What makes a cult classic? Nobody in Wolfman’s Got Nards seems to know. In the 2018 documentary, which looks at the impact of the 1987 horror-comedy The Monster Squad 30 years on, interview subjects debate whether the weird movie is actually a cult classic or just one that found its audience later on. But there is one thing they agree upon: they’re all devoted followers.
Wolfman’s Got Nards draws its title from an inside joke, and director Andre Gower is an insider himself — he starred as Sean Crenshaw, a club leader in The Monster Squad. Gower presents viewers with behind-the-scenes insight and never-before-seen footage; with talking-head interviewers with the cast and crew, as well as film critics and professors, this is a montage of movie buffs and misfits united in their dedication.
The Monster Squad was birthed from the strange imagination of director Fred Dekker and co-writer Shane Black, who met at UCLA. The pair wanted to create something that was “The Little Rascals meets Universal monster movies,” which they certainly accomplished. Their story is about a gang of pre-teens who are endlessly devoted to classic monster movies: leader Sean Crenshaw and his fellow outcast kids, including Patrick Rhodes (Robby Kiger), the klutzy Horace (Brent Chalem), tough Rudy (Ryan Lambert), and small Eugene (Michael Faustino), war against the Universal Monsters, led by Count Dracula (Duncan Regehr). These crazy kids undergo a supernatural battle that has affected fans for ages; Horace is a particular fan favorite, as is the actor who portrayed him, Brent Chalem. The Monster Squad inspired generations of young fans to fight back against bullies and beasts.
Dr. Mike Dillion, a professor at Cal State Fullerton, underscores the importance of not taking The Monster Squad too seriously despite his intense academic scrutiny. He prompts his students to not be too precious about the movie, and consider which elements have not aged well — slut shaming and fat shaming — and which elements they might change in a remake. Writers also recount their experimentation and the importance of not scrimping on the “realness” of monsters. In addition, Wolfman’s Got Nards notes that the performances of the child actors in the film are unfiltered and authentic; they often did not know what would happen next in the script, with the filmmakers aiming for realistic reactions and genuine expressions of terror.
This fan documentary spends much of its runtime reflecting lovingly on The Monster Squad, but it still holds ample appeal for viewers who have never seen the 1987 classic. Gower takes an understandably celebratory approach, but never glorifies the work; he makes us feel like we are part of a massive fan club, as well as part of the work’s creation. This story thrives on nostalgia, but is also filled with surprising emotion — capturing the pure joy of making and watching movies. We can all be immersed in the same fuzzy warmness and childlike wonder that comes with watching something you know to be utterly bonkers.
While the pacing can feel slow, Gower is nothing if not thorough. We get up close and personal with each member of the cast and each element of production; The Monster Squad is not depicted as a precious artifact that must remain unaltered, but rather a forever work-in-progress and an experience to be shared. As well as the attitude of experimentation, one thing that was important to the creators of The Monster Squad was not taking anything too seriously and not skimping on authentic depictions of fun and terror. The power of the flick is that the kids actually talk like kids and behave in a realistic manner despite the absurdity of events.
Wolfman’s Got Nards is a joyful celebration of a movie capable of touching countless lives and unleashing the kid in all of us.