Make This And Every Day A "Monster Squad" Day!

Ah! A fresh new morning — and a slight cheerful afterglow in my brain from watching “Monster Squad” with Nick last night. The 2 disk, 20th anniversary dvd set came out this past week. I feel like I’ve been waiting for it for decades. The extras are very cool, including extended talks with Fred Dekker (director), who has had a hard time getting his career back in gear after “Monster Squad”‘s initial poor showings at the box office, followed (unfortunately) by “Robocop 3”, which also didn’t do so well. But he seems genuinely encouraged by the “Monster Squad” fans who are pouring in from all corners of the planet.

The film has an edge to it that I never noticed until watching it with kids. Wasn’t appropriate for Holly (age 3) — too intense overall, except she was really getting into the monsters and pretending to hide under her blankie. Too scary for Sarah (age 6). Pretty much just right for Nicholas (age 10) — except for the peculiar cussing in some spots. It’s not that the curse words don’t work — they’re pretty funny in a “Goonies” sort of way and fairly realistic in a “Christmas Story” sort of way — but they really push the envelope a couple of times and you wonder who the movie is for. Kids? Teens? Adults? All three? As I say, I didn’t notice this until I had to get in the habit of sectioning off films into “Ok for the kids” and “not OK”. Ultimately, I guess the movie is for Fred Dekker. But they had trouble marketing the film, because parents were scared to take their kids to see it and teenagers thought it was too kiddie-oriented.

Anyhow, it’s a hoot. Stan Winston’s team did a magnificent job of recreating the Universal Studios monsters without actually recreating the Universal Studios monsters (avoiding trademark infringement, etc.). The script was shopped over to Universal first, but, true to form, they turned it down. As Universal Studios theme park attests, these guys have no idea of the untapped treasures in their film vault. Once, while visiting the Universal Studios theme park, I hurried across the park to catch a stage show featuring the classic monsters. No idea what to expect. A series of creepy vignettes featuring sizzling mad scientist lab equipment, shadowy castle interiors, the Black Forest? A tribute to Karloff, Lugosi, Chaney, Pierce, Browning, Whale, Strickfadden and other luminaries? Who knew? Then, over the loudspeaker, a radio-style voice shouted, “Ladies and gentlemen! Universal Studios theme park has TRANSFUNKIFIED the Universal Studios monsters!” The Bride of Frankenstein proceeded to belt out “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman” while the Wolfman breakdanced (!) and Frankenstein eventually did an electric guitar solo. I was scandalized. The folks at Universal might just as well have hiked up their collective leg and pissed on a statue of Maria Ouspenskaya. Same difference. (Years later, the memory of TRANSFUNKIFICATION having abated slightly, I gave Universal Studios theme park another chance. This visit was, after all, during their Halloween celebration. How could they screw that up? Then, during their Halloween parade, a “Labyrinth” style Satan came rolling past on his throne. Dozens of parade watchers began to bow at the waist with their hands outstretched, while nubile satan-nymphs tossed Mardi Gras crap into the crowd. I yelled at the float, “Go to hell!” Just another day at Universal Studios theme park.)

Anyhow, back to “Monster Squad”. Not that crazy about the actor who plays Dracula, but he’s OK. The rest are marvelous. The fellow who plays the werewolf out-Chaneys Chaney in his regretful human state. The Creature from the Black Lagoon is marvelous. And the guy who plays the Mummy must weigh about fifty pounds soaking wet. Frankie is the highlight of the film. As I said back in Wonder magazine, it’s as though a kid fell asleep while staring at his collection of Aurora monster models and had a “monster adventure” dream. The monsters often posture model-kit style; they seem aware of their icon status in a goofy sort of way.

The kids are uniformly great. And little Phoebe is a cool grown-up now, judging by the extras.

Well worth the outlay of about $16.

I’m afraid Kim Paffenroth has gotten me interested in zombie epics. Have any of you guys dared to venture forth into the world of direct-to-dvd zombie films? Nicholas, Holly, my brother, Chris, (he’s doing better) and I went to MovieStop last night and there were several such films in the horror section. One somehow managed to claim it was a prequel to “Day of the Dead” (!) — the title was “Day of the Dead: Contagion”. Anybody seen it? Another was simply called “The Mad” and had Billy Zane fighting zombies. Then there was “Dead and Deader” which purported to be a “zomedy”. Anyone able to offer a thumbs-up or -down?

“Dead Meat” I’ve seen and can actually recommend — it hails from Ireland and is overall a fine entry in the zombie apocalypse genre (although it seems a tad pointless in the end). “The Stink of Flesh” is simply perverse — though remarkably well made for a film budgeted at around $4,000. (I know, I know — why was I watching a film called “The Stink of Flesh” in the first place?) And “Undead” is also pretty darned good. Hailing from Australia, “Undead” is one of those indie horror films that shoots for the moon despite its low budget. Like “Equinox”, it just doesn’t seem to shrink from any crazy notion that popped into the filmmakers’ heads, regardless of technical difficulty. “Dead and Breakfast” (instead of Bed and Breakfast – get it?) was something of a letdown. But, hey, it wasn’t as perverse as “The Stink of Flesh”!

Ah, Monster Squad… Thank goodness for Monster Squad.

Lint

P.S. I promise to get a new podcast up this very weekend. Let’s see now… It’s Saturday, 9:04 AM… That gives me… Um… At least a couple of hours…

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~ by christianhalloweenfan on July 28, 2007.

One Response to “Make This And Every Day A "Monster Squad" Day!”

  1. Hey, Lint – you know, I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen Monster Squad. Sounds like a lovely time. I’ll tell Gary to put it on his Netflix list.

    And I had to laugh when you mentioned your reaction to “Satan” on the float at the Universal Studios parade. Did you have a crucifix or any holy water with you to help send the Enemy on his homeward journey?

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