Friday, October 21, 2011

31 Days of Frankenstein: Monster Squad Hospital

The Monster Squad (1987)

By the late '80s I was older than the audience for funny takes on the classic monsters, but I have a lot of slightly-younger friends with fond memories of this movie. I was the perfect age to have enjoyed the 1976 Saturday-morning TV series of almost the same name (it was just Monster Squad; no "the"), but it was on against The Shazam/Isis Hour and my brothers and I were watching that instead.

The TV show was about Gopher from Love Boat fighting crime from his night job in a wax museum. He built a device to bring to life the statues of Dracula, the Wolf Man, and Frankenstein and sent the trio out in a black van to fight supervillains.

The movie is unrelated to that. In it, the Squad is a group of kids who love the Universal monsters until they find out that they're real. Led by Dracula, the monsters are trying to find and destroy an amulet that can get rid of them permanently. It's up to the Squad to find the amulet first and save the world.

Tom Noonan plays the Monster (a Stan Winston take on the Universal design) as a creature who at first agrees to Dracula's scheme, but - thanks to being befriended by a little girl - switches allegiances and joins the Squad himself. I may have been too old for it when it came out, but with a nine-year-old in the house and the second-childhood that brings with it, this sounds awesome.

Frankenstein General Hospital (1988)

Another comedy, Frankenstein General Hospital is about Bob Frankenstein, the great-great-grandson of the original Baron, who's trying to perfect his ancestor's experiment in the basement of the LA hospital where he works. Thanks to the bungling of his hunchbacked assistant Iggy, he accidentally puts in the brain of a sex- and food-crazed teenager. "Hilarity" ensues.

One thing that does sound kind of clever about this is that it's all in color except for the lab scenes, which are in black-and-white. There's a pitiful in-story explanation for that, but it's still a fun touch. Otherwise, the film sounds uninspired, including the look of the Monster, which borrows heavily from Young Frankenstein.

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