Written by Abrahm Akin
Thirty-one years before our interview began, it was a time of magic on the silver screen...
A time when Fred Dekkar, Shane Black and a small band of cast and crew conspired to fill the world with vampires and monsters… and save mankind from the box office tyranny of Beverly Hills Cop II…
They Blew it.
On August 14th, 1987 The Monster Squad opened and immediately died a painful death. But like many creatures from the eighties, it would live again! The film was reanimated by home video, resurrected by foolish children and teens who saw it on HBO and fell victim to it’s undeniable (perhaps supernatural?) charm.
In the seemingly dormant years that followed, the film silently grew more powerful. Secretly, it spread from home to home - turning casual viewers into a cult of ravenous superfans. Then, as was revealed to me in this interview with Andre Gower and Ryan Lambert, The Monster Squad made a shocking public manifestation.
The true nature of the film’s power was revealed to the world, (and the people who made the damn thing) at a sold-out screening at the Alamo Drafthouse in Texas.
Now circumstance (and my friend Neil) have made me a harbinger for what comes next, and I warn you now to Be Afraid!
Stars of the original film have created a documentary detailing, from the fans perspective, what exactly it was about The Monster Squad that was so captivating. The movie is more popular today than ever before. This new documentary, perfectly named, Wolfman's Got Nards masterfully captures the enjoyable anecdotes of fans falling in love with a truly great movie, all the while enslaving you forever in its own monstrously appealing grip.
Final warning... Be Afraid! Then, stop being afraid and go see Wolfman’s Got Nards. I promise you’ll love it!
The following interview took place at Denver Comic Con 2018.
Abrahm Akin: Thank you very much for doing this. I am super excited and nervous, this is my first ever interview with any kind of movie star person.
Andre Gower: This is your first interview?
AA: My first interview. I do a podcast, so all of my people are comic people and things like that.
AG: And not within arm’s reach.
AA: What are we going to get with this new documentary?
AG: You know, you will probably get little bit of an emotional roller coaster ride maybe. The doc itself is really a look into why movies connect with people, why do things we love so much impact you so hard? Why would you like something when you are a kid or when you first find it, and why would it stay with you for 20, 30 years or longer? We also go into things like what are cult films? That has changed over time, that definition. Is this a cult film? Should it be a cult film? Should these be cult films? You know all those questions about fandom and why something that means so much to you for so much time can actually change your life. Or lead you down a path that you end up doing as your profession - which has happened with a lot of art or movies but especially with the Monster Squad. So, all these stories are told through the lens of Monster Squad fans. The inspiration for that really, sort of... You know, over the last 10 or 12 years there has been kind of this Monster Squad resurgence that Ryan and I and other cast members have got to enjoy being a part of. We hear all these great stories that fans come up and tell us - wearing a Steven King Rules shirt or wearing a Wolfman’s Got Nards shirt - coming up and telling these amazing stories about what it really means to them.
And that didn’t stop. It just kept going and getting stronger, more and more stories, and I really looked at that over the years. And about two summers ago I looked at it and said, those stories are the story. I want to tell those stories. Let’s turn the focus of this 30-year celebration around on the people that are the real reason, the only reason we’re still talking about this today is the fans. So, I kind of wanted to start with that story and then it grew out of that.
AA: Was there any missing footage or edited footage? Because there seems to be a story between the mom and dad that was never resolved. Was that something that got cut?
AG: In the original script? Yeah.
AA: Because there was a lot of tension there and I don’t feel like it worked its way out and even as a kid I was thinking like I feel like there’s something there that was unresolved.
AG: Well there is. I think there was a lot more in the original drafts of the scripts, even the shooting script was longer. It went much deeper into backstory and kind of foundational elements that Shane Black had in there that we didn’t shoot. So, there is a lot of that especially with the parents. There’s a lot of things that are set ups and some pay offs that you don’t get either or of or you don’t realize because it’s a really trimmed down script, it’s only an 82-minute movie, right? There was some cool stuff we were supposed to do in the original drafts that we didn’t get to do which were kind of fun.
AA: Like what?
AG: Just different scenes and more chases and like the "scary mansion" scene is much deeper and had more characters in it so it was good.
AA: Now my podcast focuses mostly on monsters, what is it like seeing those Stan Winston effects up close?
Ryan Lambert: It was kind of scary. I mean you’re also surrounded by like another 100 people who are actually shooting the film.
AA: It takes the scare out of it?
RL: A little bit except for the fact that all the monsters kept to the character, all the actors stayed in character.
AA: Through the whole shoot?
RL: We never met that actual actors.
AG: Duncan and Tom they were their characters the whole time.
RL: We were sitting in the club house with Frankenstein’s Monster, it was Tom Noonan, but I never met Tom until, like, now.
AA: How did they get that dog up in the treehouse?
AG: It was a scene that was shot that was cut. There was a dumbwaiter.
AA: Ok. Was the set actually on the ground?
RL: That part was not in the script. We shot it but because they didn’t show it. I had to do a voiceover later about how that dog got to there.
AA: It was funny because I was watching it again getting ready for this and I was like "how the hell do they get that dog up there?"
AG: We did shoot the scene where we are pulling him up there.
AA: I never understood that either, I never understood that line because he is a small dog someone could have carried him up he’s not that big.
AG: Yeah maybe, I don’t know.
RL: It’s cuter that he was in a little dumbwaiter.
AA: What has it been like having this in your life since you were a small kid?
RL: Well people don’t realize that in our lives, there was a big chunk of time where it wasn’t in our lives because we didn’t have it on VHS and watch it every day, you know what I mean? I made a film, it came out, it bombed, I went to work on something else and then I lived my life. Then in 2006 we did the Alamo Drafthouse screening and we walked in and I was like "What is this? You guys like this movie?" Seriously, it was a huge surprise. I had no idea this was going on at that time. So, to me - every once in a while, someone would come up to me and ask, "Were you in the Monster Squad?" And I’d be like "Yeah". That’s crazy, you know that? But it wasn’t this, not at all. We didn’t go to conventions. That happened after 2006. So, from 1988 it kind of went away and died till 2006 it took off.
AA: (to Andre) Was it like that for you?
AG: Absolutely. It had a little following with people every once in a while because, you know, college and things like that. Everyone is the same age, and they would know it and recognize you or something. But as this kind of retro status, or nostalgia thing, or this cult status of this movie - that didn’t happen. It was almost disappeared for 19 years. We didn’t think anybody was really caring about this movie, but everybody was, just on their own. And you know when you’re in a movie or you make a movie and it comes out and it bombs in the movie theaters, it’s done. We didn’t really understand, because we weren’t in every video store in every neighborhood or in everyone’s house watching HBO that people were finding this movie over time and latching on to it. Two thirds of the overall Monster Squad audience or like 85% of the Monster Squad audience first saw this movie on HBO or at their local video store.
RL: Yeah, I would go to the video store to pick up some movies. I’d walk along, and I’d see it and go yeah, there it is, they have it. But little did I know that people were renting it every weekend.
AG: Or that people were stealing it from their local video store and holding onto it until 2006 and then for the last 10 or 12 years it’s just been bonkers fandom like this which is amazing.
AA: That’s so interesting.
AG: It’s this whole new thing. The last 10 years has been a completely eye-opening world in getting to deal with these amazing Monster Squad fans. When we first started doing this we always kind of talked about it that we thought it would kind of peter out and wane after about a year or two, but it hasn’t stopped. It’s only going up or getting deeper because now there’s second generation Monster Squad fans. Parents showed their kids and now it’s their favorite movie. Not a lot of titles get that.
AA: It’s truly a good movie and it’s surprising to hear that it played out like that. Because when I was a kid, the neighbors had it on VHS (just that they recorded off HBO) and we watched it all the time. We even acted it out. Everyone was kicked in the nards and said ‘wolfman’s got nards’. I had it in my head that after he got booted, he howled - because we would always play that out and somebody would howl. But he doesn’t in the movie. He never did that.
AG: No, he didn’t.
AA: He was just like ‘ugh!’ (acts it out).
AG: That was very good by the way.
AA: It’s just so funny because I always just assumed that it was popular everywhere, but I guess not.
AG: You know you aren’t the only one who says that. There’s a couple people who say that in the documentary like, "Hey when I saw this movie, my theater was actually full". Not me, but saying this as people we talked to. They were saying "I grew up in like Springfield, MA or Long Island, my theater was full and I loved this movie, so I thought it was huge hit." and, "When I was a kid I didn’t read the newspaper so I was like why wasn’t this movie in this theater again next weekend, it’s gone". They just thought it was always a movie that was big because they loved it and it was huge to them so they thought it was a hit and they grew up and they were like wait, this movie wasn’t a hit? And it’s no, this movie absolutely bombed.
AA: That answers some of my questions because I was going to ask why there wasn’t a sequel or a series.
AG: Because it absolutely bombed (laughs). All that stuff is lined up forever. In Hollywood it’s always, you know, as soon as everything is geared up and prepped to go if it hits - like merchandise and ancillary income and these other revenue streams for the studio and sequel ideas and things like that in case your movie opens and is big - they are ready to strike while it shows. And then they were like, "ahh, ok moving on".
Neil Greenaway: I want to cut in for a few seconds, we are running a little short on time, can you guys talk about the release of the new movie?
AG: Yeah sure. Right now, Wolfman’s Got Nards: A Documentary is enjoying an awesome festival run. We will probably run through October/November on the festival circuit. So, if you are in a town that has a great festival, or you want it in your festival let them know because that is what is happening now. People are calling their festivals and they’re contacting us. My team at Pilgrim Studios and 1620 Media that I made this movie with, you know, really put a lot of work into it. Now we are enjoying that aspect of the second phase of this - being done and people getting to see it - and we are screening it tonight here at Denver Comic Con at 6 o’clock. So, if it’s in your local festival, we’re trying to do another Alamo Drafthouse tour run here as a little exclusive event. If you have a film society in your local town that wants us to come and do a one-off event, let us know. We will bring it. As soon as the festival run is over we’ll have some sort of distribution planned. I see it first that there is a tangible media, a physical media component to this documentary - which is odd with a documentary, right? But I think that’s going to go on the shelf next to everybody’s Monster Squad stuff. Almost more than anything else this doc is "about the fans, for the fans, with the fans in it", but everybody is going to relate to everybody in it so nobody is really different. Everybody is the same, and even the celebrities and the big time producers that you see in this documentary - just because those celebrities are names, they were Monster Squad fans, too. So everybody is great in this. There is a lot of emotion in this documentary, it’s all real and it’s not instructional or educational, it’s told as like a narrative story and that takes a lot of work. The guys did great work on that, to really bring you through this story told by these fans about the impact and the connection that they have with it.
AA: You get to enjoy that enthusiasm that wasn’t there when it came out.
AG: Oh yeah, it’s interesting too when you do a retro screening of Monster Squad and the house is packed with people spilling out, or you know we have had sold out festival screenings of this documentary which is awesome because that’s what you want as a filmmaker. But it’s like, yeah ok, here it is, this is awesome.
NG: That’s our time.
AG: That was our time? Well how was your first time?
AA: It was wonderful. You guys are very cool.
AG: It didn’t seem like your first time you totally rocked it out dude!
AA: Well I have done the podcast thing, but I could ask you questions all day.
You can learn more about Wolfman’s Got Nards: A Documentary at the film's website.
Abrahm Akin hosts a horror movie themed podcast called Meet Your Monsters. The Monster Squad was the subject of his third episode - way back in 2015. You can listen to that (slightly NSFW) episode here.