On August 14th, “Wolfman’s Got Nards” made its East Coast premiere to a packed theatre at the Popcorn Frights Film Festival. Afterwards, fans were then treated to a terrific Q&A with the documentary’s director Andre Gower and producer Henry Darrow McComas, and even got to take pictures with them. Soon after, it was time to sit down and talk with Andre and Henry, in one of our most in depth interviews to date. Take some time to find out how they put it together, why the fans involvement was so important, the story behind Adam F. Goldberg’s appearance, who they missed out on interviewing, and much much more…
-PH: Lets start with why you decided to do the documentary, and why now?
-Andre: Henry kind of coined the phrase that I have sort been the kind of gatekeeper and almost the lead face to Monster Squad fans for the last decade or so because I’m the most engage and go to the most appearances and stuff. It’s great when the cast comes around because the fans are so connected to this movie. The concept of doing a documentary about it, and it’s not about the making of the movie. It’s not about a where are they now. It’s not that. I wanted to find a way to make a story out of the stories that we kept hearing over the years of why this movie meant so much to people. That’s really the seed and the kernel to what we ended up having today. Then as we started developing the concept and I got hooked up with Henry and Pilgrim Media Group that just got deeper, more complex and multilayered. Henry brought so much to the table of what we wanted to cover and how to cover that, and how to end up closing that off. It was just a great experience with that original small concept of how do I tell these stories, and then to a much broader story of how this has really made this come full circle to a lot of people. And then everything that’s woven in between there. We came up with a much broader kind of concept. A much broader kind of story to tell, and the fans are the fabric of that story.
-Henry: To be completely candid the reason why I hopped on the projection with Andre is a lot of people already know that I was a fan of “The Monster Squad,” but I’m also a fan of the horror genre. I’ve seen lots of documentaries some fan, some definitive deep dives. There’s a lot of questions that get asked in those documentaries, and it’s ‘what’s your favorite part,’ ‘what’s your favorite character.’ Well what’s really interesting to me as a fan myself, and after a conversation with Andre, is why do we love these things? What is it about movie magic that makes us fall for something that isn’t a human being, but consider that our favorite film as part of our family? I do believe while making the documentary one of things that we’ve learned, and that I personally learned is there’s not that much difference between a fan and a filmmaker because filmmakers love movies as much as fans. The only difference is one really loves something, and the other loves and produces something. It was fascinating finding that dichotomy on both sides.
-PH: In a way it almost feels like the right time to celebrate a story like “The Monster Squad” with the recent buzz of movies like “IT” and “Summer of 84.” Did that play any role in wanting to make the documentary now?
-Andre: I think it’s two fold really. One is we were coming up against a big anniversary year, which is the 30th anniversary. We had done appearances on the 20th, on the 25th, but the 30th was big with a big multi-city tour going to conventions all over. It worked out good because it coincided with a swell of nostalgia that’s been going on for a couple of years. Now we’re almost sort of at a peak of that I think to where we are really yearning for those things that made us feel like a kid again, things that changed our lives, or things that impacted us so much. I think we are just really lucky in the timing of that being a big anniversary year, and being in this ground swell of entertainment and content that’s based on some nostalgia.
-Henry: Some people could pitch the documentary as ’80’s Nostalgia the Documentary.’ There’s definitely a lot of that in there. With everybody that we were interviewing one of the most interesting aspects is that the people that watched the movies are now grown up, and there’re making the movies that they grew up on. So if you look at a Joe Lynch or Adam Green, they grew in the Amblin era, and now they want to tell those stories too. They’re remembering a time when they got on bicycles and rode around playing flashlight tag.
-Andre: The guys writing movie scripts, and tv shows that are working for studios, Netflix, and production companies, it’s that crowd. They are going to write the stuff that they dig, and love. Like I’m going to put a new modern concept and spin on it, but it’s going to have this kind of tone, temperature, and feel to it.
-PH: Can you talk about the time you put in behind the scenes, and the time you spent putting everything together?
-Henry: The production was crazy. It was exhilarating. We developed, shot, and edited the film in just under a year. By the time we screened at Overlook and got the audience award that was the one year anniversary of when we started shooting. To be able to do that, and the reason why we shot so much and so quickly is cause it was wrapped around a tour of “The Monster Squad” with Alamo DraftHouse. We went to 17 different Alamos. So that means we were shooting during the day, and getting in the mini-van, where we had an editing station, as we were driving to the next location pulling selects with the group. By the time we checked into our hotel doing line cuts of the scenes to figure out which ones were the right ones. What do we need to grab after that. One of the reasons we had that schedule is because Andre was setting up these milestone dates for us to commit, one of which was Fantastic Fest. And because those were in place it really helped the production of the movie because we needed to have glossy version edits by the time we screened 30 minutes at Fantastic Fest. So we started to know what the movie was looking like well ahead of time before we were getting to a rough cut. We shot 50 terabytes of footage. 50 terabytes in documentary terms is about a 4 year production documentary.
-PH: What are some of the most important things you want the audience to get out of it?
-Andre: As a person that wanted the concept to come to fruition of some sort the first thing I always wanted and hopefully we struck on was I wanted to somehow turn the celebration back around on the people that are the reason that we are still talking about this movie 30 years later. That never let it die, and is super important to them. Then you learn over time that these people are so connected to it as individuals, but also connected to each other in sort of that squad kind of collective mentality. That’s what reinforces it, and why it doesn’t go away. I don’t think it will go away for these people ever, and that’s fascinating to me cause I don’t know many examples of that. A lot of people have it around a famous sports team when they were growing up, or Mickey Mantle hit a home run and they were at that game. That’s an indelible mark on someone’s life. What I’ve learned over years is that this movie is an indelible mark on these people’s psyche, and on their attitudes towards the world. They become genre fans, or whatever they’re doing, they have this feel and they carry it with their lives, and pass it on to their kids, which is amazing! They even respond to it which means the story that Fred and Shane came up with is kind of timeless. It’s about fitting in. It’s about finding your thing. It’s about stepping up to a challenge. It’s about overcoming the odds when no one else believes that this is actually happening. So I think it’s almost an universal concept, and that’s what people tapped into. They related to a character or more than one character, and it just stuck with them. Being able to be that person, along with Henry and the production team, to craft that thank you, dive into what that dynamic is, to be able to bring something out, and to show that I feel very cool about that. I hope it works for the fans, and the feedback that we’re getting is that it does. It’s much more multi-layered than just ‘I love your movie and therefore I’m a fan.’ There’s something deeper there and we wanted to tap into that, but we needed to find a really cool way to actually explain and show that in an unique way because they are so unique. It was about turning that lens on the people, and celebrating them for a change because they’ve been celebrating us for so long. Then we added so much more to that to reinforce that.
-Henry: I hope that they feel inspired. As times get dark, I hope people will realize that from this movie it’s ok to feel inspired. It’s ok to feel love. Hopefully somebody who watches this who wants to write a book, make a painting, or go make a movie they know that they can and it doesn’t matter what anybody says about it. Because you can put it out there and people cannot show up, or they can say it’s bad or it’s not good and only time will let them know whether or not it’s a success. They shouldn’t feel that restraint. They should just go make it, let it walk on its own, and people are going to appreciate it.
-PH: Is there anything that you wanted to include in the documentary, but couldn’t fit it in?
Andre: Well then would have like a 5 hour documentary or mini series because we shot so much great stuff. When Henry says we shot 50 terabytes of footage that doesn’t mean we shot, and we just pulled out the only good stuff. We have hours and hours of great stuff that just aren’t in it because it didn’t fit in the actual story telling that we came across. I would say the one thing from the beginning until all the way to even after the very end that we always wanted was to get who I think is one of the ultimate Monster Squad fans and that’s Ryan Gosling. The timing didn’t work out, and everyone was busy. We couldn’t make that connect, but maybe he will come to a festival.
-Henry: I would agree with that. There was also some animation we wanted to do if we a little more time and a little more budget, but I don’t think it’s necessary.
-Andre: We found ways around it cause I wanted a lot of animation in there too. We ended up using the fan art, which is something very important to me to show. We used that in lieu of the animation where I thought that was going to come in play. We use it as our transition things, and our end credits. You may or may not have noticed that every fan art piece that we show, we show whose fan art it is. To go around and see that people put their creative mind, some of their genius, artistic skill to craft, and take some time out to make something awesome and it happens to be Monster Squad related. That’s really cool too, and I wanted to make sure we represented that a little bite as well.
-Henry: Plus we got that badass bunny sequence.
-Andre: Plus we got the badass bunny sequence. To add to the fan art aspect of it, actually no body physically touched this movie, included stuff in it that wasn’t either a part of it, or wasn’t a meaningful fan. There was no hired guns that didn’t care in it. And that goes all the way to our whole production team with Henry and his gang, and us on the tour Ryan, Ashley, and I. Even the music in this. Almost every piece of music is original music from Ryan Lambert’s bands, and fans who submitted their own personal works that they wanted included in it. So it kind of goes along with the fan art.
-Henry: Talking about the production, we say there were long hours and a lot of work, but that’s not complaining. Everybody in the crew was a fan, so they were passionate. We were sad when we had to go to bed.
-PH: Since we’ve talked a lot about the fans, how did you find these fans? Was it only at the conventions?
-Andre: It’s a mix of that, and people you’ve known for years that you definitely wanted on camera because you’ve know them for so long as some of your super fans that are really tight and really cool people. That’s what’s interesting, there’s 7 or 8 people I met a year ago, 2 years ago, or 3 years ago that came to the screening tonight. Everywhere you go you meet new fans, but you also get to re-meet, or see fans again who are now friends or pals. So it’s sort of a blend. When we first got together there was a list of a dozen or two people that were got to gets that we know. Lets schedule them. Lets make sure they know we are coming near their town, so they can come and we can get them on camera. People like Shawn Robare. People like Joe Magnus. Andrew Norris who had the poster. So it was a blend of people we had known for years, and some of our best interviews in the documentary were things you didn’t know you were going to get. Going to a screening, going on the tour, or being on the street side at Prince Charles Cinema in London, and meeting someone who has a great story like Alegra and her mom. We didn’t know that was going to happen, but that’s story gold when you catch those. So it was a blend of things you knew you wanted to get. People who you wanted to get. Academics, scholars, we had known before. Some we meet like the film critic. We didn’t know Kevin, but we wanted to make sure we meet because he wrote the L.A. Times article, which is one of the only good reviews that came out.
-Henry: We had researchers that reached out to people. They found the HBO guys. Also, Andre leads the charge on social. That’s another place you converse with the fans via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. He does a very good job of keeping the conversation going.
-PH: Even though you starred in “The Monster Squad” is there anything you learned from the documentary? Or maybe were there stories that you had forgotten?
-Andre: Well good grief…how young we were when we made it! What I love about the documentary was that we got some of that BTS footage that no ones ever seen before. So when you see some of that you remember like ‘I remember that day,’ or I remember Fred being so in tune with us as kids and what he wanted to bring out. I just remember the whole experience being a lot of work, a lot of long hours, and a lot of tough focused work as kids. But they made a great movie. It’s a testament to that story, the work that everyone put into it, and why we are still talking about it today.
-Henry: And I don’t think we knew about the effects teams personal stories. We didn’t know about the competition of Steve Wang. Being worried about messing something up.
-Andre: These are professional guys on set who were just 20 somethings at that time, and now they are the industry leaders and icons in the creature world. They were young new guys working on stuff, building it from scratch for Stan Winston’s shop. To hear their stories, I think that was one of the most interesting to see their stories come full circle. And like Mike Hill has a great story. He’s from the UK, and he was a creature kid. He started making makeup as a teenager, and did a Monster Squad cinema night. Now he ends up making the amphibian man for Del Toro in “The Shape of Water” with Shane Mahan and John Rosengrant because he was inspired by the creature effects in Monster Squad. That’s a really cool full circle story.
-PH: There are several famous filmmakers, people in the horror community that appear in the film. Who was the person you were most surprised to get a comment from, and how they felt about the film?
-Henry: That’s easy Adam F. Goldberg! Adam F. Goldberg, the creator of ‘The Goldbergs,’ posted on Twitter ‘Who was in this commercial? We need to license it for an episode of the show,’ and it was an E.T. commercial starring Andre Gower.
-Andre: E.T. the Atari game.
-Henry: We talk about the impact and importance of the fans, Andre didn’t know that tweet happened yet until the fans started hopping on, and adding and mentioning Andre on it.
-Andre: They all answered Goldberg’s tweet with that’s Andre Gower from ‘The Monster Squad,’ and Adam F. Goldberg and I ended up getting in touch because he needed my permission to use that commercial. He ended up using my copy on the show because they couldn’t get a good version. I had an old version on a VHS tape that I had to get out of my mom’s drawer, and then Fedex to Adam F. Goldberg’s editor so that they could rip it off my VHS tape and they could use it in an episode of a giant network show.
-Henry: Did you get the tape back?
-Andre: I got the tape back! But during that process I asked Adam F. Goldberg if he wanted to sit down, and talk about a documentary that we were doing about how films growing up impacted them as a child because that’s his whole show. I didn’t know that he was a giant Monster Squad fan in addition to all the other things he’s a giant fan of, and we connect over that. He was an amazing host on his set, and now he’s a part of this documentary. He gives a great interview.
-Henry: I didn’t know he was going to invite us onto the set of ‘The Goldbergs’ to shoot his interview, and I keep it professional but I went full geek that day. We were walking around and just the posters, the production design, it was amazing being on set shooting an interview.
-Andre: For him to go out of his way to ask his editor of ‘The Goldbergs’ to go and make a supercut of the last 12 or 13 times that the cast of ‘The Goldbergs’ had said the word ‘nards’ in the script that was amazing!
-PH: For fans who aren’t at festivals, when can they expect to see the documentary?
-Andre: Right now we are on this awesome festival run that will probably go through at least sometime in November for now. We are in talks right now with various different outlets, and figuring out what that distribution strategy or option may be. There’s a couple of different ways to go about it, and we want to be a part of all those optimum ways to go.
-Henry: But we also want to know how the fans want to see it. Think about it as a Christmas story, if you want a present you got to ask Santa. They wanted the DVD or BluRay, they wrote letters, and that’s the reason we got that. They should write letters again. Where do they want to see it come out of?
-Andre: It’s interesting that we are in 2018, and documentaries are kind of a cool thing now because there are so many of them out there and people love to learn stuff. I think there’s an awesome physical media component to this documentary for that core group of Monster Squad fans that would like to have that piece, especially if they are in it or a part of it, and put it right next to their collection of other Monster Squad stuff. We have a lot of people asking if we would please distribute this on VHS, and we are like ‘what are you going to play it on.’ Hopefully it will be across the board, a physical media component, even if it’s limited theatrical, SVOD, and international release. We’re working hard to bring it to the widest audience.
-Henry: VHS, laser disc, sound track on 8-track!
-PH: What’s next for “The Monster Squad?” Do you think the documentary will lead to a sequel? A remake? Would you like to play a role in either of those?
-Andre: I think right now as we’re talking during this festival run, we’re in the summer of 2018, which is 31 years after the fact. Fred Dekker and Shane Black are getting ready to release their latest project, which is ‘The Predator,’ that they co-wrote, and Shane directed so a lot of people are talking about ‘The Monster Squad’ again. In larger circles than the normal people who talk about it on a regular basis. A lot of stuff has been batted around nothings been concrete. I would love to see someone revisit it as long as it’s the right people, or if it’s Fred and Shane. There’s so many cool things to do with it as long as you treat it right. If Monster Squad can be the kind of sounding bell for people who are making stuff that say, ‘I want to make the stuff I love. How do I do that? Let me look back at these projects.’ I think that would be a cool vehicle for people talking about Monster Squad again.
-Henry: People have feelings about sequels and reboots. Some people love them, some people hate them. If it happens that’s great. I would love to see someone else’s take on it, but I’m most interested in the movies “The Monster Squad” inspires. So if there’s filmmakers that have a story that was inspired by it and it’s a new IP to add to the genre, please make it make because we’ll show up and watch it.
-Andre: And that’s another thing you discover year after year meeting filmmakers, or big time franchise filmmakers. They’re like ‘that’s on my shelf. It’s one of my top 20 movies of all time that I always take a little piece from.’ Like Henry said, movies that inspire your next thing is what makes something really last and have a legacy.
-PH: And finally what’s next for you? Are there projects that you have coming up that you would like to mention?
-Andre: Right now obviously the “Wolfman’s Got Nards” the documentary is that lead project for Henry and I. We are working on a hand full of other projects now that we know we love working together and what we can actually put together. You build relationships out there in the industry community. Yea we have a slate of projects, but nothing we can talk about right now. I’ve got a couple of projects that I’ve been working on for a number of years. Henry’s got a couple. Stay in touch and hopefully we can bring more stuff to you.
We would like to thank Andre and Henry for taking the time to answer our questions. If you’re one of the lucky fans to have seen “Wolfman’s Got Nards,” then hopefully this gave you a closer look at how it all came together. For those who are still waiting to see it, hopefully this gave you an additional sneak peak at what you can expect, and why you need to see it.
When it was released in 1987, The Monster Squad was deemed a failure by critics and was, according to the box office, a film no one cared about. But over the last three decades, word of mouth has turned this sleeping hit into a cultural phenomenon.
WOLFMAN’S GOT NARDS explores the relationship a dedicated audience (including celebrities and filmmakers) has with The Monster Squad. This documentary takes an in-depth look into the film’s conception, response, cult status, and revival. Through interviews with the cast, crew, screenwriters, directors, academics and original reviewers as well as through never-before-seen footage, it turns the lens on an audience of self-proclaimed misfits who have kept The Monster Squad alive for more than thirty years.
For more information on the documentary, please visit: https://thesquaddoc.com/