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"Wolfman's got nards!"
The Monster Squad is a 1987 film directed by Fred Dekker and written by Shane Black. The film follows the exploits of a group of genre-savvy kids who seek to stop Dracula — and a host of other infamous monsters — from finding a mystical amulet and bringing about The End of the World as We Know It.
The film was an out-of-print classic for a long time, but was given a new spiffy DVD release in time for its twentieth anniversary (with a Blu-ray release two years later). The makeup and special effects work on this film is a lesser-known effort of the late Stan Winston (who is better known for the frighteningly realistic puppets from classics as the Terminator and Jurassic Park films).
Not to be confused with the Saturday morning TV show.
Tropes found in this film include:
- Action Prologue
- Adult Fear: "I will have your son."
- Affably Evil: Dracula can come across this way when talking to his fellow monsters, particularly Frank and the Wolfman. But when he's dealing with people...
- All Boys Are Perverts: When not discussing monsters, most of the time spent in the treehouse is spent trying (in vain) to snap a picture of the Girl Next Door undressing.
- Only Rudy (and by accident, Franky) takes the pictures, since the boys aren't old enough to have those kind of feelings yet (They don't really understand what a virgin is), and one of them is said girl's brother!
- All Germans Are Nazis: Teased with the Scary German Guy, but he turns out to be a concentration camp survivor. So apparently Germans are Nazis except the Jewish ones.
- Artifact of Death: The Amulet may be concentrated good but it's just as dangerous to innocents as to monsters, as the opening scene shows us.
- Ask a Stupid Question
Patrick: He's not a virgin, stupid!
- A-Team Montage: "Rock Until You Drop"
- Battle Aura: Dracula displays one before he lays waste to the local cops.
- Better Than It Sounds/Film
- Big No: Dracula lets one out as he is sucked into Limbo.
- Blooper: If you have the DVD, and pause right at the moment Rudy showed Patrick's sister the photo of her undressing, it wasn't exactly it.
- Body Horror: The Wolf Man after he's blown apart by dynamite. He is still awake and aware, though he eventually pulls himself together... there's only one way to kill a werewolf after all.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Once transformed, the Wolf Man is completely subservient to Dracula.
- Dracula also uses a silver skull on top of his cane.
- Bully Hunter: Rudy notices Horace, aka "Fat Kid", getting picked on. He's not pleased and he turns the tables on Horace's tormentors.
- Catch Phrase: Frankenstein's monster is very fond of the word "bogus". He even says it in his Crowning Moment of Awesome.
- The Cavalry: Not the Army; they arrive too late. But Van Helsing shows up just in time.
- Classical Movie Vampire: Dracula.
- Clothing Damage: Happens the first time the Wolfman wolfs out in an ambulance: claws burst from his shoes.
- Comically Missing the Point:
- Cool Car: You wanna ask about the car?
- What about the car??
- I thought you'd never ask about the car — black hearse with a silver skull hood-ornament. Very cool.
- Scary German Guy's Land Rover, too.
- What about the car??
- Cool Old Guy: Scary German Guy is bitchin'!
- Cool Shades: Rudy
- Creature from the Black Lagoon: Well, his Alternate Company Equivalent anyway. Often referred to as "the Gillman".
- Curse Cut Short: "Holy shi- Cow! Cow!"
- Danger Takes a Backseat: The man who becomes the Werewolf causes an incident at the police station when he tries to get the cops to lock him up, and when he grabs an officer's gun he's shot several times and apparently dies. He's taken away in an ambulance and transforms during the ride, grabbing the driver from behind and killing him.
- Dying as Yourself: The Wolfman, who thanks Rudy with his dying breath.
- Enforced Method Acting: When Dracula threatens Phoebe after grabbing her by the throat, Phoebe's blood-curdling scream is Ashley Bank's genuine reaction to seeing his fangs and gleaming red eyes for the first time. Duncan Regehr refused to do a second take of the scene.
Dracula: Give me the amulet, you bitch!
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Scary German Guy.
- Fan Service: The girl in the window (and how!)
- Five-Man Band
- Foe-Tossing Charge: After getting shot mid-flight, Dracula finally decides to stop fooling around and murders a bunch of cops without even breaking stride.
- Fridge Brilliance: Scary German Guy mentions how he knows about real monsters. Then as he closes the door, you can see a concentration camp tattoo on his forearm, which many kids would not recognize, but parents would.
- Gentle Giant: Frankenstein.
- Gilligan Cut: "Two-thousand year old dead guys do not get up and walk away by themselves!" Cut to the two-thousand year old dead guy, walking away by himself.
- Groin Attack: The kids have an argumet about whether the Wolfman has "nards." A groin attack reveals the truth of the hypothesis.
- Haunted Castle: An actual castle, then a gothic mansion, complete with Trap Door.
- Heel Face Turn: Frankenstein, again.
- Hey, It's That Guy!:
- Ryan Lambert of Kids Incorporated fame as Rudy.
- Uncle Rico is the Wolf Man in human form!
- Sean and Phoebe's mother is Dr. Stephanie Woods and also has two other sons.
- One the bullies is Kevin's older brother, Wayne, from The Wonder Years.
- Richie Aprile is the pilot who transports Dracula.
- Scary German Guy was last seen treating Baron Harkonnen's boils.
- "Hey You!" Haymaker: "Hey, asshole!" *Wolfman turns around* "You looked!" *WHACK!*
- Homage: The scene with Frankenstein and Phoebe by the pond is a Shout-Out to the original Frankenstein movie, when a little girl attempts to play with the monster by a lake. In this film, it ends much better for the little girl.
- Improvised Weapon: Fat Kid uses a slice of pizza (heavy in garlic) to scar Dracula.
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: For the longest time, bootlegs were the only way to see the film, as many networks had long stopped showing the film and it was out of print on VHS. In 2006, the film was shown in several independent theaters across the US, which led to a campaign for a proper DVD release of the film. In 2007, a two-disc DVD was finally released in honor of the film's 20th anniversary; it features a brand new commentary by the film's director and several of the cast members, a five-part documentary on the film's creation and its eventual cult following, and - of course - a brand new remastered version of the film. And, to put icing on the cake, it only took two years after that for the Blu-ray, which shows the film in extremely good HD and retains all the extras from the DVD, most of them in HD.
- Kids Are Cruel: If one were to take a drink whenever the kids made an anti-gay or anti-fat joke, you'd be very soused by the credits.
- Kill the Cutie: The peasant girl in the opening scene.
- Lampshade Hanging: "How does that dog get up here anyway?"
- Magic Pants: Wolfman has these so you don't see his "wolf dork"; they can also reassemble themselves.
- Match Cut: Rudy's first spit take, then a rock thrown in the pond.
- Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Scary German Guy.
- Monster Mash
- Monstrous Transformation: Occurs twice with the Wolfman. The second wolf-out happens inside a phone booth.
- Mood Whiplash: A major problem with the film is that it doesn't really know if it wants to be a a tongue-in-cheek Monster Mash or a family friendly adventure film with little horror-flavor thrown in. This leads into awkward moments where the level of gore/body count doesn't really match with the general mood of the scene and funny moments are followed by serious ones with little to none time catch breath in between.
- Nothing Can Stop Us Now
- Odd Friendship: Rudy's first line in the movie has him state that Horace is his friend. Makes one wonder how a goofy, nerdy fat kid and the school's coolest badass became friends in the first place.
- Given the follow-up scene where Horace introduces Rudy to his friends it's likely that they weren't friends until that point, and that Rudy got involved simply because he just hates bullies and claiming friendship with Horace would ensure that the bullies would leave Horace alone after that point.
- Offhand Backhand: A cop attempts to stop Dracula during the climax. Dracula just punches him in the face and keeps walking.
- Opening Scroll:
One hundred years before this story begins, it was a time of darkness in Transylvania, a time when Dr Abraham Van Helsing and a small band of freedom fighters conspired to rid the world of vampires and monsters and to save mankind from the forces of eternal evil.
- Our Monsters Are Different
- Our Wormholes Are Different: At the stroke of midnight, the amulet opens up a black hole straight to Limbo.
- Papa Wolf: Sean's father gets a call that Sean is in danger, and immediately leaps into action, eventually even shooting Dracula in bat form out of the sky!
- Parental Bonus: A decidedly non-joke example - after the Scary German Guy mentions that he's had prior experience with monsters, the camera points to a strange tattoo on his forearm; no younger viewer would be expected to recognize that as a concentration camp ID tattoo.
- People in Rubber Suits: Well done, thanks to Stan Winston. Many people consider the costume and effects for the Gillman in this film to be the best representation of the Creature from the Black Lagoon in film history, despite the fact that he gets very little screen time.
- Police Are Useless - at least until the Wolfman says Dracula will kill the cop's son.
- The Army isn't entirely useless, however, seeing as they get up and ready for battle with monsters on the word of a six-year-old kid. They arrive after the battle's already gone down, granted, but you have to applaud the effort.
- Power Floats
- Product Placement: Pepsi, Adidas, and Burger King.
- Pulling Themselves Together: Wolf Man's severed limbs can rejoin themselves. See also Magic Pants.
- Punched Across the Room Resulting in Dracula being Impaled with Extreme Prejudice.
- Recycled in Space: Charles Band's The Creeps is The Monster Squad WITH MIDGETS!
- Running Gag: Rudy keeps spitting his drink.
- Sarcasm Mode: "Maybe the monsters got em."
- Screaming Warrior: "LOCK ME UUUUUUUUUUUUUUP!!!!"
- Sdrawkcab Name: And its Alucard, natch.
- Seeking Sanctuary: The heroes try to seek refuge in a church...except it's locked.
- Shooting Superman: The police firing at Dracula. Since their bullets are lead and not silver, they do nothing to him.
- Slip Into Something More Comfortable: Dracula uses the phrase to reference Wolfman's transformation.
- The So-Called Coward: "Fat Kid" Horace guns down the Gill Man while his former bullies cower and watch.
- Spit Take: Rudy, after asked by Sean if he knows any virgins. And Rudy again, upon opening up some freshly developed photos, discovers that Frankenstein (accidentally) snapped a perfect pic of the Girl Next Door undressing.
- Stab the Salad: "Children, your time is almost up..." * brandishes butcher knife* "...It's your last chance for more pie!"
- Super Strength: The titular Monsters (save for the Mummy). Each one of them gets a scene where they demonstrate it. Curiously, it seems to be the Gillman's only power (aside from his Nightmare Face), as he gets gunned down pretty easily.
- The Slow Walk: Played deadly straight towards the end of the film, when Dracula brutally murders a bunch of cops without breaking his stride towards Phoebe and the amulet.
- The Undead: Dem Bones, Frankenstein's Monster, the Mummy, Vampires.
- They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Horace pulls one off as an Awesome Moment when his former bullies still call him "Fat Kid", even while trying to thank him for saving their lives:
E.J.: Hey Fat Kid! Good job!
- Things That Go Bump in the Night
- This Was His True Form: When the Wolfman finally dies, he reverts back to his human form, who thanks Rudy before expiring.
- Unusual Euphemism: Did you know "dork" was a verb? Well, you do now!
- Virgin Power: Invoked (with Phoebe) and Subverted to hell and gone with Patrick's sister ("DOESN'T COUNT?!")
- Wolf Man
"And yes, Wolfman still has nards."