Monday, October 10, 2011

The 31 Days of Halloween: Day 10

Halloween is the best time of the year. It's a wonderfully indulgent time, where your inner ghoul is given societal license to be put on display. To celebrate it to it's wicked fullest, the Midnight Cheese will be posting every day in October with excellent ways to enjoy the season. Whether it's horror films, video games, books or activities, check back every day for some new Halloween fun.

The Monster Squad

I've ridden this Halloween count down celebration as though it were my trusted stallion, Nostalgia. Through the woods of aging and past the fortified walls of adulthood, I've spurred Nostalgia to ride swift and true. Continuing on this joyride through my yearly Halloween indulgences, we have The Monster Squad (1987). Fantastically, Fred Dekker weaves together the back stories of Universal's stable of horror icons; Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy, Frankenstein's Monster and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, which all come together in this delightful horror/comedy treat.

The story is an inspired take on the Van Helsing/Dracula struggle. One day every century the amulet of good, a supremely powerful artifact which can be used to banish evil beings from the world, is vulnerable to destruction. In the prologue, Van Helsing fails to complete the banishing ritual against Dracula, but his apprentice manages to sneak the amulet to America. Now we're again approaching the special day of vulnerability and it's up to the Monster Squad to prevent Dracula from retrieving the amulet, destroying it and enveloping the world in darkness!

The titular organization is composed of a group of kids who love the classic monsters and monster movies. They come across Van Helsing's diary, discover the truth and must set about stopping the worst from happening. These kids are us. More than many other films, The Monster Squad epitomizes what films are supposed to do: allow the audience to put themselves into the place of the protagonists and "ride along". In this case, these kids are us when we were kids. Think about it: they're unhealthily obsessed with horror films, idolize monsters, know all about their portrayed "weaknesses", constantly discuss all these things and they formed a tree house based club to do so. If this doesn't ring any bells for you, it's entirely likely that you're hopeless.

How does this fit the season? I'm delighted you asked.
For one, it's a perfect flick with which to introduce your wee little ones to monster movies. It's geared as adventure and comedy, rather than gory horror. For anther thing, lets look back at the list of famous monsters contained in the film: Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy, Frankenstein's Monster and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. I've masqueraded as four of those five for various Halloweens in my youth. I suspect you have to some degree as well. Lastly, and for more than any other reason: it's FUN.

Horror can be sinister, it can be frightening, it can be cruel and remorseless but on Halloween it's also mischievous, wicked and delightfully fun. Shine a light on those darkness seeking horrors and enjoy.

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