Chattanooga Film Festival Documentary Review: WOLFMAN'S GOT NARDS

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Reach back into film history and you’ll find some of the most memorable quotes of all time: offers you can’t refuse, feelings about not being in Kansas anymore, and forces being with you - these are all utterances that we as a society won’t soon forget. In 1987, director Fred Dekker and co-writer Shane Black added another important phrase to our cultural lexicon in their now classic horror/comedy The Monster Squad. If you’ve seen the movie you probably know which line I’m talking about...

… yes, that’s right, “Wolfman’s got nards!”

Despite being an intensely fun romp that blended The Little Rascals with Universal’s classic monsters (Dracula, the Creature, and Frankenstein), The Monster Squad never caught on with audiences upon release. Instead, popularity and praise landed in the lap of similar fare like The Goonies and The Lost Boys - the latter of which released only two weeks prior, stealing much of The Monster Squad’s thunder. 

However, time has been kind to The Monster Squad, giving it a second life on cable, VHS, and eventually DVD. It’s managed to frighten its way into the hearts of fans all over the world, with many of them growing up alongside it and adoring its undeniable charm, even though critics were less than kind during the original theatrical run. The film became an important part of many lives - especially those of its now long-grown-up child cast.

Andre Gower (Sean in The Monster Squad) has made a documentary on the film’s resurgence, and titled it - of course - WOLFMAN’S GOT NARDS. Aside from his own reflections, Gower gathered a large number of the cast and crew to speak on what the film meant to them and their careers, along with input from genre legends like Chuck Russell, Heather Langenkamp, Zach Galligan and Seth Green. 

WOLFMAN’S GOT NARDS tackles questions about The Monster Squad’s initial failure to connect with its audience, and attempts to explain the nebulous journey into what made it an eventual classic. Fred Dekker himself believes it’s impossible to define “cult”, and I’m inclined to agree. Nevertheless, The Monster Squad is undeniably a “cult film”. 

Dekker is easily the film’s most compelling interview subject. In his no-nonsense answers and body language, you can see the frustration and anguish The Monster Squad’s reception caused him throughout the years. He apparently didn’t know anyone liked it until 2006, when it was given multiple sold-out screenings to a loving fanbase. It’s hard not to feel for him as he exhumes buried feelings and puts them on display for this documentary. It’s a criminal shame his career was KO’d by the one-two punch of The Monster Squad and his subsequent directorial effort, RoboCop 3… although I’m less sympathetic about that other one.

The rest of the interviewees share some great stories about The Monster Squad’s production, including touching tributes to people we’ve lost, like effects wizard Stan Winston, and Brent Chalem, who quipped the infamous line that gave this documentary its namesake. The cast and crew still with us might be a little older, but they still have that spark of passion for the project in their eyes that made The Monster Squad special.

It’s incredible to see just how emotional some of the interviewees get over what is ostensibly a silly kids’ film with off-color jokes about werewolf genitals. It goes to show that you don’t need to be an Oscar-winning drama to make a huge impact. You don’t even have to make huge bank on opening weekend. By appealing genuinely to the kid in all of us, you can create art that resonates for generations to come, despite initial failings. WOLFMAN’S GOT NARDS does a great job of illustrating that.

NonSequitur