The 1989 horror comedy from Richard Greenberg is definitely one of the best buddy comedies from the late eighties. While nostalgia is very kind to it, many years later it’s just a very good movie that hasn’t aged all that well. In either case, “Little Monsters” is a childhood classic I recall watching about three times a day for a month, and still loving. I was a seven year old horror fan and couldn’t get enough of this world presented to us on-screen. It also helped that the movie starred Fred Savage who, at the time, was the big name as a child star.
As Brian, he stars with his real life little brother Ben as two brothers living with parents on the verge of divorce. Forced to hear their arguing every night, Ben retreats in to his own world of horror movies, while his little brother Eric awakens every night screaming about monsters. Surely, this is all symptomatic of the dysfunction in the house, so Brian agrees to trade rooms with Eric for a while to ease his fears. Before long, Brian discovers Eric may not be having nightmares, and that there’s a menacing presence in his room. Since just about every kid in the eighties were clever enough to devise traps and whatnot, Brian traps an actual monster from under the bed and meets Maurice. Howie Mandell is rather great as the horned monster Maurice who is trapped by Brian, and forms a gradual friendship with the child. As Maurice, Mandell transcends the prosthetics and make up with a performance that’s wild, loud, and spaztic.
Though Maurice is a monster who terrorizes children, he’s definitely just a typical eighties slacker looking for friends. Maurice introduces Brian to an underworld filled with monsters who spend their nights terrorizing children and sabotaging their world. Hence why kids are often blamed for things they never do. Brian learns about the advantages and pitfalls of the monster world, discovering their knack for zero responsibility and destruction, while also despising their nature for horrifying children that don’t deserve to be punished at all. To add to the dilemma is befriending Maurice, Brian discovers his long hours in the monster world is turning him in to a monster himself.
Not to mention there’s a monster gangster out to get him and his family. “Little Monsters” is a part of that kids movie period where the movies for aimed at young audiences didn’t patronize or water everything down. Much of the scenes and monsters are menacing, while the moments where Brian and Maurice play pranks on neighborhood kids results in a lot of disgusting moments. “Little Monsters” manages to be a very entertaining and sweet little buddy comedy that adds a dimension to the monsters under the bed myth. Savage and Mandell have wonderful chemistry, while Savage himself is a very good lead performer. “Little Monsters” is one of the more entertaining genre offerings of the nineties, a definite gateway title for blossoming horror fans.