Little Monsters is known as a gateway horror film. Something you would watch as a youngling and not have to worry about having nightmares for months. Just enough horror to pique your interest into maybe venturing on to say The Monster Squad or Beetlejuice (do we consider that one horror?). By the time I watched Little Monsters, which came out in 1989, I was already tainted with much bigger horror films like the Friday the 13ths, Halloween, Nightmare films. However, there was always something about Little Monsters that got under my skin. I think it is the way Howie Mandel looks as Maurice that does it. His blue skin, sharp teeth, and horns always bothered me. That did not change when I popped in the flick for the first time in forever to check out the new Blu-ray from Vestron Video (number 19 in the collection). As soon as that blue bastard showed up, I immediately had some flashbacks, and the creeps washed over me. Sure, I quickly got over it and was able to enjoy the lighthearted comedy/horror, but I’m pretty sure Howie Mandel is going to pop up in my dreams for the next little while… well, more than he normally does.
Little Monsters is a story about creatures under your bed. But these creatures aren’t out to eat you or anything. Sure they might try to scare you a bit, but they mostly just want to pull some harmless pranks and have a lot of fun. When Brian (Fred Savage) traps one of these beasts by the name of Maurice (Howie Mandel ready to haunt your dreams), Brian befriends him and they head down into the underworld to have a good time. The underworld is full of other beings who once used to be children, but when they didn’t return to their bed before sunrise they became trapped there. However, they don’t seem to mind this as they can have fun all the time. But when Brian’s little brother Eric (Ben Savage) goes missing, kidnapped by the evil Boy (Frank Whaley) and his henchman Snik (Rick Ducommun), Brian goes toe to toe with the baddies with the help of some unlikely friends (Devin Ratray once again playing a bully) and possible love interest Kiersten (Amber Barretto).
Little Monsters is one of those films that has a story that every child dreams about. A whole world of fun and games and no parents in sight. Quick days at school, crushes, and a bully who in the end becomes your best friend. It also helped that Wonder Years star Fred Savage was leading the film as everyone and your grandma saw him as the sweet Kevin Arnold on TV from 1988 to 1993. The film also dealt with tough issues like divorce (the parents are played by Margaret Whitton and another Home Alone star Daniel Stern), but the movie chooses to not dwell on it and quickly whisks the viewer away into a dreamland where one can play baseball and not worry about smashing glass. There aren’t many films nowadays like Little Monsters, save for a few animated ones like Monsters, Inc which is really just an animated Little Monsters without a Savage.
Little Monsters has never had a Blu-ray release before, but it has had an HD run on streaming platforms, and, from what I can tell, the transfers are the same which means no new transfer was performed for this release, which is a shame. The cut is rough-looking at times with some black crush issues. However, given the price of the release, and the fact that the transfer itself doesn’t cause your eyes to bleed, I cannot see it being a problem for many. Audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, and unlike the Shivers release, I did not hear any issues of hiss or distortion. The terrible song “(I LOVE THE SOUND OF) BREAKING GLASS” sounds so clear!
Extra features are where it’s at with this Vestron release, as we get some new interviews with a few different people from the cast and crew (sorry, no new Fred Savage interview). The 18-minute interview with Howie Mandel is the highlight as he reminisces about making the movie and even pulls out the original jacket and tries it on. Other interviews are with producer Andrew Licht and special makeup effects creator Robert Short. An audio commentary, isolated score selections, and vintage interviews round out the new features. It is a nicely-packed Blu-ray, which seems to be a welcome trend with the Vestron Video label.
NEW Audio Commentary with Jarret Gahan, Editor-in-Chief of CultofMonster.com
NEW Isolated Score Selections and Audio Interview with Composer David Newman
NEW “Call Him Maurice” – An Interview with Actor Howie Mandel (HD; 18:39)
NEW “Beneath the Bed” – An Interview with Producer Andrew Licht (HD; 13:54)
NEW “Monsters Big & Small” – An Interview with Special Makeup Effects Creator Robert Short (HD; 14:55)
NEW Vintage Interviews with Actors Fred Savage, Ben Savage, Special Makeup Effects Creator Robert Short, and Director Richard Alan Greenberg (unrestored HD; 29:02)
Little Monsters is a fun and at times terrifying trip down memory lane. It’s a great movie to show your kids, but be careful that Maurice/Howie doesn’t start haunting their dreams. Vestron Video nails the extra features out of the park but fumbles on the video transfer. Still, if you want to own it on physical media in the best format possible, now’s your chance!