|Flying Squirrel Boxing Productions|
|The KO Picture Show|
|Presents. . .|
|Monster Brawl (2011)
"For those that found 'Celebrity Deathmatch' too highbrow and fast-paced."
I didn't want to let 2012 get away without a review, so I set out to find something sufficiently B-quality and fight-worthy. And something I could watch during my increasingly fewer instances of leisure was important (having two kids tends to cut into one's movie watching time...), so when I saw the title Monster Brawl available on Netflix, I jumped at it. The 1 and 1/2 stars it got should have warned me, but I threw caution (and a precious block of 90 minutes) to the wind and sat down to watch.... this.
The premise is (seemingly) simple. 8 monsters, of varying degrees of "classic" status (and some just made of whole cloth) are battling for monster supremacy in a fight to the death. It's all set in a regulation size wrestling ring that's been set up in a creepy graveyard, with all the requisite "Wrasslin'" accoutrements: Two booth announcers (played by the seriously slumming duo of Dave Foley and Art Hingle, who do their best to stay engaged and not look too embarassed), a sideline reporter played by former WWF manager Jimmy Hart (who does his patented "Mouth of the South" spastic hollering), some beautiful ring girls... hell they even got a put-upon ref for the first fight (MMA ref Herb Dean) and, most importantly, the disembodied voice of Lance Henriksen doing all the ring announcing and hype work.
Turning from the "Brawl" part of the title to the "Monster" portion, we get two weight divisions of the 'Creature' and 'Undead' variety, with the make-up quality ranging from the decent (Frankenstein's Monster [just called Frankenstein here, natch], Zombie Man, and The Mummy weren't too shabby) to the borderline embarassing (The Werewolf did an awful lot of talking, showing off his low quality choppers, and the prosaicly named Witch Bitch got a couple smears of greasepaint and a tattered shroud and they called it a night). All of the monsters were sufficiently energetic in their portrayals though (with each of them getting their own little intro/backstory thing), and they all seemed to realize that this was being played more for laughs instead of scares (all except The Cyclops, who seemed to think he was performing some sort of long lost, bizarre tomb of Shakespeare. Either he was in the throes of some sort of thespianic seizure, or he had no idea how ridiculous his cyclops make-up looked).
So we have all the ingredients: wrestling bonafides, monsters, film equipment, Lance Henriksen making spooky pronouncements from an undisclosed location... what the hell went wrong? Well, the bottom line is we have about, maybe, 30 minutes of entertainment here. Tops. And low-grade entertainment at that. The intro/backstories of each monster were poorly acted, played totally straight, and as straight forward, individual narratives, made very little sense in the context of what was being presented as a pay-per-view wrestling event. Each of these eight 5 minute vignettes were completely unnecessary. Get rid of them and absolutley nothing is lost and we shave the running time down from 90 to 50 minutes.
But the real problem is this: the filmmakers (and I have to imagine writer/director Jesse T. Cook shoulders the lion's share of this blame) managed to make a movie about monsters wrestling each other to the death boring. It's almost like they got all the participants to buy into the concept, but then got caught up in the details. I mean, did we really need the pre-fight hype for each bought? Did every desultory, identical ring entrance need to be filmed? And does a character named Witch Bitch really need a backstory? All of this is underscored by the fact that each match takes 3 to 4 minutes, meaning that we get, at most, 20 whole minutes of the promised monster brawling. That leaves 70 minutes of embarassed yelling from the announcers, goofy monster backstories, and pure hurting.
The Wrasslin'! - 1 - 2
Obviously the people in the monster make-up had some professional wrestling background (Frankenstein is played by former WWE star, Robert Maillet). But the make-up either made anything beyond the most elementary stomps and throws impossible, or most of the cast was just too frightened to really let loose on each other. And whoever decided to make this into five 1-on-1 matches instead of a full-tilt battle royale must have been high on quaaludes.
I mean, COME ON PEOPLE! The movie is called Monster Brawl!
And the fact that no less than 3 monsters made it through to the end credits in a battle to the death just doesn't make sense. It's not even like they explained it or there was some sort of deus ex machina. They just forgot to deliver on the monster killing, and that's inexcusable.
Overall Rating - No Contest 0
I really have no idea who this movie was made for. Wrestling fans will become bored by the lack of action and low-grade wrestling performances. Gore and monster fans will feel let down by the piddling amount of viscera and some cases of truly low quality monster make-up (oh Witch Bitch and Cyclops... sigh....). At best, this would appeal to small children who are easily scared and whose parents won't let them watch "real" wrestling. But the real reason I'm giving this the lowest of my lowest ratings (only the second time I've ever done this, the first time coming at the expense of the irredeemable The All-American Boy) is because this might be the starkest example of a missed opportunity that I've ever seen. They had all the parts. They had the prerequisite enthusiasm from their actors and a passable effort from the special effects people. But they just choked.
|Starring: Dave Foley,
Art Hingle, Robert Maillet,
Jimmy Hart, Lance Henriksen
|"Reviewing the best (and worst) in Pugilistic Pictures!"|