Back in 1986, after making his directorial debut with the criminally underrated Night of the Creeps, Fred Dekker set upon his next project. This was to be his version of a mashup between the old ‘Our Gang‘ serials and the classic Universal Monsters called Monster Squad. And while Universal quickly nixed the idea of using the likenesses of their properties, Dekker and his crew went forward with their own versions of the characters, and in 1987 Monster Squad hit theaters, 2 weeks after the juggernaut that was The Lost Boys. The film promptly flat lined at the box office. But that was just the beginning.
Now the star of that film, Andre Gower, has stepped behind the camera to take a look into the massive fandom that has followed the film. It finally found its audience through home video and many repeated cable TV viewings. For many, the film became a rite of passage into the horror genre as a whole. Wolfman’s Got Nards looks into the fandom surrounding the film. It simultaneously follows Gower and his former co-stars Ryan Lambert and Ashley Bank around during their 17-night tour of Alamo Drafthouse theaters in 2017, showing the original film and doing Q&A’s with the audience. The documentary includes interviews not only from the team surrounding the film but the fans as well.
Much like the original film, Wolfman’s Got Nards strikes a very lighthearted nature. Even as the many people surrounding the film discuss its ultimate box office failure, the tone remains jokey and reverential. The film also shows how some people in the industry were inspired and motivated by their love of the film to get into the industry themselves. It highlights stories including that of Mike Hill, one of the lead designers on another Gill-Man monster suit of note, that being the one from Guillermo Del Toro’s Shape of Water. The film also shows us the cultural impact of the film through the endless artwork and merchandise that has been inspired by the film.
Also in the same vein as the original, Wolfman’s Got Nards takes a couple of notes to get serious. Much like little Phoebe desperately trying to hold on to her Frankenstein was heartbreaking, the documentary takes the time to pay tribute to their friend and colleague, the late Brent Chalem. Passing at the very young age of 22 while battling pneumonia, Brent still is very much in the hearts of his co-stars as they lament the fact that he’s not around to enjoy the success the original film has finally found. It’s a very touching section of the film, a fitting tribute to Chalem.
Gower delivers a very smart approach to his documentary that is at times reverential to the original film, as it should be, but never getting so far away from the humor and self-deprecation as to feel stuffy or overwrought. And much like the Canadian made documentary about Evil Dead fandom Hail to the Deadites, Wolfman’s Got Nards devotes a lot of its running time to the fans surrounding the film as opposed to the film itself. But with one of the stars of the original film also being the one behind the camera, Nards manages to achieve a more intimate feel.
If nothing else, it will make you immediately want to revisit the Monster Squad after watching it. Just remember to ‘kick him in the nards’ once the wolfman shows up.