The ‘80s are back in a big way and now we have a new addition to the family, JACK BROOKS: MONSTER SLAYER. Following on the heels of Anchor Bay’s BEHIND THE MASK and HATCHET, Jon Knautz’s latest effort is a warm addition the films that pay homage to the decade loaded with entertaining (stand-out) characters, gore and practical effects. Let’s all take a trip back to the ‘80s.
No one would ever believe what happened the night Jack Brooks witnessed the brutal murder of his family. His life destroyed, all he has left is an unquenchable fury he’s now fighting to control. Now the local plumber, Jack continuously struggles with his memories as his life becomes a downward spiral until his girlfriend Eve convinces him to attend night classes. Little does he know that in that dank, tiresome classroom, his destiny awaits. Evil awakens as Jack unknowingly disturbs the grounds surrounding Professor Crowley ‘s dilapidated old home. Lured by this ancient demonic power, Crowley discovers a monstrous black heart that quickly forces its way into him. Possessed by the heart now beating in his chest, the Professor starts a slow, gruesome, transformation… One night, as Crowley bursts into a creature of legends, Jack finally discovers the true purpose of his rage as he attempts to save the lives of his classmates and learns that you can’t run from your past…
There are two things that could make JACK BROOKS the cult classic horror film of the ‘00s. The first is Jack Brooks, played by Trevor Matthews, who could possibly become the new Ash for horror hounds looking for a replacement (since we all know we’ll never see an EVIL DEAD 4). And although no one will ever replace Bruce Campbell’s character, Jack Brooks carries similar charisma, energy and toughness that could transform him into the latest horror icon. The second thing that will ensure the film’s life on your shelf is the special FX and gore. Most of the creatures and FX is done practically, so they have a classic ‘80s feel to them. Although not as good as Stuart Gordon’s classic film, JACK BROOKS can easily be called RE-ANIMATOR meets THE EVIL DEAD. Imagine in Ash took on the creatures from Gordon’s film… that’s essentially what MONSTER SLAYER is.
Robert Englund has hit a trifecta, starring in yet another kick ass homage to the ‘80s (alongside HATCHET and BEHIND THE MASK). He plays a wonderfully loopy teacher who is transformed into a shocking Jabba the Hutt-like creature with H.P. Lovecraft-esque tentacles. Scripted quite well, his transformation isn’t overplayed and evolves at a perfect pace. Jack Brooks’ character development is also well scripted as we learn about his history and how he developed a mad case of rage. What’s great about his character is that he knows he has a problem and isn’t trying to run from it, but learn to conquer it. By the end of the film he learns to channel his rage into kicking monsters’ asses for a living.
MONSTER SLAYER is only the birth of Jack Brooks and I pray we’ll see another dozen of these films in the future. Screenwriters John Ainslie and Jon Knautz have created a wonderful mythology of characters and a world with so much potential for future development that it’s sure to please any fan of this type of sub genre. You want laughs, action, blood, guts, slime, creatures and a kick-ass anti-hero? You’ll find it all in JACK BROOKS: MONSTER SLAYER.