Tag Archives: Halloween Countdown

Monster Merch!

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nThough the theatrical release of The Monster Squad was an unfortunate failure (grossing around $3.8M against a estimated $12M budget in its two week big screen run), looking back I’m surprised that there wasn’t even a miniscule attempt to merchandise the film.  Most of those decisions and all of that work typically comes in the year leading up to a movie’s release, and seeing how this was made at the apex of 80s era merch and branding when even films specifically aimed at adult (Robocop, Rambo II, and The Toxic Avenger) were getting toy lines, branded school supplies and lunchboxes.  In my eyes The Monster Squad is a licensing goldmine.  I mean there are great creatures to make action figures out of, there are a ton of catch phrases worthy of t-shirts, and they had a deal in place with both Burger King and Adidas, I mean come on, where are my BK Collector Glasses featuring the monsters or my navy blue satin Adidas jackets emblazoned with the Monster Squad logo?!?  Speaking of Adidas, I love this Monster Squad tie-in poster that was used in shoe stores back in 1987.  I wish I could get a better scan of it, but alas, this is not in my personal collection (I saw in on ebay years ago and stupidly passed on bidding…)  I would kill to have this on my wall now…

Monster Squad Adidas Ad

Anyway, getting back to the point, in the years since the movie came out and the cult and fandom have been increasingly growing, we would eventually see a handful of products produced.  The two main ones that spring to mind are both related to Stan Winston, Steve Wang and Matt Rose’s interpretation of the Creature, and both of which were high-end and limited releases that a lot of folks may have missed.  The first one I want to highlight is an official model kit of the Gillman designed by Steve Wang and sold by Kaiyodo in Japan around the mid 90s…

Kaiyodo 8

Kaiyodo 2

Kaiyodo Turnaround

Kaiyodo 4

Amazingly badass, this kit would look great on my shelf if I had the budget for buying such things.  the original model was not painted and is made of solid resin.  The example above was assembled and painted by Tom Gilliland (Sideshow Collectible’s creative director) and Don Rutherford and can be yours if you have $500 burning a hole in your pocket

The next item is another resin model, this time a full, to scale bead bust of the Gillman sculpted by Jeremy Bohr for Black Heart a few years ago…

gillman Black HeartSpeaking of the Gillman, back in 1988-89 we almost got an unofficial Monster Squad Gillman toy as a part of the doomed Mattel MaxFx line of Barbie doll-sized action figures.  You may have seen the MaxFx Freddy Kruger figure that was eventually released, but basically the concept of the line was to have a standard human doll on whcih you could preform your own special effects horror makeover.  The line was planned to be much larger than the figure or two that were eventually released before it disappeared from toy shelves, and part of that proposed line was a Creature From the Black Lagoon style figure that used the Monster Squad Gillman as it’s inspiration…

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The figure’s sculptor Mel Birnkrant details the whole sordid story over at his website and you can see some of his other figures in this youtube video he uploaded…

Now let’s take a look at today’s Trading card…

Monster Squad Wrapper

Today’s card is #24, Behind the scenes with Stan Winston and team!

24 Behind the Scenes F-B

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Monster Squad Art by Sara Turner!

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nToday is an extra special MS Fan Art day.  Last month I highlighted the work of Brian and Sara Turner of Cricket Press, and today I wanted to take a moment and share some of Sara’s rad Monster Squad related artwork.  I know Sara is as big a fan of this flick as me and I love the pieces she’s illustrated.  Please check out the Cricket Press blog and store, there is so much great artwork there!

So, a few years ago Sara and a bunch of her artist friends worked on a short-lived site for selling their daily warm up sketches and inks.  I loved this series she did of Monster Squad portraits for that project…

Just recently she revisted that concept and expanded it to feature all of the monsters and the Squad as part of a Portrait-a-Day sketch card project that she collected into a very neat mini art book!

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You can find the book at the Cricket Press etsy shop

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By far though, my absolute favorite piece of Monster Squad artwork that Sara has produced is this amazing illustration and screenprint of the MS clubhouse…

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What’s even cooler than that?  Well that a copy of this got into director Fred Dekker’s hands!

tumblr_lpn1e51H5A1qfnw74o1_500That’s pretty damn bad ass Sara!

And today’s card is…

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 #22, BO-GUS!

22 Bogus F-B
countdown button 200 2014 Robare

Monster Squad in Print, part 2…

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nEarlier in the month I shared a series of Monster Squad articles and interviews that appeared in the pages of Fangoria and Starlog magazine back in 1987, and as an addendum to that post I wanted to share a couple more vintage magazine articles that debuted after the film had already been released in the US.  As much as I love reading “lead-up” articles and interviews it next to impossible to avoid that pervasive sense of optimism and awe that comes with what basically amounts to PR and publicity (both from the perspective of the interviewer and interviewee. ” Of course <insert current film> is the best work I’ve <insert director> ever done.”  “Of course I loved ever second working with the actors, studio, marketing department, etc, etc, etc…”  It’s the nature of the game.

The best thoughts on a film come later, after it’s been digested by the audience and there is some distance to reflect and see how things fit into the bigger picture.  Unfortunately it’s rare that we get to see articles written from this perspective that aren’t 20 or 30 years or more out from the events; we hardly ever get articles written a year or two later that reflect on the success or failure, and if we do it’s usually only a postscript to the artist’s newest work.  That’s why this Starburst Magazine article from volume 10, issue 12 published in 1988 is fascinating.  Though the article is written to support the ’88 release of the film in the UK and Europe, Dekker has already felt the brunt of the US box office failure and is living in that moment of clarity with some distance and lessons learned.  It doesn’t hurt that the magazine is mainly a UK publication because that probably freed him up a bit to air some grievances…

Starburst Magazine Issue Vol 10 Issue 12 1

I also included a review there at the end that was originally published in Starburst Magazine vol. 10, issue 10 that is way more favorable than the critical reviews in the US.

I thought I’d also take a moment to share the cover article from Scary Monsters Magazine, issue 2 which was still being printed as a zine back in 1992.  There’s not a lot to the article except some straight forward clinical listing of plot and who the cast and crew are, but it’s still a fun bit of Monster Squad ephemera…

scarymonsters

The only other 80s era magazine that I am aware of that definitely had a Monster Squad article was issue 10 of Samhian (again, I think this was out of the UK), but I have yet to snag a copy for my collection.  Are there any other articles from the 80s that you folks are aware of?

Samhain Issue 10

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 #5, Phoebe “The Pheb” Crenshaw!

5 Phoebe Crenshaw F-B

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The Lost Pieces of The Monster Squad

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nLike most films there is some material that is in the script that just never makes to reality, or there are scenes filmed that either don’t work as well as intended or just don’t fit in the final film for one reason or another.  Sometimes this material is gold and it leaves one scratching their head as to why it was cut or went unfilmed, and sometimes it’s pretty damn obvious why the stuff hit the cutting room floor or was marked out of the shooting script with thick black Sharpie markings.  Either way, I tend to find wading through this stuff fascinating, and with The Monster Squad there is a lot of deleted scene gold to be mined, both in the script and on the screen.  Today I’m gonna take a look at some of my favorite lost pieces of the story…

First things first, have you guys ever noticed that something feels a little off about the opening of the film?  It opens with Dracula transforming and then admiring a coffin, and then, poof, he’s gonzo.  The opening text narration that fills us in on Van Helsing’s attempt to rid the world of monsters, and that he, well, blew it.  But how exactly did he blow it?  What went wrong?  What was the plan and why was Dracula nowhere to be found?  Well, in the script there’s a bit more to this sequence than in the final theatrical cut, a bit that answers these questions…

Alternate Opening Dracula Staked

HOLY CRAP that’s cool.  Seriously, Van Helsing is a badass!  But wait, why was this never shot, and what happens to Dracula after he’s staked?  One thing at a time folks.  First, believe it or not this sequence was shot and I have a picture that proves it…

Deleted Opening Dracula Staked photo

How rad is that?  Pretty damn rad if you ask me.  So, after Dracula is dispatched by Van Helsing, the body is loaded onto a wagon and towed to the castle.  The plan, as I gather from the script and context clues, is to find the (mostly) unprotected amulet (Dracula has it in his castle in the opening remember), have a virgin recite the incantation and to open a hole in Limbo that they can then chuck Dracula’s prone staked corpse into, along with any other monster that gets in their way.  Simple enough right?  Well, not so much, because you see, things didn’t go according to plan…

Deleted Scene Opening Karl

That’s right, Karl, though brave and great at slaying the ladies (of the vampire variety at least), goofs up and pulls the stake from Dracula to save his own neck, if only momentarily.  Bad move.  This scene was also filmed, and guess what?  It survived the last 27 years and is on youtube!  The scene was re-cut into the 2004 TNT TV presentation of the film…

Poor Karl.  Well, this explains Dracula’s disappearance.  Now tipped off to Van Helsing’s attack he got the fuck out of town.  Back in the castle things fall apart as they do in the film, except in the script there is an army of zombies rising from the floor of the castle, not just the two or three in the actual film, and they are too much to ward off and everyone gets sucked into the vortex of Limbo.  Cool huh?

The next deleted bit is kinda short but poignant and it involves a scene where Sean takes the majority of the silver bullets that Rudy made and before all hell breaks loose he reloads his dad’s gun with them.  Guess he was afraid the Wolfman would be the first to take his father on.  It also explains why Rudy only has one silver bullet when he faces down the Wolfman at the end of the film.  This was all part of the Rock Until You Drop montage sequence…

Deleted Scene Sean loads dads gun with silver bullets

This scene was also filmed and is on the 20th anniversary DVD and Bluray courtesy of Fred Dekker’s own archive…

deleted scene

The next lost bit was also filmed, as it’s the movie within a movie Groundhog Day Part 12, but the idea to focus on the film through Sean’s binoculars was sort of reduced in the final cut of the film.  This deletion makes perfect sense to me because dwelling on the “movie within the movie” would have greatly taken away from the emotional resonance of Sean and his dad hanging out on the roof watching the drive-in which is one of the more touching moments in the film.  But, if it were left intact you’d get a better idea of how Fred Dekker felt about modern horror at that time in the mid 80s…

Slasher Horror Movie Satire

This next segment that was cut from the film is a sequence that feels like it was ripped straight out of an episode of Scooby Doo complete with cantankerous villains wearing masks and goofy supernatural hypnotism.  Except in the Monster Squad the Scooby Doo reveal is turned on its head.  To set the stage, this occurs after the boys have made their way into the old abandoned mansion on Shadowbrook road in search of the amulet, right after the monster is taken out in the explosion but before the Wolfman Nard Kicking…

Deleted Scene Scooby Doo Moment 1

What’s this?!? A descendant of Van Helsing is in the mix?  Holy shit…

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Deleted Scene Scooby Doo Moment 2

Oh DAMN you old man ALUCARD!  Kinda glad this bit was cut, and I have no idea if it was ever filmed or not…

The last bit from the script, a segment that was filmed as well is a sweet moment at the end of the film.  When all the dust has settled and Limbo has closed back up, Rudy FINALLY get’s the girl.  There’s a bit in the Monster Squad Forever documentary with Ryan Lambert talking about this scene and how it’s a shame that it was cut because no one believes him.  Well, here it is in the script…

Deleted Scene Rudy Gets the Girl

You can see the lead up to this bit in a surviving deleted segment that was re-cut into the TV presentation that aired on TNT back in 2004…

Other than that, and the scenes that are on the 20th anniversary DVD/Blu-Ray there’s not much else worth noting that were left out.  Maybe this poop joke that Horace makes

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 #2, Rudy Halloran!

2 Rudy Halloran F-B

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The Writing Squad, taking a look at the Script for The Monster Squad

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nOne of the pieces of my Monster Squad collection that I love the most is a copy of the script that Fred Dekker and Shane Black wrote back in 1986.  I love digging into novelizations and scripts to see what differences there were between the initial idea and the final films, and since MS never had a novelization (a crime!), the script is the best source for variation and deleted scenes.  The copy I have is dated July 30th, ’86 and is marked as the third draft…

Cover

From what I have pieced together via old Fangoria interviews, commentaries and DVD featurettes, the initial idea Dekker had was to pit the Little Rascals versus the Universal Monsters a la Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein.  When he came up with the idea he was hip deep working on both Night of the Creeps and writing a script that would eventually become If Looks Could Kill, so even though he had studio interest in the concept, he took the ideas he’d written and handed them off to his college buddy Shane Black to take a stab at writing the script…

Fred Dekker

Black had been bombing out in his attempts to start his acting career, and he’s just sold a script about a phantom platoon in Vietnam, so he thought, what the hell and decided to sit down and write The Monster Squad.  As an exercise he decided to write the script in the same voice and style as Dekker who had a unique outlook on scriptwriting that is very unconventional in the industry…

Shane BlackBasically Dekker liked to address “the audience” and producers in his scripts, including a ton of asides that not only describe the tone and setting, but give back-story and also predict the way people should react to the scenes.  So reading a Dekker script is anything but dry!  Here’s some examples of how he would do that..

Example of the Script addressing the Audience 1

Example of the Script addressing the Audience 2

Example of the Script addressing the Audience 3

I love how the duo describe EJ & Derek as kids who will grow up, get ugly and sell shitty used cars, or the way they invoke the popcorn munching excitement of the finale…

Anyway, Black’s first draft of the script was apparently amazingly ambitious where he threw in everything he and Dekker would want to see in an Our Gang Vs. Monsters movie regardless of the potential budget to bring these ideas to fruition.  So for instance, in the opening of the movie when Van Helsing comes to vanquish Dracula he’s sailing in on zeppelins with an army of torch wielding villagers assaulting the castle.  I’d love to get my hands on a copy of that original draft.  The two then compared notes and then Dekker took a another pass at editing down and tightening the script and eventually the two agreed on the draft that I was able to procure.

At the end of the day what ended up in this third draft is very much what ends up on film, though there are a handful of deleted and alternate scenes that are pretty darn cool.  Today I want to focus on some of the alternate versions of scenes and I’ll come back tomorrow and share a bunch of the cool deleted segments.  So, in terms of alternate, I guess what I’m getting at is that some scenes played slightly different from script to film and were either slightly more intense or there were characters that end up slightly different from page to screen.  For instance, Eugene was envisioned as a much more timid character, one that has “no business” being in a monster club as we see in the descriptive text from this deleted scene (alright, I’m including one deleted scene, but not because it’s particularly as a scene, it’s the descriptive stuff about Eugene that stuck out to me…)

Eugene is the character most different from the movie

So, as Sean alludes in the final film, the rest of the Squad ends up actually going to see Groundhog Day Part 12 at the drive-in and we get this short joky bit with the kids in Eugene’s father’s car.  He’s described as wearing cutesy Pooh Bear PJs and is scared to death, which is not how he ultimately ends up coming across in the final film.  From the Bedroom breakdown I did we can fully see that he’s a fan of some violent comic book characters (Dreadstar, the Punisher and Wolverine), and instead of Pooh Bear he prefers Robotech PJs.  Not only that but nothing really seems to phase the kid outside of an actual monster hanging out in his closet or all hell breaking loose in the final sequence.  I love how he dead pans to Sean that the “Creature stole my Twinkie…” or that “Mummy came in my house…”  The Eugene described in the script would have tendered his resignation to the club as soon as the Mummy shuffled out of his window that night…

Another deviation from script to screen was the whole naked photo of Patrick’s sister business.  In the film, aside from Rudy ogling her through a camera set up in the clubhouse, the whole thing plays off as a perfect accident as Frankenstein’s Monster accidentally snaps a photo of her undressing that Rudy later has processed and they use it to eventually blackmail her into being their virginal incantation reader for the final showdown.  In the script there is no accident about acquiring that photo.  In fact, it’s all part of the plan…

Alternate sequence of the naked photo 1

This stuff plays way more into the Our Gang origins of the Squad as they try their damnedest to get a photo of Patrick’s sister naked…

Alternate sequence of the naked photo 2

It’s eventually Horace that snaps the picture as the rest of the gang has to literally drag a horny monster away from Patrick’s house!

There are also a lot of sequences in the script that are way more intense than they would eventually end up in the finished film, particularly during the final fight in the town square.  For instance, in the bit where Horace faces off against the Gillman, in the final film he gets trapped between the monster and the locked door of the town magazine shop (where EJ & Derek are hiding.)  Horace of course realizes he can’t run and blows the creature away.  But in the script this plays out a bit different as he uses the shotgun to first decimate the glass door of the shop in one last ditch effort to get away, and also to take his anger out on the bullies…

More Intense Scene Hoarce Final Battle

I get why this was toned down, I mean the idea of one kid holding a shotgun on another is a little crazy, but man would I have loved to see EJ pee his pants…

A lot of the sequences involving Dracula in that final fight play out more intensely too, including the face-off between him and the Monster…

More Intense Scene Frankenstein and Dracula Final Battle

This sequence not only has Dracula hit so hard that he flies up and impales himself on a large cross (instead of an iron fence spear), but it also reveals that the Monster was more mortally wounded (is that possible?) in the old house explosion.  It describes him as having his face caved in!  Ouch!  Bo-gus, indeed.

Lastly today I wanted to point to just how brutal the final fight between Sean and Dracula was scripted…

More Intense Scene Sean and Dracula Final

I mean holy crap!  That is a fight.

Tomorrow I’ll be back with a look at a bunch of deleted scenes from the script, but until then, here’s today’s trading card!

Monster Squad Wrapper

Today’s card is #7, Frankenstein’s Monster!

7 Frankenstein F-B fixed

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Monster Squad: International

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nYesterday I took a look at the main US poster artwork for The Monster Squad (painted by Craig Nelson) as well as some alternate roughs that were potential candidates.  Today I’m going to take a look at the rest of the posters that were released around the globe.  Let’s start by taking a look at a super rare US black & white one-sheet that used a Wanted Poster theme and seems very much in line with the Nelson concept rough with the suction dart…

US Poster 2

Straight away this poster seems like a misfire on a couple of levels as it doesn’t feature an image of Duncan Regehr as Dracula, instead a wide-eyed model with a severe widow’s peak.  Eschewing Regehr is bad enough, but invoking the vampire’s widow’s peak was actually something the production was striving to avoid as that is an aspect of “Dracula” that I believe is copyright Universal Pictures.  I know that Stan Winston’s team worked hard to avoid the Universal-owned aspects to the monsters so it’s strange to see it pop up so randomly in the marketing.  It might also speak to the rarity of this poster as it potentially infringed on copyright.  That being said, I do think the idea is pretty neat, especially when geared towards the younger audience that the movie appeals to.  I love the distinguishing characteristics of the finger prints too, in particular the weird detail that Dracula’s visage is embedded in his.  Though something that’s a little questionable is the Statutory-Wrap pun on the Mummy side of the poster.  I mean, that is funny, but wow, a little much for a tween film I think.  I wonder if there’s a variation of this poster with the rest of the monsters?  I’d love a set of wanted posters for all five honestly.  For the record, these were posted in subways and on bus stops around the country in 1987

Alright, leaving the US, let’s take a trip all the way on the other side of the globe, way down under in Australia…

Austrailian-Poster

This poster was painted by Aussie artist Brian Clinton and is one of my favorite alternate posters for the film.  He’s also done work on films like Crocodile Dundee and Razorback.  Aside from the spot on likenesses and the inclusion of the ENTIRE Squad (yes, Phoebe is a member in good standing), I really love the way he added the monsters as shadows at the bottom of the frame.  Granted, Rudy is missing his rolled up pants legs and the Frankenstein Monster’s bolts are back on the neck (another Universal flourish), but the concept is rad.  This Poster also features a logo variation that ditches the italicized, rounded mini “The” in favor of keeping the work in a consistent font. Also, the image of the Squad here was taken from some of the promo photos that were done to market the film…

Now let’s take a trip over to Europe, specifically Germany and take a gander at that poster…

German Poster

In the tradition of never featuring the entire Squad on any one poster, this German design nixes Patrick and Phoebe in favor of Pete the dog.  Not a bad deal for Pete!  I also love that this one features the vampire brides and is one of the few posters that nixes Dracula in favor of the other four monsters.  I will say that the poster features a bunch of spoilers, whether it’s the Mummy unraveling, Horace wielding a shotgun (okay, he’s holding it in the Australian poster too), or Frankenstein’s monster waving goodbye as he’s sucked into Dumbo, er, Limbo.  Still though, one of the better international posters.  Also, now that I’m thinking about it, I wonder how the segment of the film where Patrick’s sister sucks at reading/speaking the language works in the German dub?

Hanging around Europe for a bit, let’s take a stroll over to Italy, home of the weirdest and, um, sexiest Monster Squad poster of them all…

580-Italian-Monster-Squad-Poster

Sooo, the artwork on this poster was either re-purposed from another project or the artist/distributor didn’t give two flips for accuracy.  Actually, in all seriousness, I wonder if this design was intentional in that “illustrates” the horror comedy tone of the film.  There are a lot of posters out of the 60s that are similarly wacky but are more about conveying tone than story.  It’s just a guess.  Either way, WHOA, look at them hogans on the Bride!  Ha cha cha.  So what if they substituted the Bride of Frankenstein for his Monster?  Also, the keen observer will notice the silhouette of the Gillman in the background on the bottom right, so the gang’s all there (kind of.)  Last, thank goodness they’re doing the Rockettes dance number because that pants-less Wolfman leg is saving us all from having to look at his wolf dork.

How about we head back to western Europe and check out the poster that hails from Spain…

Spanish Poster

This poster wins the award for the most dynamic perspective hands down.  I love the way the artist decided to zoom up and away from the action, highlighting the monster’s attack on the town as almost a western-style standoff!  If you look closely all the elements are there from the clock tower (this scene was filmed on the Warner Brothers back lot) to the Squad (you can see four smaller fold out in front of the townspeople that I assume are Sean, Horace, Rudy and Patrick), as well as Scary German Guy’s truck in the back left (where I assume he, Eugene and Phoebe are milling about.)  All in all a really neat design…

How about we dip back into the weird and cross back over the Atlantic to take a peek at the poster from Mexico…

Mexican Poster

Probably the most colorful poster, to a level of gaudiness that even the Italian poster doesn’t achieve, it’s still only about 80% off model so Italy still wins on that front.  I find it fascinating that the artist took suck pains to accurately depict Duncan Regehr as Dracula, but then threw the idea of avoiding Universal copyrights out with the bathwater by casting Boris Karloff as the Monster.  This is also the first poster to work in publicity stills, which I think is kinda neat.  FYI, if you need the tagline to the film translated into Spanish, it’s up top.  Also, The Squadron of the Monsters sounds like a movie that I need to see post haste!

For this next poster let’s hop over to the UK for our first re-purposing of Craig Nelson’s US art…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The UK marketing campaign is sort of like the US one on steroids, what with their amped up logo and all the little flourishes they added to Nelson’s artwork (the lightning around Dracula’s hearse, the red eyes on the monsters and having the headlights of the car blazing.)  I also love that they added the logo to Horace’s shirt.  Can’t quite make out the word they added to Patrick’s shirt (Rams?) though.  Speaking of artwork reuse, let’s hop on over to Asia and check out a couple posters, the first from Korea…

Korean Poster

This one features both the Spanish poster and a chunk from the American one as well as utilizing a still of the Wolfman in mid-transformation.  I love that the yellow bat in the logo is the same bat from one of the alternate US logos (that bat also pops up int he logo of the Mexican poster too…)

The second Asian poster and final one that I have is the one from Japan.  Unfortunately the image is shit quality as I’ve only ever seen it pop up on ebay from time to time and all the sellers just use the same image that’s floating around the internets.  Yes!  Thanks to Michael Jones at My Two Yen Worth for providing the kanji of the title (ドラキュリアン) that enabled me to find a much better quality version of the Japanese poster!!!  Also he’s doing a rad Halloween Countdown that is from a uniquely Japanese perspective, so check out his site!

Basically a retread of the US poster with a million and a half font flourishes.  At least the bat pops up again in the kanji at the bottom…

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So there you have it, all of the posters that I am aware of for The Monster Squad across the globe.  Which one is your favorite?

Now for today’s trading card…

Monster Squad Wrapper

Today’s card is #11, The Wolfman!

11 The Wolfman F-B

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Craig Nelson’s Mt. Rushmore of Monsters

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nThe first time I saw the main US poster for The Monster Squad it was in the small black and white ad in the Arts & Entertainment Movie section of the Orlando Sentinel just over 27 years ago.  Even in that tiny format I was excited by the design and the artwork, and it wouldn’t be until almost 20 years later when I realized who was responsible for designing and painting the image.  Craig Nelson is a prolific poster artist have painted works for movies like Slapshot, Homeward Bound, Moscow on the Hudson, John Wayne’s The Cowboys, and Garbage Pail Kids: The Movie, but his work I am the most familiar with is obviously The Monster Squad.

US Poster

The idea of working all of the monsters into the night sky framing the Squad as they loiter on Dracula’s hearse is such a cool idea.  It’s almost literally the Mt. Rushmore of monsters.  But this poster wasn’t the only idea Nelson had as there were a couple of earlier concept roughs that illustrate the range that the studio was looking for.  First up, let’s take a look at another variation on the same basic idea, except instead of arranging the monster’s visages as a giant cloud mountain, they were more general floating otherworldly heads in the storm behind the kids…

Craig Nelson Alternate Comp 2

The same basic gist is there, but it’s not nearly as effective at conveying the epic nature of the movie that the finished piece achieves. Even still, it’s really cool to get to see a rough variation that would lead to the final piece.  This second concept was a much more tongue in cheek pass at the poster featuring a rubber dart and a completely different tagline…

Craig Nelson Alternate Comp 1

Honestly, the concept isn’t horrible, I actually think it’s cute, but it would have probably hurt the film even more than the unfortunate marketing already did. Again, it’s awesome to get a chance to see what was being kicked around before the final version was approved and painted.  I wonder how many other ideas were bandied about?

Also, since I just realized today that Mr. Nelson also did the fantastic painting for the Garbage Pail Kids: The Movie poster, here’s that work as well.  I totally saw these two flicks as a double bill of sorts on August 22nd, 1987.  I had no idea Nelson did both posters!

Cover Small

So, on to 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 evening for Trick or Treats and collect them all!

Today’s card is #15, The Monster Squad Clubhouse!

15 Clubhouse F-B

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Design Squad: The Stan Winston Creature Concepts for The Monster Squad

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nWhen it came to breathing life into the monsters, Fred Dekker and the production sought out one of the masters in the field of special effects makeup and design, the legendary Stan Winston.  Having just come of work on films like The Thing, Terminator and Aliens, Winston and his stable of artists were taking Hollywood by storm.  With The Monster Squad, Winston left most of the heavy lifting up to his studio, in particular artists such as Steve Wang and Matt Rose who handled the Gillman, Tom Woodruff Jr. who took on Frankenstein’s Monster, Alec Gillis who took the reigns on Dracula’s bat transformations, contacts and fangs, Shane Mahan who worked on the Mummy, and John Rosengrant and Shannon Shea who handled the Wolfman…

effects artists

Matt and Steve

But Stan was far from hands off on the project.  Like the director on a movie set he was providing direction, guidance and conceptual design.  Here’s a look at some of his sketches for the monsters, starting with his ideas for the Wolfman and Frankenstein’s Monster…

Wolfman and Frank

Part of what Winston was trying to achieve was to modernize the look of the creatures, but he also wanted to distance these designs from those of the classic Universal monsters since those likenesses were copyrighted.  So with Frankenstein’s monster the flat top head and features that resemble Boris Karloff and Jack Pierce’s design had to be avoided.  So he rounded the head and made the sutures on the forehead more prominent.  Later, when Woodruff started sculpting and augmenting Winston’s concept he’d make the monster look more natural and would shift the neck bolts to the temples.

With the Wolfman Winston wanted to avoid making the character into an outright werewolf, still retaining the feel of a man, yet bringing more of the wolf into the design of the face, straying from the Pierce Lon Chaney Jr. look.  He did this by adding a small snout and making the eyes more wide set.  He also shifted the ears to the top of the head.  In the end the design sit on the line in between Universal’s incarnation and the designs in the Joe Dante Howling film.

For his Mummy design, Winston made the creature more decrepit than Karloff and Pierce’s incarnation by accentuating the sunken features to an extent where the face is almost a living skull.  He also upped the gore/decay factor a bit by having the lips shrunken and drawn back from the teeth on his left side giving the impression of a seriously old, dried up monster.  Mahan would again take this design even further and make the mummy a true ancient walking corpse…

Stan Winston Mummy Concept Drawing

Probably the most drastically altered character in the group would be the Gillman.  Winston’s initial pass at the creature was very alien and way more toned down then the character’s design would become…

Stan Winston Creature Concept Drawing

On his second pass he accentuated the amphibian features, added prominent top and side head fins, and he gave the creature fangs.

Gillman

As a small bit of trivia, it’s said that John Rosengrant sculpted the Wolfman’s face to resemble that of Winston.  I don’t know, what do you guys think?

Untitled-7

Now for today’s card!

Monster Squad Wrapper

Today’s card is #17, Wolfman’s got Nards

17 Nards F-B

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My name is Robare, Shawn Robare Advertising Detective…

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nThis past Friday a super cool Branded in the 80s reader from Spain (Emilio D.) sent me a bunch of pictures of cool Spanish VHS and DVD releases of The Monster Squad in response to my Dead Media Library article showcasing a bunch of the home video releases of the film.  Included in the batch of pictures was also an interesting Spanish newspaper advertisement from 1988 (that he found here) for the movie that was a little “mixed up”.  I wanted to take a second and examine it for a bit because there’s some really fun aspects going on in this 26 year old piece of amazing ephemera…

Spain-Monster-Squad-Ad

So first and foremost, the Spanish title of the film is Una Pandilla Alucinante (also the title used in Latin America), which roughly translates to An Amazing Gang (squad is Escuadrón, which we’ll see in some other posters later in the week by the way.)  Right off the bat (pun fully intended) Monster Squad super fans will notice the font in the title is the same for the North American release, but if you scroll down to the bottom you can also see the credits are clearly in English (well, mostly) and are for MS.

Now, the artwork.  So, that’s clearly a painting of Vincent Price on the left there, and as any fans of his later work will know this artwork comes from the poster for his 1981 anthology horror comedy The Monster Club (directed by Roy Ward Baker and also starring John Carridine and Donald Pleasence.)

TheMonsterClub_quad_UK_GrahamHumphreys-1

So, weighing this, The Monster Squad/The Monster Club, I can see how this goof up happened, especially when you consider it was in another country where they might not be as versed in our films, etc.  In fact, for years before Monster Squad was available to purchase to the public on VHS (or more importantly DVD) my mom would always try and hunt it down for me as a birthday gift.  Being on top of the scuttlebutt of the film’s release I would always tell her not to bother, that it wasn’t available, but she was adamant and would call every Suncoast, Best Buy and Media Play in town and try and order me a copy.  Of course she wasn’t quite sure what it was she wanted, so aside from being super caring and sweet she would always inadvertently order copies of The Monster Club (or Little Monsters on occasion)  as it was all these folks could order from their distributors!  So I kind of have a strange affinity for this foreign newspaper editorial mix up!

But wait, look more closely at the ad, because this is just where it starts getting interesting (I say realizing that I’m quite possibly the only one who actually finds this interesting…)

Spain-Monster-Squad-Ad

Is that Herman Munster off to the right?!?  Why yes, yes it is!  He is very obviously missing from the original Monster Club artwork.  Now aside from it being a cool little addition (I do so love that TV series), it kind of becomes clear that the reason he was added into the art is so that all five Monster Squad monsters are present and accounted for!  So this wasn’t actually a mix up per se, but intentional.  Weird.

HermanBut wait, there’s more changes.  The Mummy and the Creature?  Though they look really neat, they were also NOT in the original artwork!

Mummy Creature

TheMonsterClub_quad_UK_GrahamHumphreys-3

There was a weird four-eyed beast, and, well, I think that might actually be a Frankenstein-esque monster that they changed into a mummy.  My head is spinning.  At this point I’m wondering what actually happened that lead them down this convoluted path to get to the final advertisement?!?  Why didn’t they just use the Craig Nelson artwork like 90% of the other countries in the world?  So.  Weird.

Then there is the tagline/artwork text which reads…

El Conde Dracula
Frankenstein
El Hombre Lobo
La Momia…
Nos visitan juntos por primere vez.

Which roughly translates to: Count Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolfman, The Mummy… Visit us for the first time.  The Creature (or Gillman) totally gets the shaft.

Well, there you have it.  This is the kind of stuff that both excites me and makes me wonder if I chose the wrong career path in life.  How can I make a living out of staring at 30 year-old ephemera to figure out mysteries that absolutely no one on Earth cares about?  My name is Robare, Shawn Robare Ephemera Detective…

 Well, now for today’s trading card…

Monster Squad Wrapper

Today’s card is #3, My name…IS HORACE!

3 Horace F-B

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Monster Squad Art, Part 4!

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nFor part 4 of the Monster Squad art showcase I wanted to share something a little different today, a custom piece of action figure art!  I found this artist who called himself G.I. Joseph on the Hisstank.com forums.  He made this totally rad Rudy figure using 25th anniversary G.I. Joe figure parts…

RUDY0RUDY1RUDY5

He also provides the “recipe” on how to construct your own!

head – Fred/Crimson Guard
torso/belt – Breaker
arms – Cobra Officer
hands – Resolute Duke
jacket – Mutt/Indiana Jones
legs – Pit Commando
bow & arrows -POC Spirit
gun – Tunnel Rat

Next up is this fun conceptual guide on how to kill the monsters by Dave Perillo

Dave Perillo

Now for another 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 evening for Trick or Treats and collect them all!

Today’s card is #26, The Crenshaws stick together!

26 The Crenshaws F-B

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