The Monster Squad is a 1987 American horror comedy film directed by Fred Dekker (who also wrote the film along with Shane Black).
The film was released on August 14, 1987 by TriStar Pictures.
| Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about|
the entire movie.
The Monster Squad is a society of young pre-teens who idolize classic monsters and monster movies and hold their meetings in a tree clubhouse. 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 monster hunter Dr. Abraham Van Helsing (Jack Gwillim), but his excitement abates when he finds it is written in German.
Sean, his best friend Patrick (Robby Kiger) and the rest of the Monster Squad visit an elderly man, known as the "Scary German Guy" (Leonardo Cimino) (who is actually a kind gentleman) to translate the diary. When the Monster Squad wonders how the German man is so knowledgeable about Van Helsing's battle with monsters, he wryly comments that "he has some experience with monsters" and his shirt sleeve briefly reveals a Concentration camp number tattoo.
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. With the next day of balance happening within a few days at the stroke of midnight, the kids realize they must gain possession of the amulet and 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 (Duncan Regehr); his apprentices then emigrated to the United States to hide the amulet, where it was out of Dracula's immediate reach.
Nevertheless, Dracula seeks to obtain the amulet before the Monster Squad does, so that the Count can take control of the world and plunge it into darkness. To this end, he assembles several of his most dangerous and monstrous allies: The Mummy (Michael MacKay), The Gill-man (Tom Woodruff Jr.), The Wolf Man (Carl Thibault), and in addition, three school girls (Mary Albee, Joan-Carrol Baron, and Julie Merrill) whom the Count transforms into his vampiric consorts. Dracula then steals a crate from a B-25 Mitchell in flight, containing Frankenstein's monster (Tom Noonan), thus completing his army.
However, Frankenstein's monster is reluctant to aid Dracula and wanders into the forest where he encounters Phoebe. Rather than being afraid, Phoebe shows him the kindness he has always sought and they become friends. After Phoebe proves to the Monster Squad that Frankenstein's monster is not evil, he chooses to help the boys instead of Dracula.
The amulet turns out to be buried in a stone room, under a house that Dracula and the other monsters now occupy and where Van Helsing's diary was found. The secret room is littered with wards which prevent the monsters from taking it. The Monster Squad finds and removes the amulet and narrowly escape Dracula's grasp. The German man informs them that the incantation must be read by a female virgin.
As midnight approaches, the Squad makes their way to a local cathedral to make their last stand. Meanwhile, Dracula destroys their clubhouse with a stick of dynamite, drawing the attention of Sean's father, Police Detective Del, who has been charged with investigating the strange occurrences in town of late (as caused by Dracula's cohorts), but remains quite skeptical about their supernatural causes. Del is further puzzled when he receives a warning from the Wolfman that his family is in danger, as in his human form, the Wolfman is merely a reluctant pawn of Dracula.
Unfortunately, the doors to the cathedral are locked, so the incantation must be read on the stoop, leaving the Squad vulnerable. The Monster Squad enlists Patrick's older sister (Lisa Fuller) to help them as she's the only virgin they know who speaks German.
Unfortunately, with time running out, the incantation fails since Lisa is actually not a virgin anymore. As Dracula's Brides and the other monsters close in, the kids deduce that five-year-old Phoebe must complete the task of opening the portal, 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 Wolfman are killed. Dracula arrives and is about to kill Phoebe when Frankenstein's monster intervenes, impaling him on a wrought-iron fence. Phoebe finishes the incantation, opening the portal which begins to consume the bodies of the monsters.
Still alive, Dracula attempts to drag Sean in with him, but Sean stabs Dracula with a wooden stake before Van Helsing appears, having briefly escaped from Limbo, and takes Dracula to his doom. Although Phoebe tries desperately to hold on to him, Frankenstein's monster has no choice but to enter the portal, but he accepts a gift of a stuffed animal to remember Phoebe. The portal then closes, ensuring the world's safety.
In the aftermath, the United States Army arrives on the scene, having received a letter from Eugene (Michael Faustino) earlier on asking for their help against the monsters. When the confused General fails to make sense of the situation, Sean steps forward and presents the man with his business card, identifying himself and his friends as "The Monster Squad". Sean then celebrates with the rest of the group as the film closes.
- Andre Gower as Sean Crenshaw
- Robby Kiger as Patrick
- Brent Chalem as Horace
- Ryan Lambert as Rudy
- Michael Faustino as Eugene
- Ashley Bank as Phoebe Crenshaw
- Duncan Regehr as Count Dracula
- Tom Noonan as the Frankenstein Monster
- Carl Thibault as the Wolf Man
- Tom Woodruff Jr. as the Gill Man
- Michael MacKay as the Mummy
- Jonathan Gries as Desperate Man/The Wolfman
- Stephen Macht as Detective Del Crenshaw
- Mary Ellen Trainor as Emily Crenshaw
- Jack Gwillim as Dr. Abraham Van Helsing
- Gabriel Dean as Wiley "the Worm"
- Jason Hervey as E.J.
- Leonardo Cimino as Scary German Guy
- Stan Shaw as Detective Rich Sapir
- Lisa Fuller as Patrick's Sister
- David Proval as Pilot
- Daryl Anderson as Co-Pilot
According to director Fred Dekker, the film was cut by 13 minutes because some executives didn't want it to run for more than 90 minutes.
Shane Black's first draft of the screenplay was so huge, the opening of the film featured Van Helsing accompanied by zeppelin's and hundreds of men on horseback storming Dracula's castle. Dekker stated that this sequence would have cost more than the final budget of the film.
Liam Neeson was considered for the role of Dracula and he was paid for a bit part in the movie that was never filmed.
"The Monster Squad" debuted at #2 at the box office, grossing $1,920,678 during its opening weekend. The domestic gross was $23,769,990.
Rotten Tomatoes gave "The Monster Squad" a 53% rating based on 17 reviews and its average rating was 5.4\10.
Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times wrote that it is "fun for the kid in all of us."
Vincent Canby of The New York Times called it "a feature-length commercial for a joke store that sells not-great, rubber monster masks."
Hal Hinson from the Washington Post said the film "plays like it was written with a power tool."
1988 Saturn Awards
- Best Supporting Actor: Duncan Regehr (nominated)
- Best Performance by a Younger Actor: Andre Gower (nominated)
- Best Music: Bruce Broughton (nominated)
- Best Costumes: Michael W. Hoffman & Aggie Lyon (nominated)
1988 Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film
- Silver Raven: Fred Dekker (won)
Young Artists Awards
- Andre Gower, Robby Kiger, Ryan Lambert, Michael Faustino, Brent Chalem and Ashley Bank: Outstanding Young Actors\Actresses Ensemble in Television or Motion Picture (won)