31 Days of Halloween: “The Monster Squad”

“The Monster Squad” is a 1987 film that was directed by Fred Dekker and co-written by Dekker and Shane Black. It’s (mostly) family friendly, though be prepared for ’80s-style problematic elements, especially since most of the main characters are 12-year-old boys.

The movie centers around a group of young boys who are obsessed with monsters, specifically the Universal Monsters (Dracula, Wolfman, Frankenstein, Creature from the Black Lagoon and Mummy). When actual monsters show up, of course they have nowhere to run to because adults don’t believe in monsters. Even these boys are shocked to find out they’re real. They have to work together to make sure that the monsters don’t get their way, because Dracula’s plan for world domination is violent and will stop at nothing.

There is a lot of lore included in “The Monster Squad,” with a magic amulet that can open up a portal to suck the monsters in and the diary of Abraham Van Helsing himself. The characters also do a lot of talking about how to kill the monsters, historically speaking: a wooden stake for a vampire, a silver bullet for a werewolf, etc. There is also an old German man that creeps out all the kids in the neighborhood, but he ends up helping the kids, which is probably a lesson in not judging a book by its cover.

When the movie came out, it was not well received. Over the course of decades, though, it’s found audiences and become a cult hit for horror fans of all ages. A 2018 documentary feature called “Wolfman’s Got Nards,” a reference to a line in “The Monster Squad,” has been making the rounds at festivals and proving just how strong the pull of nostalgia can be. For those who are into the “Goonies”-style films of the ’80s, as well as modern day takes like “IT” and “Stranger Things,” this movie will be a great addition to your annual Halloween watch list.

Featured photo: Courtesy of HBO

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