Whether it’s watching on opening day, or being secretly introduced by an older sibling because we weren’t quite old enough yet, it seems like everyone has a momentous, life altering story behind how they came across some of their favorite movies.
While I fell absolutely in love with The Monster Squad when I first watched it, I still wish I had a better story to tell about how it came into my life so that it makes better sense when I express what it means to me. The truth is I was already an adult when I first watched The Monster Squad, deciding to pop it in on an average day in 2012, not being really aware of the huge family of fans that it had already cultivated. I knew I would like it, but I never fully anticipated that it would eventually reveal the perfect example of what communities of people who love the same movie can (and should) be. In the same way, I had a wildly personal experience watching Wolfman's Got Nards this week at Popcorn Frights Film Festival. The documentary, while being primarily about The Monster Squad, is even more so about the visceral love of horror and movies that creates a profound solidarity between people.
On its surface, Wolfman's Got Nards does exactly what any solid documentary sets out to do – it provides wonderful insight on the topic at hand and will teach every person who watches it something new. Again, having seen it later in my own life, there were so many new things I learned about The Monster Squad from watching this documentary. There is a portion, for instance, that discusses the monster designs as well as some of the roadblocks faced during that process that gave me an entirely new appreciation for the way the gang of monsters looked. Still, even the most well-informed fan will gain something from Wolfman's Got Nards because it has so much to offer both as an informative piece on a movie and an exceptionally emotional portrait of fandom. The documentary, directed by Monster Squad star André Gower, provides engaging interviews with those involved in the making of the 1987 cult classic—including co-writer/director Fred Dekker and co-writer Shane Black. But the film’s greatest strength is when it sits down with people who simply adore the film for the same amount of time and takes their insight just as seriously as those who participated in making it. This is particularly special as it proves that while the documentary is vastly informative, its real goal is to reveal the transformative, deeply meaningful relationships that beloved films are capable of creating between these movies, their creators, and the people who admire them so completely.
I was a little worried about Wolfman's Got Nards because its topic was so specific, I didn’t know that it could be entertaining to people who have either never seen The Monster Squad or those who like it fine but aren’t necessarily “fans.” To me, a good documentary (much like other films) is compelling to everyone, including those who may not be familiar with its subject. Fortunately, Wolfman's Got Nards absolutely achieves that. It somehow manages to be about a specific movie while also using it as a tool to briefly discuss so many other interesting things, including the filmmaking and distribution process, the cast’s personal relationships to the movie, and the aforementioned phenomenon that is being part of a family of fans. One of the film’s highlights is a conversation with Fred Dekker in which he discusses his own relationship with The Monster Squad. He describes it as being intricate in ways that are not all positive because of the major disconnect between the time of the film’s release and when it became a success. He acknowledges that he wishes he had a more ideal response, but I find that his was perfectly interesting and telling about the complexities that are involved with making and loving art.
Gower’s documentary reminded me exactly why it is I drive hours and hours to catch screenings of movies that are as special as it proved to be. It is for the incomparable feeling of being among other people who get “it” the way the creators of this documentary clearly do. The film celebrates celebration, and really blurs the lines between filmmaker and fan into one film-loving family. Wolfman's Got Nards is charming in every conceivable way and it will make better fans out of all of us for having watched it.
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