Before Monsters Inc, there was a world full of monsters who traveled between the worlds via pathways under the bed. It was a dark world filled with creatures of all shapes and sizes, this world is none other than the world of the Little Monsters.
Todays Key Movie:
Brian Stevenson (Fred Savage) is a kid whose family has just moved and he feels alone and scared. Soon unexplained things begin to happen in the house and, of course, being one of two kids he is blamed for the disturbances. He soon realizes that other forces are at work and they are the monsters that live under his bed. Planning to capture one of these strange beasts he encounters Maurice (Howie Mandel) and this monster shows Brian a whole new world.
Why this movie?
If it is not clear yet, Horror was a big deal for me growing up. I loved scary movies and anything that had monsters or creatures were even better. By this time I had also already become a fan of the new tv series The Wonder Years and when I saw that the lead actor of that series, Fred Savage, was to be in a monster movie for kids, I was sold.
This is a cult classic film that every kid I know that grew up in the 80’s watched and loved. It was about the things under the bed, the creatures in the closet but they are revealed to be more like us that we could have ever imagined. They have wants, needs, desires and even a whole society devoted to scaring kids. Sound familiar? Yeah, Monsters Inc has a similar premise but Little Monsters did it first.
The story is very much about dealing with life as a kid. Brian has to deal with difficult parents, an annoying sibling, getting beat up by bullies and the stress that comes with a move to a new town. When all of this is compounded by the appearance of a monster who lives under his bed, things of course take a turn for the worse…or the best depending on how you look at it.
One thing to note, the monster world itself is something out of The Real Ghostbusters cartoon series, a realm of discord and insanity. It is a creepy place with no rules and no control which makes it a perfect place for a kid to want to be. It is a place of pranks and insanity, a place of chaos, it honestly sounded like a lot of fun as a kid but of course, all the fun comes with a price. The longer you stay, the more of a monster you become…
Okay, you like this film, but is it really a ‘good film’?
I distinctly remember watching this one on VHS. I don’t think we saw it in theaters but then again, that was quite a while ago so it is very possible that I did. I know I watched it over and over once it was available on home video so it was certainly a favorite at the time.
As a kid that was bullied growing up, this movie holds a special place in my heart. The main character is one that is going through a tough time of his own and only manages to find his place in the world when he discovers that he may not get to return to the world if he remains in his safe place for too long. At its core it is a film about growing up and dealing with the bullies in your life, it is about dealing with your troubles instead of hiding from them. It is because of this that it is timeless in every way.
Fred Savage and Howie Mandel are terrific in this film. The two of them have an unexpected chemistry that is simply incredible. Although Savage is the star, Mandel dominates the screen every time he appears. Mandel channels his best Beetlejuice in his interpretation of the Monster-under-the-bed. He is crazy, fun and mantic every moment of the film but that is really a big part of the films charm. Without Mandel, this would have been just another run-of-the-mill kids film in the multitude of kids films of the time. Also starring Ben Savage (who ironically plays Brians little brother) and Daniel Stern (who plays Brian’s father) the supporting cast is fantastic as well.
On a technical side this is quite the impressive film. With great makeup and special effects, this is one that was pretty ahead of its time. Like most of the great fantasy and sci fi films of the time, the use of practical effects certainly keeps it timeless and this movie has certainly aged well.
All in all, this is a fun film. It may be a little mature and crass at times for today’s standards but it is certainly a blast to watch. This is one that, like many movies of it’s time, has some humor that as a kid I didn’t understand until I got older. Some of the side jokes and visuals are cleverly placed so that adults have something to laugh at as well. This is a film that I recommend to anyone who likes dark 80’s comedies disguised as a kids film.
OK, where do I get this movie?
This is one that is readily available via digital format and usually runs around $10. You can also run across it in bargain bins in most department stores these days as it seems to be part of the usual fair. If you find a copy in the wild, it is absolutely worth your time to give it a go.
and of course, the trailer:
Late To The Game 07/12/2018
Thank you for reading today. I hope you enjoyed the review. If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and also a complete review of Star Trek Discovery. We also have a fun Retro TV Review series in which we are currently reviewing the entire Star Trek The Next Generation Series, episode by episode.
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