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Film: The Monster Squad

"Wolfman's got nards!"
Fat Kid Horace

The Monster Squad is a 1987 film directed by Fred Dekker and written by Dekker and 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.
  • 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, you stupid!
    Patrick's sister: Did you ask him!?
  • 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: A bunch of foul-mouthed pre-teens hang out with Frankenstein's Monster, fight an old European man and his creepy friends, and discover the Wolfman does, in fact, have nards.
  • Big "NO!": Dracula lets one out as he is sucked into Limbo.
  • Bloodstained Glass Windows: The kids attempt to invoke this trope, but the church door is padlocked shut.
  • Body Horror: Wolfman 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.
  • Bullets Do Not Work That Way: During the scene where Rudy shoots the Wolfman with the silver bullet, the bullet in question hasn't been fitted into a cartridge, but yet is still able to be fired from a police-issue revolver.
  • Bully Hunter: Rudy notices Horace, aka "Fat Kid", getting picked on. He's not pleased and he turns the tables on Horace's tormentors.
  • Can't You Read the Sign?: Sean wrote "No Girls Allowed" on the door of his treehouse.
    Phoebe: Mom says you have to let me in the club or else it's prescription!
    Sean: That's "discrimination", jerkoid! Prescription is drugs, which you're on if you think you getting in here!
  • 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:
    Sean: You guys... Dracula might be here too.
    Patrick: Aww, man! Fat Kid farted!
    Fat Kid: Did not!
    (the entire club started arguing)
    Sean: Goddamn it, will you SHUT UP?! Didn't you hear a word I said?
  • 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.
  • Cool Old Guy: Scary German Guy is bitchin'!
  • Cool Shades: Rudy
  • Cosmic Keystone: The Amulet.
  • Curse Cut Short: "Holy shi- Cow! Cow!"
  • Danger Takes A Back Seat: The man who becomes the Wolfman 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.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: "My name...is Horace!"
  • The Dreaded: Rudy is this to the bullies at his school.
  • Drive-In Theater: Sean lives near one, and occasionally takes to the roof to catch free movies with his dad.
  • Dying as Yourself: The Wolfman, who thanks Rudy with his dying breath.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Most of the characters refer to Horace as "Fat Kid".
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Scary German Guy.
  • Fanservice: The girl in the window, who turns out to be Patrick's sister
  • Fish People: Creature from the Black Lagoon . Well, his Alternate Company Equivalent anyway. Often referred to as "the Gillman".
  • 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.
  • 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 argument about whether the Wolfman has anything "down there". A groin attack on the Wolfman later in the movie 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, 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.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Sean's father shoots Dracula in bat form out of the sky, with his non-dominant hand, while driving a car.
  • Improvised Weapon: Fat Kid uses a slice of pizza (heavy in garlic) to scar Dracula.
  • 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.
    • Scary German Guy's implied backstory is a serious case of this — many of the target audience didn't understand the significance of his tattoo, and had to ask their rather stunned parents.
  • My Card: The very last line of the movie. Also a Title Drop and Brick Joke.
  • No Name Given: Scary German Guy and Patrick's older sister are never referred to by their names in the movie. Scary German Guy even lets the squad call him that several times without correcting them.
  • Nonhumans Lack Attributes: Averted and lampshaded.
  • 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.
    They blew it.
  • 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: Done well, thanks to Stan Winston. Many people consider the costume and effects for the Gillman in this film to be the best representation of the Gill Man 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 it's Alucard, natch.
  • Seeking Sanctuary: The heroes try to seek refuge in a church...except it's locked.
  • 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!
    Horace (pumping a shotgun): "My name... is Horace!"
  • 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.
  • Tragic Monster: The Wolfman and Frankenstein.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Did you know "dork" was a verb? Well, you do now!
  • Virgin Power: Required to activate the amulet. Patrick's sister is revealed to not be a virgin ("DOESN'T COUNT?!") but little five-year-old Phoebe is. Also, it seems to be an unspoken rule that said virgin has to be female, although admittedly the majority of the main cast - who are incidentally eligible - don't really know what a virgin is.
  • Wolf Man: Yep. He's in the movie.
    • He also has genitalia.


"And yes, Wolfman still has nards."
Fred Dekker, from the DVD insert
Monster BrawlVampire FictionMr. Vampire
MatildaCreator/Tri Star PicturesThe Muppets Take Manhattan
Miami ConnectionFilms of the 1980sMoonstruck
MondoImageSource/Live-Action FilmsMonster Mash

alternative title(s): The Monster Squad
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