OVERLOOK Review: WOLFMAN'S GOT NARDS
In his review for Fred Dekker’s cult classic way back in 1987, LA Times critic Kevin Thomas wrote, “The Monster Squad is such fun, it makes you want to be a kid again. Although you can never regain childhood innocence, you can appreciate the artistry with which director Fred Dekker and co-writer Shane Black have brought to this horror comedy adventure aimed at youngsters.”
I love that review, but I’d go one step further and say that The Monster Squad DOES make you feel like a kid again. Here we are, 31 years since its original release, and the film’s cult is still finding new generations of fright fanatics. That’s partly because, for 90 spellbinding minutes, it transports you back to those formative years sat in front of the TV discovering monsters and horror for the first time. But, mostly, it’s just so much damn fun that it’s infectious. Upon its release, the film bombed hard and sent the ghouls scurrying back to their coffins. However, if Wolfman’s Got Nards, the latest documentary from Andre Gower proves anything, it’s that this particular flop from 1987 ended up connecting with fans throughout the years like few movies do.
And this fandom is strong.
In the documentary, interviewees -- including GG favorites Joe Lynch and Adam Green -- recall the moment they first saw it like it was yesterday. Lynch even remembers the exact day and time, as well as his disappointment when he read the box office gross a couple of days later and realized it wasn’t going to be the hit he wanted it to be. We also meet fans who spend scour eBay every couple of days to pick up rare memorabilia, including the original Old West-style wanted posters and mugshots featuring Dracula, Wolfman, Frankenstein’s Monster, and the gang, that were used as part of the movie’s original marketing campaign.
Gower has gathered an array of guests, many of whom are creators. From FX artists, to directors, and even the mastermind behind one of TV’s most popular sitcoms, we meet a diverse range of people who are where they are today because Dekker and Black’s movie made them want to make their own art. The film’s influence on horror is understandable, but who’d have thunk that without The Monster Squad, we might not even have The Goldbergs?
We all have movies that hold a special place in our hearts for reasons that only make sense to us. Sometimes those movies lead us to other people who can relate. Over the years, The Monster Squad has resonated with the weird kids and the outcasts; those of us who spent our time drawing monsters and consuming pop culture that no one else understood. The Monster Squad is a film that form bonds and its meaning has developed an emotional significance for some fans. Here we meet a fan who was diagnosed with HIV at a young age and this movie helped him cope when he felt shunned with nowhere to go. Moments like this are when this documentary truly soars, and even if you’re not a fan of the flick it’s based on, it’ll touch your feels.
We also get some insights from Dekker and Black, who elaborate on how they came up with the idea and how the film impacted their respective careers. Gower has went all out to make this the definitive testament to the film’s legacy, and he covers every base you want him to. That said, even for non-fans, the doc is entertaining, and anyone who's fascinated with film history and fandom will gain valuable insight from it nonetheless. No one expected this movie to live on after that opening weekend, but here we are in 2018 and it's a mild phenomenon.
This is a film made by fans for fans, and if you fall into that bracket you’re going to love it.