Sunday, August 5, 2012

Horror Film Review

Monster Brawl (2011):  Well, that was a damned goofy movie.  It's from Canada, eh?  I'm a child of the 80s, loved pro wrestling (Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Jesse the Body Ventura, etc.) and later fell in love with horror flicks.  So this, no doubt, has to be the perfect marriage of two great loves, right?  Er...let me put it this way.  Just because you love both chocolate milk and Jack Daniels whiskey doesn't mean you should mix them together.  Ack!  (I just threw up in my mouth a little bit...)

The plot?  Prepare to suspend your disbelief.  A guy sets up a pay-per-view wrestling event in a remote Michigan cemetery and, for reasons you couldn't explain with a PowerPoint presentation, eight "monsters" agree to participate in a series of the death.  I know.  Half of them are already dead.  You just have to go with it.  The brawlers include:  Frankenstein, the Werewolf, Lady Vampire, the Mummy, Witch Bitch, Swamp Gut, Zombie Man, and Cyclops.  Not exactly all A-listers, are they?  Two sportscasters cover the action.  Dave Foley is the flask-tipping Buzz Chambers who does play-by-play while grizzled 'Sasquatch' Sid Tucker (Art Hindle) is the color man.  Herb Dean is the ref, but predictably, is killed almost immediately.  Pro-wrestling legend Jimmy Hart does the announcing.  And sci-fi/horror film icon Lance Henriksen (credited as God) lends his voice as narrator to the monster backstory scenes and periodically during the matches to punctuate particularly gruesome actions.  It reminded me of that voice in Mortal Kombat.

Anyway, you can imagine (or maybe not) it's pretty strange to see these creatures using Leg Drops or tossing each other into turnbuckles.  Let's see...Cyclops kills Witch Bitch.  Lady Vampire rips out the Mummy's black heart.  Werewolf beats Swamp Gut and Frankenstein stomps Zombie Man's head to oatmeal.  The final bout pits Werewolf against Frankenstein.  The result?  Pretty gross.  Oh, yeah.  The cemetery's cursed and a gaggle of zombies crawl out of their graves when Zombie Man loses.  It gets a bit silly, if I'm honest, but then again, I think that's the point. 

Complaints?  Of all the monsters in the history of film and fiction, they picked these?  Frankenstein, Mummy, and Werewolf...I get those.  Universal's classic monsters.  Lady Vampire?  Why not Dracula?  Cyclops?  Why not Medusa or the Minotaur or Hydra?  Swamp Gut?  Why not the Creature from the Black Lagoon?  Witch Bitch and Zombie Man?  Those are just stupid.  And as much as I like Dave Foley, his role should have been played by Bruce Campbell.  Now that would have made Monster Brawl an instant classic.  There is one awesome line, spoken by Hindle's character when Frankenstein is making his way to the ring.  He says, "I suppose technically he's Frankenstein's monster, if you want to be a dick about it."  That cracked me up.


Acting:  Hard to gauge.  All of the monsters ham it up big time, but that's expected.  Jimmy Hart...look up ham in the dictionary and you'll find his picture.  Foley does his usual good turn while Hindle teeters on the border to ham-land. 
Story:  I can't fault the idea.  I suspect it may have been a snarky response to recent movies like Alien vs. Predator and Freddy vs. Jason
Direction:  Oh, it's a mess, no question.  Then again, given the subject matter and pay-per-view format, it really doesn't matter.
Production Values:  Made for 600,000 Canadian dollars, it doesn't look all that bad, really.  Sets are sorta low rent, like what you'd see in an episode of Xena
Gore/FX:  Between the gore and monster makeup, there's the budget.  That is to say, the gore is quite good and the makeup is professional.  Even the little CGI they used for Cyclops' laser eye beam (don't ask) isn't bad at all. 
Scares:  Nah.  Of course, they're not aiming to make you jump.
Ending:  It ends with Dave Foley holding a smoking .44 Magnum.  Why?  Well...
Verdict:  Should you see Monster Brawl?  Admittedly, I expected much more.  The hype turned out to be just that - hype.  But if you're a fan of B-horror and pro-wrestling, then I think you must.  Zombie fans probably should, just 'cuz.  Otherwise, you'd be better served watching something else.  Anything else.

Rating:  3 out of 5

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