Craig J. Clark — Jun. 3rd 2012
One of the draws for me at March’s HorrorHound Weekend in Columbus, Ohio, was getting to see a midnight screening of Monster Brawl, which I’ve known about for a while now thanks to this very site, in advance of its June 12 video release. And midnight was the ideal slot for it because it has all the hallmarks of a ready-made cult movie. Not sure how much of an overlap there is between monster fans and professional wrestling aficionados, but writer/director Jesse Thomas Cook appears to fall into both camps and knows well enough not to take their intersection too seriously. With matches like Cyclops vs. Witch Bitch and Lady Vampire vs. Mummy (and those are just the middleweights!), what other choice does one have?
The main events are the winner-takes-all, loser-takes-a-dirt-nap heavyweight bouts, all of which are overseen by color commentators Dave Foley (doing a killer Howard Cosell and not even bothering to hide his heavy drinking) and Art Hindle (whose gruff demeanor is explained by the fact that he’s a Sasquatch), with Jimmy Hart (as himself) as the ringside announcer and Herb Dean (also a real person, so I’ve been led to understand) as the referee who’s eliminated in the very first match, thus allowing the subsequent combatants to fight as dirty as they want to (and most of them do). And wrestling aficionados will no doubt recognize Kevin Nash as the colonel in charge of the military’s zombie soldier program (which is, of course, based out of Pittsburgh). Personally, I was happier when it was revealed that the film’s Werewolf hails from Silver Springs, New Jersey. And Hindle’s aside about Frankenstein (“Technically, it’s Frankenstein’s Monster, if you want to be a dick about it.”) was also quite amusing.
Not that all of them need one, but each monster gets a backstory-laden introduction, some of which are presented as clips from other shows. For example, the Mummy’s escape from a museum is retold on a cable news report, and Louisiana-based Swamp Thing-like creature Swamp Gut’s background is explored in the form of a nature documentary on Grisly Planet. The one constant is Lance Henriksen’s voice-over narration, which extends to Mortal Kombat-like interjections such as “Magnificent!” and “Spectacular!” during the matches. (“Discombobulated!” crops up as well, but I think that may be unique to this film.) If the film as a whole has a flaw, it is that it gets a mite repetitive at times — in this regard, I fear it may ape professional wrestling broadcasts a bit too closely — and the final fight is drawn out to an absurd degree. These are minor quibbles, though, when you consider that anybody who chooses to watch a movie called Monster Brawl probably knows what they’re in for. I know I did.