Wolfman's Got Nards Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Pilgrim Media Group
Directed by Andre Gower
Written by Andre Gower and Henry Darrow McComas
2018, 91 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Frightfest European premiere on 27th August 2018
Adam F. Goldberg
The Stranger Things zeitgeist doesn't end at its imitators and a sudden clamouring for Stephen King films with extended childhood flashbacks. It's only natural that TV and movie audiences' recent demand for nostalgia should extend to documentaries about the very films which inspired the Duffer Brothers and their imitators in the first place. Add this one to an ever-growing list of fan documentaries which includes Never Sleep Again, Crystal Lake Memories and You're So Cool, Brewster! Hey, you remember Monster Squad?
Fred Dekker and Shane Black's more tolerable Goonies (yeah, I said it) gets its dues in this enthusiastic documentary by Andre Gower, who played Shaun in the film. This covers everything from the film's inception to its current influence, delivering a fascinating look at the filmmaking process from page to screen. Gower's being in the film itself puts him in good stead when it comes to booking the best talking heads, with the majority of the cast and crew popping up, in good spirits and offering a number of fascinating anecdotes. Celebrity fans such as Seth Green, Heather Langenkamp and Adam Green are also more than happy to wax lyrical about the film too, and its influence upon more recent filmmaking. Many film documentaries can tend to feel like glorified DVD extras, but this star-studded line-up is a substantial and always interesting one.
As a celebration of a minor cult classic, it can't be beaten, and fans of the film should love it. However, as with any celebratory documentary on film, it can be somewhat exhausting to watch, the tooting of a horn that everyone tends to agree is pretty great anyway. Monster Squad, while hardly A-List, isn't exactly unheard of either – there's only so much Gower and his interviewees can say on the subject that's not common knowledge.
Where it's at its most fascinating is whenever Black and Dekker appear, the former delivering some quality insight into the writing of one of his earliest pictures (Lethal Weapon beats the IMDb credit to the punch, presumably by months). As an enormous fan of the screenwriter, this was is by far my favourite segment of the film, the making-of element much more interesting than the continuous beating of the 'Monster Squad is so great' drum.
In that respect, we could have used a lot more of the obviously troubled and visibly uncomfortable Fred Dekker, who remains heartbroken over the film's poor reception upon its release (and blames it for tanking his career), but maintains a bittersweet love of its third act. Of similar interest is watching the filmmakers talk their way around the film's now-'problematic' language, presenting the film to college students in film class while attempting not to feed the modern outrage machine. Such things elevate the documentary above its surface-level appreciation of the film; a sense of objectivity Gower understandably struggles to maintain.
This overriding enthusiasm is infectious, and even the most lukewarm viewer will be left with an urge to revisit Monster Squad as soon as possible. While it's rarely relevant and ultimately doesn't have a lot to say, it's an enjoyable fan documentary on one of the 80s' better horror comedies. A movie many widely regard to be very good is, in fact, very good. Who knew?