‘The Monster Squad’ Was Released 25 Years Ago Today: Fred Dekker Talks About the Film’s Reception and Anniversary
Posted on Tuesday, August 14th, 2012 by Germain Lussier
Above: A picture of Dekker (blue shirt) with his family from the world premiere in 1987.
/Film: The Monster Squad celebrates its silver anniversary today. Where were you on opening day, 25 years ago and what were the expectations at the time? When did those expectations change?
There’s a tradition among filmmakers of taking a limo from theater to theater to check audience reactions. My hopes were that we had made a terrific movie that people would enjoy and would do good business. Those expectations changed at the first theater we came to. The audience seemed to be loving it, but you could count the patrons on two hands. That was the tenor of the rest of the evening, and the ultimate box office — at theater after theater, an appreciative but anemically small audience. It was a disaster.
When was the last time you watched the film in full and how do you think it has aged?
The last time I watched it from start to finish was at the Eastman House in Rochester, New York. The cons: some of the kids’ wardrobe and haircuts, some clunky pacing and awkwardness in the early reels, some general cheese (and that damn song under the montage!). The pros: I’m really pleased with the tone of the film. It’s self-aware, but not goofy, and ultimately heartfelt. Every time there’s something bordering on camp (Wolfman’s got you know-whats), something scary or touching happens, and vice versa. I think this puts it a cut above, and has aged it well. And I think the final reels are terrific. In some ways, I think it would fare better now than it did then.
Why do you think the film took so long its find its audience and now, 25 years later, has it reached – or eclipsed – your wildest expectations?
Let’s face it, it’s a sophisticated kid’s movie — and when it opened, kids couldn’t get in without their parents (it was rated PG-13). So the audience was mostly kids watching it on home video and cable and taking it to heart.
The film has experienced a resurgence over the past 5 years or so thanks to the Alamo screening, DVD/Blu-ray release, etc but even before that, the film had a cult following on video. Has it been difficult to process the fact that it took so long for the film to finally get the recognition it so rightfully deserves?
Can you tell us a bit about the whereabouts of some of the key cast members?
Ryan Lambert (Rudy) is a rock musician in the San Francisco Bay Area. We’re always looking for something to work on together. Andre Gower (Sean) lives in North Carolina and works as a film festival promoter. Ashley Bank (Phoebe) is in L.A. and has worked as a producer and stand-up comic. She recently got married. Michael Faustino (Eugene) is a technician in TV and movies, and recently had a son that looks just like him. Brent Chalem (Horace), sadly, died in the ’90s. Liam Neeson (who was cast as Dracula’s doppelganger in a scene we never shot) and Shane Black (my co-screenwriter) have sadly both faded into obscurity.
Obviously, it has ebs and flows, but overall – in the 25 years since the release of The Monster Squad, how often do you find yourself talking about the movie or thinking about the experience?
I’m asked to show the movie at least three times a year, and it’s always fun to reminisce.
The general perception of your career is that, after RoboCop 3, you got placed in “director jail?” Would you agree with that assessment and how do you spend your days, these days?
That perception is pretty spot-on. I had written and was casting a comedy called MR. COOL for Paramount when ROBOCOP 3 was released, and the plug was pulled shortly thereafter. Since then I have mostly been working as a writer, including several unmade pilots and feature projects for James Cameron, Neal Moritz, Fox, TNT, Dreamworks and others — and the TV series ‘Star Trek: Enterprise,’ on which I was a writer and consulting producer. But mostly, I’ve been hoping somebody will call and offer me a movie to direct.
A remake of The Monster Squad has been in development for some years. Do you think it’ll actually happen and if you could be involved, what would be your dream participation?
I hope not and my dream participation would be to make as much money as humanly possible for doing nothing whatsoever.
I’d like to thank Fred Dekker for agreeing to my quick email interview as well as writing and directing one of the defining movies of my childhood. It helped introduce me to a world of genre films I’d never known about and has remained one of my favorite movies ever. Mummy came in my house and changed my life.
Happy 25th birthday, Monster Squad. Time to blow a whole in limbo.