The Monster Squad is a delightful homage to the old Universal Monsters movies of the 1940’s and 1950s. It’s also a compelling movie in it’s own right. Here’s why.
The monsters in The Monster Squad are very well done, and treated respectfully. Except for the Mummy, but we’ll get back to him. The makeup by Stan Winston is simply wonderful. They’re all treated as being very dangerous. Especially Dracula.
Different actors have portrayed Dracula in various ways. Here, he’s portrayed as very intelligent, very powerful, and easily angered. There’s an excellent scene aboard the plane transporting him and Frankenstein’s creature across the ocean. One of the poor people on the plane go back to investigate a noise on their cargo …. And is confronted by a powerful, arrogant Dracula.
I’m not referring to the creature as Frankenstein’s monster because …. He’s not a monster. Yes, he’s scary. There’s a scene where the kids have him in their clubhouse, and show him a Halloween mask of himself. And the poor creature is on the verge of tears. “Scary?” The following scene is one of the best in the film, and touching. The kids walk into the sunset, holding hands with their new friend — Frankenstein’s creature.
There is a wonderful scene, shortly after Dracula orders “Frank” to get Van Helsing’s diary from the children, and kill them if necessary. He comes across Phoebe, throwing flowers into the river. This is a shout out to the original Frankenstein 1931 film, where the creature doesn’t realize … and throws the girl in the river as well, where she drowns. Here, it’s quite different. Not long after, Phoebe brings “Frank” to the Monster Cclub’s clubhouse …. “Now can I join your club?”
Scary German Guy
The “Scary German Guy” is one of my favorite characters in The Monster Squad. At first, the kids shun him, since he lives alone in a scary old house … And he’s old. And German. But, because they need someone who can translate German … He invites them in, and in a “psych” moment that sharp knife he’s holding … Is to cut up a little more pie for the kids. As they leave, one of them comments that he knows a lot about monsters. As he closes the door, he replies that yes, he does …. And the audience sees, although the kids do not, the concentration camp number tattooed on his arms. A very serious moment, about real monsters. And one of my favorite moments in the movie.
The things you learn to make in shop class — like silver bullets and wooden stakes.
Rudy is the “cool kid” that the audience likes almost immediately. He’s introduced by rescuing Horace from bullies … And dishing out appropriate punishment to them. Later, in shop class, he’s surreptitiously making silver bullets and wooden stakes. Which he uses later that night, in their final confrontation with the monsters.
The other unsung hero of the movie, the werewolf’s human side
Another great character is the wolf man’s human half. He knows that he’s the wolf man, and is dangerous. He goes to the police station, trying to get locked up before he can hurt someone. But when he grabs a cop’s gun, he’s killed …. seemingly. But the wolf man doesn’t die that easily.
Later, he’s captured and tied up by Dracula, and giving sleeping pills, to keep him docile until his transformation at nightfall. But the man spits the pills out once Dracula leaves, and escapes. He makes his way to a phone booth, to warn Sean’s dad. Through the pain of the transformation. The Wolf Man is evil, and willingly serves Dracula. His human half, however, does what he can to stop him.
Courageous cop dad, risking his life to save his son. And blowing up the werewolf with a stick of dynamite in the process.
My name is Horace!
A wonderful moment, towards the end of the movie. “Fat kid” (even his friends call him by that nickname) is facing the Creature. And the bullies who were tormenting him earlier in the film have locked themselves in a building for safety. And won’t let him in. So, he reaches deep inside, finds his courage, and shoots the Creature. The cowardly bullies now unlock the door, and shout out their congratulations. “Way to go, fat kid!” He turns, cocks his rifle, and tells them, “My name is Horace!” A wonderful moment that everyone who’s ever been bullied will cheer at.
Death of the Wolf Man
No, you can’t kill the Wolf Man with a stick of dynamite. He literally pulls himself together. Yes, “wolf man has nards.” but that’s a momentary distraction. In the final confrontation, Rudy picks up a pistol from a defeated cop, and uses his silver bullets to kill the wolf man. And in a very touching moment, after he’s reverted to humanity — “Thank you.”
Final victory for The Monster Squad
Where Dracula is defeated, with the help of the Scary German Guy, Phoebe, Sean, and Frankenstein’s Creature. “Master … bogus!” It’s a very good ending, and it still makes me sad that Frankenstein’s Creature gets sent away with the other monsters. But it also touches me that Phoebe throws him her stuffed animal, Scraps, so he won’t be alone.
The Army asks – where are the monsters?
A funny moment that occurs at the end of the movie. After all of the monsters are banished, the Army shows up. It’s a payoff to an earlier scene, when the youngest member of the Monster Club sends a letter to the “army guys” about monsters.