Little Monsters Steelbook Review (2024): A Vibrant Return to Monster World Blu-ray Review

4 Min Read

2024's Steelbook edition of 'Little Monsters' dazzles with vivid colors, reviving the cult classic with a nostalgic yet fresh appeal.

Four years ago, Lionsgate released the 1989 Vestron film Little Monsters on Blu-ray with an uptick in video and audio quality and a number of previously unreleased extras. Now, in 2024, Lionsgate has teamed up with Walmart to offer fans of the movie a limited-release Steelbook (along with Shivers and Kickboxer). While the Blu-ray and supplements are the same as the previous version, the Steelbook features eye-catching hues of blues and purples set against a red/orange background, with yellow lettering in the foreground. For more on the video and audio specs and the extras, see my review of the 2020 release below...

...The 1980s were a time of no-holds-barred movies. Some of these films, like Terminator or Amadeus, represent the dichotomy of experimental and groundbreaking movies across genres. However, there were also too many that were derivative and downright forgettable. This next film falls somewhere in between.

Little Monsters is the story of Brian (Fred Savage), a sixth-grader who's recently moved to a new town and made friends with Maurice (Howie Mandel)-the monster who lives under Brian's bed! Maurice introduces Brian to the world of monsters, where junk food rules, adults aren't allowed, and the fun and games never end. But when Brian's brother is kidnapped, it's time for Brian to get serious and fight the monsters on their turf in this zany cult favorite.

This film is often overlooked and, admittedly, I didn't give it a second glance when it was first released since it seemed like a kid's film. I remember watching the movie with my little brother at the time and thinking that Howie was ripping off Keaton's Beetlejuice (Howie has since corrected this assumption, in an interview on this very disc). That being said, I now see this movie in a different light. It has little to do with the Michael Keaton movie, and more closely resembles another film classic, Pinocchio.

Maurice (Mandel) brings Brian (Savage) to the monster world, an MC Escher-like world of doors to every child's bedroom where terrifying kids is a full-time job and gorging themselves on burgers and junk food is their pastime. The best part of it all? No parents means zero accountability.

Yep... Pinocchio. It's not the most original premise for a film; however, there are some very creative moments of zany fun to be had. For example, I like it when light hits the monsters and instead of scampering off or disappearing, they turn into a pile of clothes, which is a really clever concept. I also enjoy the banter between Savage and Mandel's characters at times, even though this film is written with a child's sensibilities. This means you can enjoy the movie with your kids (as long as they are under 12) and not feel as if it is inappropriate.

I will say, again and again, that Lionsgate gets it right with these Vestron re-releases, and Little Monsters is no exception.

This movie looks better than its previous releases (especially from what I remember on VHS); it gets a decent upgrade with the 1080p 16x9 video presentation and a 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track.

As is expected from a "monster" movie, it is filmed mostly in the dark, but it surprisingly has great details. Howie looks great as Maurice and his make-up effects are vibrant. The darkened bedrooms and the "Monster World" have great black levels and contrast.

The audio is presented well. All the dialogue, including the kids' incessant arguing, is front and center. I had also completely forgotten that the Talking Heads' song "Road to Nowhere" is featured prominently, as part of the end credits. It's an unusual selection but apropos, since I, unfortunately, felt like I had been down that road for the past 100 minutes.

Again, I enjoy the Vestron Collector's Series, because they always seem to include a robust Special Features section. This includes Audio Commentary, as well as an Isolated Score selection with Composer David Newman; a bunch of interviews, such as "Call Him Maurice" with Howie Mandel; vintage interviews with the Savage Brothers, as well as Special Effects creator Robert Short, and the Director, Alan Greenberg; trailers, and much more.

While I fear this movie holds no great nostalgia for me, I appreciate it more now, 31 years later, than I did when I first watched it. This is due in part to the top-notch job from Lionsgate. Make no mistakes, I won't be diving under any beds to chase after this movie, but it did make me dig to find that copy of Pinocchio.

Grade: C+  

Purchase the 'Little Monsters' Steelbook edition at Walmart.


SPECIAL FEATURES:
 

  • 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
  • NEW "Beneath the Bed" - An Interview with Producer Andrew Licht
  • NEW "Monsters Big & Small" - An Interview with Special Makeup Effects Creator Robert Short
  • NEW Vintage Interviews with Actors Fred Savage, Ben Savage, Special Makeup Effects Creator Robert Short, and Director Richard Alan Greenberg
  • Behind-the-Scenes Footage
  • "Making Maurice" - Vintage Footage of Howie Mandel's Makeup Transformation
  • Vintage EPK & VHS Promo
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery
Cast:
Directed By:
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 100 minutes
Distributed By: Lionsgate

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For more information about Little Monsters visit the FlickDirect Movie Database. This release has been provided to FlickDirect for review purposes. For more reviews by Leonard Buccellato please click here.

Little Monsters images are courtesy of Lionsgate. All Rights Reserved.


FlickDirect, Leonard   Buccellato

Leonard's lifelong passion for movies began at a young age with his fascination for the horror classic Blacula. This love of movies has inspired him to explore his creative interests, resulting in his writing of short stories and co-producing a web series. Currently, he is developing a horror novel, showcasing his love of storytelling. His diverse interests, including his enjoyment of Dungeons and Dragons, make him a multifaceted individual committed to exploring new ideas and experiences through movies and literature.


Read More Little Monsters Reviews

Physical Media: Blu-ray Review
Lionsgate gets it right with these Vestron rereleases, and Little Monsters is no exception.
Full Review | Grade: B


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