Monster Brawl review

by Sean McLaughlin

Ever wonder what an all-monster version of Celebrity Deathmatch would look like? Wonder no further, as the folks at Foresight Features bring you “Monster Brawl”, a ghoulishly creepy battle for horror supremacy. Zombies battle vampires, werewolves battle Cyclops….all for an unclear title that I guess translates into bragging rights in all the bars in downtown Hades. The plot is non-existent, but the entertainment value is off the charts… least by the end.

Unsurprisingly, Monster Brawl seems like it could be a hit with both the horror and wrestling/mixed martial arts sets. Dave Foley, in a role setting his career back by at least 10 years (if that’s even possible) joins up with camp veteran Art Hindle to form the dynamic commentating duo of Buzz Chambers and Sasquatch Sid Tucker. Their overly aggressive fight calling certainly wouldn’t strike fear into the hearts of UFC’s Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg, but it does provide just the right level of hype and testosterone that the movie needs. It’s hard to imagine that Canadian treasure and former Kid-in-the-Hall Foley would be capable of such step up in macho-ism, but he pulls it off.

The fighters, each defending their specific monstrous way of life, are placed into two divisions: “Creatures” and “Undead”. The winners from each bracket square off in the championship, leaving only one ghoul to rule the roost. With a smoky and eerily-dim graveyard as a backdrop, the action proves that what this movie lacks in progression or dialogue, it makes up for in gore and overall absurdity. Oh….there are also more cameos than the “Word UP” music video (get it?….meh). Lance Henrikson’s voice lends an air of spookiness as the fight action rises and falls with each devastating maneuver (though I could’ve done without the video game fatality nonsense). Kevin Nash, “Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart, UFC referee Herb Dean….they all play their roles with believability. And why wouldn’t they? They’re basically playing themselves. Again, the movie is slow to develop, but the inevitable main event and resulting victory are worth the wait. Just be ready to sit through countless false endings and pinfalls, enough to make the Agent Smith/Neo battles from the Matrix movies look decisive.

If the film is grossly guilty of anything in particular, it would have to be the premise itself. Is this a fight tournament, like Mortal Kombat or Bloodsport, where the matches are built around the actual storyline? This identity crisis persists throughout, as the monsters’ back stories are included before their fights, as if we’re watching their lives, undead or otherwise, in real-time. Not exactly a training montage that would make Rocky or Wet Hot American Summer envious, but more of a glimpse into their hell. These peeks are picked up and dropped at will, almost like changing the channel, as the unholy battles rage on. Again, this is not a fatal flaw more than an annoyance. Monster Brawl is still fun, and after a slow few opening minutes builds steam as it heads towards the finish line.

Every time I want to kill Monster Brawl for being too much action and not enough substance, I’m reminded that this concept was exactly what director Jesse T. Cook was hoping to achieve. 2003’s Freddy vs. Jason began the concept, and this film brings it full circle. By the end, one true monster can reign supreme….or can they? I won’t give away too much, but just know that this movie goes a long way towards crowning a grand champion of terror. And it just might be worth your time.

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