BLU-RAY/DVD REVIEW – ‘MONSTER BRAWL’

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Pandering to wrestling fans and monster movie fans alike, Monster Brawl presents a premise designed to tickle the hearts of any thirteen year old at heart: an honest-to-goodness old school World Wrestling Federation style cage match to the death between eight classic monster archetypes – A zombie, Frankenstein’s monster, werewolf, vampiress, witch, Cyclops, mummy, and swamp creature. It’s a simple, fun, B-movie idea…but, unfortunately, that’s all it is: an idea.  Monster Brawl is all concept with no follow-through; an underdeveloped one-note joke that would’ve made for a decent five-minute short but grows increasingly distended over the course of an 85 minute runtime.

When I say the movie – and you can only loosely call Monster Brawl a movie – is just an old-school wrestling match between various monsters I mean just that – there’s no plot or story to speak of, just a series of fight scenes strung together with brief, insipid flashbacks detailing each creature’s origin. Much of the screenplay consists, literally, of old pros Dave Foley (of Kids in the Hall fame) and Art Hindle (Canuck horror classics The Brood and Black Christmas) mugging as a pair of color commentators describing the action on-screen as, say, the gratingly named Witch Bitch takes on the Cyclops. This isn’t a bad idea per se — what could be more “check-your-brain-at-the-door” fun then a creature feature in which then creatures body slam the living snot out of each other?  Yet only the most un-demanding viewer will glean any entertainment from Monster Brawl, as writer/director Jesse Thomas Cook wrongly banks on the idea that his high concept is simply enough to sustain a feature-length running time. He’s wrong, as the result ends up being a stultifying, repetitive and sloppily executed one-joke bore.

Hell, even the wrestling sucks here. I’m not the biggest fan of the sport, but I’ve seen enough to know that there’s more wit, energy and invention in an average episode on the WWE then in any of the match-ups up on display here. Our unholy combatants rarely get to let loose with their own monster-ness, preferring to instead grapple, punch, kick and slam opponents into turnbuckles like human wrestlers. Yet, even then, they simple choose the most rudimentary moves on each other, with none of the fights ever building in intensity or impact or sheer spectacle.  This is “wrestling” at its most banal and mundane. When you make a movie that is, literally, monsters wrasslin’ other monsters, you want some sort of chaos, some sort of  inventive action, something that makes you go “cool” – if this is all you got going for you, you can’t fail to deliver even on your most basic promise.

Look, one doesn’t want to beat up too harshly on a low-budget independent movie expressly designed to be little more than lowbrow, innocent fun, but that’s what’s in short supply here: any real sense of fun. Poorly acted, deeply unfunny, and featuring monster FX that range from merely adequate to dismayingly phony and rubbery looking, Monster Brawl is filmmaking at its laziest and most cut-rate, coasting on the fumes of a concept and nothing more. Luring in fans with a cool idea, yet too apathetic to actually do anything with that idea, Monster Brawl is little more than tired, irresponsible B-movie hucksterism at its most cheap, tedious and money-grubbing.

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About Author

Johnny Donaldson

Johnny Donaldson is an actor, writer, foodie, and raconteur who’s been immersed in the geek world since childhood, especially when The X-Files changed his life. (Fox Mulder is his Han Solo.) A published film critic (his college-era movie reviews can be found in the archives of rottentomatoes.com) and a film producer with two films under his belt, Johnny likes kitty cats, coffee, the color purple (not the movie, the literal color purple), dark microbrews and good horror/scifi/fantasy and superhero movies. And occasionally long walks on the beach, when it’s not too hot.

  • If you watched more than five minutes of this film, you have a stronger stomach than me. If you made it through the entire thing, I fear for your sanity.