Monster Squad, The (4K UHD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Dec 18, 2023
  • Format: 4K Ultra HD
  • Bookmark and Share
Monster Squad, The (4K UHD Review)


Fred Dekker

Release Date(s)

1987 (November 28, 2023)


Taft Entertainment Pictures/Keith Barish Productions (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
  • Film/Program Grade: A-
  • Video Grade: A
  • Audio Grade: A
  • Extras Grade: A+

The Monster Squad (4K UHD)

Buy it Here!


Revisiting 1987’s The Monster Squad reminds one of a time when it was more acceptable for kids to go to the movies and have the wits scared out of them without much of a backlash. The collection of Grimms’ Fairy Tales goes to prove that there’s certainly something to letting children know early on that there are real monsters in the world, and that they could be coming for them. Alright, maybe not Dracula or Frankenstein’s Monster, but definitely the horrors of reality. In a way, these stories help prepare children for serial killers, kidnappers, rapists, and politicians. It’s one of many reasons why The Monster Squad continues to charm. It’s not a goofy film about unrelatable characters with superpowers taking on bad guys. Instead, it’s about a group of normal kids finding themselves in an extraordinary situation, and it doesn’t hold back on the scares.

The Monster Squad also takes place in the days before laptops, cell phones, video games, and other modern day vices and devices... long before parents starting meddling in what their kids were doing when they weren’t around. Simple things like club houses, riding bicycles, reading monster magazines, and going to the movies was as good as it got. In The Monster Squad, you get that type of mid-80s, middle America, idyllic childhood, except that the monsters that these kids obsess over have come to their town with the intention of taking over the world. Major bummer. Using their monster knowledge, the help of an older kid in junior high, and an old man with a history of seeing real atrocities first hand, they take the monsters head-on to destroy them once and for all.

Co-writer and director Fred Dekker (penning the film with Predator and Lethal Weapon scribe Shane Black) was first noticed after making the independent sci-fi zombie fest Night of the Creeps a year prior. That film didn’t make much of an impact at the time, but it was impressive enough to the right people (including producers Peter Hyams and Jonathan Zimbert, as well as executive producer Rob Cohen) to allow Dekker to move forward on The Monster Squad, which he had been working on prior to the production of Night of the Creeps. But while Night of the Creeps was a tribute to the classic B movies of the 1950s, The Monster Squad paid a call on the classic Universal Monster quintet of Dracula (Duncan Regehr), Frankenstein’s Monster (Tom Noonan), the Wolf Man (Jonathan Gries/Carl Thibault), the Mummy (Michael Reid MacKay), and the Gill-man from Creature from the Black Lagoon (Tom Woodruff Jr.). In many ways, these versions are equal to, or even out-perform their Universal counterparts. Lugosi’s Dracula and Karloff’s Frankenstein’s Monster will never be rivaled, but they’re given a run for their money. And the latter trio of monsters are, for me at least, the most effective iterations ever put on screen.

As for the kids themselves, they’re all wonderful. It’s a terrific ensemble for a picture that had every intention of being an edgy horror comedy while simultaneously paying homage to the greats that came before it. While I fully admit that I’m coming into this with a bias since this was one of my childhood favorites, I still feel that The Monster Squad holds up better than one might expect. It’s true that it wouldn’t exist with the shadow of The Goonies looming over it, but it doesn’t disappoint either. In other words, you can’t go wrong with The Monster Squad.

The Monster Squad was shot by cinematographer Bradford May on 35 mm film using Panavision Panaflex Gold cameras and E-Series lenses, finished photochemically, and presented in the aspect ratio of 2.39:1. Kino Lorber Studio Classics debuts the film in Ultra High Definition with a new 4K scan of the original camera negative, graded for High Dynamic Range (HDR10 and Dolby Vision options are included), and presented on a triple-layered BD-100 disc. Opening with the original Tri-Star logo, The Monster Squad retains a filmic look with a tight grain structure and an even-keeled bitrate that sits between 80 to 90Mbps, dipping and rising where appropriate, or more accurately, depending upon how much data there is on the screen to work with. The HDR grades take full advantage of the film’s contrast with deep blacks and much more detail in the color palette. This isn’t necessarily a film that wows you with a multitude of hues as it has a mostly natural look to it, aside from scenes where gels and red lighting are used to sell particular moments. Everything appears clean and stable with high levels of detail in the frame. There’s an obvious dip in quality when the limbo sequences occur, but they’re inherent to the special effects technology of the era. In short, this is the best the film has ever looked on home video.

Audio is included in English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio with optional subtitles in English SDH. While the 5.1 certainly offers a spacious experience, the 2.0 track contains the original theatrical stereo audio, and there are many key differences in the mix, especially when it comes to score and sound effects. In many ways, it’s a fuller mix that spreads the various elements out a little wider than its multi-channel counterpart. On both tracks, dialogue is clear and distinct, and neither have any real issues to speak of. It all boils down to personal taste, though purists will be happy with the inclusion of the stereo track.

The 3-Disc 4K Ultra HD release of The Monster Squad sits in a black amaray case with two 1080p Blu-rays, one containing the film and extras, and the other featuring the documentary Wolfman’s Got Nards. The insert features artwork by Abrar Ajmal that combines elements from the US and UK theatrical posters, as well as the original theatrical artwork on the reverse, which has been corrected to include the character of Phoebe. Everything is housed in a slipcover featuring the same front-facing artwork. The following extras are included on the first two discs:


  • Audio Commentary with Fred Dekker and Bradford May
  • Audio Commentary with Fred Dekker, Andrew Gower, Ryan Lambert, and Ashley Bank


  • Audio Commentary with Fred Dekker and Bradford May
  • Audio Commentary with Fred Dekker, Andrew Gower, Ryan Lambert, and Ashley Bank
  • Monster Squad Forever (HD – 76:15)
  • A Conversation with Frankenstein (HD – 8:34)
  • Deleted Scenes (HD and Upscaled SD – 13 in all – 14:06)
  • Animated Storyboard Sequence (HD – 1:40)
  • Stills Gallery (HD – 98 in all – 8:57)
  • TV Spots (HD and Upscaled SD – 2 in all – 1:08)
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD – 1:57)

It should be noted that the majority of these bonus materials haven’t been in print for quite some time, and it’s nice to see them available again so that newcomers can enjoy them. The first audio commentary features director Fred Dekker and director of photography Bradford May. The second features Dekker with actors Andre Gower, Ryan Lambert, and Ashley Bank. The former is a little more technical while the latter is a little more reactive, but they’re of equal value as they’re fun, energetic, and informative tracks.

Michael Felsher’s retrospective Monster Squad Forever five-part documentary features director Fred Dekker, producer Jonathan Zimbert, actors Andre Gower, Duncan Regehr, Tom Noonan, Ashley Bank, Ryan Lambert, director of photography Bradford May, composer Bruce Broughton, and special make-up effects artists Alec Gillis, John Rosengrant, Tom Woodruff Jr., Steve Wang, Matt Rose, and Shane Mahan. A Conversation with Frankenstein features Tom Noonan in make-up as Frankenstein’s Monster, interviewed tongue-in-cheek style off-camera by Felsher. It’s an odd addition, but it’s bound to bring a smile to your face. The Deleted Scenes offer up some nice revelations, including an alternate prologue scene wherein Dracula has been staked, only to have the stake removed, which allows him to rise again. Unfortunately, we’re told up front that the staking scene itself has been lost to time. Some of the other deleted and extended pieces derived from the film’s TV version give you an idea of how the film was shaped into its final form. The Animated Storyboard Sequence is brief, but it shows a side-by-side comparison with the final scene in the film in which the Mummy grabs the back of the jeep and tries to get at the kids before coming unraveled. Last are a pair of TV spots and a trailer.

The third disc features the more recent documentary by Andre Gower, Wolfman’s Got Nards. It explores the legacy of the film, as well as the making of it, and features interviews with most of the same subjects, as well as Seth Green, Joe Lynch, Chuck Russell, Heather Langenkamp, Graham Skipper, Rob Galluzzo, Rebekah McKendry, Adam Green, Stephen Macht, Adam Carl, and Lisa Fuller, among others. This documentary is also unique in that it also shows exclusive behind-the-scenes material, as well as interviews with participants who weren’t a part of the Monster Squad Forever documentary.

Kino Lorber’s 4K UHD release of The Monster Squad topples all previous releases of the film on home video, and then some. This is the definitive package for this film going forward and it belongs in your collection if you’re a fan. Highly recommended!

- Tim Salmons

(You can follow Tim on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook. And be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel here.)