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‘Wolfman’s Got Nards’ (documentary review)

Produced by Andre Gower, Henry Darrow McComas,
Craig Piligian, Nicholas Caprio, Aaron Kunkel, Rita Doumar

Written by Andre Gower, Henry Darrow McComas
Directed by Andre Gower
Starring Fred Dekker, Shane Black, Seth Green,
Andre Gower, Ryan Lambert, Ashley Bank,
Adam F. Goldberg, Heather Langenkamp, Chuck Russell,
Adam Green, Joe Lynch, Jen Yamato, Kevin Thomas

 

Uneven but more than worthwhile, heartfelt documentary on the 1987 horror/comedy, The Monster Squad.

I saw The Monster Squad in the theater in the summer of 1987, perhaps a bit older than the intended demographic, but I thoroughly enjoyed the film just the same.

I felt it was a nice amalgam of a Goonies-style kids adventure (though the filmmakers point out they were going more for a Little Rascals vibe) with a straightforward – and genuinely scary – homage to Universal horror icons.

In other words, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein with lovable ragamuffins standing in for the classic comedy duo.

The film tanked, unfortunately, but found its audience through many cable showings and VHS.

I truly like the film a lot, but even I was surprised by the rabid devotion of some of the fans depicted and interviewed in the doc.

Many of said fans are now esteemed filmmakers, critics, podcasters, film professors, etc.

People like podcaster/critic Jen Yamato, actress Heather Langenkamp (Nightmare on Elm Street), director Chuck Russell (The Blob remake), former LA Times critic Kevin Thomas, etc.

I was surprised to discover that one film professor teaches it with regularity in a film class at Cal State Fullerton, relishing the opportunity to introduce the movie to many new eyes, and then debate the dated elements openly yet discuss what makes the film so enjoyable.

The doc details the production of the film: the news that Universal wouldn’t allow the use of their creature designs, which allowed some creative freedom for F/X guru Stan Winston and his team. Also, the casting comes into play, with much hand-wringing involving finding the perfect Dracula. Luckily for everyone, Duncan Regehr auditioned and nailed it, terrifying young actress Ashley Bank (Phoebe) in the process.

The untimely death of young Brent Chalem (Horace aka Fat Kid) is covered, with much sadness and grief from cast, crew and family.

The insights by screenwriter Shane Black and director/co-writer Fred Dekker are fascinating.

The pacing and structure of the doc is a bit herky-jerky and imbalanced, but in the end, who cares?

This is a fun, informative documentary, especially for fans.

Wolfman’s Got Nards Arrives on Blu-ray, DVD & On Demand on Oct. 27, 2020

 

 

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