Sometimes a concept is enough to get you interested in a film. Monster Brawl is one of those films. Even if not a “good” movie, it’s expected that a movie about classic monsters fighting to the death in a wrestling ring at least be entertaining or, depending on the approach, funny. Sadly, writer/director Jesse T. Cook somehow managed to cobble together an incredibly boring and uninspired film that belies its hilarious premise.
Presented less as a movie and more like the worst possible WWE pay-per-view event possible, eight monsters – Wolfman, Witch Bitch, Swamp Gut, Lady Vampire, The Mummy, Frankenstein, Cyclops, and Zombie Man – are pitted against each other in a no-rules wrestling event set in the middle of an isolated (and cursed) graveyard. With commentary provided by Dave Foley doing his worst Howard Cosell impression and Art Hindle portraying an aged and washed-up former wrestler, these eight bastardizationsa of famous monsters duke it out, all while Jimmy Hart grates on your last nerve.
Monster Brawl is a lazy film. While I’m sure much of the choices were made due to a considerably meager budget, you can’t really forgive a Frankenstein’s Monster wearing what looks like a green sweater and looking more like a zombie than the specifically-named Zombie Man, or a Cyclops whose make-up was clearly used to cover his real eyes. It was like watching a slideshow of Halloween costumes by 16-year olds.
The “commentary” that pervaded throughout the film was mostly ridiculous, with a few humorous quips tossed in here and there. They both, however, pale in comparison to Jimmy Hart, the ringside announcer whose voice is so grating you want to jab ice picks into your ears. That’s not hyperbole. Real-life UFC fighter Herb Dean plays the in-ring referee, a pointless role given the direction in which it’s taken, while, the underutilized Lance Henriksen provided the narration, introducing the characters and providing brief mid-match description of moves a la the Mortal Kombat games.
Worst of all, the movie is just boring. The stage was set in the middle of a supposed “cursed graveyard,” which was used to explain away the lack of a crowd. As a result, any down time in the match (of which there was a lot) resulted in long periods of silence punctuated by the grating and non-funny commentary by Foley and Hindle. The fights themselves were short and mostly boring, featuring the bare minimum of wrestling moves, with a small handful of the monsters having “special moves” that were just horribly out of place with both the film’s aesthetic and the monster’s history. Even a zombie uprising couldn’t make things interesting.
Monster Brawl is the definition of wasted potential. There was so much room to have fun with it in a way that wouldn’t break the bank, but sadly, the first film featuring monsters fighting in a wrestling ring falls flat on almost every level, and the end result is a boring, plodding affair.
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