TADFF ’11: ‘Monster Brawl’ strictly intended for fanboys

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Monster Brawl

Directed by Jesse T. Cook

Written by Jesse T. Cook

2011, Canada

Last night, writer/director Jesse T. Cook had the honour of being the first Canadian filmmaker to open the Toronto After Dark Film Festival with his smackdown horror-comedy Monster Brawl.

In the spirit of pay-per-view wrestling and the Mortal Kombat video game, Monster Brawl brings some of the most iconic monsters together for no other reason than to bludgeon them in the ring.  In addition to Frankenstein and the Wolfman, the brawlers include: the Mummy, Zombie Man, Cyclops, Lady Vampire, Swamp Gut and Witch Bitch — all of whom harbour grudges and talk smack to the camera.

To say that Monster Brawl is a fanboy’s dream come true is an understatement.  Cook guarantees his film’s mass appeal simply by fusing together several popular genres: horror, wrestling and gaming.  Moreover, he assembles an eclectic cast to further excite his niche audience: cult-favourite Lance Hendrickson (Alien series) stars as the Mortal Kombat-esque narrator; pro-wrestling manager Jimmy Hart is the announcer; Mixed Martial Arts referee Herb Dean cameos as himself and Canadian wrestler Robert Maillet plays Frankenstein.  However, it’s Dave Foley (The Kids in the Hall) and Art Hindle (Black Christmas) who particularly stand out as Buzz Chambers and Sasquatch Sid — the veteran sports commentators.

Monster Brawl is more comedy than it is horror and its gore would be tolerable for even the mildly squeamish.  Although Cook’s script shows some originality, there’s not enough to engage viewers for a feature-length film.  Furthermore, Cook’s lacklustre editing brings Monster Brawl’s action sequences to a grinding halt — sometimes long enough to call attention to its dull electronic score.  Despite Cook’s best efforts, Monster Brawl feels excruciatingly longer than its 85-minute running time.

Nigel Hamid

Toronto After Dark – October 20-27 – Visit the official website.

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