Thursday, 27 September 2018

The Monster Squad

Writer-director Fred Dekker and co-writer Shane Black serve up The Monster Squad, a kids club movie that pits the titular gang of hideous brats against off-brand, toyetic drafts of Universal's featured creatures. Duncan Regehr's Count Dracula is in town, stalking the suburbs in pursuit of an amulet that will grant him world domination (or equivalent). Naturally, this very real threat has completely escaped the attentions of the self-involved adults. Regehr's Vlad is a one-off, behaving nothing like any other big screen Dracula. Rather than your usual cruel, mysterious sexuality, Regehr instead exudes a kind of well-mannered fussiness.

When considering this icon from a child's perspective, Dekker and Black have junked the unfathomable animal magnetism to laser in on the frustrations felt by an ancient forced to rely on misshapen, incompetent henchmen. Jonathan Gries' Wolfman is especially infuriating. When not hulked out and slathering, this loser lycanthrope places anonymous calls to the local police, warning them of the calamities poised to consume their town. Come the wonderfully gooey finale, when the boys have finally deigned to include the friendly little sister character who ends up being key to their survival, Dekker and Black's Dracula goes all out. His shuffling allies either blown up or ventilated, the exasperated Count joins the fray, hurling dynamite sticks into tree houses then twisting and snapping his way through a squad of beat cops like his name was Sonny Chiba.

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