Saturday, June 27, 2009

DVD Review: Monster Squad the Complete Series

Believe it or not, DVD reviews were originally a part of this site, I just stopped doing them mostly because of laziness (here is one I did almost three years ago) but I just needed to bring it back for the release of the Monster Squad TV series.

Monster Squad was one of those shows I was convinced I'd never see again, it had a huge impact on me as a wee one, I'd take my Lincoln Monster dolls and shove them in the G.I. Joe Capture Copter and pretend they were on patrol. I think my love of monsters stems from this and Hilarious House of Frightenstein. Then it got cancelled and well, I spent the majority of the eighties and nineties looking for tapes and discovering that people had largely forgotten the show.

So when this DVD got announced, it gave me joy and a kind of sick feeling, like a lot of things you like as a kid, what if it turns out to be total crap when you're an adult?

I'm happy to say after watching all 312 minutes, that I was pleasantly surprised at how good this show was. I'm not saying it's for all tastes but if you're a 70s kid who likes the Krofft shows, this is actually a cut above from say things like, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl.

That's probably because the show's creator Stanley Ralph Ross was one of the headwriters on the 1966 Batman TV Series (another show that BEGS to be on DVD) and kind of passed on some of it's goofy brilliance, in fact, Monster Squad could have been a prime time series in the late sixties. It knows it's a stupid show and decides to make the best of it.

The Premise is simple, Walt, a night watchman at "Fred's Wax Museum" (played by a pre Love Boat Fred Grandy) accidently brings the statues of three famous monsters to life with his "Crime Computer" (a big blinky box), Bruce W. Wolf, Frank N. Stein and Dracula want to do good to make up for their past mistakes so they become crime fighters.

So each week the squad battles a new villain played by a celebrity guest star, above is Mephisto played by Barry Dennen, he played Pontius Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar in case you were wondering. It drove me nuts until I IMDB'd it. Part of the fun is the guest, you get see the likes of Julie Newar, Geoffry Lewis, Alice Ghostly, even Sid Haig gets in on this!

The show has some witty writing and pokes a lot of fun at itself, especially the scenes with the monsters trying to "act casual" (it always fails), there are other moments that are downright surreal and look like "Mr Show" sketches. The entire series in done on film, so the cheap sets look almost on purpose. Some of the fight scenes suffer from early 70s non violence rules, especially the scene where the Skull (Geoffry Lewis) tries to kill Bruce with a silver bullet, no gun, he just throws the bullet at him!

The bottom line is, everybody looks like they're having a lot of fun and it's kind of infectious. Let's talk about the DVD Fabulous Films has put out:

Film Quality: After years of watching 15th generation VHS, it's a joy to see the Squad so clean again, the film transfers are better than I expected.

Extras: I wasn't expecting anything and that was a good thing, I got a stills gallery and graphics on the menu that were scanned from the board game!

Value: I can't tell you how many bootlegs I've spent $20 on, this is a bargain. Amazon has this for $21.

Bottom Line: Not into Saturday Morning Cheese? Stay away in droves. However, if you're a Monster Kid or you dug the old Shazam! series then this is a lot of fun to be had. my kids really dug it as well.


rob! said...

I wonder if Batman will ever make it onto DVD. I'd buy it in a heartbeat if it did.


Agh, yes Monster Squad, a.k.a. the Sid and Marty Krofft show that Sid and Marty Krofft never made.By the way what's a giant Lady Elain Fairchild head doin behind that guy.


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