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Film / Little Monsters

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Little Monsters is a 1989 film starring Fred Savage and Howie Mandel. Brian (Savage) has recently moved because his parents thought that the family could use a change of scenery. Shortly afterward, strange things start happening for which Brian is blamed. Brian, in turn, blames his little brother.

Eventually, Brian meets Maurice, a monster and the real culprit. Together they break into people's homes and play "amusing" pranks on them. Brian decides that he doesn't want to do this anymore after he starts turning into a monster. Brian's brother gets kidnapped by the villainous Snik, leaving Brian and his friends to rescue him, and they all end up in Malibu, California.

Not to be confused with Lady Gaga's fanbase, the Mercer Mayer book or the zombie comedy Little Monsters (2019) of the same name.


This film contains examples of:

  • Action Girl/Badass Bookworm: Kiersten, who looks suspiciously similar to Haley from The Wizard, another movie starring Fred Savage.
  • Bizarrchitecture: The underground Monster Town seems to be small enough to make accessing a city across the United States seem like a walk across town. In addition some of the wooden stairs and structures seem almost M.C. Escher-like.
  • Body Horror: We don't know what Boy really looks like; he wears the rotting skin and school uniform of a real kid over his own body. If his face is any indication, though, it's pretty horrible.
  • The Bully: And a very generic one at that, who has one of the most bizarre Heel Face Turns ever. Subverted, though, in that he's only codified as a bully by obvious stereotype; the only fighting he does is retaliation for Brian braining him with a sandwich, which he didn't know was an accident, and he doesn't hesitate to help when asked.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Zigzagged. Kids are immediately blamed for every accident and slip up, especially those caused by the monsters, but not for things that interfere with the plot.
    • The most bizarre case is when Brian's dad comes in after he sets off the monster trap. He's shouted at for their being Doritos on the floor, but his dad fails to notice that he sawed through the legs of his bed and rigged them with hinges so he could collapse the bed and trap the monster in the room with him.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Minus the comedic part (mostly).
    • The montage of breaking into random people's houses and playing pranks was supposed to be funny, but following montage of offscreen screaming parents and terrified/crying children that get blamed for the pranks kills any intended humor pretty effectively.
  • Creation Sequence: For the monster trap, complete with '80s montage music. It even continues playing after Brian finishes setting up the trap.
    • And during dinner, oddly enough. Right in the middle of the montage.
  • Diabolus ex Nihilo: There isn't much of a lead-in to the appearance of the Big Bad at the end... he's just there.
  • Empty Piles of Clothing: What happens when monsters are exposed to bright light.
  • The Fair Folk: The monsters are all kids who stayed in the world under the bed for too long and have long-since forgotten their former lives; being exposed to light in the real world further disfigures them. It actually starts happening to Brian once he spends too much time in the monster world - he opens a door to flee a room full of monsters who are tormenting a baby, and his arm vanishes when the hallway light shines on it. This causes more than a bit of trouble when one of his few friends accidentally does the same with a flashlight.
  • Fisher Kingdom: The more Brian stays in the monster world, the more monster-like he becomes.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The bully, for pretty much no reason given. It's implied that he's just the first person Brian and Kiersten think of when they realize they need another pair of hands to make their plan work, and they did the sensible thing and asked him to help.
  • Heel Realization: Brian, and it's the Central Theme of the movie; in the beginning, all Brian can think about is himself and the unfair things that happen to him. When he meets Maurice and is invited to abandon his few responsibilities, indulge in all his selfish fantasies, and torment whomever he deems worthy, he proceeds to go utterly wild. Luckily for him, tormenting a baby is his limit, and as a result he realizes he is becoming a monster - in every way imaginable - and flees, realizing that refusing to grow up will cost him everyone he cares for and his potential to accomplish anything positive in the world.
  • Humans Are Ugly: When saying goodbye to Brian before he returns to the human world, Maurice tells him that he is the ugliest friend that he ever had.
  • It's a Long Story: Brian says this nearly word-for-word at the end of the movie when calling his parents after he and his friends rescue his brother and escape the monster world... except due to the sun having already risen at home, they wound up all the way in California.
  • Kafka Komedy: But there's too much Kafka and not enough comedy.
  • Kill It with Fire: How Snik meets his end.
  • Mood Whiplash: Seriously, this movie's tone is all over the place.
  • Monster Town: The underworld populated by monsters which serves as a hub to get into people's bedrooms.
  • Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: The whole set up, though most of them are more harmless troublemakers.
  • Title Drop: Said by Brian to Toad when describing the monsters, although it still seems forced as these monsters aren't exactly little.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Halfway through the film, the parents mention that they may be getting divorced. It's never really brought up again, except as the mother's excuse for Brian sawing the legs off all the beds.
  • Younger than They Look: Maurice claims to be eleven years old (and to have been eleven for hundreds of years).