Tag Archives: the monster squad

A Month of the Monster Squad comes to an end…

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nFirst off, Happy Halloween folks!  This past month has been an absolute blast for me.  Not only did I get a chance to talk (a lot) about my favorite movie of all time, but it’s been super rewarding for me on a personal level.  Whether it’s been through doing research for the articles, sharing them or the reactions I had some amazing experiences over the past 45 days.  Getting to chat with some awesome die-hard fans, sharing some stuff from my collection that a lot of people hadn’t seen before, or connecting with a bunch of the people who worked on the film (including director/writer Fred Dekker, stars Andre Gower, Michael Faustino & Ashley Bank, and amazing artists Craig Nelson and Steve Wang.)  It makes my head spin!

tumblr_mt1mpxrnUh1shliigo1_500Seriously, this has been the October to top all others in my book.  I also had an absolute blast making the set of Topps-style trading cards and sharing those all month.  My initial idea when I set out was to make the set of cards and have that be my primary content for the month along with writing about a week’s worth of articles that I would pepper here and there.  As I started writing the articles though I found more and more things that I wanted to discuss until it got to a point where my to-write list was becoming longer than the days available in October to share them!  Then my good friend and co-host on the Cult Film Club podcast, Paxton Holley, sent me a rad piece of MS fan art that completely summed up what I really wanted to do…

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Do you remember back in the 80s before DVD special features, back before there were bootlegs at conventions with special rare director’s cuts of film, when the only way to get the inside dirt on your favorite flicks was via Official Souvenir Magazines?!?  I used to love these things and had them for films like Batman, Back to the Future, Gremlins, Karate Kid I & II, and The Explorers.  These magazines were a treasure trove of trivia, behind the scenes photos, and promotional art (like these two articles I wrote about The Goonies magazine.)  Well, The Monster Squad never had one of these, and even though there has been a cult following of fans over the years that have been singing the praises of the film and writing short pieces online, there was no good place to collect all this awesome information.  So when Pax sent me that rad cover above it really hit me that I was really trying to create a digital version of just that.  Whether I was successful or not, eh, who knows, but I had a blast trying and knocked a bunch of stuff off the bucket list in the process of creating this content.

So thanks for reading, coming by to scope out the cards, or comment on any of these articles! If you like what you read here and want to do something that I think would be fun, do me a favor and go Like Fred Dekker’s facebook page (he was super freaking awesome and shared a bunch of my posts this month which kinda blew my mind – see the Beetlejuice gif above for my reaction), follow Andre Gower (a really swell guy who was also super gracious to retweet and respond my my silly posts), Ashley Bank, and Ryan Lambert on twitter and let them know Branded sent ya.

And last but by no means least, today I have the final two Monster Squad trading cards.  Here’s the second to last card #33, Van Helsing Stakes Dracula!

33 Van Helsing Stakes Dracula F-B

And finally, to complete your set of unofficial Topps-style Monster Squad trading card set here’s card #20, Sean Gets Some Help!

20 Sean Gets Some Help F-B

I also wanted to take a second and pull all the custom Topps-style trading cards I made for the film together in one post, in order, cause I’m pretty proud of these…

Monster Squad Wrapper

Alright, THAT’S A RAP!

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Monster Squad: The Behind the Scenes Extravaganza!

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nToday is mostly going to be a huge picture dump because I think most of these behind the scenes images speak for themselves.  But I also wanted to take a moment and point to the blog and videos of one of the Monster Squad crew members (who was working with Stan Winston at the time), Mr. Shannon Shea, who has been doing as much if not more than others when it comes to keeping the flame of the movie alive.  Shea worked as an assistant special effects artist to a lot of the other folks on the crew (though he mainly assisted John Rosengrant on the Wolfman, specifically the hands and feet), and he ended up with some amazing behind the scenes footage from the Winston creature shop that I’m surprised hasn’t gotten more attention on youtube.  There are two videos he’s posted so far, one that is a edit of a bunch of the different Monster projects that were going on in the studio and a second that’s a test of the radio remote controlled Wolfman limbs that’s pretty fun.  Both videos have a ton of great stuff hidden in them for fans of the movie.  So go check out Shannon’s site and his youtube channel as well where he also has behind the scenes videos of him working on other films like Evil Dead 2!!!

This first video is about 12 minutes long and is chock full of rad stuff including the artists at work, concept sketches and some fun trivia…

Here’s the Wolfman limb tests.  I love that they went in this direction for that scene, mainly because I kind of want a radio remote controlled Wolfman arm to play with in my cul-de-sac…

And here are all of the behind the scenes images I’ve collected over the years, as well as a couple screen-graps of neat stuff from the videos above.  In the second row, second to the last there is a picture of two of the sculpted Wolfman forearms and hands.  These look awesome, but were unfortunately ditched because they were made in the wrong scale.

And today’s trading card is…

Monster Squad Wrapper

Today’s card is #23, Van Helsing Lends a Hand!

23 Van Helsing F-B

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The stars came out for the Monster Squad Premiere…

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nThere are conflicting dates recorded for when The Monster Squad had it’s official movie premiere party, at least if you go by the dates associated with celebrity sitings at the event (I’ve seen June 3rd and August 11th, 1987 as potential dates.)  But I do know that it was held at the Hard Rock in Hollywood and there was an interesting mix of A-B list celebrities that came out for the flick.  Though normally I wouldn’t find this terribly interesting, it’s kind of neat that the production brought out actors to portray the monsters in costume for the event and I believe they ended up using the Stan Winston suits and appliances for at least the Gillman, Wolfman, and Mummy, and I think Frankenstein’s Monster as well.

So, who showed up for the event?  Michael Douglas for one…

Michael Douglas 8-11-87

Also, Arnold-freaking-Schwarzenegger!

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I’m not sure but based on these two photos it looks like there were either a couple of different stand-ins for Duncan Regehr playing the part of Dracula (both of which look like Joe Flaherty’s Count Floyd from SCTV)…

Count-Floyd…it’s either that or maybe there were two premiere parties for the movie.  One of my favorite celebrity sitings at the party is none other than Kiefer Sutherland who was hot off the release of The Lost Boys.  I love the idea of him hitting up other horror flicks at the time, specifically this film…

Premiere of "Monster Squad"

“Look out David, there’s a Wolfman behind you!”

Premiere of "Monster Squad"

Now I kinda want to see a battle between the Lost Boys vampires and the monsters from the Monster Squad, but I am way too old to be writing fanfic.  I’ll just leave that one in my head…

This next set of pictures I have features Michelle Phillips from the band The Mamas & The Papas who had a run in with the Gillman, which make for some really neat photos.  The keen observer will notice Jason Hervey (EJ in the film) in the background too!

Actress and Singer Michelle Phillips Attends Movie Premiere

Next, here’s a picture of Andre Gower attending the premiere in his rad Stephen King shirt and Crew jacket…

Andre Gower In MS Wardrobe and Crew Jacket 1987

I also have this super rad clipping from the August 1987 issue of Teen Set magazine featuring Gower, Drew Barrymore, Kirk Cameron, Jason Lively (from Night of the Creeps), and director Fred Dekker!

Teen Set Clipping August 1987

Lastly, here’s another picture of Fred Dekker (with his family), which is one of the few shots of him I was able to find from the time in and around the making of The Monster Squad

Fred Dekker 8-11-87

So, based on Dekker’s outfits being different in the two photos I think this points to the fact that there were at least two premiere screenings events for the flick.

Other guests that attended that night included Billy Crystal, Meatloaf, and Regis Philbn and family.  Unfortunately there are no photos of them being accosted by monsters (damn!) Star Studded indeed…

So without further to do, here’s today’s trading card!

Monster Squad Wrapper

Today’s card is #8, Dracula!

8 Dracula F-B

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Interview with Monster Squad poster artist Craig Nelson!

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nSo I had the opportunity and pleasure to sit down and have a chat with the really cool and gracious artist who painted the original Monster Squad US poster, Mr. Craig Nelson.  Craig has work has been inspiring me for the past three decades and it was a real treat to get a chance to pick his brain about working in the commercial art field as well as listening to him reminisce about his Monster Squad memories.  He has a really wonderful eye for light and shadow and has a very unique perspective on fine art.  Check out his website to see a ton of examples of his work, and hit him up on facebook and tell him Branded sent ya!  You can also see his work at the Ella Richardson Gallery, the Garden Gallery, and my personal favorite exhibition at the Waterhouse Gallery where you can see his works detailing vineyard workers that we discuss in the interview.

Craig Nelson Interview art

You can either click on the picture above, or click here to stream (or right click and select download to listen at your leisure.)

Now for today’s trading card!

Monster Squad Wrapper

Today’s card is #13, The Monster Squad!

13 Monster Squad F-B

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Monster Squad Art, Part 8!

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nFor this last part of the Monster Squad art showcase I wanted to share a few pieces of art.  First up is this weird piece by Garbage Pail Kids artist Brent Engstrom who literally envisions a monster mash-up!

Brent Engstrom

And finally, probably the most well known piece of Monster Squad fan art, the poster illustrated by Tyler Stout for Mondo

Tyler Stout

Let’s scope out today’s 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 #32, Groundhog Day Part 12!

32 Groundhog Day Part 12 F-B

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Monster Squad Art, Part 7!

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nFor part 7 of the Monster Squad art showcase I thought it would be fun to share a couple of awesome poster illustrations.  This first is by Justin Erickson of Phantom City Creative for the Twitch Film Back to the 80s screening awhile back.  I totally need a copy of this for Branded HQ…

Justin Erickson Phantom City Creative

Next up is that rad minimalist piece by Victor Santos for Camp Amento Krypton…

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Now for today’s trading card…

Monster Squad Wrapper

Today’s card is #30, Andre Gower on set!

30 Andre Gower On Set F-B

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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
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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. 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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