Popcorn Unhinged: The Monster Squad (1987) Review

Popcorn Unhinged is a movie review site, and here at TRN, we’ll be syndicating some of our favorite reviews looking at movies from the ’80s and ’90s! If you like what you see here, head on over to Popcorn Unhinged for tons more reviews of great movies!

Tagline: The End of the World Starts at Midnight

The problem is, 2,000-year-old dead guys, do not get up and walk around by themselves…

In this one, we follow the exploits of Dracula after he survives an attempt on his life by the famed Van Helsing. In today’s world, he’s collecting a group of monsters to help him take over the world. Of course, there is a group of annoying kids called “The Monster Squad” that are doing everything they can to screw it up. They even enlist the help of Frankenstein’s monster and a scary German guy in the process. Will Dracula succeed in his effort to take over the world or will a bunch of little kids ruin everything?

Horror fans may recognize director Fred Dekker’s name from the masterpiece Night of the Creeps, but if you have teens this might be more in the area of “watchable” for a family Halloween-o-thon. In what amounts to a celebration of Universal’s early days, this horror, comedy, fantasy romp is cast really well. 

Andre Gower plays kind of the leader of the squad named Sean. He plays the role a lot like Sean Astin did Mikey from The Goonies. It’s a more serious role than the rest of the kids in the cast and he nails it. Ryan Lambert does a good job as Rudy kind of the bad a-s of the group. Like Gower, Lambert is still getting roles to this day. Sean’s dad is played by Stephen Macht who has one of those recognizable faces but isn’t in a ton of movies I’ve seen. We also get some brief scenes from Mary Ellen Trainor who is best known for being the mom in The Goonies. Stan Shaw is also solid as usual playing a detective that helps out Sean’s father who is a cop. Shaw is best known for the movie Daylight. 

Cinematically this movie is pretty great, with all the right lighting and some solid directing, but there is a bit of imbalance in this between the humor and more serious elements that almost seem out of place. For example, this is one of the few movies where you are going to see Dracula holding up a 6 or 7-year-old girl by the neck and calling her a “b—h”. Stay classy Drac…(sarcasm). There is also little reason to have included the fact that Sean’s parents are about to get a divorce and this movie’s events probably are not going to fix that. Just seems uncalled for as are a few other moments, but perhaps this was something the writer just felt he needed to have in there. Soundtrack wise the movie is okay capitalizing on the sounds of the time (the final song’s lyrics are freakin bonkers though). We also get a pretty solid score.  

Design-wise I loved the mummy, it’s one of the more rad-looking mummies out there. The wolfman was “traditional” but not my favorite, the creature from the black lagoon is awesome and the Dracula is just really weak sauce. I think just changing his cloak to not having a red collar would have sorted that out, along with having an older actor or a more ridged-looking face. 

Overall this is a fun horror-comedy with all the great 80s elements. I have to give this thing a solid 6 out of 7.

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