Now, I’m sure that The Monster Squad‘s writers, Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) and Fred Dekker, who also directed the film, are probably tired of hearing their movie called “The Goonies with monsters,” but there are an awful lot of similarities between the two. Let’s take a look.
1. A group of misfit kids form a club around something they all like. In The Goonies, it’s adventure and in The Monster Squad it’s, well, monsters: Dracula (Duncan Regehr), the Wolf Man (Jon Gries, whom you might know better as Lazlo from Real Genius or Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite), Frankenstein (Tom Noonan), the Mummy (Michael Reid MacKay) and Gillman (Tom Woodruff, Jr.).
2. Both clubs are lead by cute, brunette, 12-year-old boys (Sean Astin as Mikey in The Goonies and André Gower as Sean in The Monster Squad). True story: I had big crushes on both of those boys when I was a tween.
3. Both clubs have smartass members with spiked-on-top-slick-on-the-sides hairdos. The Goonies have Mouth (Corey Feldman) and the Monster Squad has Rudy (Ryan Lambert), though Rudy was older and slightly cooler than Mouth. Both clubs also have entertaining fat kids: Chunk (Jeff Cohen) is a member of the Goonies and the Monster Squad has Horace (Brent Chalem, who, sadly, died of pneumonia in 1997 at age 22). And though Chunk has the Truffle Shuffle, Horace gets to utter one of the most iconic phrases in ’80s film: “Wolfman’s got nards!”
4. Asshole bullies. The Goonies have to deal with Troy (Steven Antin), the son of one of the greedy land developers and the on-again, off-again boyfriend of Andy (Kerry Green), the girl with whom Mikey’s brother, Brand (Josh Brolin) is smitten. The Monster Squad — well, Horace, really — has to deal with E.J. (Jason Hervey), who probably likes to make trouble because he’s jealous he’s not in the Squad himself.
5. The groups of kids are out to save their towns from something that is threatening their well-being. For the Goonies, it’s land developers forcing them out of their homes and a criminal family called the Fratellis, led by badass Mama Fratelli (Anne Ramsey), who are trying to get rid of the Goonies because they’ve witnessed some illegal activity the Fratellis have engaged in. For the Monster Squad it’s, well, monsters, led by the ultimate badass monster, Dracula. And you know what? I’ll bet you that in a match up, Mama Fratelli could probably take Dracula.
6. At the center of the groups’ adventures are objects of great importance that will help them save their towns from the bad guys. For the Goonies, it’s the treasure map they find in Mikey’s attic and the pirate’s treasure at the end of that map. For the Monster Squad, it’s the diary of vampire fighter Van Helsing and the amulet that is made of concetrated good.
7. There’s the deformed, slightly scary, yet lovable ogre who befriends one of the kids and learns a snappy catch phrase. In The Goonies, we have Sloth, the Fratelli son who was dropped on his head one too many times and who is kept chained up in the basement by his mother and brothers. Sloth befriends Chunk after the Fratellis capture him and throw him in the basement where Sloth is chained up. Sloth’s catch phrase: “HEY YOU GUYS!” In The Monster Squad, it’s none other than Frankenstein himself, who makes friends with Sean’s little sister, Phoebe (Ashley Bank), who desperately wants to be a part of the Squad. Frank’s catch phrase: “BOGUS!”
8. Mikey and Sean have the same mother. Seriously — Harriet Walsh and Emily Crenshaw are both played by the same actress, Mary Ellen Trainor.
9. Both groups of kids get involved in an epic final battle against the bad guys. The Fratellis finally catch up with the Goonies on the pirate One-Eyed Willy’s lost ship and the Monster Squad fights a plethora of monsters in the middle of their city’s downtown square.
10. Both films have songs performed by ’80s pop stars — The Goonies has Cyndi Lauper and The Monster Squad has Michael Sembello. Though I have to say I think The Goonies wins this one.
So, which is better? Well, if you ask me, they both rule. I guess if I had to pick — and this might be a little surprising to those who know me — I’d pick The Monster Squad. It’s kind of like the old Prince or Michael Jackson and Cyndi Lauper or Madonna debates I used to get in with my friends — I tended to side with the ediger, more controversial and I still do.
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Of course, they’re trying to remake this movie. Hollywood just won’t stop until it stomps all over the movies of my childhood, will it? Apparenlty the remake is being produced by one of the original film’s producers, Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious, xXx). Of course, this shit was announced two years ago and is allegedly still in the “planning stages.” I hope it stays there.
So, what about the soundtrack? Out of print, of course, the official soundtrack album only contained Bruce Broughton’s moody, very late ’80s score and did not include the two vocal tracks featured in the film — Michael Sembello’s “Rock Until You Drop” and The Monster Squad’s “The Monster Squad,” which played over the end credits and was co-written by Sembello. Of course, you wouldn’t be reading this unless I’d dug the soundtrack up for you, so here it is. Listen as you walk past the Scary German Guy’s house.
Score by Bruce Broughton
19th Century Lynch Mob
Dracula First Class
“Let It Begin!”
He’s Alive, ALIVE!
Phoebe Meets Frank
Scary German Guy
Translating Van Helsing’s Diary
His Shares of Scares
It’s Just Frankenstein, Stupid
Frank Joins The Club
“He’s Gonna Kill Your Son!”
Creature Stole My Twinkie
Dracula’s Haunted House
Wolfman’s Got Nards
Lisa The Virgin
See Ya Later, Band-Aid Breath
Club House Goes Boom
Vampire Brides / Dracula Bats In
Sending The Creature Back To The Lagoon
Vortex / Bye Bye Frank
Kids Are Allright/Army Rolls In
Kids Are Allright/Army Rolls In (Alternate)
We’re The Monster Squad