Gateway Horror is a bit of a buzz these days. How can you market Horror content to people who don’t watch horror or are too young to be watching more intense and gruesome elements? It’s a tough balancing act; we’ve seen even high-profile studios, like Disney, try to achieve this, often to mixed or poor results. So how can it be so hard to make an accessible horror movie to all? The answer lies in the fact that the perfect gateway horror movie already exists. It’s The Monster Squad from Fred Dekker; written by Fred Dekker and Shane Black.
When The Monster Squad came out, it wasn’t the hit you’d imagine it could’ve been. It failed to find an audience. It wasn’t scary enough for Adults, and not entertaining enough for Kids. Still, in recent years, the film has found a resurgence in popularity among many. Some people enjoy the humor or the action. Some people just love that tight Shane Black script. Many people who aren’t big into horror movies find it a great gateway horror movie.
The story features children discovering the Universal Movie Monsters (The Mummy, the Gill-man, The Wolf Man). Dracula leads them to invade their town to steal an amulet and conquer the world. It’s up to this group, dubbed The Monster Squad, to stop the evil monsters.
It’s All In The Details For The Monster Squad
Stan Winston’s studio designs the monsters themselves; the studio gave them this timeless and cool look that still works nearly 40 years later. Actors like Duncan Regehr (Dracula) and Tom Noonan (Frankenstein’s Monster) bring extra depth to these potentially otherwise one-note characters.
Speaking of timeless, the script works amazingly. There are cool quips and one-liners, but there’s depth to the script that still makes it work on your second, third, and beyond screening. For instance, the lead character’s parents are practically about to separate. It doesn’t bog down the script, but it shows that there are stakes beyond just saving the world. Or the ‘Scary German Guy’ who’s a holocaust survivor. He even makes a great line when Horace (aka The Fat Kid) says he knows a lot about Monsters and; Scary German Guy retorts, “I suppose I do,” before it pans down to his identification number.
The great thing is, The Monster Squad is accessible and fun; but provides enough depth and intelligence that you never feel pandered to. So many gateway horror movies don’t respect their audience like The Monster Squad does. It’s the right balance of all these different elements. Ideally, it gives you enough of a fun experience to hopefully excite you about exploring a genre with much to offer.
For more on Halloween, make sure to check out THS Fright-A-Thon, the Halloween content marathon.