Nostalgia Trip

I was past the key demographic age when The Monster Squad was originally released in 1987, and completely missed the impact it had on kids when it ran on theatrical screens, and later did the rounds on home video and cable TV.

Never heard of nards, didn’t worry about mummies in closets, and I regarded Fred Dekker as a minor footnote filmmaker, given he’s only directed three films – Night of the Creeps, The Monster Squad, and Robocop 3 (plus an episode of Tales from the Crypt) as of this writing. Dekker was also credited as one of the writers on Ricochet, Russell Mulcahy’s goofy comic book crime film, but in an interview in Rue Morgue's July issue reveals, Dekker just sort of disappeared from the filmmaking scene for about a decade.

After the release of Lethal Weapon, Shane Black’s other produced script of 1987, Dekker and Monster Squad co-writer Black were profiled in a piece in the 3rd issue of Premiere magazine (“A Pad O’ Guys”), alongside a handful of twentysomething colleagues who, according to writer Joseph Ferullo, had sweet studio deals in spite of never having gone to film school. (“Catch us on an arrogant note,” says fellow film geek David Arnott, “and we’ll tell you we’re the Algonquin Round Table of the ‘80s.”)

Flash forward 20 years later, and after a long absence from active production, Dekker has slowly taken steps to return to filmmaking via TV’s Enterprise as a writer & producer.

The Monster Squad is a case where a little film has taken on a life of its own, eclipsing the filmmaker during the intervening years, but the new 2-disc set from Lionsgate (U.S.) and Maple (Canada) reverently pays tribute to Dekker’s cult film, and the keen minds influenced by Abbott and Costello, the Universal monster films, and the Little Rascals – 3 unique streams that are probably less-known by each successive generation.

With the exception of the Little Rascals (screaming for a boxed set release), pretty much everything else by the aforementioned is out on DVD, and the 20th Anniversary Edition will ensure the now grown-up kids who loved The Monster Squad will pass on the goofy film to their own rugrats, which probably vindicates Dekker and Black for wanting to make a movie about the movies they loved as kids.

Having never seen the film until now, the level of nostalgia glowing from The Monster Squad is refreshing, so it’s perhaps unsurprising to see grownups in stores holding the set like a treasured relic from their childhood, making a crack about nards during a purchase, and eagerly awaiting a revisitation of a B-movie from their childhood.

Guilty pleasure, indulgence, or curiosity from the big-haired eighties, it’s notable when a little movie still resonates after 20 years.

In addition to The Monster Squad, we’ve also reviewed Slow Burn, Wayne Beach’s noir suspense thriller starring Enterprise’s Jolene Blalock, Ray Liotta, and Mekhi Phifer, also released by Lionsgate and Maple.


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