Release The Hounds!

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

I have to pee.

There, I’ve said it.  Not that you couldn’t tell, not that anyone couldn’t tell, what with me sitting at my desk with my legs bunched together as I try to stem the tide from, you know, tiding.

“Go to the bathroom,” you say.  Thanks, Mr. Whipple, but there’s a pack of hyenas guarding the nearest lavatory, and while I’m not sure why they’re there, I know that I’m just one man, alone, afraid to challenge them for the urinal cake territory.  Let them have it, I say; give them the land of the yellow river and I’ll sit here until something bursts.


Well, kids.  Teenagers.  Maybe they won’t bite so much as they’ll taunt, but who can blame them for surrendering to their baser instincts as I cautiously stumble down the hall, almost drunkenly, as I try to keep the internal swishing to a minimum?  Maybe they’re touring the building; perhaps in this downward economy they’ve been hired as scofflaws and hallway hoodlums instead of as burger flippers and fry salters.  Whatever they are, they’re in my way and as hard as I try to magically transport my pain away through E.S.Pee, I remain crippled by the worst nightmare the little Dutch boy ever had. (“Honey, don’t stick your thumb in there!  You can’t hold everything back.”)

Arrgh!  I give, I give!  Uncle!

I Must, I Must, I Must Increase My Bust

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

When the Insta-Princess and I tell our tale of love, we mention chirping birds, bouts of red-hot passion, bells ringing, waves parting, sunny skies, stock market successes, and strangers stopping us on the street and telling us how wonderful we are.  That’s all true. (I still get stopped on the street, daily.  And sometimes it’s not because a gaunt, heroin honey wants to offer discounted booty.)  What we rarely mention, however, what we just don’t bring up in decent company is that the Insta-Princess almost dropped me two seconds into the relationship.

Because of a few books.

“Books?” you ask.  “Really?  They must have been horrible, filled with rituals on how to prepare and devour babies.  Or, how to get into the Starbucks franchise business.  You know, the usual tools of Satan.”

No, not that.  They weren’t even anything as evil as John Grisham books.  No, beyond that, even; books so profoundly disturbing to her that she almost gave up this delicious hunk of man meat.  They were, in order of appearance, the Trixie Belden series of books, and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

“Tween girl books?”  Now you’re stunned.  But, hear me out: I was a voracious reader as a kid; I read everything I could find, and when one of my daycare “teachers” (a luscious dame on whom I had a huge crush) gave me fourteen books of various sizes and flavors, I attacked that stack of good reads with my usual desire to keep on reading, and the wont to impress her.   Amidst the other books, the ones about Mushroom Planets and a sand-fairy known as Psammead, were a set of the first four books about a red-headed chick and her school-aged detective group known as the “Bob-Whites of the Glen”.


But, see, as kid with burgeoning hormones, I admitted to being a wee bit jealous that one of the characters in Trixie Belden, Jim, was not only rich, but he was living with the best-looking gal of the series (as a newly-adopted sibling) and was kinda-sorta-not really hooking up with the main gal.  Frankly, the kid had it going on.  Plus, did I mention I was trying to impress my daycare teacher?  The first woman whom I had ever seen in a bikini–up close and personal on one of our daycare’s weekly trips to the city pool?  We’re talking hot stuff, kiddos.

As for Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.: C’mon, I was suckered in.  It’s not my fault Judy Blume wrote boy-friendly books like Freckle Juice, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, and Superfudge.  I had no idea she also wrote books where the protagonist and her buddies got together in a group and steadily chanted, “I must, I must, I must increase my bust.”  Although the idea of boobies appealed to me, I’m not sure I was ready to learn about one pubescent girl’s troubles with her first menstruation.

On the other hand, I learned that Jews and Christians could marry one another, so put an X in the column for diversity and tolerance.

By the time I was well into my adulthood I had accepted my history with these books; I even finished reading the Trixie Belden series (never leave a series unfinished, especially if you’re just trying to figure out if Lucky Jim ever really got some), and managed to keep copies of that and Judy Blume’s  adolescent trap book.  So, when the Insta-Princess mentioned having read the Trixie Belden series, and how she wanted to peruse a couple of them again, I braved the waters and admitted I had those books, and boyohboyohboy would she like me to bring them up to her like right now?

I was thinking I was going to get some McLovin’, and she thought I was odd.  Still, even that wasn’t quite the straw and fragile camel’s back scenario–not until I saw her copy of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. sitting on her shelf.  “I’ve read that!”


No smoochies for Skip that night, huh-uh.  While my love for Chicago didn’t help my case, now I was directly in the sights of her devastating gaydar.  Of course, farces being what they are, I didn’t know any of this until later–much later–after she had been to my house, seen my lack of decorating and other clichéd heterosexual male sensabilities, decided her gaydar was malfunctioning. and laid a hotty-totty smackeroo right where it counted.  So, all worked out well.

Still, even though you’re endlessly stuck in the pages of your 1950s-era surroundings and are forever at the mercy of unconsumated relations with the gals of Sleepyside-on-Hudson, I salute you, Jim of Trixie Belden.  I mean, really, you have two chicks…

The Ghostess With The Mostess

Monday, July 14th, 2008

If you wasted at least part of your youth in Kansas City during the ’80s, there’s a good chance you might have spent a few late nights watching Kansas City’s very own Maven of the Macabre, Crematia Mortem.  Haunting our televisions from 1981 until 1988, Crematia was the ghoulish hostess of KSHB-TV 41’s Creature Feature.  During most of this period, KSHB was not yet a network affiliate, so they had much more control over their programming; they owned the movies they presented, and could schedule blocks of time devoted to original local programs. (Kansas City even had its own morning show with AM Live–a disappointing discovery for kids who stayed home sick, yet within the range of a television.  After the morning cartoons were over, you were forced to watch AM Live, soap operas, or trucking commercials.  Oddly enough, I think I miss the trucking commercials.)

KSHB handed the reins of its late-night Saturday horror program to Roberta Solomon, a successful voice personality across the nation.  Roberta, after visiting a lingerie shop to pick out the corset for her Vampira-like character, introduced the world to Crematia Mortem, deadly hostess of Creature Feature.  Crematia’s mastery of the darkness was helped along by her loyal companions, Rasputin and Dweeb.  (You never saw them, but you could hear them off-camera.  Dweeb, a stand-in for Fortunato from The Cask of Amontillado, was forever walled up in Crematia’s house due to some often-alluded-to, but never-expounded-upon, vague offense buried in the past.)

During those years I spent a number of weekends at my grandparents’ house in Shawnee, Kansas.  Each weekend night, my grandma pulled out her convertible couch and made it ready for our late-night theater.  (It happened Friday evenings, too, with a competing channel’s Friday Fright Night show.  But, except for an evil laugh and reoccurring image of a malevolent skull flashing on-screen between commercials, it wasn’t as memorable as Crematia’s world.)  I was ecstatic to stay up late into the wee hours of the morning, and I was thrilled to be watching movies about werewolves, vampires, mummies and other bump-in-the-night nasties.  More often than not I cowered when the scary came on screen; other times I slipped into dreamland before the movie was finished.  But, thanks to my grandmother’s willingness to spend time with her grandson, I learned the joy of watching Lon Chaney, Jr., Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and a huge list of other assorted characters from the heyday of Universal Pictures’ horror films.  Special mention goes to Christoper Lee in his menacing role as Dracula in the Hammer films.  To this day Lee is still frightening no matter the part he plays.

So, really, I thank my grandma and Crematia for making Saturday evenings entirely too much fun.  My grandma passed away a few years back, but the memories of coming in from her backyard with a jar filled with either crawdads or fireflies (you caught what you could), letting them loose in her living room (fireflies, only), and then crawling into bed to wait for Crematia to grace the screen with her unforgettable appearance and forgettable cheesy jokes, they’re all still fresh.

These days such a show probably isn’t possible.  Stations, being network affiliates, whore themselves out to infomericals and re-runs of painfully unfunny shows like Everybody Loves Raymond and The King of Queens.  They are, indeed, their own brand of horror, but they don’t quite create the lasting memories the way Crematia did.


Footprints (A Conversation With God)

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.

“Lord?” I asked.  “Why are you following me?”


“Lord?” I asked.  “Why are we on a beach?  I’m pretty sure Kansas City is nowhere near an ocean.”


“Isn’t that kidnapping?”


And lo, He took out His wallet and flashed me His Almighty Express gold card.  Membership has privileges. Said so right on the back.

I looked back along the path we had just walked, and I noticed a funny thing.  Mostly, I saw two pairs of footprints, but occasionally I only saw one. This concerned me, because I noticed the one pair appeared during those times when I was sad in life or suffering from defeat.

“Lord,  I just noticed–”


“Why, yes.”






“Was it too much to ask for you to carry me during those rough times?”


“But, you’re the Lord! You can do anything!  You can create a rock even you can’t move!”


“Okay, okay, how about there–see it?–right there, what’s with my footprints and only one footprint of yours?”


“But that was when my dad and my girlfriend literally ate each other in a murder-suicide-steak tartare crime!  That was the single most lowest point in my life!  Couldn’t you have stopped hopping for one moment to help me out?”

“MY CHILD,” He said, holy and tender concern lighting up His eyes.  “THE HOLY GHOST BET ME DOUBLE-OR-NOTHING.”

“You’re a real dick, Lord.”


Rat – The Other White Meat

Friday, February 22nd, 2008


I was wandering the wide halls of the Internet here recently (it’s how I get my exercise), when I ran across a curious article on CNN asking whether Ratatouille was “ripped off” because the stalwart minds in charge of the Oscars had denied it a best picture nomination. The article brings up numerous points in the favor of the film, including glowing reviews from dilettantes and true art devotees alike; it compares it to another Disney film, Beauty and the Beast, which had been considered for a best picture nomination (considered by whom, I couldn’t say); and it brings up the movie’s success in France, a country apocryphally accused of worshiping Jerry Lewis (the denial of which proving they do, indeed, have great taste), and notorious for poo-poohing food, words and other cultural delights that ain’t al’origine français. What the article failed to consider, however, and what I feel is a gaping flaw in the whole piece, was that the movie was le blah.

In fact, Pixar makes a lot of yawners.

Visually, as with almost all Pixar films, Ratatouille was stunning. If nothing else, Pixarian artists do an amazing job creating a visual style, keeping with it throughout the film, and paying attention to even the tiniest detail that you easily find yourself immersed in the atmosphere. It doesn’t matter that our human hero in Ratatouille has a phallic nose worthy of Ron Jeremy; that you can peer into the nostrils and see that someone needs to grab a tissue and blow is what matters. I give full props to the animators.

The writers, however… meh.

Pixar, as highly touted as they are (they almost have an Apple cult-like following… and, indeed, the two groups often intersect in the Venn Diagram of Obsessiveness) spends the vast majority of their budget on animation, yet settles for lackluster storylines. The only exception so far has been the Brad Bird-helmed The Incredibles. But then, Brad Bird, when involved with a project from the very beginning, makes overwhelmingly touching films. His earlier Iron Giant was probably one of the best cell-animated films ever, and each film is a result of his vision and hard work. (Not to mention the incredible talent who help put the film together. Bird couldn’t do it without them.)

The writing sin committed in Pixar films–and for Disney animated films in general–is that everything is predictable, and not in a good way. Familiarity with a story isn’t bad, per se; however, the director should put a shiny new spin on the story; maybe present it to us from a different, and enticing, point-of-view. That’s what Bird did with The Incredibles. Stories of superheros aren’t new or original; neither are stories of families having problems; but Bird combined the two and gave us a world both comical and serious: we laugh at the sight of Mr. Incredible lifting locomotive cars to get in shape, and we’re stunned by the admission of Mrs. Incredible when she warns Violet and Dash:

Remember the bad guys on the shows you used to watch on Saturday mornings? Well, these guys aren’t like those guys. They won’t exercise restraint because you are children. They will kill you if they get the chance. Do not give them that chance.

The dismay on the faces of the kids when they hear this, and the realization that Helen is now expertly acting two roles, mom and superhero, is palpable. It’s a moment that could have been incredibly hokey, yet Bird and company pulled it off better than even most live-actioned shows could have done.

Ratatouille, though, lacked such expert emotional subtlety. The whole film was working on a single plane of blandness, and despite the efforts of Bird to salvage the film (he was brought in after Disney execs lost faith in the original director), the film was defeated by an onslaught of the doldrums. The characters are shallow, their interactions lack emotional fruition, and we’re told about relationships instead of being shown them. The romance between Linguini and Colette isn’t something that blossomed, or something that burst forth from an animated lust volcano; instead, the two of them go from strangers who are wary of one another to, without any indication why, “the couple”. Anton Ego was amusing, and the potential for depth was certainly there, but he lacked the attention and screen time needed to make him a truly excellent character. Remy, arguably the film’s star (although, I think the animation won out here), is best summed up as a result of a silly joke taken too far. (“What if a rat–kitchen vermin!–wanted to cook? Wouldn’t that be hilarious?” No, not really.)

In the end, we know who’s going to win, but there’s no real lesson learned here; there’s no underlying message or hint about how we should view the world or each other. In The Incredibles we also know who’s going to win, but in that movie it was the journey that mattered, not the destination. Thanks to the excellent script and voice acting, we know the Parrs love one another and are devoted to the family, and we know this without having to be hit over the head with it.

I don’t suggest people avoid Ratatouille (I save that warning for the notorious Doc Hollywood rip-off, Cars), but I simply don’t understand why anyone would bemoan its lack of a best picture nomination. The film simply belongs in the pantheon of other Disney movies that hide poor writing with neat animation (A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, etc…) or catchy songs (The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, etc…).

To be honest, though, the film did make me hungry. So, there’s that.

She’s Not Playing Fair(ly)

Friday, February 8th, 2008

In the past year I’ve been hit with walking pneumonia, stomach flu, and now the regular flu.  Which, by the way, is in its fifth day–when it used to only last a couple days back when I was hale, hardy and not quite 30.

Ma Nature, you blustery old windbag, you’re cheating and you know it.  Two types of flu within a year?  Really?  You’re pissing me off.



Guillotine the Gobbler

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

Quite honestly, it’s the turkey’s fault. The bird, you see, is bland. As the centerpiece for the year’s most monumental meal, you’d think tradition would demand a tastier carnal sacrifice. Steaks, for example; while the butthole of a carved-up cow is slightly more difficult to stuff with celery and bits of crumpled bread, the reward of a red meat repast is well worth the effort. (Of course, the first problem with this scenario being the location of the moo-moo’s poop-chute. I mean, is it in the ribeye, the KC strip, the sirloin or the club steak? My god, have we been salivating all the years over filet mignon only to discover we’ve been duped by Bessie and her co-horts–a final jest of tasty ordure delivered to our unsuspecting palates as we sizzle her flank and roast her rump?) Serving steak, one separate plate per person, also imparts the dignified notion that each one of us is different, that we don’t all have to feed at the same flighty trough. And, with the turkey you have racial decisions with which to wrestle (dark meat! white meat!), but with steak, why, it’s all pink in the middle.

The Insta-Princess worships Thanksgiving. The pies, the bird, the trimmings and the drinks, she’s a big fan of all of it. “Good Eats” is her motto this time of the year, and although I respect her love for the holiday, I’d be just as happy to kick it out of the pantheon of days off during the year and replace it with, I dunno, maybe something like my birthday.


I’ve been bored by Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember. As a kiddo (I was frickin’ adorable) I was forced to get dressed up and go forth to a family member’s house (usually my maternal grandparents) and do absolutely nothing. Oh, sure, we were allowed some cuts of dry meat and horrible gravy, but after dinner in a house full of adults who, frankly, weren’t paying any attention to us, there was nothing to do. The one television was hidden behind a swarm of aunts and uncles; the only toys in the house were leftover Barbies circa my mother’s childhood; running outside was forbidden lest we bring holy ruin to our clothes; and if the television ever did make an appearance, it was tuned to a football game. No books, no games, no wrestling, no races, nothing.

Worst of all, no gifts.

There, I said it. I despise Thanksgiving to this day because I got absolutely zilch out of it as a wee one. I mean, hey, Easter was slightly worse in some ways (had to sit through an hour of hard wooden pews and boring sermons before our ecclesiastical sentence was lifted for the day), but you ended up with chocolate galore and plastic Easter eggs filled with yet more treats of both the cash variety and the edible kind. (Fittingly enough, if all eggs weren’t found you could hunt for them up to three days later, thus introducing a special brand of divine ressurrection.) Thanksgiving, however, there were no bright baskets holding a tasty Peter Cottontail prisoner in an equally bright box; there were no gifts under a tree waiting to be unwrapped and fawned over; there were no candy hearts and Scooby-Doo wishes for a Happy Valentine’s Day; there were no birthday cakes and no candles to blow out. No, there was just boring old turkey and the official colors of Thanksgiving: brown and more brown. Blah, I insist, it’s a blah holiday.


Hot Fuzz

Friday, October 5th, 2007

I love the Internet. After you get home, there’s so much you can do to relieve yourself from the doldrums the work day relentlessly breeds. (The mundane, I swear, it multiplies like it’s a coupla Catholic bunnies.) From the many hours of my life sacrificed at the altar of our newest god, YouTube; to the burgeoning days of where I spent, oh, an every now and then looking for old girlfriends so I could rate them “hot” (I’ve got a reputation to protect, don’t ya’ know); to the social networking sites of and where I get to point and laugh at a number of people I randomly happen across… and who’re probably laughing just as loudly as they look upon my antics; the Internet certainly cheers me up throughout the day.

My favorite site for this day, however, is not a comic, nor a movie trailer site, nor even an opportunity to kill some zombies (hint: go for the knees).

Today’s fun site is Cops Writing Cops.

I admit it, I’m a sucker for some of the drama out there in Internet Land. Even if the drama is entirely manufactured and magically pulled from the rabbit’s furry butt, it amuses me. In this case, it amuses me a bunch. Here we seem to have a site dedicated to police officers complaining about other officers because they, the writers, received traffic tickets from their blue-shirted bruthas. They detail badge numbers, departments, where they got busted, and when available, first and last names of the ticket-writing coppers.

Oh, John Law. You funny.

The rest of us civilians complain often and loudly when we get tickets. Whether we’re guilty as hell, or the ticket was given in error (me, I’ve always been guilty of speeding, but I make allowances for you angels out there), we reserve our right to gripe, whine, moan and grumble. Schadenfreude in cases like ours can be dull and as tasteless as brussels sprouts because, hey, tickets happen to most everyone and even Turkish Delight becomes commonplace after too many helpings.

In the case of Cops Writing Cops, however, it’s a delicious feast.

Mind you, not because of any special dislike of the police. No, it’s because the level of entitlement in these stories is turned up to 11. Perhaps the one comment that sums the whole site up for me is:

“Please someone explain this mentality to me. No matter how much I try I just don’t understand why a brother officer feels so compelled to write another officer a ticket. I can’t see any other explanation other than the fact that he is simply a DICK.”

Really? Not even if you tried really, really hard? Not even then would you think about how breaking the law is sometimes tailed by actual consequences? Not even when you consider that a blanket allowance of letting other officers out of tickets is a shining example of corruption?

Still, that’s not even the worst (just the majority of complaints); the extra, super-special unbelieveable complaints are the ones where the writers talk about how their spouses and kids aren’t being given a pass—even if they go the extra mile and offer to let the ticketing officer to talk to their Keystone relative on a cell phone.


I wish I were an officer; I’d submit my own story:

I was traveling westbound on I-66 on Sunday going 5 in a 55. In a seat beside me were a bloodied butcher’s knife and a puppy I like to kick; in the backseat were a bomb (conveniently labeled “Bomb!”), a preserve jar filled with ominous feeling, Satan, Thomas Beckett, that loving feeling someone lost, and the 1999 version of Napster, back when it was an evil, evil file sharing program.

And, wouldn’t you believe it? A state patrol cruiser flashed its lights for me to pull over! I was tempted to push my Ford Pinto (orange and white) up to 10 and make a break for it, but I figured, nah, I’m an officer of the law; I’ll be thrilled to chat with my fellow copper, receive a chastisement, pretend to learn my lesson, and go on my merry way.

After we safely settled in the grassy median (I can park there when being pulled over; I have a badge, and it’s shiny), the officer got out of his car, mosied on over, and knocked on my window. “License and registration, please,” he said.

“Sure. Here you go officer. Also, here’s my department badge, Fraternal Order of Police certificate, ‘I’m a cop! Truly!’ bumper sticker, and my penis. It’s detachable.”

The trooper peered inside my car. “Is that Satan?” he asked, and glanced at The Evil One.

“Yes. A few beers, a midnight ritual, blood of my neighbor’s cat, this is what happens.”

“And have you been kicking that puppy?”

“Every hour on the hour!”

“Hold on. I’ll be right back.”

Awesome, I thought. He’ll probably come back with a beer for me. Or, maybe even a pretty girl in fishnet stockings who’s been very, very naughty. I like being a cop.

But, no! The bastard came back with a ticket. A ticket! For driving too slow. A ticket! The fucker! “Wait one second!” I yelled at him. “I’m an officer of the goddamn law! Where’s the courtesy, the respect, the fraternal—and completely platonic—love for another dude of the blue?”

He shrugged. “Look, I ignored 1999 Napster. That should be enough. Have a nice day.”

Yeah, yeah, right. Nice day my ass, Officer O’Malley O’Brian, badge #3422556Bc1$. You just wait until I get home to blog about this. You’ll rue, my friend, you’ll rue this muthafuggin’ day!

Hmm… perhaps I should post it over there, anyway. It certainly couldn’t be any less jaw-droppingly astounding than some of the other stories. Plus, who knows, maybe I’ll impress enough people that someone will offer to send me a junior policeman badge.

That’d rock.

Cracka Jacks

Friday, September 14th, 2007

Dear Penthouse,

I never thought it would happen to me. And, so far, I’ve been right.

Dear Chums,

Did I ever tell you about the time I went to the Insta-Princess’s family reunion? The one from this past July?


Well, let me start off by saying that I don’t play golf. I’ve been on a golf course maybe twice in my life, but I can’t say what I did on the course even remotely resembled “playing golf”. I’d probably have come much closer to success either time by bringing a pool cue and playing billiards with a Titleist. (I did, however, throw a golf club down the fairway just so I could live a cliché.) The Insta-Princess accuses me of being old, grumpy and white, but if golf were the clear indicator of all three, you couldn’t tell by me.

Now, we had just finished up with my family’s reunion the week before, so the Insta-Princess and I weren’t looking forward to yet another one. Plus, it was during my family reunion that we discovered Wiggy was gonna burst on the scene, so you can imagine that we wanted some time off to absorb the ramifications of this new eighteen year tax deduction. Still, despite our protests that one reunion a year was enough for us, my mother-in-law insisted, and had in fact paid for our tickets in a bid to get us to make an appearance. Half our battle was won: we attended the Friday evening get-together and went on the lam for the next day’s gathering.

Actually, the Friday meeting was pretty nice. Slightly cramped, sure, but everyone was kind, snacks and drinks were provided, and I got to meet a lot of people I’ll never remember, and see numerous photos that were excellent, but that I’ve already forgotten. Thus is the way of reunions.

What I didn’t care for was the planned activity for the evening. That is, someone evil devised a “find this kind of person” game where you went around with a sheet in hand and had to match a random person with one of the attributes listed on the sheet. For example, the sheet provided such characteristics as “grew up on a farm” or “likes to fish”—and for both, separately, you’d have to find a person in the room who either grew up on a farm or liked to fish. Simple, eh?

There were numerous entries that described me in some way. I like to fish, you know? And, heck, I like to bowl, read a lot, collect wine, and ride a motorcycle. But, did I get asked any of those questions?

Not a chance.

My being the only white guy in the room, however, afforded nearly half the answer-seekers the opportunity to come up to me and say, “Now, I know you play golf.” There was no question or doubt; there was just this indubitable insistence that I, the palest dude in the room, hit the links. And by the sixth or seventh time this happened, the Insta-Princess and I were nearly in tears trying to hold back the laughter.

Good god. I look like an old, grumpy white guy who likes to play golf. I just can’t win.

Le sigh.

Wolfman’s Got Nards

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

You ever catch The Monster Squad?

Probably not.

Like a bastard child of Goonies and Gremlins, The Monster Squad focused on the adventures of a group of steadfast friends whose movie-esque troubles centered around, obviously enough, monsters, instead of bank robbers and vicious Mogwai. Their main nemesis? Dracula. His buddies? Frankenstein’s monster, the Wolfman, a sartorial mummy, and a creature from some lagoon. (I don’t think they had rights to use the name “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” so they called it “Gillman”. No, seriously.)

The film had plenty of weaknesses, and proved it in 1987 by failing brilliantly at the theaters. The critics at the time didn’t help, mind you, pushing the stake in a weeeeee bit further by giving it some pretty disappointing reviews. And, rightfully so.

But, here’s the thing. Unlike Buffy, the Vampire Slayer (televisión, not el film-o), a cult favorite due to its impressive writing, emotional depth, and campy but surprisingly accurate metaphors for surviving high school, The Monster Squad remains a cult icon thanks to its just being fun.

Despite being able to go batty (and hover, unchanged, in mid-air) does Dracula drive a black hearse with a skull jutting out from the hood? You betcha. Does he employ that ages-old and deceptively simple trick of calling himself “Mr. Alucard”? Uh-huh. Does Frankenstein’s monster stumble (slowly) across a little girl playing all by her lonesome? Sure, why not. Van Helsing make an appearance? Yep. No-one-believes-the-kids-so-they-have-to-save-the-world-all-by-themselves?

Fuck, yeah.

But the sheer enjoyment one can suck out of the film is probably best illustrated by this one YouTube clip:

“Wolfman’s got nards…”

G’bless ’em. Even if they didn’t do anything else right in the movie (they did), that line would still be a classic. (Well, classic to those of us who’ve thus far refused to mature.) They even managed to encapsulate some of the dumbest and most telling vocabulary ever uttered by a middle school kid in the ’80s: using “dorked” as a euphemism for getting laid. (In a related bit, the end of the movie has a hilarious scene where one of the boys is arguing with his older, high school-aged sister about whether she’s a virgin. She had just read aloud this mystical text that would have saved the day if she were, you know, all pure and stuff. Unfortunately, after the reading, nothing happened. Not even a weak abracadabra:

“You’re not a virgin, are you?” She shakes her head.

“‘No’? What do you mean, ‘No’?”

“Well… Steve, but he doesn’t count!”


So, The Monster Squad, I salute you. You bring back a little bit of the Halloween of my youth. Now, if I could only get a hold of some of those deliciously creepy sets…