Sometimes you read an interview and it’s just so filled with juicy information, you need to step back for a second to catch your breath. That just happened to me while reading an interview with Fred Dekker.
Dekker is best known for directing the cult classic 1987 film The Monster Squad, which he co-wrote with Shane Black. Then, last year, the duo teamed up again for The Predator. Speaking to Moviefone, Dekker spoke about why The Predator didn’t work and casually mentioned, at one point, he and Black were approached about doing a Monster Squad TV show, which of course didn’t happen. He also talks at length about his first film, Night of the Creeps, which we’ll have more on next week.
To the news though. In the interview, Dekker explained that, in their version of The Predator, the Predators came to Earth armed with hybrids of their race and other aliens that they planned to unleash and take over the planet. In the third act though, those Predators decided to try and work with humans to solve the problem while an upgraded Predator (which is still in the final movie) battled them all. The upgraded Predator was going to release all the hybrids and turn them against everyone, resulting in a huge action scene. Dekker explained that removing this core idea of the movie he and Black wrote ended up being extremely detrimental to the final product.
Shane storyboarded it. And we had a pre-viz and animatics and it was I think a really cool idea. At some point or another, the studio, I think, and I’m not pointing fingers at anyone in particular, but there were these misgivings that we were straying too far from what people expected the movie to be. And so we sat down and went, “I guess we need to do a hunt and it needs to be at night, so it’s scarier.” So we ended up going in that direction, which I don’t think served us because it didn’t top anything we’d seen before. I’m actually quite pleased with the first half of the movie, but it kind of goes off the rails by, and Hollywood does this all the time by, trying to appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one.
He also talked about the desire to get Arnold Schwarzenegger into the movie—but that ultimately, because there wasn’t a guarantee that a sequel would happen, it simply wasn’t feasible.
We very much wanted him in the film but what we had written was a cameo that would have spring-boarded into a major role in any sequel. He decided it wasn’t enough of a role and nobody was willing to put money on the possibility of a sequel. He would be taking a pay cut. He would have said, “Come with me if you want to live.” Shane had a talk with Arnold but at the end of the day, the sequel wasn’t a done deal and this is really not a lot of screen time for Arnold to go and fly to Canada and do a half day.
Oh, and they wrote versions of the ending where both Ripley and Newt from Aliens were in it, though neither ever got much further than the page. All of which lines up perfectly with the problems we pointed out in the below article, by the way—the seeds of those original ideas are all there but make no sense in the final film.
In addition to The Predator woes, Dekker also talks about how, after Stranger Things came out and was a huge hit, Paramount approached him and Black about turning The Monster Squad into a TV show. It was a thought he wasn’t a fan of, then became a fan of, and then finally went back to his first thought after a hilarious revelation.
Hollywood has, as you must know, a monkey see, monkey do a business where, Oh, well that’s successful, so let’s just rip that off. So Shane and I had a meeting at Paramount. I said, “Let me just clarify — you guys want us to do a rip off of a rip off of us?” And they all sort of laughed. But that’s basically what it came down to. And my other thought was on “The Monster Squad” was to show us the squad as they are now, because the fans that discovered the movie when they were very young, the age of the kids in the film, they may not have seen in the movie theater. They may have seen it on HBO or on video, but they grew up with it in the same way that the characters in that movie would have grown up.
I thought, well, let’s make this movie for the people who fell in love when they were kids and say, “Where is the squad as adults?” And Shane said to me, “Well that’s it.” I said, “Yeah, it’s a great idea.” And he goes, “No, that’s Stephen King’s ‘It.’ the first part of the book and the first movie is them as kids fighting monsters and the second movie is them as adults fighting monsters.” So as a fan of the genre, there is nothing to me remotely interesting or new about “Monster Squad” as a movie or a TV show. Maybe in 10 years, maybe in 15 years. But right now it’s like, well everybody’s already doing it.
So maybe, when Stranger Things and It stop being popular, and the idea of kids in the 1980s fighting monsters on bicycles wants to be rebooted yet AGAIN, that’s when we’ll see the return of The Monster Squad.
There’s so much more in the interview and we urge you to go check it out over on Moviefone.
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