Tag Archives: shane black

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. Recently heard Andre Gower on the Awesome 80s Podcast and he confirmed that this above sequence was indeed filmed, and holy crap, Liam Neeson played the part of the disguised Dracula “Stranger/Van Helsing” descendant.  Too cool, but I wonder if anything from this sequence survives…

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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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.

fan66001

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.)

fan67001

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…

fan70001

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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