Where's The Undertaker and Kane?
I admit it. I'm a professional wrestling nerd. I am well aware that the results are predetermined (it's not fake, it's predetermined. Get it right), but I am still wildly entertained by it. I was a huge Hulkamaniac when I was younger, but became disinterested in the mid-90's. It may come as a shock to some that know me, but I pretty much missed the entire “Monday Night Wars”. While professional wrestling was at it's zenith of popularity, I wasn't watching. I felt like it was kid's stuff. I randomly became interested again while flipping through channels and saw that both Mr. Perfect and Big Boss Man, wrestlers from my childhood, were back in the WWE. An occasional watch became a weekly love affair that has extended to this day, going to live events and watching pay-per-views. I know, I'm a dork, but I'm perfectly OK with that. Being a fan things outside the mainstream tend to go together. Comic books, horror movies, heavy metal, wrestling. It was only a matter of time before there was a wrestling horror movie.
Monster Brawl is a 2011 independent horror comedy starring Dave Foley (The Kids In The Hall, Suck) as play-by-play announcer Buzz Chambers and Art Hindle (The Brood, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers) as color commentator “Sasquatch” Sid Tucker. An independent wrestling promoter and self-professed horror nerd has gathered eight monsters from across the globe and through time to compete in the ultimate monster battle. The combatants are seperated into two categories: Undead and Creatures. On the Undead side is Frankenstein, The Mummy, Zombie Man, and Lady Vampire. On the Creatures side is Cyclops, Werewolf, Witch Bitch, and Swamp Gut. The battles take place inside a wrestling ring set amidst an abandoned and cursed graveyard. Jimmy “Mouth Of The South” Hart of WWF/E and WCW fame announces the combatants as we are treated to background clips of each monster. Each clip reveals a little bit of each monster. For example, Zombie Man is the product of the army and managed by the maniacal Colonel Crookshank (Kevin Nash of WWF/E and WCW fame, Punisher). UFC referee Herb Dean referees the match to ensure the rules aren't broken, but he is killed in the first match. Which classic monster will reign supreme and prove once and for all who is the baddest monster in the world?
"Say it's fake again. I dare you."
If the above rundown of the movie felt like it was short on story, character development, and all the other hallmarks of a typical movie, you'd be right. Monster Brawl pulls no punches (sorry for the terrible pun) and makes no bones (sorry, another bad one) about what type of movie it is. Like the SpikeTV show Deadliest Warrior, Monster Brawl takes every 7 year-old's question of “Who would win in a fight?” There was really only two ways of doing this movie: lots of plot and story with a little bit of actual fighting or lots of fighting and no real story. They went with the latter and I'm OK with that decision. If you're looking for an actual movie with story, plot, emotions, and love interests, you're going to be sorely disappointed. The little background clips are fun and help break up the dark monotony of the graveyard and wrestling ring.
"We're the real monsters, baby!"
The fights play out like typical wrestling matches with clotheslines, jumps off the top turnbuckle, and occasional outside interference from managers. Each fighter has skill in the ring, some even better than those in WWE and TNA. The movie obviously had help laying out the matches from professionals which is great because they would be a mess otherwise. They have a good amount of psychology and good back and forth action. Each fighter cuts a promo before their match which are fun, but by no means hysterical. Dave Foley and Art Hindle are funny and have good chemistry. Foley channels his inner Howard Cossell while Hindle, dressed similar to Jim Ross from WWE, is more of a typical veteran color commentator. Lance Henriksen (Pumpkinhead, Millenium) lends his gravelly voice as the narrator during the background segments. Fans of the Mortal Kombat will enjoy the voice-overs during the fight shouting “Excellent!” and “Disturbing!” It's fun to see Jimmy Hart and Kevin Nash, but I would've liked to see more professional wrestlers throughout the movie. I'm sure they could have used the paycheck. Wrestling fans should not be surprised that Nash didn't “do the job” even in a movie.
What a slobberknocker!
There's not a whole lot to Monster Brawl, but it is still immensely fun to watch. Writer/Director Jesse T. Cook knows exactly what he is going for with this movie. Rather than muddling around with a half-hearted story, he goes right for the action. The final fight is a little long and I felt the ending could have been better in my opinion. The fighting is good as the actors are all skilled and someone with wrestling knowledge clearly helped lay out all the matches. The monsters all look good and there is a nice variety to pick from. If you're not a wrestling fan, you'll still get a kick out of all of the fights, but don't expect much of an emotional connection to any character. For the wrestling dorks out there that also love horror, Monster Brawl is a must see. Regardless of the story (or lack thereof), I was still highly entertained.