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You Could Not Make The Monster Squad Today   Leave a comment

220px-Monstersquadposter

If you are lucky enough to live in the Boston Metro area you should make it a point to stop by The Coolidge Corner Theater for a midnight movie.  After a long nap and an excessive consumption of caffeine my girlfriend fiancé (still getting used to that) and I caught a showing of 1987’s classic kid’s movie The Monster Squad.  While it has never reached the level of reverence that is bestowed on its spiritual predecessor, The Goonies, this cult favorite is watched by fans over and over again.

But man… there is stuff in this movie that you could not put in a movie today. 

The Monster Squad was directed by Fred Dekker, who co-wrote it with Shane Black. Black is now best know from writing and directing Iron Man 3 (side note, check out his 2005 movie Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. It is a personal favorite of mine). The titular Monster Squad are a group of monster movie obsessed fan-boys.  When nefarious forces, updated versions of the Universal Monsters lead by Dracula, threaten the world it is up to them to save the day. None of the adults in their town heed the warnings of the Monster Squad, and they are left to thwart the plot alone.

There are two moments that to me really showed how much the mindset of the USA has changed since 1987 in regards acceptable teenage behavior.

The first shows up in this classic 1980s montage:

At 2:50 we see resident “cool kid,” Rudy, casting silver bullets to use against the Wolf-Man.

Take that in for a second. We see a TEENAGER MAKING BULLETS IN SCHOOL!  School violence isn’t a new phenomenon, but since one particularly bad day in 1999 depicting any form of school violence on screen has been met with great controversy.  A student nonchalantly shoring up his arsenal while in class is the sort of thing that would be a big no-no on film now.

The other moment happens in the kids’ club house.  Rudy and Patrick are trying to convince Patrick’s older sister to help them defeat Dracula and his crew.  They need a German speaking virgin to speak an incantation that will banish Dracula and his crew to limbo, and so far as they can tell she is the only person they know who fits the bill.  She, like everyone else in the town, is unreceptive to their request for aid.  To sway her, Rudy reveals that he as secretly taken photographs of her naked and if she doesn’t help The Monster Squad they will show them to the whole school.  She, begrudgingly but not angrily, admits defeat and aids the team.

um…

Wow. What a**holes.

Wow. What a**holes.

Yes.  The heroes of this story spy on and sexually harass a teenage girl in order to force her to do what they say under threat of public shaming. Sort of puts a dark spin on this story.  That is the sort of thing you hear about now in cases of cyberbulling and teen suicide. These issues were far from the public consciousness in the 1980’s, but today there are dozens of organizations aimed at stopping this sort of behavior.  The Monster Squad plays it for a quick laugh.

I’m not condemning the movie, it is a product of its time and for the most part it is a lot of wacky fun.  But as we move away from that era in film making (the movie is now several decades old, after all) we are going to find more and more moments in the movies of our youth that seem unsavory under a new light.

I mean, when was the last time Song of the South was on TV?

Is The Monster Squad a favorite of yours? What other kids movies seem less wholesome as the years go by? Tell me below!

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Posted August 26, 2013 by atomicsam in Film

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