Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. Last weekend I had the pleasure of organizing a reunion screening of THE MONSTER SQUAD at the Alamo Drafthouse here in Austin. We had director Fred Dekker as well as cast member Andre Gower (Sean, leader of The Monster Squad), Ryan Lambert (Rudy, the cool kid and friend to fat kids everywhere) and little Ashley Bank (Phoebe the Feeb) who has grown into a quite a hottie.
Both screenings sold out, on Easter Sunday no less, and the love the crowd showed to the movie made my heart smile. There were cheers throughout, the nearly 20 year old jokes got even bigger laughs today than they did back in '87 and the big action sequences got massive applause. For a MONSTER SQUAD geek it was nirvana.
Over the weekend my buddy Kraken and I had the task of picking up the guests as they arrived at the airport and taking them around town. I got to know all of them over the weekend and was very happy to find them all very cool, grounded and nice.
Kraken wrote up the experience, which you can read below, so I won't go through the weekend step by step, but I will answer the question that everyone has asked since I first mentioned Monster Squad on this site. Where the hell is the Monster Squad DVD?
The short answer is the rights to the movie has been packaged and traded around so many times it was difficult to track down exactly where they are. It turns out Viacom has the rights. I've talked with Anchor Bay repeatedly about both of Fred Dekker's movies, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS and MONSTER SQUAD and I know they are champing at the bit to get the DVD rights to both of these films, but have met with much resistance in their attempts, yet there was no interest to release the DVD from the studio itself.
I think there's a huge audience for this movie and I've seen the evidence of it first hand. The people who showed up to the screenings didn't just go for the hell of it. They were as rabid fans of MONSTER SQUAD as the fans of the similar GOONIES are about that film. If there was a special edition DVD put out, they'd sell. If they started putting out t-shirts at places like Hot Topic and Suncoast, they'd sell. If they teamed with Neca to make to toys out of the creatures and the squad, they'd sell.
So, how do we let the studio know we want MONSTER SQUAD on DVD? Online petitions? Emails? Dekker thinks neither of those will work. He said it's too easy to delete emails and an internet petition doesn't mean anything to an exec. His thoughts go back to the good old days. Write a snail mail letter. He said it's harder for them to ignore stacks of letters, something physical. An internet site with a bunch of names on it isn't tangible enough to make an impact. The rights owners have to see that there is money to be made.
Fred dug up the address for the rights holders to both MONSTER SQUAD and his previous film, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS (which also screened last weekend and got the midnight audience pumped up as well). So, if you want either MONSTER SQUAD or NIGHT OF THE CREEPS in a special edition with cast commentary, special features (he mentioned over 13 minutes were cut out of MONSTER SQUAD for time) and digitally remastered picture and sound, then you need to write to the addresses below. Keep it civil, but let them know how much you love the movie. Send a postcard, letter, brick, flowers... anything that'll show the studio you want to buy this DVD.
If you want a MONSTER SQUAD DVD write to:
Mr. Sumner M. Redstone
New York, NY 10036
If you want a NIGHT OF THE CREEPS DVD write to:
Mr. Michael Lynton
Mr. Bob Osher
Sony Pictures Entertainment
10202 West Washingtopn Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
Below you'll find Kraken's impressions from this past weekend as well as tons of trivia gleaned from the Q&As at both screenings and pics of the guests. I'll be back at the end! Enjoy!
I was lucky kid. The entirety of my childhood I grew up living down the street from a movie theater. It was a theater that screened first run movies, but during the afternoon only charged a dollar to see them. Most days I would go and watch every movie playing at the theater for less than $5. But some movies were so magical, meant so much to me, that I'd blow my entire ticket budget on seeing that one film over and over again. MONSTER SQUAD was one of those movies that captured my little movie geek heart, and also all of my ticket money for that weekend.
I'm glad I had the chance to see it in the theater back then so many times, because for years after that time, almost two decades, the only way I got to see MONSTER SQUAD was on a worn out old VHS tape. But, that all changed last weekend. Monster Squad is one of those movies that Quint and I bonded over when we became friends. It seemed like the perfect cinematic representation of what it was to be a kid, a movie buff and a monster geek, especially back in the 1980's when a lot of the movies about kids were about forming clubs to either explore space, or explore caves for treasure, or to defend the world from the forces of darkness and monsters. I mean, who'd want to join any other club other than the MONSTER SQUAD when faced with those choices?? As long as I've known Quint, he'd always talked about his dream project, putting together a Monster Squad reunion screening at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema (and apparently he'd been bugging Tim the owner of the Alamo Drafthouse about that for years even before we met). But it was something that seemed like it was going to have to wait for the right catalyst to get going.
When Quint told me that he'd been able to track down one of the Squaders (Ryan "Cool Kid" Lambert) and was thinking that this was the right time for a Squad screening, I can't tell you how amazingly excited I got at the thought of this happening. Then when the other Squaders (Andre "Sean" Gower & Ashley "Phoebe the Feeb" Banks) started to fall into place, the print was secured and the director, Fred Dekker, was confirmed to show up, it was truly a dream come true for a lot of Monster Squad fans out there. The date was set... Jesus resurrection day... the Monster Squad would also rise again.
The weekend of the event, Quint, my wife and I were driving the cast and crew around Austin showing off our amazing city. The afternoon of the MONSTER SQUAD event we made it out to the wondrous BBQ place, the SALT LICK; If God ate BBQ this would be the place he would go to gorge himself. When the first giant plate of unlimited meat came out and Fred Dekker placed it on our table, the look of amazement on Ashley Bank's face was priceless.
After the lunch we headed back to the hotel where everyone was staying so they could relax a bit before the screening. Our friend Rav went on to the Alamo Drafthouse to scope us out some seats. A few minutes later though, Rav calls us and tells us we need to get to the Drafthouse as soon as possible. That the first screening is completely full, they're turning people away and he wasn't sure where we were going to sit together since there were not many seats left! HOLY SHIT! SOLD OUT!
We rushed the Squaders over to the Drafthouse. It was teeming with activity from Monster Squad fans. Tim 2.0 , the guy that runs Mondo Tees out of the Drafthouse lobby, had created some kick ass Monster Squad t-shirts (Stephen King Rules & Wolf Man Has Nards) for the event and they were flying off the shelves. We found out that they had reserved some seats for us (the comfy couches in the back of the theater) so we were relieved that we'd be able to sit together. Sitting there waiting for the movie to start, Fred made the comment that this was the first time that he'd seen the movie in a theater with an audience since 1988! You could feel the energy in the air, the electricity generated by the excitement of the fans was fantastic.
Quint got up to introduce the film. He spoke about his love of the film and how this screening was a dream come true for him. He also said that we were all there to enjoy the film, react to our favorite scenes of course... but not put ourselves above the film; he mentioned if anyone was caught talking out of place or being an asshole during the movie that "a huge group of Monster Squad fans would unite to personally drive a stake though your mother fucking heart". The crowd cheered at Quint's sentiments and the film began. The opening scroll started and when the words "They Blew It" appeared... everyone started to laugh and cheer at the same time. We knew this was going to be an amazing screening.
The movie played so well, everyone cheered, laughed and even cried ("don't go Frakenstien, don't go..."). Rudy the cool kid got a HUGE reaction the first time he showed up in the film to save his friend Horace from E.J. and his goon, but I think the crowd almost blew the roof off the Alamo when the line "Wolf Man has nards?!" was uttered by Fat Kid (this crowd reaction happened in both screenings of the movie that day).
After the film was over, Tim League got up to introduce Fred Dekker and the Squaders for the first Q&A of the day. They all took the stage to thunderous applause and Fred took the mic first. He said "Okay, let me get this out of the way first. Eric (Quint), please come up to the stage" ... to this Quint took the stage. Fred then produced from a bag the AMULET. Yes folks, "THE" AMULET ... he let Quint know what the weekend had meant to him, and then proceeded to give Quint the amulet for safe keeping, forever. There was a gasp in the crowd and everyone cheered. Quint left the stage shaking with a look of shock and pure joy on his face. Audience members ran up for a chance to take a picture with the hero prop from the movie and the Q&A with the cast and director continued.
I want to go over the highlights of what I can remember from both screenings Q&A sessions now. The second screening of the movie was just as electric as the first, and once again they were having to turn people away for this screening as well, both of the showings were completely full!
Questions from the audience from both screenings -
Q. What are all the cast members doing now?
Andre Gower (Sean) was the first to answer this question. He joked that he mostly sat around the house watching his Monster Squad VHS. But went on to say that after his childhood of acting, he went off to college and then started up his own business. He is also still interested in acting and producing his own projects.
Ryan Lambert (Rudy, the cool kid) said that he has started a band called Elephone and was about to go on tour with the band. He was hoping to stop off in Austin again and possibly play at EMO's club if he could work that out.
Ashley Bank (Phoebe) was living in NYC for a time producing for Television, but has recently moved back to Los Angeles to start up her acting career again. But, she is still active in producing independent film while she is out there.
Q. What was the director, Fred Dekker, up to?
Fred mentioned that his most recent work was writing for ENTERPRISE, the Star Trek series, but that he was working on a feature project now with Lightstorm (James Cameron's production company) and a few other producers. A project that he would direct. The film was an apocalyptic, nightmare horror film that would be more hardcore than his previous films. He was very excited about the idea of the project, but since it's in a very early stage he couldn't really talk about it.
Q. What were some of the casts favorite lines from the movie?
Ryan Lambert mostly took this question. He said that he really enjoyed watching the movie for the first time in a very long time, and loved most of his lines. He said the one line that always drove him crazy, and still does is (said in a very high pitched, nasal mock voice) SEE YA LATER... BAND...AID...BREATH. When he said this the audience erupted in applause. He said that he originally said the line in a very cool and unaffected manner, but that Dekker told him he wanted him to "sing" the line out in a way. Dekker mentioned at this point that he was just tapping into Ryan's obvious musical talent even at that age.
Ashley mentioned that she loved getting to say the line "don't be chicken-shit" being that she was only 5 years old at the time. She said she remembered her father having to sign off on it, but she didn't think her parents really cared. Ashley said the next time she was at school she bragged to all of her friends that she got to say the word on set!
Q. (from a young woman in the audience) How do you feel about the use of the word "faggot" and "homo'ing out" in your movie? Don't you think that's a little un-pc?
Fred Dekker answered this question with a question. He asked the young woman if she'd ever been a 10 year old boy. She was a bit insulted by this question being that she was obviously a woman, but Fred was trying to make a point. He said that he wanted to make a movie that didn't think in the terms of a PC world, but instead, in a realistic 9 to 12 year old boy's world and the way they spoke. This was a minor part in the dialogue but added a realism to the conversations between the friends (along with using curse words and such when parents weren't around, as most young boys still do). He then asked the audience if they felt insulted or offended in any way by the film... I'd say at least 98% of the audience gave a resounding NO to that question and the rest didn't say anything.
Q. Where is Dracula's car now from the movie??
This was asked at both Q&A sessions. Fred wasn't sure where the car was "you just rent cars like that usually, I'm really not sure." Andre joked that Ryan probably wrecked it.
Q. So are there really Armadillos in Trasylvania?
Fred Dekker laughed at this question and said "okay, yeah, the Armadillos in Dracula's tomb at the beginning of the movie... a movie geek should be able to answer this question for you, does anyone know?" ... No one from the audience knew. Fred explained that most of the monsters were inspired from Universal's classic monster films, and that in the original Tod Browning 1931 "Dracula" film, there was an odd shot of Armadillos that appeared in that film. So it was an in-joke from that movie that the Armadillos were roaming around in Dracula's castle in the beginning of MONSTER SQUAD.
Q. Why did you kill the black cop?
Fred Dekker made mention of the fact that in the scene where Stan Shaw's character is blown up by Dracula someone during the second screening yelled out "racist" ... the comment of course directed toward Dracula's character as a joke. But that he's had that question before. He said that when he cast the role, that the character dies in the script, he didn't cast Shaw because he was a black man, he cast him because he was a fantastic actor and was right for the part. Dekker said that honestly, to think in terms of the only reason he died in the movie was because he was black felt bigoted to him because it didn't even occur to him at the time to think of Shaw in that way (as just a black man) ... in any other way really other than a great actor.
It was also said later by a fan (not Dekker) that if it was a racist move to kill of Shaw, then Dekker and the writers must have also hated white people because Dracula later on in the movie kills plenty of white cops.
Q. Did Ashley ever get really scared during the filming of the movie?
Ashley said one of her favorite memories from shooting Monster Squad was the scene with Dracula picking her up. She said at that point Duncan Regher (Dracula) had never worn his red eye contacts or fangs around her on set because it scared her too much. But for that scene, Dekker walked up to her and said "okay, you're going to be lifted up on the platform, and then you're going to scream" ... she asked "when" and Fred Dekker replied "oh, you'll know". She said that when Duncan opened his eyes and hissed at her that it only took one take for that scene. She said the scream you see in the movie is a real scream.
Fred said he felt bad all these years because he wondered if he'd traumatized the poor girl. Ashley then assured Fred that it didn't affect her at all and it was actually a happy memory for her. That she loved making the movie and that it was a 6 year old girls dream come true to be surrounded by cute 12 year old boys. She said she had a crush on all of them. Andre said something to the effect of "oh, why didn't you say something when you got to college??"
Q. (To Fred Dekker) Have you seen the movie SLITHER?
Fred said "oh, come on now, that's a CREEPS question" ... but he proceeded to answer anyway. He said that he'd read somewhere that James Gunn had never seen NIGHT OF THE CREEPS (Fred's first film, that also screened the midnight before Monster Squad at the Alamo) before he made Slither. He said that he believed what Gunn claimed and said that he didn't feel there was anything particularly original about CREEPS as well. He said that Gunn and himself probably pulled from the same sources of inspiration for their films and that even Monster Squad was inspired by movies like "Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein". He said he had no hard feelings toward SLITHER and wished it well.
Q. (To Ryan Lambert) What were you smoking?
It took Ryan and everyone on stage a second to figure out what this question meant. But then it hit them all at once "OH yeaaah..." Rudy in the movie was smoking cigarettes! Fred kind of laughed and said "ut oh, you have your buddy Shane to thank for that" and let Ryan answer the question. When Ryan came in to read for the script, the original script (that Shane Black & Dekker wrote) called for the character of Rudy to smoke. So Ryan was already a smoker at that age and had no problem with it. He said, when I got to the audition to read for Shane and Fred, I actually smoked while doing my line readings, I didn't smoke very much at that age, but I knew how... when I got to the set though, they gave me these vegetable herb cigarette things. They were horrible. So when the props guy handed me the pack, I would stick them in my jacket and then pull out my real cigarettes. No one knew about that. They were Marlboro lites.
Ryan then noticed that there were some kids (mostly teenagers) in the audience at the screening. He noted "oh, gosh, there are kids here... umm... DON'T SMOKE KIDS... it's really not good for you".
Q. What was it like working with Tom Noonan (Frankenstein)?
Fred Dekker said it was great working with him. That he was an amazing method actor and brought a lot of heart to that character. Ryan mentioned that the method acting could be a little strange at times though. He said he remembered a day on set when it was just him and Noonan shooting a scene, and he'd say something like "Hey Tom, how's it going" ... and Noonan would respond back with something like (in Frankenstein voice) "uuuh... Scary?" and Ryan said "Um, I'm 15 Tom, you don't have to pretend with me, I uh, don't really think you're Frankenstein, you know that right?" and then Tom would just grunt or something. Ryan said he was thinking "great... I'm going to have to sit here for hours with no one to talk to now". He said that overall though that Noonan was incredible and that all the kids learned a lot about acting from him.
THEN... the BIG question of the day. EVERYONE asked this question... at not only both screenings of MONSTER SQUAD but at NIGHT OF THE CREEPS the night before.
WHERE ... ARE... THE... DVDS for MONSTER SQUAD & NIGHT OF THE CREEPS??????????
When this question was asked, at any of the screenings the audience went wild. Clapped and cheered in agreement.
Fred Dekker had this answer verbatim when the question was asked. He said the only way to get the films release on DVD was to write an honest to God snail mail letter campaign to the rights holders. Simply write WE WANT MONSTER SQUAD/NIGHT OF THE CREEPS on DVD now! Write it down, put a stamp on it and send it in.
He said that honestly, e-mails and online petitions don't work. They go ignored by the studios because they CAN be ignored so easily with just the push of a delete button. But that if they actually have a room filling up with real letters, they can't ignore that. It also helps them see the money that can be made by releasing these movies on DVD.
Honestly, I wish that every rights holder could have been at the NIGHT OF THE CREEPS and both MONSTER SQUAD screenings and seen the fan adoration for these movies; AND this was just AUSTIN TEXAS... on the EASTER holiday no less. TWO Sold out screenings for this film. After the movie there were lines for autographs running down the stairs of the Alamo Drafthouse and out into the street.
The cast said that they would be willing to do commentaries for MONSTER SQUAD and Dekker said there is also an estimated 13 minutes of deleted scenes from Monster Squad out there because at the time the executives demanded it not run over 90 minutes!!! These were not scenes cut because they were bad, but scenes cut for TIME folks. So that means there might be some Monster Squad gold out there for all of us yet to see! Man, we need these DVDS out RIGHT NOW!
So, if you want to write a letter, if you want to make the MONSTER SQUAD DVD happen... here is the address.
Mr. Sumner M. Redstone
New York, NY 10036
Well, that's about it. It was an amazing weekend for Monster Squad and Night of the Creeps fans. I think it was pretty magical for the director and cast as well. Big thanks to Quint and Tim and all the others at the Alamo Drafthouse who made this weekend possible. Also thanks to all of you that came out for the screening, all the fans that showed thier support and to all the fans that are going to show their support by writing in the letters. You guys rule! GO MONSTER SQUAD!