DVD Review: Monster Brawl / Cert: 18 / Director: Jesse Thomas Cook / Screenplay: Jesse Thomas Cook / Starring: Dave Foley, Art Hindle, Jimmy Hart, Robert Maillet, Lance Henriksen / Release Date: August 20th
A mix of classic monster characters and American wrestling should be a shoo-in for a cult hit, but, while not quite a heavyweight, it is just short of a knock out.
In an abandoned cemetery the ultimate 'fight of the living dead' is taking place, where all manner of fabled monsters are slugging it out for the title of supreme monster. Overseen by commentators Buzz Chambers (Kids in the Hall's Dave Foley) and Sasquatch Sid Tucker (cult favourite Art Hindle), as well as WWE star Jimmy Hart and in voice only, Lance Henrikson, the film plays out in the format of a pay per view wrestling event, with cut away segments to introduce the monsters that are taking to the ring. Among the contenders are Werewolf, Frankenstein (and yes, it is pointed out that it was the Doctor's name not the creation “if you want to be a dick about it”), Lady Vampire, Cyclops and Swamp Gut, a sort of cross between the Gillman and Swamp Thing. As the rumbles commence, heads are squashed, eyes gouged and much blood is spilt.
On paper this is all exciting, and it could have been another Monster Squad, amping up those old Universal Monster team-ups, but just fails to pull it off satisfactorily. At least, though, it's not as disappointing as Van Helsing. The wrestling matches are not exciting enough to pull you in, and some of the gags tend to fall a little flat. That is not to say there isn't a lot of fun to be had - Foley, with his Howard Cosell drawl and Hindle's world weary former champ are great, giving play by play commentary and sardonic insight to the ghoulish grapplefest at the Hillside Necropolis Arena. Fans of the pantomime sport will enjoy appearances from Hart, Kevin Nash (who also played Odin in The Almighty Thor) and UFC referee Herb Dean. Monster fans may get a smile out of the match preambles, which are much more entertaining than the actual bouts, but the film really lacks a narrative, which is a big draw back of the PPV format.
Writer/director Jess T. Cook has made the most of his limited budget, and should be commended for that. There is a little gore on display, but nothing to warrant the 18 certificate it has received, especially with it being in a tongue in cheek context, and at no point is the film actually scary.
Your personal enjoyment may well depend on how much you enjoy American wrestling, rather than horror films, though.
Extras: Monster Brawl - Beyond The Grave / Tales from The Hart: Jimmy Hart Outtakes / Trailer