Arriving soon on region 2 DVD through Momentum is “Monster Brawl”, a film revolving around the wacky, though oddly logical concept of pitting 8 classic monster types against each other in a wrestling championship battle to the death. Written and directed by Canadian helmer Jesse T. Cook (“Scarce”), the film features comedian Dave Foley and genre veteran Art Hindle (known for his appearances in the likes of the 1978 version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and Cronenberg’s “The Brood”) as ringside commentators as the contest to find the world’s top ghoul plays out in misty old graveyard. There really isn’t anything more to the plot, as Lady Vampire, Witch Bitch, Werewolf, Frankenstein’s monster (with Igor), Zombie Man, Swamp Gut, The Mummy and The Cyclops face-off against each other in a series of bouts, while wrestling icon Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart adds his own brand of hyperbole-packed banter and Lance Henriksen throws in a few “Mortal Kombat” style in-fight voiceover mutterings.
“Monster Brawl” is a film which really wears its heart on its sleeve, rejoicing in a childish gimmick that will likely have viewers either whooping with delight or shaking their heads in disinterested bemusement. For anyone who thinks the idea of matching classic monsters against each other in WWE wrestling style is a fantasy-fulfilling stroke of genius, the film certainly delivers exactly as promised, and offers 85 minutes of unadulterated, silly entertainment. Cook directs with infectious enthusiasm, and though the film’s budgetary limitations are fairly evident, with the sole graveyard set being on the shoddy side, he does a great job of recreating the look and feel of a wrestling event, complete with statistics, prefight bragging chat and interfering managers. The film also benefits from some amusing monster back-stories, Cook showing a great eye for details, and it’s obvious that it was made with a real love for the genre.
Unsurprisingly, it’s not much of a horror film as such, with very little gore or violence, though this is by no means to its detriment, and the old fashioned monster make up by special FX team The Gore Brothers is effective and fun. The film moves along at a fast pace, following a simple structure fitted around the fights, and though perhaps not quite as wild and far-out as it could have been, it has more than its share of smile-inducing moments. Though the fights themselves are essentially all quite similar and do get a touch repetitive, this in its own way isn’t much of a criticism, as it actually again helps to give the film the feel of a proper wrestling event.
There’s no doubt that “Monster Brawl” is a film made for a very specific set of fans, and anyone nonplussed by the thought of classic monsters slugging it out in pantomime wrestling style probably won’t get much from it. However, for viewers who buy into its endearingly daft premise, it’s a very enjoyable and unique piece of unpretentious merriment. Jesse T. Cook clearly has a great deal of affection for his subject, and this definitely shows up on screen, guaranteeing a good time for anyone who has ever wondered what would happen if a werewolf and swamp monster ever locked horns.
Jesse T. Cook (director) / Jesse T. Cook (screenplay)
CAST: Dave Foley … Buzz Chambers
Art Hindle … Sasquatch Sid Tucker
Jimmy Hart … Himself
Robert Maillet … Frankenstein
Herb Dean … Himself
Kevin Nash … Colonel Crookshank
Lance Henriksen … God (voice)