#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 31

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I was a Monster Kid. Shouldn’t come as any kind of surprise…And to every Monster Kid growing up in the 80s and 90s, there was no movie cooler than Monster Squad! Imagine if all the classic Monsters showed up in Suburbia to wreak havoc, and the only ones who can stop them are a group of wise-assed, swearing(sort of) adolescents. What Monster Kid wouldn’t go nuts for this?

The film centers around a group of friends who have a Monster Club, and by that virtue alone are thrust right into the center of a centuries old conflict between the forces of good and evil. De Facto leader, Sean is gifted an old book by his Mother…and it just so happens to be the Diary of Abraham Van Helsing…which she bought at a fucking Garage sale! About this time, Dracula literally mails himself and Frankenstein to Sean’s town (Eightiesville?), where they meet up with a Werewolf, a Mummy from the museum awakens to join them, and a fucking Gillman just happens to be living in the local waterways. After overhearing his cop dad talking about reports of a Werewolf, and a missing Mummy, Sean notices his mom has left a note saying someone named Mr. Alucard(read it backwards), called about the Book. OK…so a few things are sticking out for me right now. How the fuck did Dracula know Sean had the book? When did Dracula learn proper telephone etiquette, let alone how to use a goddamn phone? Why the actual fuck would he use such an obvious alias? And why…OH FUCKING WHY…does Dracula look the way he does? He doesn’t look like Dracula. He looks like somebody’s bad-joke cracking Dentist who thought it would be a hoot to dress as Dracula for Halloween. Maybe this movie isn’t quite as awesome as I remembered it.

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Anyway, Sean calls a Monster Club meeting to inform the rest of the kids of his suspicions and to formally name their group The Monster Squad. They decide to visit the local Scary German Guy to get help translating the diary. They learn that there is a mystic medallion thingy that keeps the balance between good and evil, and once every 100 years, the amulet can be destroyed. If Dracula can get ahold of the Amulet (and he does, it was hidden in the basement of some creepy house), He and his Creatures of the Night will be able to rule the world and Blah Blah Blah…Fuck!

I’m not sure if it’s just that I’m still full of Piss and Vinegar over the questionable use of the Universal Monsters, or if this film hasn’t aged well or what. Did I just never notice these flaws before? Or did I overlook them simply because this is a Monster Movie. How often have I forgiven or even praised a truly awful film, simply because they were Horror films? Am I such a slave to the genre that I’ll forgive anything?

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So, the Squad rounds up supplies to fight Monsters, prints up business cards, and sends a crayon written note to the US military (Army Guys)asking for help. Along the way, Sean’s little sister Phoebe makes friends with Frankenstein’s Monster proving once and for all that the creature was always just a big softy. On the big night, the boys sneak into Dracula’s lair, kick Wolfman in the Nards, steal the amulet and rope a few virgins into reciting a spell that will propel the Monsters into Limbo. Finally the film starts to pick back up! Fat Kid and Rudy are the real hero’s as between the two of them, they take out The Mummy, 3 Vamp bitches, The Gillman, and the Wolfman! The details of exactly how they do it, I’ll leave for you to see.

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Fuck it, I changed my mind. This Movie does hold up. In fact, it still kicks ass! The effects are pretty decent, but in more of a Halloween party sort of way. It’s funny, insane, totally saturated in the 80’s, has completely unnecessary gun play, foulmouthed kids, and Iconic Movie monsters! Sure, the film has lots of flaws, but then again so does just about EVERYTHING in the genre. If you’ll permit me to get philosophical for a minute…we’re all Misfits. Each one of us is weird, broken, or “flawed” in our own way. Sometimes it’s the flaws that make us so wonderful and unique. So there we have it, That’s the Monster Squad, and that concludes the 2014 edition of #31DaysOfHorror. As weird as it may sound, after all that I feel somewhat renewed. I have plenty of new ideas, and plans to expand my output and content with Audio and Video. The Documentary I was a part of, called Retail Of The Darkest Kind should be available for download soon, and I have a few other surprises up my sleeve. Thanks for reading!

Retail of the Darkest Kind Trailer: http://youtu.be/EkRoyjo4bjQ

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#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 16

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Right, so this film is terrible. I think we can all agree on that. The only reason I watched it again is I saw this as a HUGE wasted opportunity for Universal pictures. Originally intended to be a sort of reboot of the classic Universal Monsters line-up for contemporary audiences, the release also coincided with DVD reissues of the original films as well.

We meet the infamous Van Helsing, an enigmatic Monster Hunter in the employ of the Catholic Church. Van Helsing is played well enough by Hugh Jackman, but anything he may have done well is overshadowed by the seemingly endless piles of shit littering the film.

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The creature designs for the Vampires and Werewolves look decent enough, but they fall apart once rendered in this films flagrantly over-used CGI. They are left looking like something out of a particularly cool looking cartoon. Post-Interview with a Vampire, pre-Twilight, Vampires were still pretty popular and had not worn out their welcome yet. Still, somehow Van Helsing manages to give us some of the most insufferable Vampires ever depicted. OK, its kinda cool that when they Vamp out they turn into a kind of Demonic Bat Human hybrid…but was it really necessary to depict the Vamps cloaks/dresses morphing into their wings? What happens if they are naked? Do they still get wings? Fuck sakes… I can’t remember who played Dracula, nor do I care to look it up… It felt like the dude was trying very hard to imitate Bela Lugosi, and as you can imagine, he fails. Dracula is one of the most famous characters of all time, if you are going to portray this character effectively, you need to bring something special to the role. Also, one of the Brides is far too tan, Ginger, and big-titted for me to ever buy that she was once a Romanian villager.

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Yup…that’s how they’ve decided Frankensteins monster looks now. It’s like Frankie just decided to stitch on extra muscles when assembling him. The one thing about this abomination of an abomination that I enjoyed is the idea of the Monster being a tragic, misunderstood, and sympathetic character…even if he was overly articulate. Its not all bad though. The visuals in the film as stunning. Everything from the set design to character design(apart from the silly looking Frankenstein) looks fantastic. I’ve already mentioned Jackman doing a good job, but Kate Beckinsale deserves praise here too, although if she hasn’t already planned on fighting Vampires and Werewolves while wearing a Corset, I really have no idea what else she would do with her time. My favorite character was sadly killed off early on. The Creepy Undertaker.

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He had a presence about him that made me want to know what that creepy lil fuck was up to. He distrusts outsiders, Morbidly goes about measuring them for caskets during conversations, and even tries to kill Van Helsing, simply stating “It’s my nature”. I would have enjoyed the film far more if he were tagging along with the hero’s the whole time, working towards the same goal of killing Dracula, but still taking any opportunity to cause trouble and sew dissent.

If you have no particular affinity for the classic Universal Monsters, or aren’t much of a fan of Horror films, then this film actually works fairly well as an action/fantasy film. Its got all the right ingredients to succeed with mainstream audiences, except for heart. As we’ll discuss in later entries, the re-boot train has not stopped rolling, but does appear to be riding much more smoothly. Ultimately, Van Helsing was ambitious, and had some great ideas…but I think it stands as an example of what NOT to do.