Monday, 8 December 2014

Movies: The Monster Squad, Night of the Comet.

The Monster Squad (1987)

Director Fred Dekker arrived late to the party but had managed to furnish the 80s with two of its most memorable horror pictures, House (1986) and Night Of The Creeps (1986). If his love of camp Universal horror seeped through the pores of the latter, then it completely drenched The Monster Squad, a film that serves as a loving kiss on the cheek to the old monsters and creeps of Hollywood. But instead of being merely a mannequin wrapped in the mummy's shroud, The Monster Squad proved itself to be the last movie with the Universal heart to feature these characters, despite being miles from a Universal film. It's the prepubescent monster mash orgy you didn't know you wanted to see.

Count Dracula returns from the grave (because he's Dracula and he's known for this sort of thing.) to wreak his unholy vengeance on mankind by uniting the Hollywood quintuple of Satan (The Mummy, Frankenstein's "Frank" Monster, The Wolfman, Gill-Man.) and taking over the world with the aid of a mystical amulet. However, and as is the case with most films from this period, a group of spoiled American preteen porn-addicts are the only ones coming between him and his last laugh. 

"Wolfman has NARDS!"

I'm usually the first to stand up and call mischief on these films that try to pander to the young American audience by including them in the story line (see The Masters of the Universe.) because I think this model, which was very popular during 1980s, discourages imagination and ultimately kisses up to the Pepsi-breath "Me" generation, but I have to admit that this film would never have worked with a wholly adult cast of heroes. I wasn't a huge fan of Stand By Me or The NeverEnding Story, so I don't share in the nostalgia of the kid hero that most of my friends do, but had Kiefer Sutherland been cast as Sean, the film wouldn't have been as charming as it was. So here's a first from me; the film was fucking charming, and it was charming because the kids were excellent in it. 

Americana horror has always had a fairly large space in my heart, with its suburban bloodbaths, inept heroes, and inevitable towels draped over the shoulders of survivors as they give their statements to the befuddled police. It's all formulaic, but no less beautiful. The element of Americana though, can be a little overbearing in The Monster Squad, and it kind of drifts between being wonderfully dumb and painfully self-referential. It's an all-rounder that's not quite suitable for children and maybe too childish for the adult, but just about right for the braindead horror weirdos like ourselves. It throws everything at you but the kitchen sink, and it makes contact more than it misses. 

Night of the Comet (1984)

Standing closer to the neon glow of 80s chic, Night of the Comet does a hugely different job than The Monster Squad, though it is made up of a sum of the same parts. American consumer culture meets depraved mutant vampires in this glorious 95 minute snapshot of a leg-warming zeitgeist. Thom Eberhardt hasn't since directed anything nearly as good as this, but he is owed at least one feather in his cap for this one. If bright lights, dumb dialogue ("Daddy would have bought us Uzis."), and weapons that never run out of ammunition are your thing, then you'll get your kicks out of this one. I did, but I'm easily amused, you know that.

A highly-anticipated comet has just about wiped humanity from the face of the earth and turned the rest of them into undead maniacs. However, as is the "(see above review)", two American teenage girls are among the last of the human race and are forced to battle the walking dead as well as evade a secret underground government installation full of bloodthirsty, child-eating vampires.

"Let's play scary noise."

The comedy in this film comes from two very distinct places, the intentional dumbness and the unintentional dumbness, the latter coming with the territory of any film from this period. You'll either find hilarity in lines like "You were born with an asshole, Doris, you don't need Chuck!" or you'll snicker at the sight of a girl wearing legwarmers and a headband without a hint of irony. You cannot enjoy both. I'm not entirely sure if the people involved with this project were aware that 80s fetishists would exist one day in the future, but if they did, they most certainly went about securing their film's place on said fetishist's mantle place. The soundtrack to this film is chart gold and in your face throughout, as if those involved decided that their film would be the last bastion of synth-pop. 

It goes without saying at this point that there's a serious budget on this fucker and they made every last penny count because the visuals are stunning for the time. Mash those red-tinted skies, explosions, and ghastly make-up effects with a soundtrack that probably cut into their cocaine budget and you've got a film that celebrates dumb Hollywood indulgence and does so fantastically. Night of the Comet is an essential bit of cheese for your moronic 80s platter.

No comments:

Post a Comment