While I am a female who loves horror, I am a female… and in typical fashion, I don't love monsters and I don't love MMA/wrestling. But I loved Monster Brawl… go figure!
When I first saw the DVD box art, I thought to myself, "Oh, boy… here I go again, forcing another direct-to-disc, low-budget, bad horror flick down." I know, I know. Not the best attitude to have, but after reviewing movies as my profession for over 10 years, I think just a touch of jade is allowed. I've seen the worst of the worst, and even the lowest of the low expectations have been dashed more often than not. Plus, with my predisposition for not especially liking monsters and staged fights, it was looking pretty grim. But the movie's clever conceit, cheeky dialogue, and nice cinematography had me hooked immediately.
Here's the set up: iconic monster vs. iconic monster brawling to the death for the world's biggest pay fight, ever. Crafted to look just like a cable channel reality show and tournament, complete with character bios, commentators, and interviews with the champions and their managers, plus stats and strengths and weaknesses, we meet the matched. First up, it's Witch Bitch vs Cyclops. Then Lady Vampire vs Mummy. Frankenstein vs Zombie. And so on. Think: Celebrity Death-Match meets Deadliest Warrior. The movie proceeds in absolutely literal fashion, as if you had just ordered a PPV and you've tuned in.
Ala Vince McMahon or Shao Kahn, narrations are provided beautifully by Lance Henricksen's gravely velvet voice, while our commentators and hosts are played hilariously by Dave Foley and Art Clokey. There are beautiful bikini girls ringside, an oily celebrity guest (Jimmy "Mouth of the South" Hart), midgets and monsters… oh, my! Such a big cast (there are even recreations of the contestants' back-stories, new clips, behind the scenes, etc.), and so well-managed on a real shoestring (for instance, Jason David Brown played three of the monsters, plus built the sets!). The whole thing takes place in just a few pre-fabbed locations and the ring inside the cemetery… the deserted, haunted cemetery, which explains why there is no "live audience" — brilliant. These guys really did think of everything, and I thought the back-stories and dialogue were lol-funny.
Now, I may seem a bit lavish with my praise. It's not a perfect movie; in fact, I kept kind of waiting for something cinematic to happen. But it never did. This is just like a PPV fight, and nothing else happens. It's not a horror-comedy that's going to make you think (see: Tucker & Dale vs Evil), it isn't really meta (see: The Cabin in the Woods), nor is it covert intellectualism (see: Zombie Strippers). It's not too gory, and it isn't suspenseful. The makeups are hit-n-miss. But it's well made, briskly paced, well-acted and funny. That's good enough for me.
But if that isn't enough for you, check out the extras on the DVD. There's a feature-length commentary, behind the scenes featurette, and outtakes. I only watched the b-t-s, but I really enjoyed it. It was well-edited, and a treat to meet triple-threat actor, Jason David Brown… he's a genuinely funny, good-natured guy.
Monster Brawl debuts on DVD June 12.
= = =