The Monster Squad

PLOT:

The Monster Squad is a society of young pre-teens who idolize classic monsters and monster movies. In addition to a clubhouse in a tree, they actually have their own business cards. Club leader Sean (Andre Gower), whose five-year-old sister Phoebe (Ashley Bank) desperately wants to join the club, is given the diary of legendary vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing (Jack Gwillim) – but his excitement is somewhat toned down when he finds it’s written in German. Sean, his best friend Patrick (Robby Kiger), and the rest of the Monster Squad get their local “Scary German Guy” (Leonardo Cimino) to translate the diary. (When he is asked how he knows so much, he tells them cryptically that he has “some experience with monsters.” When the children leave his home and he closes the front door, a concentration-camp number tattoo is revealed on his forearm.)

The diary describes, in great detail, an amulet that is composed of concentrated good. One day out of every century, as the forces of good and evil reach a balance, the otherwise-indestructible amulet becomes vulnerable to destruction. The next day of balance falls within a couple days, at the stroke of midnight.

The kids realize they must gain possession of the amulet before the day of balance arrives; once they have the amulet, the kids can use it — with an incantation from Van Helsing’s diary — to open a hole in the universe and cast the monsters into Limbo. As shown in the prelude, van Helsing had unsuccessfully attempted this one hundred years ago in order to defeat his old adversary Count Dracula; he subsequently hid the amulet in America, where it was out of Dracula’s immediate reach. Dracula, meanwhile, must obtain the amulet before the Monster Squad does, so that the Count can take control of the world. To this end he assembles several monstrous allies: Frankenstein’s monster, a werewolf (an unwilling participant in his human form), a mummy, and an amphibious gill-man, in addition to three young women (Mary Albee, Joan-Carrol Baron, and Julie Merrill) whom the Count transforms into his vampiric consorts. The next day, Frankenstein’s monster is wandering in the forest where he encounters Phoebe. Rather than being afraid, she shows him the kindness he has also sought, and he get acquainted with and becomes a member of the Monster Squad.

The amulet turns out to be buried in a stone room, under a house that Dracula and the other monsters now occupy. The aforementioned room is littered with holy symbols, including crucifixes, which prevent the monsters from simply taking it. However, once removed from its secure location, nothing stands in the way of Dracula taking it. The German Guy informs them that the incantation must be read by a female virgin on holy ground, on which neither Dracula nor any of his minions can set foot. As midnight approaches, the Squad makes their way to a local cathedral — and in the nick of time, as shortly after they leave, Dracula destroys their clubhouse with a stick of dynamite. This also calls up another helper for the Monster Squad: Sean’s father, Police Detective Del, who has been charged to investigate the strange happenings in town off late (as caused by Dracula’s cohorts) but has been quite skeptical about their supernatural causes, not to mention Sean’s hobby, in the first place.

Unfortunately, the doors to the cathedral are locked, so the incantation must be read on the stoop, leaving them vulnerable. The Monster Squad has the assistance of Sean’s father and Patrick’s older sister (Lisa Fuller), as she’s the only virgin they know who speaks German. Unfortunately, with time winding down, the incantation fails. Lisa reveals that she is not only failing German, but is also no longer a virgin. As Dracula’s Brides and the other monsters close in, it is realized that Phoebe, being five, must still be a virgin, and the German Guy attempts to help her read the incantation as the rest of the squad fends off the monsters.

In the ensuing battle, the vampiresses, the Mummy, the Gill-Man, and the Wolf-Man (who reverts to human form after being shot with a silver bullet by Rudy, thanking him for ending his suffering) are killed. Dracula arrives and stuns the German Guy. He is about to kill Phoebe when the Frankenstein Creature betrays him, impaling him on a wrought-iron fence. Phoebe finishes the incantation, opening the portal which begins to consume the bodies of the monsters. Dracula, still alive, attempts to drag Sean in with him, but Sean is saved at the last minute by his father and Van Helsing, who escaped from limbo to capture Dracula. Although Phoebe tries tearfully to hold onto him, Frankenstein’s Creature is the last to be sucked through the portal, which closes, ensuring the world’s safety.

REVIEW:

I guess I should have known there wasn’t going to be much to this thing when the biggest name to come up in the opening credits was Jason Hervey, best known as the big brother from The Wonder Years. Believe it or not, the film didn’t get much better after that.

I think my opinion of this is more related to expectation rather than reality, but I was highly disappointed in what I saw this afternoon. I mean, I wasn’t expecting anything too special, but for some reason, I thought this would be more on the level on The Goonies, but instead of searching for treasure, they were fighting monsters. Maybe that would have been a better idea that what this mess was.

The good…the wolf-man. Plain and simple, he’s the only character worth mentioning, to be honest. The filmmakers decided to go more with a Jekyll & Hyde version of the werewolf, and it worked. We on;y get to see him transform. No, it isn’t on par with some other werewolf transformations seen on camera, but it’s far being one of the worst.

The bad…look, if I sit here and list everything bad about this picture, we’ll be here until the cows come home, but the major wrongs are a bad story/script, special effects that look like they were bought out of a gumball machine (which is bad…even for the 80s), and actors that don’t sell their characters.

I know there are thousands out there that have made this a cult classic. Many of them are likely to hunt me down for not loving this flick, but I just can’t bring myself to do so. Often times there are bad films that are so bad, they’re good. This is one of those that is so bad it is bad. I can’t belive they actually wasted the time restoring it and putting it on DVD. There are so many other better films that those resources could have been used on. Don’t waste your time with this one, unless you’re a fan.

2 out of 5 stars

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