Monster Brawl (UK - DVD R2)
In the red corner: The Monsters. In the blue corner: Marcus. Press play. FIGHT!
A secret graveyard hosts a spooky spectacular event between monsters. Classic creatures and legendary evil comes together for a wrestling, no rules battle for our viewing pleasure. Things are going to get nasty. Things are going to get brutal. Things are going to get horrific. It's time for Monster Brawl!
With a voice over by Lance Henriksen we are introduced to the world of Monster Brawl. For fifteen minutes it's like we're watching saturday morning sports coverage, with pundits, back stories and over the top hosts. There's no real sense that this has a story to tell and no real sense there's much of a film going on here. Essentially Monster Brawl feels like like a video game crossed with a Scooby Doo episode.
There's a genuine sense of fun to be had with all this silliness but it doesn't take long for everything to feel too drawn own and frankly a little dull. Playing on 80s wrestling mixed with 80s monsters, the micro budget just doesn't lend itself to any large scale sense of event. Everything is way to low key to have an impact and when the fighting finally begins it's all pretty stagnant with only the odd gory special effect making this monsterific.
I just didn't feel like this worked as a film. It could make a fun late night TV show for the right crowd but I had moments where the over the top commentary and the goofiness of the classic monsters fighting felt like a sketch from kid's TV show Horrible Histories, except Horrible Histories is pretty funny and Monsters Brawl just doesn't quite make enough off all of its elements to work. Sure it's fun, sure its pretty original but as a film this just didn't work for me.
The presentation here has a clean digital look but it's still a pretty soft image. Most of the film has a drab look to it, with the smokey old graveyard colouring and even the monster's back stories feel somewhat muted colour wise. There's the odd burst of colour from costumes to a Cyclops optic energy blast but it's all quite murky in tone for the most part. Details like skin texturws and make up for the monsters are pretty solid throughout, the commentators are well lit and hint at how much better an HD presentation would be but really this is a pretty bog standard presentation for it's low budget horror genre.
Despite the clear dialogue and the fight sound effects, there's just not a lot going on here. There's no crowd to beef up the track, no sense of close combat in the fighting sound effects and being a TV show set up, no need for anything experimental sound wise. This is probably what held the film back from having an impact because the use of music or a better use of sound within the editing can usually pump up most dross to more exciting levels (look at the opening of The X-Factor every week). Monster Brawl just felt flat, even when the monsters where at their most brutal.
The disc opens with trailers for A Night in the Woods ( Blair Witch looking much?), The Raid and Red Lights.
'Beyond The Grave' (22:27) is the making of and it starts with a heartfelt speech from Jesse Cook regarding the production. This ends up being a good insight into the micro budget project and as is the case with most of these things, I feel bad I didn't like the film all that much as so much went into it and I really do appreciate film-makers just getting up and making the film they want to make.
'Tales From The Hart': Jimmy Hart Outtakes (06:22)is quite an amusing little reel of footage and last up is the trailer (01:27).
I don't really know where Monster Brawl will fit into the world of straight to DVD horror. It's fairly unique but there's no story here really, just monsters in a wrestling ring and despite the blood and guts it's fairly childish and hollow. It all looks good enough but the low budget really holds this one back from delivering an impact and the slow, drawn out coverage in the mock TV show set up got boring pretty quickly. With all the negatives pushed aside however, Monster Brawl has its moments of fun and will probably lead on to bigger and better things if the wrestling and horror fans choose to embrace it.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 20th August 2012
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Extras: Making of, Outtakes, Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Jesse T. Cook
Cast: Dave Foley, Art Hindle, Robert Maillet, Lance Henriksen
Genre: Horror and Sport
Length: 85 minutes
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