There are Saturday morning shows that truly tap into the desires that a kid eating a bowl of Frankenberry craves. What child wouldnt enjoy having the power to control Frankensteins monster, Dracula and the Werewolf? Nobody would dare pick you last for kickball with this trio watching your back. Mom wouldnt complain if you ate dessert first with Dracula poised to suck her blood. Frankensteins monster could mow the yard. In the fall of 1976, Monster Squad let us see the dream come to life. Except instead of a kid in control, we get Walt. Hes a college boy (Fred Grandy) working as the night watchman at a wax museum. He created a crime computer that freakishly caused the figures of Dracula (Henry Polic II), Frankensteins monster (Mike Lane) and the Werewolf (Buck Kartalian) to come alive. Since theyre not the actual monsters, theyre able to fight crime as good guys instead of eating and terrorizing the locals. Its like Night at the Museum except cooler since instead of overexposed Ben Stiller, we get Gopher from The Love Boat. Monster Squad: The Complete Series brings us all 13 episodes of ghoulish fun.
The previous years Saturday morning slate also had a monster oriented series with The Ghost Busters starring Larry Storch, Forrest Tucker and a gorilla. They were hired to track down monsters and send them back. Now we get to root for the undead to win. Monster Squad appeared to have a higher budget since it was shot on film and didnt have all the villains operating out of the same haunted castle set. Both series featured numerous familiar faces as the guest villains that needed to be vanquished. Both shows were perfect for kids eager to watch that afternoons Creature Double Feature.
“Queen Bee” has Alice Ghostley (Bewitched) as the leader of killer bees out to take over the world. Shes remarkably evil in her black and white costume. She wants to get Dracula to be a part of her plan. Can the other monsters keep him on the good side? “Mr. Mephisto” lets Barry Dennen (Pontius Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar) create life-size robot dolls. He creates one to replace the mayor (Gremlins Edward Andrews). The robo-mayor announces outrageous taxes or hell take over property. The Monster Squad must stop this plan before the wax museum becomes a government entity. “The Music Man” reminds us how creepy Marty Allen could be. In this case hes willing to steal money from a telethon. “No Face” brings back Edward Andrews for another body-swap plot. This time a criminal with no face called No Face disguises himself as the mayor. He declares crime is legal. Naturally Walt has an issue with a politician derailing his career in criminology. The Monster Squad must expose the sham mayor.
“The Astrologer” is another madcap performance from Jonathan Harris (Lost in Spaces Dr. Smith). He predicts a massive earthquake. In order to get the shaking right, he steals an atomic bomb. In order to keep the Monster Squad out of the way, he has them secured inside a giant clam. “Ultra Witch” brings the joy that is Julie Newmar (Batmans Catwoman). Her diabolical plot involves turning all the milk in the world sour. The lack of good milk causes a collapse in the cookie industry. Stu Gilliam (Rowan and Martins Laugh-In) is the cookie king who is the key to exposing Newmars Ultra Witch antics. There is a frightening moment when she turns the monsters into 2-D posters. “The Skull” features Geoffrey Lewis (the actor who isnt Robert Pine, but did appear in The Devils Rejects). “The Weatherman” gets cold when Avery Schreiber (Galaxina) takes control of atmosphere. The monsters dont like it too cold. The Werewolf becomes an undead popsicle. “Albert/Alberta” lets Vito Scotti give one of the finest half man/half woman performances in TV history. Hes got the look and the split attitude down. Scotti also appeared on The Munsters and The Addams Family (as Sam Picasso). He gets the tone of the fun horror show.
Monster Squad: The Complete Series brings back the haunted magic that was Saturday morning. When the show originally aired at 10:30 a.m., the competition was Isis and The Krofft Supershow. Talk about hard choices for an eight-year-old. Thankfully after three decades, theres a chance to catch all the monster action. The series is rather smart with puns for the big kids like the Ronald Reagan. The youthful Grandy is better as the controller of the monsters than a pesky child actor. Ultimately Monster Squad is good dopey Saturday morning weirdness worth revisiting in the 21st Century.
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers are much better than the video samples that have cropped up on the web over the year. The show was shot on film. The image here is really good. Youll see most of the details of the sets and make up on the monsters. This is a better looking show than Filmations live action output. The audio is mono. The sound is a bit rough theres a lot of post dubbing.
Episode Synopses gives the loglines to what youll be watching. Nothing too fancy as far as trivia about the cast and crew.
Series Synopsis is a paragraph that describes how Walt made the monster come alive.
Stills Gallery has about a dozen production photographs along with the board and box for the Monster Squad game. Dice and playing pieces not included.
Monster Squad: The Complete Series brings back those sugar-coated memories of Saturday morning in 1976. The idea of having Dracula, the Wolfman, and Frankensteins Monster under the control of Fred Grandy still appeals to young kids who like their scary creatures. The humor of show works for grown ups. Folks who saw the original broadcast might finally get a few of the jokes. The Monster Squad: The Complete Series is a perfect for those wanting a fun fright with their Count Chocula.
Virgil Films & Fabulous presents Monster Squad: The Complete Series. Starring: Fred Grandy, Henry Polic II, Mike Lane & Buck Kartalian. Boxset Contents: 13 episodes on 2 DVDs. Released on DVD: June 23, 2009. Available at Amazon.com
Tags: Batman, Dracula, frankenstein, Julie Newmar, Lost in Space, The Love Boat