How would you define a cult movie? Is it something like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which found legions of fans thanks to years of playing as a midnight movie in the grungiest theatre in NYC? Or maybe The Room, which persists purely thanks to creator Tommy Wiseau’s utter refusal to let it fade from the public consciousness, even momentarily? Wolfman’s Got Nards, the super fun, energetic, and surprisingly moving documentary feature about the rabid fan support of The Monster Squad, opens with that film’s director, Fred Dekker, admitting: “I don’t know what a cult movie is.” By the end of the flick, it’s agreed that his 1987 kids horror classic is the definition of a cult movie — but, to be clear, The Room or Troll 2 it definitely ain’t.
The doc is the brainchild of actor and writer Andre Gower, himself a member of the eponymous Squad. Gower has made it very clear that he didn’t intend for Wolfman’s Got Nards to be a making of documentary, an expose, or anything else typical of this kind of format. Rather, he envisioned the film as a love letter to Monster Squad fans, and to its overwhelming reach over the past three decades.
It’s kind of amazing the film has lasted this long in general, considering it bombed royally at the box office thanks, in large part, to the fact that a little movie called The Lost Boys had hit theatres just two weeks beforehand. Additionally, its restrictive PG-13 rating (a 15 in the U.K.) hindered much of its core audience from even getting to see it in the cinema.
One of the most entertaining moments in this wholly entertaining documentary finds Gower looking through old promotional materials for the movie (see above). The marketing campaign featured the classic Universal monsters appearing on Wild West-style “wanted” posters, with various crimes attributed to each of them. The Mummy stood accused of “statutory wrap,” a tone deaf pseudo-joke that wouldn’t get past the pitching stages nowadays.
Wolfman’s Got Nards doesn’t rely on these kind of tidbits to sell itself assuming, rightly so, that most of the audience for it will be Squad fans already. To that end, Gower and co-writer/producer Henry Darrow McComas recruit plenty of familiar faces, including Adam Green, Joe Lynch, Jackson Stewart, and Jen Yamato, to discuss the impact the film has had on their careers and adult lives, after first stoking the flames for them as horror-obsessed kids.
Green points out that the script for The Monster Squad hit him especially hard because it captured how kids actually talk, rather than the dialogue feeling as though it was written by a group of adults in a smoky Hollywood boardroom. Elsewhere, it’s noted that Phoebe would be the leader of the Squad nowadays, because she clearly knew what she was doing better than those silly boys.
Actress Ashley Bank pops up to share how terrified she was of working with Duncan Regehr, the classically-trained actor playing Dracula. Initially, her screams didn’t register because she lost her voice out of sheer terror. Both Dekker and writer Shane Black also appear, to share how the flick was inspired by Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and to give their input on how and why it’s survived all these years.
Dekker, by his own admission, has a difficult relationship with The Monster Squad, though Gower is quick to note that he does have a lot of affection for it. Regardless, its massive reach is still clearly a source of both inspiration and confusion for the people who made it. The recent anniversary screenings are dealt with in detail here, as well as the seriously overdue DVD release (along with that terrible cover art that makes it look like Midnight Special).
Although Wolfman’s Got Nards is a mostly upbeat documentary, it takes a surprisingly emotional turn when handling the untimely passing of Brent Chalem, who played Horace. The impact his casting had on kids dealing with similar problems in school is sweetly broached, and the topic of his death — seemingly as a result of medical malpractice — is sensitively rather than sensationally handled.
Wolfman’s Got Nards is hugely entertaining and surprisingly moving. It walks a fine line between being informative and revelatory, but the focus is on the impact it’s had on the lives of fans, rather than just on those who took part in it. The Monster Squad isn’t necessarily that film for me (Hocus Pocus is, so if you’re making a doc on that one, hi!), but I gained a new understanding of, and respect for, it watching this lovingly crafted feature that could only, of course, have been made by a member of the Squad himself.
A must-watch for fans and newcomers alike that will soon sit proudly on shelves alongside battered copies of The Monster Squad worldwide.
WICKED RATING: 9/10
Director(s): André Gower
Writer(s): André Gower, Henry Darrow McComas
Stars: André Gower, Adam Green, Joe Lynch, Heather Langenkamp
Release date: TBC
Studio/ Production Co: Pilgrim Media Group
Length: 91 minutes