Notable Cast: Dave Foley, Art Hindle, Lance Henriksen, Jimmy Hart, Kevin Nash, Robert Maillet, Herb Dean
Review: Holy mother of the horror gods sent to deliver us from B-Movie heaven, a fake wresting tournament featuring all the old school classic scare monsters? How couldn’t this slugfest rule?! Well, I’ll get to that actually, but Monster Brawl‘s idea rules in theory. Of course an indie horror couldn’t procure the rights for big name baddies like Freddy and Jason to participate in this horrific battle royale, but f$ck if they could unearth “Mouth from the South” Jimmy Hart from the dead. Could you ask for much more nostalgic wrestling fun? Producer/actor John Geddes involvement sparked my interest just having watched his beautiful zombie drama Exit Humanity, but made prevalent was the fact that Jesse T. Cook single handedly laid the rules for Monster Brawl. For an event of terrifying proportions, Monster Brawl lacked a cohesive story and was a gimmick watch directed at die-hard horror fans, banking audiences would flock to see who would hoist the belt for “Most Violent Creature of all Time.” Monster Brawl is the equivalent of turning on Pay Per View to Halloween Havoc and watching Frankenstein lumber out instead of Booker T, complete with a clichéd announcing team and time-wasting introductions. But even the WWE tries to build some drama, be it comparable to watching a ‘roid raging soap opera, more than I can say for Monster Brawl. Fantastic on paper, but translated to screen Cook’s B-Movie gets stuck dangerously close to tapping out.
Set to the backdrop of a cursed graveyard, 8 titans of terror are set to battle it out for the crown of top monster. Frankenstein (Maillet), Cyclops (Jason David Brown), Swamp Gut (Jason David Brown), Werewolf (RJ Skinner), Mummy (RJ Skinner), Zombie Man (Rico Montana), Lady Vampire (Kelly Couture), and Witch Bitch (Holly Letkeman) all gather at this sacred burial ground together for the event, separated into divisions and then weight classes. Expert MMA fighter/referee Herb Dean is elected to officiate the bouts, keeping an essentially no holds bar competition at least a little regulated. Buzz Chambers (Foley) and “Sasquatch” Sid Tucker (Hinkle) make up the commentating team tasked with delivering the brutal play by-play, Buzz providing comic relief while former champ Sid weighs in on technique. Even famed manager Jimmy Hart shows up as hype man to bring in each creature, ramping excitement. But when these monsters hit the ropes, who will be left standing upon the pile of corpses?
Oh man that megaphone brings me back…
Story here was the main deterrent, tying together each fight with a feeble back story and silly cut scenes. What I believe is that Cook was trying to establish some type of motivation for each monster or speed through their legen action, but numerous feature films have been based on every single monster to a lengthy degree. And much better. If you don’t know vampires suck blood at this point, get the hell out of my genre. And these motivations went south when each character meandered out of their respective corner anyway, playing to the non-existent crowd and shambling to the ring. Buzzer number one. Or maybe Cook was trying to develop a personality for each character? As in professional wresting where each athlete has a signature schtick like Kane and his mask or Al Snow and his mannequin head (WHAT DOES EVERYBODY WANT?!), Witch Bitch had a midget manager trying to train her from scratch and Frankenstein competed for his father whom he loved immensely. But again, after the fight these details didn’t matter and we’re left to wonder why so much time is wasted between such short fights. Buzzer number two. But oh, oh how Jesse T. Cook commits by number one horror pet peeve with Monster Brawl. To all directors out there, DO NOT cut your film short just as possibly the best climax rises. For Cook, his script finishes the battles and crowns a winner, seemingly securing top ghoul. But then from the ashes rises a character thought dead to challenge the supposed winner! One more unsuspected fight! The monsters walk close, sizing each other up. They pose inches from one another, gritting their teeth with voracious anticipation. And then, just as I so angrily had expected from the minute long build up, CREDITS! Jesse T. Cook you freakin’ tease you. Monster Brawl ends so abruptly, it’s hard not to feel cheated and abused. Sorry, I’m still a tad bit vulnerable….
But, not to be forgotten, there are some decent fight scenes between monsters. Side note, how awesome would it be to see the actual classic forms of each creature instead of the knock off versions that appear in Monster Brawl? De Niro’s Frankenstein vs. Cruise’s Vampire? Del Toro’s Wolfman vs. Resident Evil‘s Nemesis zombie? Can someone get on this? Super Smash Brothers with some gory edge! Back to Monster Brawl though which does recognize some nice B-Movie splatter house moments, but not entirely enough. Exploding body parts and mock Fatalities were few and far between, resorting more to body slams and suplexes. Too many instances the film visually looked like stunt actors in make up play fighting, taking away from the television event atmosphere Cook tries to establish. Monster Brawl may embrace the B-Movie aesthetic too much, becoming more laughing-stock than grindhouse. Not even veteran Kid in the Hall Dave Foley could escape the schlock, as both commentators fall far outside the memorable realm.
For optimal viewing, I suggest sitting down with some old TV wrestling fan buddies slash horror comedy enthusiasts and making your own fun out of Monster Brawl. Scares are at a minimum, the epic nature of the event is dwarfed by WWF-esque scripting, and the flow of bloody guts is questionable. But, if you ever wanted to see a werewolf frog splash off the top turnbuckle, look no further! Those only into top-notch horror should look elsewhere though. Cook had a phenomenal idea for a B-Movie, but some ideas are better left imagined and argued over by drunken horror nerds. Like me.
Final Rating: 5 zombie power bombs out of 10
Only where the greatest throw down…