The setup is simple and effective. Any monster maniac will admit to sitting around and arguing why a zombie would beat a vampire in a fight. For Jesse T. Cook, he went a step further and put that idea up on the big screen for us, and the results couldn’t be much better.
Monster Brawl shouldn’t be a film, it should be an event. Golf clapping arthouse crowds shouldn’t be allowed to watch it. This one should have a theatre full of drunken, screaming, hooting, cheering, and booing psychopaths. That’s exactly what a TAD audience is like.
The film runs like a pay-per-view event, except we’re watching all the classic monsters tearing each other apart in a battle to the death. You only win when your opponent is 6 feet under!
Where the commercials would be for the pay-per-view event, we are treated to the stories of the monsters. How did they wind up in this tournament or where did they come from are questions answered by these small scenes. Easily the best segment from these was for the swamp creature Swamp Gut. It takes the form of a nature documentary, following the Swamp Gut as his natural home is invaded by drunken, littering, humans.
The cast was great. Dave Foley and Art Hindle are the announcers for the event. Jimmy Hart, who should be familiar to anyone with a knowledge of wrestling, brings the wrestlers out, and Herb Dean has the job of referee for the battles. Kevin Nash is the trainer for Zombie Man while Robert Maillet is Frankenstein. That makes sense since he stands at 7 feet tall. The mans hand must be bigger than my head! I don’t normally have to look up to talk to people but he’s got over a foot on me. I’m just glad he’s such a nice guy because I really didn’t need to be slapped down by him as we chatted briefly last night.
Lance Henriksen narrates the story, but the real heroes of the film have to be the other fighters. Jason David Brown plays three characters, The Cyclops, Swamp Gut, and the creepy graveyard attendant Cyril Haggard. Rj Skinner takes on two characters with Werewolf and The Mummy. Kelly Couture stars as Lady Vampire, Holly Letkeman is Witch Bitch, and Rico Montana takes his beatings as Zombie Man. Everybody does an amazing job and it was a blast to cheer for the monsters I wanted to win while booing for the monster I hated! The crowd was getting into it and it had a great interactive feel to it. This could also prove to be a problem though.
After the film, a group of us were talking about what we had just seen. A friend of mine, Derek, pointed out that there were moments in the film that seemed to not be short enough. This plays with the audience participation. If a monster won a match, he struts around showing off that he’s the winner. Had you been in the actual arena, the crowd would continually be going wild, and the film allows for that. The problem there is that the audience wasn’t always continuing to cheer for the monster. A TAD crowd is typically quite rowdy and even that wasn’t enough to fill all those moments. Had this been in a regular old theatre, I imagine the crowd would just be silent.
It certainly doesn’t hurt the film that much, it’s still a great movie. I think it just showcases that the theatrical experience should be much more interactive. Why can’t we yell at the screen? Why can’t we cheer when something great happens, or boo the villain when he appears onscreen? It’s better than that bastard sitting next to me who keep answering his phone! If the person sitting next to me was so involved with the film that they felt the need to cheer along, I would surely enjoy the film even more. With that, Monster Brawl was the best opening night I’ve had at TAD for the 5 years that I’ve been going! Congratulations to this incredible Canadian film!
In the shadows – Will