, and horror into a teenage romp through small towns and monsters. If you take this film with a grain of salt, you are going to have a hoot and a holler with it. If you try to take it too seriously, its going to fall flat on its face - since I don't think it was meant to be taken that way. The humor is distinctly 80s with quick wit dialogue, concepts of endearing friendship, and cliches up the ass. What kind of a kid smokes in middle school? Well obviously the tough kid! Duh! That's what makes him badass! Throw on top of that some over the top acting from our heroes, some interesting takes on our classic villains, and we have a tongue in cheek ride worth catching. Take the story with its plot holes on its own accord and just go with it.
There must be a special place set aside for the special effects of the film, which are actually quite impressive. For a film made for younglings and done in a humorous way, the special effects steal most of the show. The updated homages to the classic monsters are quite impressive with nods to The Mummy and Creature (bought time he got some new looks!) in particular. Even the vortex, as blue screen as it may be, seems impressive for the time and film quality. They didn't skimp here!
Don't be afraid to have fun with "The Monster Squad". It's not the best film out there but it stands the test of time with its fun take on the world of kids and monsters. Enjoy it for the fun of it.
Written By Matt Reifschneider