The first thing to say about Monster Brawl, is that it definitely won’t be for everyone. This B-movie extravaganza mixes wrestling and monsters to create a sub-genre hybrid that
plays out like a cult passion project. Abominations like Wolfman and “Swamp Gut” meet in the ring to battle it out and prove once and for all who the meanest monster is. The concept is the perfect fan boy fantasy, a dream now made reality in the increasing validity of the fan’s wants: films like Aliens vs. Predator and Freddy vs. Jason have all proven that there’s an audience waiting to see films that pitch classic characters, who have no good reason to be in the same place at the same time, together at last.
But is the film actually any good? Well if you can look past the cheesy acting of the amateur wrestlers playing the monsters, have no problem with a fairly wobbly script, and the sheer gibberish of it all, then it’s actually kind of fun. Besides, in a film where Witch Bitch and Cyclops fight in a wrestling ring, the term “wobbly” loses much of its meaning. Much credibility is actually set in place by the eclectic cast; Jimmy Hart appears as himself, Kevin Nash steps in as a disgruntled colonel out to win the Monster Brawl, Lance Henriksen lends his growling tones as the narrator (credited as God), but it’s Dave Foley and Art Hindle who consistently steal the show by simply having a ball.
The film isn’t supposed to be taken too seriously, that much is clear, it’s schlocky fun for like-minded fans who want to watch something silly, but even then the film is pretty thin. Intentional bombastic tongue-in-cheek can’t save an undeveloped concept. The fight scenes lack real punch and eventually start to bore, the formulaic approach to the subject is where the film trips up: introducing characters, giving them a five to ten minute background, and then pitting them against each other is nice at first but eventually tedious thanks bad action. It’s a shame when the best parts of a fight film are the character intros.
Surprisingly, the film isn’t too badly shot and the whole thing looks pretty good. Costume and production design definitely have a hammer/50’s feel, the sets are solid, and gore and creature effects are cool, but not as memorable as they could have been. So, for all its B-movie charm, Monster Brawl is still underdeveloped and too minimalist, at too many points, to stand its ground as a feature film. But there’s some fun to be had here for hard-core cult monster fans.
Special features are short but sweet: a twenty minute Behind the Scenes look at the incredibly passionate and humble forces who put the piece together, a collection of outtakes featuring Jimmy Hart, and the trailer for the film. In particular, the Behind the Scenes gives a little more appreciation for the film.
Director: Jesse Thomas Cook
Stars: Dave Folley, Art Hindle, Jimmy Hart, Lance Henriksen