Now 33 years old, Fred Dekker’s The Monster Squad is a film that continues to captivate viewers with its story of a group of horror fan outcasts tasked with saving the world from Dracula, Wolfman and various other legendary monsters. Filled with a cast that resonated with its viewers, The Monster Squad has something for everyone and quickly became a cult classic.
Five youngsters find themselves up against the combined might of Dracula, the Mummy, the Gill Man and Frankenstein’s Monster who arrive in town in search of a magic amulet.
Under-appreciated upon its initial release, the film went on to stand the test of time and a staple in childhood favorites. Now with his role in the playfully entertaining Baby Frankenstein, Dread thought we’d reach out and chat with “Mr. Stephen King” Rules himself, Andre Gower, to discuss his current work and the lasting impact of The Monster Squad.
A young man develops an unlikely friendship with a pint-sized, self-aware automaton.
Dread Central: Combining comedy with horror is always a tricky thing to do. When it doesn’t work, it feels very forced and when it does, there’s something special about that combination. Baby Frankenstein is a lot of fun, it really puts both together in a way that makes for a pretty entertaining little movie.
Andre Gower: Doing that can sometimes come off forced or overly campy. Camp is great, if you know what you’re doing, like Paul Verhoeven (RoboCop, Starship Troopers), who does camp like a genius and very much on purpose. When it’s done with horror, it sometimes feels like they just don’t know where to go with it, so it definitely can come off forced. I think what happened with Baby Frankenstein was that it has this down-home, almost ‘90s indie movie feel to it. It works because there’s that genuineness to it and that balances well with the absurd stuff you’re asked to go with. It’s a pleasant surprise when something like Baby Frankenstein gets made and even gets a real release. I really enjoy it for what it is: a down-home, local filmmaking-like vibe and I think it really works for the film.
DC: What made you want to take it on? Was it that down-home approach that you mentioned? It most definitely has that vibe.
AG: When you get to do what I do and meet tons of people at screenings, conventions or even at the taco stand (laughs), you get asked to do a lot of movies. A lot of those things you either just can’t do or you just shouldn’t do. When a friend asks you to take a look at something, you see it through a different lens and that’s what happened with this one. T.J. Rotell and Denise Pantoja ran into the director, Jon YonKondy and asked what he was working on. He mentioned this project and said he had a little backing for it and being production people, they said, “why don’t we get this thing made?!” My name came up in conversation and they reached out and asked if I’d want to do it. I had two questions, I wanted to know if my involvement would fit the movie, I didn’t want to ruin the thing (laugh). The other thing I asked is if me being in the movie would help it get made. I don’t have a crazy amount of pull, but I wanted to know if my being in it would help the movie itself, that was important to me. The answer to both was affirmative, so I flew out and we did it.
DC: The story’s approach when it comes to the creature is a unique one.
AG: That’s what interested me, how the creature is explained. He’s perceived as a monster, but he’s not really a monster. I loved how though we’ve seen the creature being found by kids thing before (laughs), the idea of it being lost for fifty years and being created by this cutting edge tech company was interesting to me. They ended up having to chop a lot down from the production, including script pages and shooting days. They had seven days to make this movie or something like that, and it was insane. I kind of was just there, when I was needed, to jump in and help with this mad rush. I think that’s where that kind of natural genuineness came through as well because nothing was really overly done. Rance Nix, who played the Baby Frankenstein, had hours of latex makeup and prosthetics to go into and he really worked hard to give people this creature that nobody had seen before, there was a lot of work that went into that. I think it ended up being this simple and intriguing, endearing movie. Some of it’s not as super slick or polished as if it would be, had it been made by a giant studio movie, but at the same time, that doesn’t give you the chance to celebrate that local, low budget kind of achievement. I dig that, I always want to be a big champion of local filmmakers and regional talent, cobbling together a crew where you can get together and knock something out in a week or two and kind of have that achievement.
DC: It’s been great to see you embrace the horror community the way you have, over the past few years. It’s. Tight-knit group, horror fans. Once they love something you’ve done, they tend to have your back for life.
AG: I had been working for years, doing commercials and TV shows and so on and because I was lucky enough to be the lead in a movie called The Monster Squad, this all happened. You know, it was a box office failure in 1987. I really shouldn’t have any type of status or recognition, but it’s because of the fans of that movie, that didn’t let that movie die and helped stay connected to it, holding onto it for decades. When we had the resurgence, everybody embraced it and then you understand that this was something that was really important to you, your friends in the neighborhood, their brother and sister, you start to see that it’s an important film, not just to the filmmakers and the people in the industry but the horror fans and their community. I was lucky to be in a movie that ended up becoming the kind of phenomenon that it was and thanks to Fred Dekker, I get to kind of hang my personal jersey in the community, in the horror rafters for some reason.
DC: We won’t take up too much of your time, but I do have one more question. Will you be debating and/or fighting any more Goonies fans in the future?
AG: (Laughs) You know, that was a great experience. I didn’t know Annick (Mahnert) to begin with, but we’ve now been friends for five years. I celebrate her successes and her company and her endeavors a lot. Doing the Fantastic Fest debates was fun, it was one of those things where Zach Carlson who runs that event, some of the Alamo people were like, since it’s your first time coming to the event, would you want to do the debates and are you okay with doing The Monster Squad vs. The Goonies? I was like, “Can we just debate Showgirls instead?” I wanted to talk Verhoeven because Starship Troopers is absolutely genius. They really wanted it to be Squad vs. Goonies, so I said yeah. It’s kind of nerve-racking, you want to make sure that you bring it home. I think I may have won the debate, but you know, we’ll call it a draw because, you know, everybody makes good points.
DC: I was there photographing the events for Blumhouse.com that evening and the moment that still stands out to me, is when in the middle of your debate, I looked ten feet away from me there sat Guillermo del Toro and Nicolas Winding Refn, laughing together at the fact that you were debating The Monster Squad and The Goonies. It was great to see.
AG: I noticed that I got a reaction from them too. That made me feel like “Okay, even if I lose, I got a reaction from these two, so I’m good.”