Wolf Dork

Parents inevitably introduce their children to things they – the parents – grew up with. It’s why Monster Squad holds a rare, unbreakable, multi-generation nostalgia. The dawn of home video meant, on-demand access to Universal’s monster library, the entire saga of Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolf Man, Mummy, and the Creature. That was childhood horror, even in an era of Freddy and Jason.

There’s a draw into the mythology that makes sense to a 10-year-old. That’s never changed. Monster Squad makes those direct lore connections, and even references the classics directly, as with a small girl playing near a pond as the Frankenstein monster approaches. It’s iconic imagery retold, for both a generation who already knew and another just discovering the charm of gothic horror.

Monster Squad isn’t a masterpiece, but it’s arguably more wide-reaching than contemporaries like The Goonies

Monster Squad isn’t a masterpiece, but it’s arguably more wide-reaching than contemporaries like The Goonies. Where Goonies created a slice of pop culture, Monster Squad lived and breathed pop culture that was already a permanent fixture. Better, it uses it in a way that’s utterly delightful, part camp, part horror, and part comedy. Every scene works.

The kids are just kids. That’s just what they are – kids. Trouble-making, monster-obsessed kids like so many brought up on Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine. What they lack in characterization (and in dispensing some gnarly non-PC dialog) they make up for by being basic, typical ‘80s kids. Their interests and fascination represent the last generation that grew up pre-high tech, and that innocence helps strengthen the connection to Universal’s ‘30s and ‘40s output.

Also deserving credit are the monsters themselves, generously recreated with sensational designs courtesy of Stan Winston, himself one of the original monster kids. No doubt recreating his own childhood was a dream, and it’s one he took on with aplomb. The result are designs not necessarily better than the originals but respectful and adjacent to them, retaining their legacy and making them fresh without losing what made them work initially. When on-screen, even with the flimsiest of backstories behind them, the monsters own this movie more so than the kids, and that’s okay. Any true Monster Squad member knows that’s what matters anyway.

Video

Given a lavish Dolby Vision makeover, Monster Squad shows impeccable resolution. The print itself doesn’t have any damage, and the light grain structure resolve easily. This lets the finest detail thrive, even in the mid-range. Previous discs were hindered by edge enhancement, and that’s no longer the case.

Splendid color is an additional bonus, resolving primaries faultlessly, with the slightest added pop to give them life, but never betraying the natural hues within. It’s an accentuated palette and cautiously mastered.

Brightness hits a clean peak, bold but not intrusive. Black levels hit their mark.

Audio

Although offered in DTS-HD 5.1, the DTS-HD stereo mix is the better choice. In 5.1, the bass overloads the soundstage, too thick and loud, out of balance with the rest. Even without a dedicated LFE channel, the stereo track offers more complete range.

The age is evident but slight. Certainly, the score sounds rich and full with excellent volume. Dialog lacks clarity, but the waning fidelity is just aging.

Extras

On its own disc, Kino includes the sensational 90-minute making-of documentary, Wolfman’s Got Nards. It’s a perfect blend of behind-the-scenes material and cultural examination. The other bonus features include Monster Squad Forever, another fantastic look at the production. Two commentaries feature director Fred Dekker, one in which he’s joined by cinematographer Bradford May, and on the other, he brings cast members Andre Gower, Ryan Lambert, and Ashley Bank. An older interview with Tom Noonan is next, with deleted scenes, stills, and storyboards closing this set out.

The Monster Squad
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
5

Movie

A masterpiece of nostalgia, Monster Squad summarizes life as an ’80s kid better than many of its contemporaries.

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User Review
5 (1 vote)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 40 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:


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