For those of us who can remember running home after school to catch back-to-back episodes of “G.I. Joe” and “The Transformers” on TV, going to the movies in the ’80s meant one thing: kick-ass adventures with little kids. (Of course, if you google the phrase “kick-ass adventures with little kids” these days, I suspect a sit-down with Chris Hansen is in your future.) Sure, the ’80s may have given us terrible music, a dipshit hack of an actor for president and government scandals galore, but they also offered up some pretty unforgettable kid-friendly epics such as The Goonies, Explorers and, of course, the king of them all—The Monster Squad.
I know that many of you may consider The Goonies to be the ultimate kid adventure flick, but it’s time to accept the truth. And the truth, dear reader, is that The Monster Squad owns The Goonies’ ass in every conceivable way. I’m probably stepping on some nostalgic toes here, but The Goonies was always way too unfocused and frantic for my tastes. Besides, Sloth annoys the hell out of me to this very day. No matter how much he loved Chunk.
After years of consistently appearing on “movies we need to see on DVD” lists, and being relegated to bootlegs at horror conventions, Lionsgate is stepping up to the plate and releasing The Monster Squad as a pimped-out 20th anniversary 2-disc edition. And boy does it kick ass. Directed by Fred Dekker, the man responsible for the incredible cult classic Night Of The Creeps, The Monster Squad follows the mundane lives of die-hard monster fanatics Sean (Andre Gower), Patrick (Robby Kiger) and Horace (Brent Chalem). This small group of outcasts and loners finds sanctuary from the daily trials and tribulations of junior high in the treehouse headquarters of their monster club. But when Dracula and company roll into town, things get all too real for our young heroes.
Dracula (played to sinister perfection by Duncan Regehr) is on a quest to locate a magical amulet that will allow monsters to displace regular people as the dominant species on earth. Naturally, mankind’s only hope is The Monster Squad!
One of the things that makes this movie so freaking cool is the fact that Dracula’s crew is made up entirely of classic Universal monsters. We get Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Werewolf, the Mummy and the Creature from the Black Lagoon—all in prime form. Now call me old-fashioned, but the classic Universal monsters have always struck me as being far more majestic and timeless than their modern counterparts such as Freddy, Jason and the Shape. Throw these guys up on the screen and they look regal, tragic and horrific all at once—I would kill for a great monster movie to wash the bad taste of torture porn out of my mouth. (Are you listening Hollywood?)
The boys are helped in their task to defeat the monsters when Sean’s mom conveniently buys him Van Helsing’s diary at a yard sale. (What the hell? Whose freaking yard sale was this, Anton LaVey’s?) The diary, of course, contains the key information to stopping Dracula. So what do the kids do next? Do they give all their information to the cops? Do they seek out masters of metaphysical machination? Hell no! They recruit junior high tough guy Rudy (Ryan Lambert) and head off to confront the forces of evil head on!
As far as the 20th anniversary 2-disc edition is concerned, Lionsgate came correct on this one. The print is in great shape and presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen format. The 5.1 Dolby Digital sound mix is perfect. Special features include two audio commentaries with director/writer Dekker and cast members, the extended “Monster Squad Forever” featurette, eight deleted scenes, theatrical trailer, TV spots, storyboards and a short interview with actor Tom Noonan (Frankenstein’s Monster) done completely in character! The crown jewel of the second disc is “Monster Squad Forever,” a five-part retrospective on the origins, casting and production of the movie. Also included are deleted/alternate scenes, and an animated storyboard of The Squad’s fight with the Mummy. Yes, my friends, wolfmen do indeed have nards. And so does this 2-disc set. (Lionsgate, $19.98)
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