Written by Andre Gower, Henry Darrow McComas
Directed by Andre Gower
Without question, sometimes our fandom tends to get the better of us and we allow nostalgia to augment a movie we loved from our childhood. The memories become emotions and those fuzzy feelings paint a glossy finish over a piece of celluloid that may not be as perfect as we thought. Should we then look back and try to decide if we collectively chose sentimentality over quality? Luckily, for fans of 1987’s The Monster Squad, they already know the answer to that question.
Screening at Cinepocalypse in Chicago this weekend, the new documentary Wolfman’s Got Nards looks back on the rocky, thirty-year path of the movie from its initial release to its newfound adoration. Showing the undeniable love coming from the full hearts of diehard fans, this moving making-of proves that The Monster Squad has undoubtedly become a classic. It just took a really long time.
First of all, how have so many people not seen this movie? Isn’t it a rite of passage for horror fans? Kind of like Top Gun was for jocks? Where does everyone think those “Stephen King Rules” t-shirts came from? Shockingly, the film wasn’t even in the top 10 new releases when it first hit theaters on August 14, 1987. The Lost Boys had come out two weeks before and became a huge success, but somehow, The Monster Squad was destined to lie in waiting until it was quietly rediscovered on a little network called HBO. No matter how or when you saw it for the first time (and, eventually, the hundreth time) it became a part of you; it became special.
Until recently, the stars of the film like Andre Gower, Ryan Lambert and Ashley Bank or its criminally underrated director Fred Dekker (Night of the Creeps) had no idea the film was so universally loved. The Alamo Drafthouse Theater remedied that inviting the squad on a nationwide road trip where they appeared at screenings and Q&A’s at seventeen theaters in seventeen days for a 30th anniversary tour extravaganza. It was a genuine awakening for everyone involved and the massive outpouring of affection for the classic monster eighties mashup showed the reverence fans still had for one of their horror faves. It was proof that the squad would never disappear through a magic portal, only to be forgotten somewhere in movie Limbo (the same can not be said for Dracula). Four-walling the film this way showed Lionsgate studio that movie geeks were clamoring for a proper Special Edition DVD that, once released, became phenomenally successful.
Truthfully, a more traditional documentary on the making of the film, it’s practical effects, and the insights of those involved would have been compelling in and of itself. Instead, the magic of the movie is captured chronicling the nationwide resurgence of the film and the cheering audiences that turned The Monster Squad from a box office disappointment upon initial release to a nationwide tour playing to sold out crowds decades later.
At about the halfway mark of Nards, one fan exclaims “This is our Rocky Horror” but the documentary asks if The Monster Squad is really even a cult film at all. Sure, in the life of the movie, it found an audience later on that brought it to a new appreciation. But that was mainly because kids saw, probably for the first time, other kids that talked like them and that hit home with the kids that watched it. It stayed with them and made them feel accepted and future generations that found it felt the same way. Maybe the film resonates so much because it showed so many that there were kids out there just like them.
Wolfman’s Got Nards 80s nostalgia shows up in mass to celebrate the cult classic creature feature.