Fred Dekker’s “The Monster Squad” is the assembly of many eighties tropes, even conjuring up the aesthetic of a novel series one might have found tucked beside “The Hardy Boys,” and “Babysitters Club.” It’s Amblin, Spielberg, Universal and everything else we loved about the eighties, and while it can in many ways be considered a take off on “The Goonies,” it watches so much better over time. Even better is the script by Shane Black allows for interesting and complex preteen heroes, all of whom have their spotlight, as well as their own personal struggles. Like Spielberg, Black introduces a potentially broken home with main hero Sean, while this extraordinary situation allows his family to re-unite for the fate of him and his little sister.
This year, Nickelodeon decided to add some spice to their celebration of Halloween by providing a half hour stop motion special. The folks at Bikini Bottom are celebrating Halloween this time, and rather than the iconic wacky two dimensional style, we’re given a brand new spin, with some hilarious results. The stop motion by Screen Novelties is quite excellent, lending the series a sense of whimsy that you would find in something like “A Nightmare Before Christmas.” There is even a great homage to “The Haunted Mansion” Disney Ride, which is both dazzling and screams Halloween.
If you’re looking for some great Halloween oriented or scary animated shorts with a classic flair, the folks at MGM, Disney, Hanna Barbera and Warner Bros. have a humongous library of classic cartoons that will fit your Halloween theme. These are only five of my favorite horror themed animated shorts that will make you laugh and spook you out at the same time. These can be purchased online or viewed on almost any video streaming website! Trick or Treat!
It’s a shame that Disney treats “The Black Cauldron” kind of like the black sheep of the family they don’t mention at family reunions. It’s such a riveting and creepy film that evokes a lot of what makes the fantasy genre so appealing. There’s even the Horned King, one of Disney’s most frightening, if not their most frightening villain ever created, he’s a skull faced, horned monster with one goal to grab the magical black cauldron and use it to take over the world. In galleries and retrospectives, he’s almost never mentioned, which says a lot considering Disney is fond of including the Chernabog, who is only on screen for eleven minutes in “Fantasia.”
Dr. Seuss’s “The Grinch that Stole Christmas” was about the materialism of Christmas, and how it’s the spirit that counts. “Halloween is Grinch Night” is about how you—uh—shouldn’t let… Grinches… ruin Halloween for you. And stuff…? Despite being written by Dr. Seuss, “Halloween is Grinch Night” is a weak prequel that doesn’t quite bind with the “Christmas” exploits of our angry green monster. For one, his dog Max leaves him in the final scene when he fails to hurt Whoville on “Grinch Night,” thus there’s not a lot of explanation when he’s back in the actual short film. Also, the animation compared to the original is so drastic, it’s distracting.
At only twenty four minutes I wouldn’t have minded more of Fred Flintstone adjusting to his new neighbors, but we get much more of the Frankenstone family down the road. One of the later additions to the Flintstones lore, the Frankenstones are an odd new family, but they’re at least funnier than The Great Gazoo. Surprised to learn that a new family is moving in to the neighborhood, Fred is horrified when the family is non-traditional monsters that are menacing, but very sweet, and neighborly. An obvious ode to “The Addams Family,” The Frankenstones seek to make friends with Fred and Wilma and Fred is flabbergasted at the way they live.
“Ghouls, Goblins and Ghosts are Running Amok In This Frightfully Fun Family Collection!” For Halloween festivities this year, Mill Creek Entertainment has offered animation fans a chance to watch some off beat and classic family fun in the spirit of All Hallows Eve. Featured on the DVD are five classic Casper the Friendly Ghost shorts that I grew up with. Among the five are “There’s Good Boos Tonight,” “The Friendly Ghost,” “Boo Moon,” and “A Haunting We Will Go.”
It’s a shame that the urban legend of “Cry Baby Lane” is better than the actual movie. “Cry Baby Lane” was originally shown on Nickelodeon in 2000 and aired allegedly only once. It was then banned for over a decade, never airing again, not even during Halloween, or even its teen channels. Many movie lovers spent years circulating boot leg copies of the movie, until it finally re-emerged in 2016 and aired on Nickelodeon’s late night block “Splat.” There are a ton of theories as to why the movie was banned, but frankly were it not for the years of infamy, “Cry Baby Lane” would just be a boring Nickelodeon TV movie, best forgotten.