"The Monster Squad," a horror comedy spoof about an unspecified town that breaks out in a rash of old movie monsters, was written by Shane Black and Fred Dekker. And I can just hear the story conference jokes now. They'd go something like: "We've got a script here from Black and Dekker." "What is this, a studio or a hardware store?" Or, "You guys are great. When you're finished with rewrites could you come over and sand my floors?"
Actually, given what's on the screen, this little fact may explain a great deal -- the movie plays like it was written with a power tool.
The film's basic premise is that the forces of darkness -- represented by the Mummy, the Frankenstein monster, Werewolf, the Creature from the Black Lagoon and, last but not least, Dracula -- are threatening to filch an amulet upon which depends the balance of good and evil and forever cast the world in shadow. This crystal, which is concentrated "good," is located in an abandoned house on the outskirts of town (don't ask me why), and the only thing standing in the way of this overwhelming awfulness is a gang of profane little brats who call themselves the Monster Squad.
Most of what's included in this unapologetically scrambled mixture of "Goonies," Hardy Boys adventures, "Ghostbusters" and Abbott and Costello monster films is bad actors wandering around in bad makeup and rubber masks and two kinds of kids -- cute, intolerably noisy, smart-alecky kids and not-so-cute, noisy, smart-alecky kids. I don't know which kind I liked least.
There are parents in the movie, too. The kind you only find in movies. The kind who look soulfully into the eyes of their progeny and say, "Do me a favor, willya? Put your basic lid on it." And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the funniest line in the film.
The Monster Squad, opening at area theaters, is rated PG-13 and contains some mild violence and profanity.