[Yes, The Monster Squad-a-Thon is upon us! Here's how it's gonna go down today through Thursday: as you look to your right you will see my sidebar which has been updated to be a master list for all the content I'm gonna throw at you. Keep checking back for updates on the list of contributions, and there's going to be a few more updates by yours truly during the next couple days -- including a review of the Monster Squad DVD tomorrow! Again, if you are interested in contributing please email me or leave a comment and I'll add your link to the page (you can also email me a contribution if you are blog-less.]
I promised you lovely readers a VERY SPECIAL GUEST for The Monster Squad-a-Thon, and well -- I think I delivered: meet Andre Gower, the leader of the Monster Squad, and the flag bearer for this momentous day. Before starring in The Monster Squad as Sean Crenshaw, Andre had a prolific television career with roles in shows such as The A-Team, Mr. Belvedere, Night Court, Knight Rider and T.J. Hooker. After an extended break from acting, Andre is back in Hollywood, and you can keep up with his career via his MySpace blog, where he also gives you some honest advice for any aspiring actors. As you read this Andre is in Los Angeles for a variety of Monster Squad screenings, and has been making his way to Monster Squad Reunion screenings across the country during 2007. Please give thanks to Andre, as he was nice enough to let me have a few minutes of his time:
DVD Panache: What did your monster movie education consist of before being cast in Monster Squad?
Andre Gower: Your basic film going foundation really. Who hasn't seen the classic Dracula and Frankenstein and Mummy movies that had been done til then. I always had a admiration for The Creature From the Black Lagoon, just because I thought he was a cool looking monster. The original concept had a lot of background history and clues to movies and monsters that really was a homage to the great depictions in literature and on film of the past. Then Monster Squad comes along and puts them all together…how cool is that.
D: The idea of Monster Squad must have sounded a little ridiculous on paper, what were some of your initial thoughts on the project?
A: The original script was longer and much more detailed with historical cues and monster lore as well as more interaction with the squad and the monsters. The shooting script (the one we see today) is extremely scaled down and cut up so it may appear to be campy and quick. But Fred and Shane originally had a rather deep concept on paper based on Fred's idea of what if the The Little Rascals fought the classic Universal movie monsters. My initial response to the film was "hell yeah!" I mean, look at it. We get to ride around town, cuss, break stuff, get chased and kill monsters…who wouldn't like that! But again, the original draft was much more involved and had a lot of cool stuff that made the kids, and the monsters, deeper characters.
D: Horror movies have gotten progressively more popular over the past decade, how would you compare today's horror environment with that of the late 80s?
A: The 80s, 90s and today… are so different in terms of what the popular taste is. The resurgence of the low-budget slasher/thriller movie from the 70's has made a "screaming" comeback. I think a lot of the movies in the 80's were more adventure based and took people on a journey. Today, the movies just take you someplace you want to get the hell out of! Some are great, others are easy remakes that fall short. But the formula works. I think that's why MS was so different, it had kids that had intelligence as well as imagination. It had adventure along side of being in rather precarious situations. That's why the fan base is SO spread out between girls an boys of different ages. Everybody has a character they can relate to or wanted to be like.
D: You had a part on The A-Team, what was that set atmosphere like for a young boy?
A: Doing a guest spot on The A-Team was great. I mean, how many kids have ever chopped down a tree with Mr. T?! I might be the only one. They were great to work with, very fun, yet professional set.
D: Even though it's taken this long for Monster Squad to arrive on DVD, it has still remained very popular -- why has it had such great staying power?
A: I think it has to do with the total originality of the concept. Bringing together the classic movie monsters and the classic dynamic of a group of kids put a different spin on the good vs. evil thing. There isn't one part of the story that people aren't attached to in some way. Like I mentioned before, everybody has a character they can relate to or had always wished they could be…the cool kid, the little sister, the best friend, the leader and yes…even the fat kid. And what solidifies that feeling with the movie, is that each and every one of us is the hero of the film. We each play a part in the build-up and the final battle that, if we failed, we wouldn't have won. An absolute kid fantasy.
D: What was the scariest part of the Monster Squad shoot for you?
A: There wasn't too much that was actually "frightening" per se for me. Yes, there is some huge monsters running around breaking stuff, but it was also a movie set. A big budget, complex production with a huge crew and lots of effects. It's a lot of work for anybody, especially young kids to be on a big set and have to perform. I think, looking back, we did a pretty good job. Fred had a lot to do with that the way he approached and handled his complex duties as director/writer and dealing with a group of kids on top of that. He made a concerted effort to treat each of us fairly and professionally yet also as friends and created a real connection with each of us as individuals.
"Yes, there is some huge monsters running around breaking stuff, but it was also a movie set. A big budget, complex production with a huge crew and lots of effects. It's a lot of work for anybody, especially young kids to be on a big set and have to perform. I think, looking back, we did a pretty good job. Fred had a lot to do with that the way he approached and handled his complex duties as director/writer and dealing with a group of kids on top of that. He made a concerted effort to treat each of us fairly and professionally yet also as friends and created a real connection with each of us as individuals.
D: You've appeared at a number of Monster Squad reunion screenings, what can you say about those?
A: I can't say enough really. They have been the coolest events I have been to. It's been great getting together with Ryan, Ashley and Fred and we even got to see Ducan Regher and Tom Noonan recently at a convention. Now with the DVD release, I hope we have a lot more great events to attend. The fans make these things though. They simply love this film, they love the story and they love the characters. The original fans are all grown up, but have handed their love for it down to younger generations...and it works there too. They are honest fans who hold this film close to them. I am constantly told and sent mail explaining how MS was the all-time best thing in someone's childhood. You can't beat being a part of that. That stuff lasts forever.
D: What acting projects are in the future for Andre Gower?
A: Hopefully many! I have been gearing towards getting back in to the business full-time this last year or so balancing my current projects and business that I am involved in. But I am always looking for great opportunities and love meeting filmmakers from all over, especially new ones as well as established names. So, if anybody would like to get a hold of me, please do so!
D: What was Fred Dekker's direction like on the famous "wolf man's got nards" scene?
A: You know, it was a hectic scene that originally had a lot more going on before they started editing the shooting script. It was a great set, in a spooky mansion that all of a sudden cut loose with explosions, monsters and humor. You would think a line like that might not work in that circumstance…but on the contrary, it became THE catch-phrase from the film. Fred just set things up as he usually did and pointed us in the direction he needed us to end up. We just allowed the energy of the scene to come through and it worked. The whole movie is like that. Fred never hovered over us with a hammer dictating how to read lines or what expressions to use etc. He allowed us to be us…a group of kids. That's one reason the film plays so well with people. It's not corny, campy acting. It's real kids dealing with an unreal situation. That's how Fred designed it and how it worked out.
Had you read any Stephen King before your Monster Squad role? (Andre's character wears a "Stephen King Rules" t-shirt for most of the movie -Ed.)
I actually screen tested for Cujo a few years earlier and started reading that for background. But other than that, not much back then. His stuff is as creative and imaginative as it gets. Great reads now.