Directed by: André Gower. Starring: André Gower, Shane Black, Fred Dekker. Runtime: 1h 31 min.
Minor spoilers follow.
In this new documentary written and directed by André Gower, one of the original stars of Fred Dekker’s The Monster Squad, his new doc called Wolfman’s Got Nards explores cult cinema through the specific lens of Dekker’s film, and the impact it’s had on fans, cast, crew and the film industry in general.
I’ve always been familiar with The Monster Squad but I never actually sat down to watch this doc came to my attention. I really enjoyed the original film for its heart and humour and just the idea of the “Little Rascals meeting the Universal monsters,” as Fred Dekker puts it, is so much fun. I loved this documentary even more, learning just how much of an impact this film has had on so many fans.
The Monster Squad has never been a part of my life, but as I watched this doc I thought it was something special and I imagine that’s how some fans felt the first time they watched the actual film. This film’s created because Gower wanted to learn about how other fans have reacted to the film, and it’s a well-written journey through the history of the film as we learn about it all through several interviews.
Some of these interviews are standouts, especially Monster Squad director Fred Dekker as we learn about his relationship with his own film, like how no one really cared about it for nearly 20 years before it re-emerged into “cult” status in 2006 with the film’s resurgence when it started playing at a string of Alamo Theatres. The behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew are among the most interesting, especially the aspect where Dekker and Shane Black talk about the script. Also seeing behind-the-scenes stuff of Dekker directing Ashley Bank as Phoebe in the original film is super cool.
The structure of this film is very focused, too, with the film separated into small chapters and each new chapter, like title cards with “The Script” or “The Resurgence” are highlighted with some great Monster Squad fan art that I thought was really cool to see. I also loved the interviews with fans and how affected they were by it, especially the aspect of the film of the characters being outsiders and making fans of the film feel less alone. An interview with someone crying just about the affect the film had on her moved me to tears, too.
The film’s occasionally emotional throughout, and just generally heartfelt, and this is especially the case when the film gets to the chapter of the film entitled The Loss when they talk about the death of Brent Chalem in 1997, who played Horace in The Monster Squad. His arc was the heart of the film with his badass moment with the shotgun and just standing up for himself, and the fact that he’s not here to see the success of the film is heartbreaking. His footprint is felt here, especially in the title as “Wolfman’s got nards” is his famous line.
The aspect of the film where we hear how filmmakers were inspired by The Monster Squad is so cool, too, especially Adam F. Goldberg (creator of TV’s The Goldbergs) telling a story about when he first saw the film and his brother not wanting to go to theatre to watch a kid’s movie with him. Goldberg then explains the opening scene was so scary Adam said, “we should go.” “My brother said, ‘No, we should stay.’” Great stories like these are what helps make Wolfman’s Got Nards something special, that could make you appreciate The Monster Squad even more because of everyone’s passion in this film, from the filmmakers to the fans. Consider me a fan now, too.
This film was released on VOD on Oct. 27, 2020, and can be found on iTunes here.