03rd Jul2018

Cinepocalypse 2018: ‘Wolfman’s Got Nards: A Documentary’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Featuring: Fred Dekker, Shane Black, Seth Green, Andre Gower, Ryan Lambert, Ashley Bank, Adam Carl, Tom Woodruff Jr., Joe Lynch, Steve Wang, Adam F. Goldberg, Duncan Regehr, Stephen Macht, Zach Galligan | Written by Andre Gower, Henry Darrow McComas | Directed by Andre Gower

wolfman-doc-poster

Wolfman’s Got Nards is a heartfelt documentary exploring the power of the 1987 cult film The Monster Squad and its 30-year impact on its rabid fan base, the cast and crew, and the future of tween horror comedies. Making his feature debut, actor-turned-director André Gower brings us behind the scenes on the making of the film and digs into what made viewing it such a defining part of many genre fans’ upbringing.

Being independent from the film, unlike the documentary that accompanied Lionsgate’s US DVD release in 2007, means that Wolfman’s Got Nards has an absolutely refreshing honesty about the film, its production and its reception. It touches on the behind the scenes issues between director Fred Dekker and executive producer Peter Hyams; it talks about the poor reception the film had on its initial release; it discusses the effects that “failure” had on the cast and crew. Yet at the same time and, more importantly, how The Monster Squad gave people careers, HUGE careers. And not just people who worked on the film – people who were INSPIRED by the film, who went on to make their own movies, their own monsters, their own worlds…

Yet if there’s one thing you can take from this documentary it’s that you have to feel sorry for Fred Dekker, a man whose films have touched generations of film-lovers and a man whose directorial career only spanned three films and one TV episode, yet someone whose name is, frankly, as beloved as the likes of ANY, and I do mean any, genre director of the decade and since. It’s hard to believe that The Monster Squad was actually the beginning of the end for Dekker… Especially if, like me, you were a child of the 80s and early 90s era of VHS, where Dekker’s films Night of the Creeps and The Monster Squad were iconic must-see films of that era.

So thank god then for the internet, for the growth in pop culture, for the rep screening scene, for all the conventions, etc., for the rise in those and the connections they have afforded fans which has, in turn, seen a resurgence in the fandom of The Monster Squad. Which has ultimately become something of a vindication for Fred Dekker, proof that it wasn’t the film the failed, it was the marketing, the timing of the release (it debuted two weeks after the blockbuster that was The Lost Boys) and the poor decison to aim the film at a PG-13 crowd rather than the PG audience that found The Goonies so satisfying.

Wolfman’s Got Nards is not only a testament to Dekker and Black, but also to its fan base. It’s a celebration of fans old and new who’ve been keeping the film alive for the past three decades Interviewing those whose career paths have taken them into film criticism, giving them a voice to express their love for the film and also interviewing joe public, those who attend screenings of the film, have tattoos of the film, have “shrines” to the film in their homes – really showing how much influence The Monster Squad has had on its fans, truly reflected in the passionate responses from all involved.

At once funny, poignant, sad and celebratory, Wolfman’s Got Nards is easily up there in the pantheon of great pop-culture documentaries.

***** 5/5

Wolfman’s Got Nards screened on June 24th, in Chicago, as part of Cinepocalypse 2018.

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