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Film / The Monster Squad

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"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 movie 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 such 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: The film begins with a prologue of Van Helsing trying to stop Dracula and his minions.
  • Adult Fear: Sean's dad is told by Dracula that he'll come after his 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 Men Are Perverts: Subverted by most of the Squad, including Franky. Only Rudy (and by accident, Franky) takes the pictures of the Girl Next Door, 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 the exact opposite - a concentration camp survivor.
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  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: After Detective Crenshaw fails to subdue Dracula, the vampire twists the knife by warning, "I will have your son."
  • 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: There is a montage of the heroes using their skills to plan the assault on Dracula and his minions set to "Rock Until You Drop"
  • Bait-and-Switch: After catching the boys snooping around his house, Scary German Guy is next seen brandishing a knife in what seems to be a threatening manner... until it turns out that he's actually just serving them some home-made pie, having welcomed them into his house and happily discussing legends of monsters with them.
  • Battle Aura: Dracula displays one before he lays waste to the local cops.
  • Big Bad: Dracula's tendency to lead any Monster Mash continues here.
  • 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.
  • Black Dude Dies First: But he does get the consolation prize of best monster movie death ever: blown up with a stick of dynamite by Dracula.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Once transformed, the Wolf Man is completely subservient to Dracula.
  • Brick Joke: Sean writes a distress note about monsters early in the film. In the end, the Army shows up too late, but fully prepared to fight back a monster assault based on the crayon message of a child.
  • 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 Moment of Awesome.
  • The Cavalry: Not the Army; they arrive too late. But Van Helsing shows up just in time to drag Dracula to the other side.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: The army shows up after everything is settled.
  • Classical Movie Vampire: Dracula follows a lot of his popular depictions, appearing as a suave man in black with neat hair and a stylish cape.
  • 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:
    • The 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 wears sunglasses.
  • Cosmic Keystone: The Amulet, which can be used to open a portal to Limbo and is only vulnerable to being destroyed once every hundred years.
  • 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.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Dracula slowly walks up to 6-year-old Phoebe and caresses her cheek before grabbing her.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: Horace does a dramatic gun cock after killing the Gill-Man and while responding to the other kids again calling him "Fat Kid," saying, "My name... is Horace!"
  • The Dreaded: Rudy is this to the bullies at his school. They panic just from the sight of him.
  • 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 is only ever called Scary German Guy.
  • Exact Words: The spell that will activate the amulet calls for a virgin. However, it doesn't say anything about an age-requirement.note 
  • Facepalm Of Doom: The Gill Man kills a cop this way, with one hand on either side of his face.
  • Fanservice: Some is provided by the girl in the window being shown undressing, who turns out to be Patrick's sister.
  • Fish People: The Gill Man from Creature from the Black Lagoon.
  • 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.
  • Foot Focus: We get a Feet-First Introduction of the barefoot peasant girl in the opening.
  • Forced into Evil: The Wolfman's human form. He's shown to be restrained and drugged by Dracula until the transformation kicks in. He still desperately tries to warn the authorities of what's going on.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The shot of the picture frame with a photo of the Sean's family has a crack on the glass. Implying that the wife smashed it in anger at her husband. Moments before, she was shown packing up.
  • Fridge Logic: When the team is forming the Monster Squad and putting their hands together in circle formation followed by their pet beagle's paw, Rudy asks "How did a dog get up here?"
  • Genre Savvy: The Monster Squad is a group of monster movie fans who ultimately use their cinema knowledge to fight real monsters.
  • Genre Throwback: to the Universal Horror Crossover films of the '40s such as Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, which brought pre-existing monsters together onscreen for little reason other than it being cool. The Monster Squad ups the ante by having five recognizable monsters rather than the usual two or three, but otherwise is very much in the spirit of the classic films.
  • Gentle Giant: Frankenstein is shown to be more goodnatured than the other monsters.
  • 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 kick to the Wolfman's crotch 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 ends up siding with the heroes after befriending Phoebe.
  • "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.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Touched upon when the kids point out that Scary German Guy knows a lot about monsters. After he agrees that he does and the kids leave, the camera focuses on a tattoo on his arm, which is similar to the kind that the Nazis administered to Jewish prisoners during World War II.
  • I Am Big Boned: Horace, known as "Fat Kid", says the following to two bullies:
    Horace: Look, I have a glandular problem, OK? At least I don't have a stupidity problem!
  • 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.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Rudy, Patrick and his sister were waiting for Sean, Fat Kid, and Eugene at the drive-in, already 10pm. Patrick's sister mockingly thinks that "maybe the monsters got them".
    Rudy: Neh neh neh neh neh!
  • Kick the Dog/Precision F-Strike: Dracula is at his cruelest when he grabs Phoebe by the neck and bellows "Give me the amulet, you bitch!"
  • 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 gets killed.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Rudy at one point asks how the dog has managed to get in the treehouse.
    Rudy: How does that dog get up here anyway?
  • Magic Pants: Wolfman has pants that don't tear as he transforms 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.
    • The Wolfman grabs the ambulance driver, then we have a woman screaming (which turns out to be a movie Sean wanted to see).
  • Mercy Kill: Wolfman considers his own death to be this, even thanking Rudy when Rudy shoots him with a silver bullet. Given his complete inability to control himself whilst in wolf form, it's not shocking.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Scary German Guy turns out to be very cordial to the heroes and even helps them stop Dracula and the other monsters.
  • Monster Mash: The movie features Dracula, the Wolfman, a mummy, Frankenstein's monster, and the Gill-Man. The Action Prologue also features a zombie at one point.
  • 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 no time catch breath in between.
    • Scary German Guy's implied backstory as a Holocaust survivor is revealed immediately after a humorous scene of the man talking about monsters with the kids.
    • Also, the subplot about Sean and Phoebe's parents marital problems. You go from a pleasant mother/daughter moment to Phoebe asking Emily if she's gonna yell at Del again.
  • My Card: The very last line of the movie has Sean give a card of The Monster Squad to the army. Also a Title Drop and Brick Joke.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Sean's dad got a call about a break-in at the museum (the Mummy escaped), his wife who was cooking dinner is unhappy with him choosing work over his family. Leading to their fight later on.
    Del: Honey, this is work, it's important.
    Emily: I'm important.
    Del: I love you.
    Emily: Prove it.
    Del: I'll see you later.
    [Del walks out the door, leaving Emily very infuriated.]
  • 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: Discussed. At one point, two members of the Monster Club debate over whether or not the Wolfman has nards. It turns out he does when a Groin Attack works on him.
  • Nothing Can Stop Us Now!: Dracula at one point prematurely boasts that he and his forces can't be bested.
  • Odd Friendship: Rudy ingratiates himself into the Monster Squad by standing up to Horace's bullies for him to get access to the Monster Squad's treehouse and watch Patrick's sister undress. However, Rudy quickly befriends the group for real.
  • Offhand Backhand: A cop attempts to stop Dracula during the climax. Dracula just punches him in the face and keeps walking.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Horace's friends and bullies call him "Fat Kid". Scary German Guy also seems quite fine with being called "Scary German Guy".
  • 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 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:
    • The police do nothing to stop the monsters, at least until the Wolfman informs Sean's dad that Dracula will kill his 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: Dracula doesn't need to turn into a bat to fly.
  • Product Placement: Pepsi, Adidas, and Burger King are shown prominently in the film.
  • 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!
  • Reveal Shot: The Wolfman walks through a swamp, and quickly looks to his right to find Dracula and the Mummy standing by him.
  • Running Gag: Rudy keeps spitting his drink.
  • Sarcasm Mode: "Maybe the monsters got em."
  • Screaming Warrior: The Wolfman begs to be locked up in a cage so he can't hurt anyone while in his wolf form. When the cops don't take him seriously and instead try to arrest him, he gets violent and continues screaming that they lock him up before he transforms.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Sean sees the name Alucard on a contacts list at his home and figures out that it must be an alias being used by Dracula.
  • Seeking Sanctuary: The heroes try to seek refuge in a church...except it's locked.
  • Ship Tease: Rudy Halloran and Lisa Rhoades (Patrick's older sister), as he's seen putting his arm around her just before the end credits roll.
  • Silver Bullet: "Only one way to kill a werewolf."
  • 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 carving 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 being immensely strong. 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 beats up and murders a bunch of cops without breaking his stride towards Phoebe and the amulet.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Horace pulls one off as a Moment of Awesome 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: Eugene finds the mummy in his closet.
  • This Was His True Form: When the Wolfman finally dies, he reverts back to his human form, who thanks Rudy before expiring.
  • Token Good Teammate: Frankstein's monster is rather soft-spoken and not actively malicious towards anyone; he even switches sides after befriending Phoebe. Also, the Wolfman's human form, though he can't do much about it.
  • Tragic Monster: The Wolfman and Frankenstein are somewhat more sympathetic than the other monsters. Also the Vampire Girls, who, earlier in the film were terrified human girls locked up by Dracula. And presumably the Vampire Girl in the prologue.
  • Transformation Sequence: Occurs twice with the Wolfman. The second wolf-out happens inside a phone booth.
  • The Undead: The movie features quite a few undead monsters. Dem Bones, Frankenstein's Monster, the Mummy, Vampires.
  • Unflinching Walk:
    • When Dracula blows up the tree house with a stick of dynamite. "Meeting adjourned."
    • Also later when he goes to stop Phoebe at the end, punching out all the cops in his way.
  • Unusual Euphemism: The word "dork" is used to refer to the Wolfman's penis at one point. Later, Rudy uses it as a verb when trying to ask Patrick's sister if she is a virgin.
  • 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.
  • Wham Shot: How the audience learns the truth about Scary German Guy's experience with monsters.
  • Wolf Man: One of the monsters is a werewolf.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: The Wolfman's human form when trying to warn the authorities of what he is and what's coming. It doesn't help that he's mere minutes away from a transformation, nor that he beats up the cops and shooting at the ceiling screaming to be locked up.

"And yes, Wolfman still has nards."
Fred Dekker, from the DVD insert

Video Example(s):


The Monster Squad [Wolfman's Got Nards]

Scene from the 1987 film, "The Monster Squad". The squad investigate a spooky manor in the hopes of locating an artifact needed to stop Dracula and his forces. Naturally it doesn't take long before confronting monsters with the Wolfman attacking first. Luckily though being a monster doesn't mean he doesn't share a common weakpoint with humans.

Example of:

Main / GroinAttack