The packaging for Mondo’s release of the Bruce Broughton score to 1987’s The Monster Squad is the most appropriate artwork we’ve ever seen for a soundtrack LP. The new artwork commissioned for represses occasionally falls far afield from the original images one associates with the film -- sometimes to the point of head-scratching confusion. In the case of “Ghoulish” Gary Pullin’s work for this gatefold jacket, the imagery is note-perfect.
Pullin has created a package which might as well be a love letter to Dekker’s film, via the influences director and writer Fred Dekker, along with co-writer Shane Black, brought to their film. A series of references to The Monster Squad itself, but in the form of comic book ads, Pullin has dozens of nods to the film’s iconic imagery and characters. Be it the Wolfman mask with all the personnel on the reverse, a Monster Squad membership card, or the ads for everything up to and including a “Stephen King Rules” T-shirt, every fan who picks up this record will wish that they could fill out an order form and send it in, post-haste.
Honestly - the spine of the LP jacket has fake staples! It’s brilliant. Even the vinyl colour nods to the film itself, coming as it does on “amulet green”. It looks just like the glow of the film’s precious icon, and is so gorgeous, one would fight just as hard to keep it as the film’s characters did for its namesake.
The audio is essentially the same as that which debuted on La-La Land’s compact disc reissue last year, and it sounds amazing on this double LP. However, despite all that amazing artwork and attention to detail, nowhere on the packaging does it mention that this album is cut at 45rpm. If one finds themselves wondering why the main titles sound even darker and more macabre than they might remember from their childhood, perhaps changing the speed on the turntable might help.
The music is, of course, fantastic, splitting the difference between odes to the classic Universal monster pictures to which it pays such loving homage, as well as working in some nicely-modern arrangements. As the essay in the liner notes by Ain’t It Cool News’ Eric Vespe points out, the composer took “a big, Amblin-style score and peppered in the dramatic and distinctive DNA of great 1930s monster movie music.”
Those sweeping strings and big brass moments bridged the gap between the modern music and the golden age of cinema, and the absolute sense of adventure is, at all times, perfectly paramount. This may be a movie where the protagonists are middle-schoolers, but at no time is the music for the kids. Broughton’s score lends a seriousness to the film, emphasising as it does the seriousness of the story, rather than playing up the laughs.
There are definitely nods to the likes of John Williams and Franz Waxman, but Broughton’s work on The Monster Squad is uniquely its own. Add in the very excellent “Rock Until You Drop” by Michael Sembello - probably one of the top three montage songs of all time - along with the closing title “Monster Squad Rap,” and this is an album sure to hit each and every nostalgic button one could possibly have.
THE MONSTER SQUAD (1987) / COMPOSER: BRUCE BROUGHTON / LABEL: MONDO / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW