Fangoria Interviews The Monster Squad!

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nShortly after I first saw The Monster Squad I discovered one of the magazine staples of my youth, Fangoria.  At the time, around 1987-88, there were no shops around me that carried magazine back issues and my parents weren’t keen on me ordering from the Fangoria back issue catalog, so I never got a chance to get a hold of any of the ones that had Monster Squad articles.  It wasn’t until I was in my late 20s and I managed to procure a rather large collection of the periodical that I finally got to sink my teeth into a handful of issues that covered my favorite film.  I thought it would be fun to share those articles today.  Also, this is the perfect opportunity to point to my friend Paxton’s Countdown this year as he’s spending the entire month celebrating that glorious horror magazine.  So head on over to the Cavalcade of Awesome and check out what Pax has in store.

First up today I have issue number 61 from February 1987 that features an interview with Fred Dekker on the set of Night of the Creeps.  Though the majority of the article focuses on Creeps, there are a couple of early tidbits about The Monster Squad and Dekker always makes for a great interview subject because of his no nonsense attitude and honesty.

Fangoria 61 Cover

Next up is issue number 66 from August of 1987, the month that Monster Squad hit theater screens.  This issue features another interview with Dekker and has some fun promotional and deleted scene stills.  You can also clearly see that Dekker was very unhappy with the management of Creeps by the production company and is so much happier now that he’s on the MS set and things seems to be going much better.

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The follow up issue, number 67 from September of 87 features another Squad article, though this one is a feature interview with Dekker’s co-writer on the film Shane Black.  There’s some fun insight into the writing process between the two of them in this article, and an explanation of the tone and presentation that their script takes (which is really fun to read and very unconventional.)  I also made the connection that the character of Detective Sapir is a reference to one of Black’s writing heroes Richard Sapir who co-created and wrote the Destroyer series of novels (with the character Remo Williams.)

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The last Fangoria article I have is from issue number 70 from January of 1988 and features and interview with Stan Winston’s crew of special effects artists.  The article is half about their work on Pumpkinhead, but the other half delves into their work on The Monster Squad.  Kinda fun to meet the guys behind the art…

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As a special bonus I also have an article from the September 1987 issue of Starlog (#122), which features an interview with Dracula himself, Duncan Regehr…

122 Starlog 1

Now for today’s trading card!

Monster Squad Wrapper

Since there was never any MS merchandise produced, specifically a Topps trading card set, I thought it would be fun to make a mini set of 80s-style digital trading cards for my favorite movie of all time. So come back each evening for Trick or Treats and collect them all!

Today’s card is #19, The Amulet!

19 Amulet F-B

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Trivia Squad: 10 Fun Facts About The Monster Squad

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nThere are a lot of top 10 Monster Squad trivia lists online so when I was prepping for the countdown this month I initially scratched that idea from the list of topics to cover.  But the more I dug into the film and the more research I did I found some things that don’t seem to be making any of the lists.  So today I’m gonna run down 10 fun bits of trivia for the flick.

1). The Gillman and (potentially) the Frankenstein’s Monster creature suits appear as part of Mel’s (Jon Lovtiz) nerdy pop culture collection in the 2006 film The Benchwarmers.

The Benchwarmers 1

I love that the character has the Gillman propped up next to his entertainment center.  I have no clue who made the decision to include this piece, but for those who are unfamiliar with the movie, the plot centers around a bunch of adults who were heavily bullied as kids finally getting some self respect by playing little league baseball against kids.  Lovitz plays what equates to an adult version of Horace, so the idea of putting the creature in his collection is kind of genius.  Similarly, Lovitz has no friends for the most part, so when I spied this Frankenstein’s Monster for a split second I have to assume it’s again a nod to Monster Squad and the fact that the monster is fully willing to look past all outer aspects to be friends with the Squad and that seems like something Mel would embrace.

The Benchwarmers 2

Also, as an aside, Lovitz’s Mel also dresses up like Michael Knight and owns K.I.T.T. in the film.  I only bring this up because the movie is pretty terrible and the scenes with K.I.T.T. are the best in the film and now that I’ve mentioned it I never have to talk about it on Branded ever again.  Here’s the scene on youtube, do yourself a favor and watch it and skip the rest of the movie.  You’re welcome.

The Benchwarmers 3

2). When the Vampire Brides are stalking Sean, Eugene and Horace in the old creepy house their reflection can be seen in a mirror in the hallway. 

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Chalk this up as a goof, but considering the fact that the movie deals with monsters, and more specifically the rules surrounding their existence (like whether or not vampires can be seen in mirrors), it’s kind of a neat goof.

3). According to the script and a snippet in a Night of the Creeps article in Fangoria (issue 61) the movie takes place in the bayous of Baton Rouge, LA.

Monster Squad TidbitSo for everyone wondering why there was a decrepit antebellum mansion out in the swamp right next to suburbia (and the Warner Bros. back lot town square), there you go.

4). The film makes a fun reference to Todd Browning the director of the 1931 Dracula film.

Todd Browning Reference

It’s either that or a nod to Rico Browning the stuntman/actor inside the original Creature From the Black Lagoon suit during all the underwater segments in the ’54 film.  Or both.  Yeah, let’s go with both!  Actually, in a deleted scene that’s available on the 20th anniversary DVD & Blu-Ray featuring Emily Crenshaw sitting in bed watching the news there are a lot more Universal Monster references.  The three girls that are kidnapped and eventually turned into the Vampire brides attended St. Whale Academy (a reference to Frankenstein and Bride of director James Whale).  It also mentioned that they were taken in the bayou country south of “Dwight Frye” (a reference to the actor who portrayed Fritz the hunchback in Frankenstein.)

5). Monster Squad was heralded in a scene in writer/director Fred Dekker’s previous film Night of the Creeps.

Night of the creeps MS reference

In a segment in one of the college bathrooms about halfway through the film the phrase “Go Monster Squad” is scrawled on a wall.  Dekker already had the go-ahead to make the film while shooting Creeps and added it as a fun way to point to his next project.

Similarly, there’s a reference in Monster Squad to the film that Dekker wanted to make next, though it unfortunately didn’t come to pass.  In Eugene’s bedroom Dekker has the production design team source and hang a poster for Jonny Quest, a dream project that he wanted to tackle.

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But don’t just take my word for it…

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6). There are two homages to E.T. and at least overt reference to the 1931 Frankenstein in the film.

ET Homage

ET

In the segment when the kids are making friends with the Monster there’s a bit where they’re walking in almost silhouette away from the camera with the orange sun setting.  This is paying homage to a similar shot in the Trick or Treating scene in E.T.

ET Homage 2

ET 2

In both films the young girls dress up the fantastical friends in lady’s clothes.

Frankenstein Homage

Frankenstein Homage 2

The Frankenstein reference is more overt as Phoebe is a modern interpretation of Maria from the 1931 James Whale film, though Phoebe spins the original on it’s head in terms of friend-making outcomes…

7). The Gillman has an image of the original ’54 Creature from the Black Lagoon sculpted into the suit by artist Steve Wang.

creature has the original created sculpted mini size on his neck

Though it’s not clearly visible in the film, the homage/artistic flourish that Wang etched into the Gillman’s suit is located on one of the scales on the creature’s neck.  Wang is on record saying that the original Creature is his favorite piece of monster special effects art, so it’s not surprising that he would give a tip of the hat to that incarnation in his own work.  I pinpointed my guess as to which exact scale in the image above, the one in blue.

8). Dracula’s Hearse has teeth molded onto the grill!

Teeth in the Grill

This was a little but  fun flourish that I didn’t take notice of until this past year, but I freaking love that detail…

9). In the script and in deleted scenes in the movie it’s evident that Emily Crenshaw is going to leave her husband Del. 

Mom leaving the Dad

Though they are fighting throughout the film and are evidently seeing a marriage counselor, it’s not really addressed just to what extent the mother is unhappy.  This script was much more clear though, and in  a number of deleted segments you can see the evidence, as well as in the scene where Del is running through the house at the end looking for Sean and Phoebe.  You can clearly see Emily has packed her bags and planing the split.

Deleted segment where Emily wishes there was more sex in the house…

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10). In the script there is a small joke where the creature darts his tongue out and eats a fly. A special animatronic head was built by Stan Winston Studio to accommodate this shot.

The creature was going to eat a lot more... 2

The creature was going to eat a lot more...

So, how about a couple more bonus bits of trivia?  The first is one that I think most folks already know?

11). When Rudy flashes the picture of Patrick’s Sister as blackmail, the photo he holds up is actually of  actress Lisa Fuller, fully dressed and standing by a pool.

The Real Picture

I fixed that for everyone…

The Real Picture Fixed

You’re welcome.

And finally, with the addition of the original deleted opening sequence Dracula is staked or impaled three times during the film!  Once by Van Helsing, once while landing on an iron fence spike after being bitch-slapped by Frankenstein’s Monster, and once by Sean.  That might be a record number of times that a vampire was staked in a single film :p

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Now it’s trading card time!

Monster Squad Wrapper

Since there was never any MS merchandise produced, specifically a Topps trading card set, I thought it would be fun to make a mini set of 80s-style digital trading cards for my favorite movie of all time. So come back each evening for Trick or Treats and collect them all!

Today’s card is #25, Sculpting the Gillman!

25 Sculpting the Creature F-B

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Monster Squad: Crappy Review Magnet

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nOne of the things I was looking forward to investigating about The Monster Squad was why it seemed to fail to capture the theater audience when it was originally released in mid-August, 1987.  I mean I saw it in the theater and LOVED every single frame, so it confused me years later when it seemed like no one even knew the film existed.  Certainly there were other kids like me who really dug the crap out of it, I mean so many of the other things I loved from the decade are kind of universally praised (Goonies, the Exlporers, The Last Star Fighter, Labyrinth, etc.)  Since 2007 it seems like long-time fans have been coming out of the woodwork, which is awesome, but where was this love in 1987?

The first place I decided to look was in various newspaper archives for at-the-time reviews of the movie and what I found is pretty revealing.  I’m not sure if folks were taking more stock in critics back in the day, but if they did I think I know why the movie tanked; everyone who reviewed the movie was apparently a jaded 70 year-old guy who could have easily played the part of the junior high vice principal in the Movie.  In fact, I think this first review was actually written BY Mr. Metzger!

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Spokane Chronicle Review Aug 14 1987

Actually it was written by Richard Freedman of the Spokane Chronicle, but the critic literally embraces a love for the vice principal (played by Gwill Richards), and goes on to say that he’s reasonable for declaring that “Science is Real, monsters are not.”  The review is written from the perspective of someone who thinks monster movies are merit-less (unless they’re the original Universal flicks).  He totally misses the point of practically everything in the film, and again sides with Horace’s lament that the kids should have joined the Math Club instead of battling monsters.  In fact, he lobs a grenade at the film for having the audacity to be a story about kids told from a kid’s perspective saying that the movie is “Hollywood’s conception of kid’s conception of monsters.”  But that is actually the beauty of this film, the fact that Fred Dekker didn’t speak down to kids, but instead had enough of a connection to his inner child that he could make a movie that speaks the truth of the adolescent.  That’s rare.  It’s why Spielberg was so successful with E.T. or Richard Donner with the Goonies.  Those movies are tapping into the imagination and thoughts that kids have.  What if monsters really existed and we had to stop them?  That is literally a thought I had as a kid the The Monster Squad answers that pondering on a pitch perfect note.

Similarly, the Washington Post’s review by Hal Hinson both misses the point and has little respect for the creature show work of Stan Winston’s studio…

“The Monster Squad, a horror comedy spoof about an unspecified town that breaks out in a rash of old movie monsters, was written by Shane Black and Fred Dekker. And I can just hear the story conference jokes now. They’d go something like: “We’ve got a script here from Black and Dekker.” “What is this, a studio or a hardware store?” Or, “You guys are great. When you’re finished with rewrites could you come over and sand my floors?”  Actually, given what’s on the screen, this little fact may explain a great deal — the movie plays like it was written with a power tool. 

The film’s basic premise is that the forces of darkness — represented by the Mummy, the Frankenstein monster, Werewolf, the Creature from the Black Lagoon and, last but not least, Dracula — are threatening to filch an amulet upon which depends the balance of good and evil and forever cast the world in shadow. This crystal, which is concentrated “good,” is located in an abandoned house on the outskirts of town (don’t ask me why), and the only thing standing in the way of this overwhelming awfulness is a gang of profane little brats who call themselves the Monster Squad.  Most of what’s included in this unapologetically scrambled mixture of “Goonies,” Hardy Boys adventures, “Ghostbusters” and Abbott and Costello monster films is bad actors wandering around in bad makeup and rubber masks and two kinds of kids — cute, intolerably noisy, smart-alecky kids and not-so-cute, noisy, smart-alecky kids. I don’t know which kind I liked least.  There are parents in the movie, too. The kind you only find in movies. The kind who look soulfully into the eyes of their progeny and say, “Do me a favor, willya? Put your basic lid on it.” And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the funniest line in the film.”

Seriously, he has the gall to both waste editorial space by mocking Dekker & Black’s surnames and claim that Winston’s crew was creating bad makeup and rubber masks (of the dime store variety I presume.)  Again, sounds like someone who dismissed the film before he even saw it, if he did at all.

Another review by Vincent Canby, the New York Times long running Chief Film Critic from 1969-2000, again blasts the monster effects for being cheap and rubbery, and he even goes so far as stating that Dekker has “some nerve” pointing to the idea that Leonardo Cimino’s character was a concentration camp survivor!  As if adding depth to a character in a “feature-length commercial for a joke store that sells not-great, rubber monster masks” is tantamount to heresy.

It seems like every review that I track down from 1987 is coming from the typewriter of stodgy old angry men, and if parents were listening closely to them at the time, no wonder they didn’t take their kids to see the flick.

So, onto the card of the day!

Monster Squad Wrapper

Since there was never any MS merchandise produced, specifically a Topps trading card set, I thought it would be fun to make a mini set of 80s-style digital trading cards for my favorite movie of all time. So come back each evening for Trick or Treats and collect them all!

Today’s card is #18, Scary German Guy!

18 Scary German Guy F-B

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Monster Squad Art, Part 2!

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nFor Day 2 of the Monster Squad fan art showcase I wanted to highlight a couple of seriously fun concepts.  First is the amazing work of Jason Edmiston who really knocked it out of the park with this Night of the Creeps/Monster Squad mash-up for Fright Rags

Jason Edmiston

Next is this totally rad idea for creating the VHS release advertisement for the “movie within a movie”, Groundhog Day Part 12 by Nathan Thomas Milliner!  I love that he gave this fake move the poster treatment…

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Alright folks, time to rip open that wax wrapper and snag your Monster Squad trading card for today!

Monster Squad Wrapper

Today’s card is #9, The Gillman!

9 Gillman F-B

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Monster Squad Art, Part 1

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nI thought it would be fun to showcase some of my favorite Monster Squad-themed art on the weekends this month, and who better to kick it off with other than a couple of seriously cool dudes who I am so happy to have originals of hanging in Branded HQ (not these pieces, but plenty of others.)  First up are some amazing sketches by one of my favorite comic book artists, Dan Schoening (of IDW’s Ghostbusters comics.)

MS Sketches Dan Schoening

I really love Dan’s eye for detail and the way he filters likenesses though his dynamic style.  If you get a chance, pick up his collected Ghostbusters comics work, you won’t be sorry!  Dan is also doing a really cool Halloween Countdown with monsters and creatures on post-it notes all month long!

Next we have one of the nicest folks I’ve ever met online, the awesome Christopher Tupa!

Christopher Tupa

Chris’ whimsey and his ability to tap into the wonder of childhood is unrivaled!  He is also participating in the Countdown to Halloween this year via his instagram account, check it out!

Now for today’s Trading card!

Monster Squad Wrapper

Since there was never any MS merchandise produced, specifically a Topps trading card set, I thought it would be fun to make a mini set of 80s-style digital trading cards for my favorite movie of all time. So come back each evening for Trick or Treats and collect them all!

Today’s card is #28, The Squad is formed!

28 How does he get up here F-B

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Deconstructing the Monster Squad Clubhouse

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nFor this special edition of Awesome 80s Bedrooms I thought I’d change things up a little and try my best to do a breakdown off all the cool stuff in the Monster Squad Clubhouse.  There is so much stuff in there with every flat surface literally wallpapered with movie posters and stills.  I’ll be honest, 60% of it I can’t figure out, or can’t see well enough to make out.  Either way there is still a ton of fun stuff I can identify.  First up, a nice shot of the clubhouse and the description that was in the script to set the mood…

MSClubhouse

Script Description

Let’s start with probably the most famous shot of the Clubhouse which appeared during the scene when the Club was giving Rudy the Monster Test…

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1). Return of the Living Dead movie poster (which is obscured by another poster that’s overlapping it on the bottom that I can’t identify…)

2). Hammer’s Vampire Circus movie poster

3). Movie still of Bela Lugosi as Dracula

4). The Being movie poster

5). Inhumanoids D’Compose action figure

So, technically, this next picture of the clubhouse is a “behind the scenes” photo (which I sourced from an issue of Fangoia), but I wanted to include it for completeness sake because it’s the only shot I know of that includes the ceiling.  This shot isn’t in the movie (that I’m aware of) but it includes some fun stuff like…

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6). Frightmare movie poster

7). Movie still of Jerry (Chris Sarandon) from Fright Night

8). Movie still from Critters (Couldn’t find the exact still for this one, but you get the idea)

Up next I’m gonna jump to a shot inside the clubhouse right after Dracula shows up to blow the thing to smithereens (a single tear just fell down my cheek)…

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9). Dr. Jekyll Aurora Monster Model Kit

10). The Hunchback Aurora Monster Model Kit

11). Famous Monsters of Filmland Issue 28

12). The Mummy Aurora Monster Model Kit

For 13, there are two posters I want to identify.  On the left is…

13a). Zombie (Zombi 2) movie poster

Then to the right of that in the shadows is one that I had a terrible time trying to figure out.  I reached out to the horror community, even to Fred Dekker (who was super kind with his time to answer, though he was stumped too.)  But my good buddy Ben Rollier of BatFan.com stepped up, tapped into his well of Batman detecting skills and solved the mystery!  Man I love the community on the internet…

13b). Hannah Queen of the Vampires movie poster from 1973

14). Movie still of the Ray Harryhausen Cyclops from the 7th Voyage of Sinbad

Next up…yet more movie stills and posters and stuff ;)

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15). Movie still of David Niven in Old Drac

16). Some of the club’s monster drawings including illustrations of the Gillman, Dracula, and Frankenstein’s Monster

17). Finger wall hook (these are seen ALL throughout the clubhouse…)

18). Godzilla, War of the Monsters movie poster

19). Movie still of Lon Chaney Jr. in The Wolfman

There’s a closer look at that Godzilla poster in this next screen capture…

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20). Blood of Ghastly Horror movie poster

21). Assorted Garbage Pail Kids and GPK puffy stickers…

22). Movie still of Sissy Spacek from Carrie

We get a few different angles in the scene when Rudy and Patrick are blackmailing Patrick’s sister to help them with some virginal German linguistics…

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23). Ultraman Toy

24). Metaluna the Mutant Model Kit by Tsukuda

25). Movie still from The Creature From the Black Lagoon

26). B&W Promo still of Robert Englund as Freddy Kruger

27). Inhumanoids Tendril action figure

I was really surprised to spot the next three toys in this scene with the Monster learning to talk…

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28). Roboto Masters of the Universe action figure

29). Mantenna Princess of Power action figure

30). Leech Princess of Power action figure

There are some more toys in this scene, as well as the boxes for those Aurora model kits of Dr. Jekyll and the Hunchback.  There are more toys on that makeshift shelf that I can’t identify…

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31). Remco 3 &  3/4″ Dracula action figure

32). Gillman model kit by Tsukuda

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33). Movie still from the 1925 Phantom of the Opera movie starring Lon Chaney Sr.

34). Movie still from the 1931 Dracula featuring Bela Lugosi and Edward Van Sloan

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35). Sssssss movie poster

Sssssss

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36). Still from Hammer’s The Curse of Frankenstein starring Christopher Lee as the Monster

Curse of Frankenstein

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And finally one more movie poster…

37). Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors movie poster

Dr Terror

Now, I need to print out a bunch of these photo and posters and start building my replica clubhouse!

As an added bonus, here’s an ACTUAL bedroom breakdown, a quickie featuring the only shot of Sean’s room from the film…

Seans Room

Sean’s bedroom appears for a split second in the film at the very start of the Rock Until You Drop montage sequence and even though it’s really quick there are a number of cool things lying about.  I can’t identify all of it unfortunately, like what appears to be a Creature From the Black Lagoon toy/statue on his dresser, or the specific issue of MAD magazine all the way on the left.  That being said, here’s what I could figure out…

1a). Famous Monsters of Filmland Issue 28 (he obviously brought it in from the Clubhouse…)

1b). MAD Magazine issue 199

Thanks to Erick of the rad Wonderful Wonderblog for identifying the issue of MAD magazine to the left of FMoF #28!

2). Inflatable T-Rex (for the life of me I couldn’t identify the specific model or maker)

3). MAD Monsters Issue 5

4). “This Place Gives Me The Creeps” mini poster

5). Fantastic Four Issue Number 1 Poster

6). Famous Monsters of Filmland Issue 29

7). Plastic Frankenstein’s Monster statue (again, for the life of my I couldn’t figure out the year or maker…)

Before I close this out, here’s today’s Monster Squad trading card!

Monster Squad Wrapper

Today’s card is #21, E.J. & Derek!

21 EJ and Derek F-B

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Monster Squad, my VHS holy grail…

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For the longest time it seemed like I was the only person who even knew that The Monster Squad existed.  After moving away from Florida during the winter of 1990 it seemed like I left behind everything I thought I knew and moved to a snowy wilderness where none of the other kids wore T&C Thrilla Gorilla shirts or obnoxiously colored surf shorts, nobody seemed to have a skateboard, and no one I met had heard of The Monster Squad.  New Hampshire felt like a completely different planet as a preteen who had spent the last 11 years growing up in sunny Tampa and Orlando.  During this period of change my mother and I developed some strange habits to try and stay connected to the world we left behind.  We had these daily ritual movie-watching sessions where we’d watch and rewatch the same handful of movies to a point where we knew every line of dialogue by heart and the tapes started to deteriorate.  VHS ownership was still an expensive hobby in 1990 as it was still in the middle of the initial boom and many catalog titles were only being manufactured for sale to video rental stores at exorbitant prices.  We had a handful of movies we’d taped off of HBO including a copy of Willow that I know for a fact was played over three hundred times during that year or so where we felt like we were in limbo.  And regular trips to the video rental shop were as important as eating or breathing.

I subsisted on a steady diet of about six VHS tapes that I watched to death, copies of Robocop and the first Tim Burton Batman flick that we owned, that beat up, taped copy of Willow, and rental copies of Rad, Red Dawn and The Monster Squad.  It was around this time that I developed a desire to own copies of the movies that I loved.  As I mentioned, buying copies of a lot of films was cost prohibitive as you had to purchase them through video store distributors and a single movie carried a price tag anywhere between $79.95 to well over $100.  For a thirteen year-old kid that seemed like an impossible dream.  When I could I’d tape movies off of HBO, which wasn’t perfect, but with recording in EXP mode and cramming three full movies on a single tape, the $5.99 per blank tape cost was much more in the realm of my budget.  Even so, I never managed to record The Monster Squad on TV, so it became the first hole in my collection, the movie I was constantly on the lookout for.

US Retail - Store VHS Vestron Advertisement 1988

I would have battled the vampire in the above VHS trade advertisement for a chance to own the flick.  Also, on a side note, I think it’s kind of funny just how much of the Monster Squad marketing riffed off of Ghostbusters, specifically in the ad above.  I guess the copy writers were trying their best to align it with the gold standard of horror comedies at the time.  “The Monster Squad ain’t afraid of no Ghouls!” indeed.

Getting back to my collecting woes, I wouldn’t own a copy of the film until a couple years after I graduated from high school.  In and around 1998 there was a rental store called Home Video in my neck of the woods that was beginning to thin out some of its stock to start making room for DVD rentals.  I had a full time job and was buying up VHS tapes left and right.  Though I had a pretty sizable collection (around 250 tapes at that point, which was a lot for the time) I still had yet to find a copy of The Monster Squad and by this time Vestron was no longer distributing the flick (if they were even still in business at all) so I was always on the hunt for video stores that were selling off their tapes.  So when I walked in and saw their clearance shelves I immediately started scanning the racks.  Right there in the middle of the second row was a copy of the movie complete with a faded cover from being in line of the direct sun for years on end, but I had to have it.  The store was asking for $30, which was still a pretty hefty price tag for me, but I plunked down a twenty and a ten and walked out with mt prize.

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MS VHS 3

I watched the ever living hell out of this copy of The Monster Squad, well over 200 times between 1998 and 2007 when the flick was finally released on DVD.  It’s still the gem in my movie collection even though I haven’t owned a VCR in almost a decade, and I can’t imagine ever parting with it.  Since this was released I’ve picked up the DVD, a copy of the laserdisc, and now the Blu-Ray.  I’m sure I’ll buy a copy when it’s released on a  holocube or whatever the hell the next format is.  Some people continuously buy copies of Star Wars over and over, but for me, it’s The Monster Squad.

Alright, now for today’s Monster Squad trading card!

Monster Squad Wrapper

Since there was never any MS merchandise produced, specifically a Topps trading card set, I thought it would be fun to make a mini set of 80s-style digital trading cards for my favorite movie of all time. So come back each day for Trick or Treats and collect them all!

Today’s card is # 1, Sean Crenshaw!

1 Sean Crenshaw F-B

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How I discovered the Monster Squad…

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I’m sure most Monster Kids can recall that moment when they were exposed to and ultimately fell head over heels in love with classic horror. That first experience where they stumbled upon an issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland, when they caught a glimpse of a Basil Gogos painting, found their first Aurora monster model kit, or tuned into their first local horror host screening a beat up old print of one of the universal classics on a Saturday afternoon. For me, I can pinpoint that moment to an almost exact place, date and time. I had just recently turned ten years-old, it was in Orlando on August 22nd 1987, at the Altamonte Springs Cineplex Odeon theater at roughly 4:00pm. I know that because that was when I attended a screening of Fred Dekker’s The Monster Squad with my childhood friend Bryan and my mind was blown by what transpired on that huge movie screen over the course of the next hour and twenty minutes.

The excitement had been building for a couple weeks prior to that screening. I had about $10 worth of saved birthday money in my black Velcro Jimmy Z wallet that was earmarked for a matinee at my local theater and there were a handful of flicks that I really wanted to see that summer. I wasn’t sure if I should get a ticket to North Shore (I lived in FL and was in the middle of my surfing/BMX/Skateboarding phase), the new live action Masters of the Universe flick (I was in the waning days of my initial love of that cartoon and toy line), or Garbage Pail Kids: The Movie. Then one afternoon I was hanging out with my friend Bryan at another kid’s house that I didn’t know all that well. That kid’s parents were out shopping and we were sitting at the kitchen table flipping through the Orlando Sentinel looking for the comics and movie announcements. We were making a mess of the Arts and Entertainment section, spreading it all over the kitchen trying to find the fun stuff when out of the corner of my eye I glimpsed an ad for a film I hadn’t heard of and the tagline had me diving over Bryan to snatch up the page.

“You know who to call when you have Ghosts. But who do you call when you have Monsters?”

Monster Squad Newspaper Ad August 14 1987 2

I wish the above picture was ripped from the Orlando Sentinel, but unfortunately their archive is mainly text, but pretty much everything else besides the theater location is what I saw that afternoon.  I remember drooling over the artwork in the ad, the iconic painting by Craig Nelson featuring a group of kid monster hunters hanging out on the hood of a hearse underneath a sky literally filled with monsters. It was like the Mt. Rushmore of classic movie monsters, and at that moment I knew exactly where the remainder of my birthday money was going. All thoughts of surfing vacations in Hawaii, Dolph Lundgren as He-Man, or little people in GPK costumes evaporated from my consciousness. In my spastic excitement Bryan and his friend had stopped spreading and paper out and they hovered over my shoulders to get a look at what I was obsessing over. They were hooked too. The Monster Squad sounded amazing to our 10 year-old brains, it was like The Goonies versus Halloween and we all decided that come hell or high water we’d be catching that movie as soon as possible.

Spokane Chronicle Page Spread Aug 14 1987

That afternoon was capped off with some weird drama as Bryan and I got into an argument with his friend about the use of his home phone and our now immediate need to call a 1-900 number to “hear a special monster message”, part of the Monster Squad theatrical advertisement that ran in the August 14th papers across the country (as seen above.) By calling 1-900-660-6666 we could actually talk to a freaking monster! Bryan’s friend was having none of it as he wisely knew that he’d get into huge trouble when the phone bill came and there were a bunch of charges that he’s have a tough time explaining away. No matter how much we needled him, no matter how much we cajoled, or offered a month’s worth of sack lunch Twinkies, he would not budge.  Needless to say we were bummed and in a fit of childhood stupidity Bryan and I stormed out of his house and sped away on our bikes in a huff. That little row lasted the entire week and on that next Saturday it was just Bryan and I packed into the rear-facing, fold-up station wagon seat en route to catch a screening of a film that would forever change my life.

Twenty Seven years later and I can still feel the visceral pull of needed to call that 900 number.  When I sat down to write this my mind raced.  Dare I dial it?  Would that recording still be ready to play, sitting on an aging cassette tape in some call center switchboard, just waiting for me to finally be brave enough (and financially stable enough) to accept the charges and hear a real live (er…recorded) monster tell me some juicy tidbits about their life, or my Horror-scope, or whatever cheesy message was in store?  I had some Skype-Out credit sitting in my account so I decided what the hell, what’s the worst that can happen?  Well, it’s my sad duty to report that the number is no longer in service.  Sigh.  That doesn’t mean my research stopped there.  I dug into the internet archives hoping someone else had written about, or hopefully recorded that original message.  No dice.  Well, not exactly.  Thankfully someone on youtube managed to rip an old 1-900-660-6666 commercial from a VHS tape and upload it, though for the final nail of my despair coffin the commercial was Christmas themed.  Apparently whoever held that number changed it out seasonally.  Still, kinda neat that my detective skills were unable to unlock that tidbit I guess.

So in place of the actual Call a Monster message, here’s asimilar horror-themed 900 hotline from back in the day.  I’m particularly fond of it as it was pimped by Al Lewis, Grandpa Munster himself and called the Jr. Vampires of America Club!

Also, this first post is just the taste of a much longer article that I recently wrote for the premiere issue of Monster Shindig magazine which should be debuting later this month!

Lastly today’s first Monster Squad Trading Card!!!

Monster Squad Wrapper

I made a mini set of 80s Topps-style digital trading cards for my favorite movie of all time, one that unfortunately never had an official set released (or any merchandise for that matter.) So come back each day for Trick or Treats and collect them all!

Today’s card is #10, The Mummy!

10 Mummy F-B

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Wait, there are four Ghostbusters?!?

ghostbusters_poster

Poor Winston Zeddmore and Ernie Hudson, it seems like outside of the Real Ghostbusters cartoon and the various comic book series Winston/Hudson is always getting the shaft.  Whether it’s being dropped from 95% of the merchandising of the first film not appearing on the posters or on some of the home video releases over the years, the fact that Hudson is snubbed for most of the film’s original trailer (there’s even a montage of everyone who is starring in the film and when it gets to Hudson, the footage is there but only silence from the announcer), or the fact that Hudson was even passed over when he auditioned to reprise the character in the cartoon for crying out loud.  Both the character and the actor can not catch a break.  I’m surprised they didn’t put William Atherton on the poster just to rub it in a little more…

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Well, I’ve been aware of these slights for awhile, but I never realized just how deep this snubbing went.  Last week I found that copy of Starlog (issue 98 from September of 1985) and while flipping through it there was a spotlight on Ernie Hudson, specifically in reference to his recent stint as one of the Ghostbusters.  At first I was just skimming the article because I thought it was probably a fluff piece, but the more I read the more I realized that even though he was overjoyed to work on the film and is happy with the final result, the Ghostbusters he helped make was not the one he signed on to star in.  In fact, if the version of the script that swayed Hudson to sign on had been filmed things would be a lot different!

Starlog 98

Sigh, Hudson doesn’t even get a blurb on the cover…

First of all, the way Hudson frames it in this article the character of Winston was in the film longer, originally hired at the outset with Janene when the trio of Stanz, Spengler, and Venkman open the business.  But aside from that there was originally a much richer back story for the character including the fact that he was ex-military, and not just some random guy off the street looking for a job.  He always felt like the odd man out in the films since he wasn’t a scientist like the other three (well Venkman is debatable.)  On top of those slights, some of his bits from the original script were dished out to other characters during filming.  For instance Winston was originally the character that was to be cornered by Slimer in the hotel hallway, which of course went to Bill Murray.  Then later in the film it was Zeddmore that had the Stay Pufy brain fart that brings the Destroyer in the form of a giant marshmallow man!  Well, at least he still gets the “big Twinkie” line…

You can read the article for yourself below…

So, what do you think, has Winston been getting the shaft?