In 1987, a movie pitched as “The Little Rascals meet the Universal Monsters” bombed at the theatres. 30 years later, it’s a beloved hit and cultural touchstone amoung horror fans.
Wolfman’s Got Nards traces the unusual path of The Monster Squad from the movie’s inception to its lacklustre release and eventual cult status, while also asking the larger questions of what makes a cult film, anyway?
Director Andre Gower (who played Sean in the original film) was able to get all the important players from The Monster Squad involved, including most of the original cast, director Fred Dekker and screenwriter Shane Black, and the special effects crew who worked alongside the late Stan Winston. The first third of the film is a standard behind-the-scenes documentary that is genuinely interesting, but you can tell Gower is more interested in telling what comes later.
What does come later is The Monster Squad’s box office failure, something that seems to still effect Dekker to this day, and eventual resurgence. Gower traces how Monster Squad eventually finds its audience thanks to reruns on HBO, and eventually through niche screenings at cinemas like the Alamo. Fans from around the world talk about how they discovered the film and what it meant to them, and in the cases of Adam Green (Hatchet) and Joe Lynch (Mayhem), how it led them into the horror genre themselves.
Wolfman’s Got Nards also takes the time to tackle the debate of what a cult film means, and whether or not it matters to be one. Some of the interviewees push back against the term, while others embrace it. Do you need to be Rocky Horror to claim cult status, or is anything that finds its audience later become a ‘cult’ film? If all you need to be considered a cult film is an overly devoted fanbase, The Monster Squad’s got that covered, too.
The film ends with the cast travelling the U.S. to celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary, and finally relishing in The Monster Squad’s success. There’s also a touching tribute to actor Brent Chalem, who passed away shortly after the movie’s release. Chalem, who played Horace, had some of The Monster Squad’s most memorable lines, including the title of this very documentary.
While Wolfman’s Got Nards isn’t exactly breaking new ground in filmmaking — it follows the ‘documentary about a movie’ template fairly closely — it’s got heart. It’s a love letter to fans of the film, and of the horror genre in general, and will make you want to rewatch The Monster Squad immediately.