The UKHS Ecstasy & Agony Showcase #12:
The Agony of MONSTER BRAWL (2011)
Cyclops vs. Witch Bitch. Mummy vs. Lady Vampire. Swamp Gut vs. Werewolf. Frankenstein vs. Zombie Man. They’re the kind of school yard wager match-ups a boy dreams of, not to mention the perfect subject matter for a film for monster fans.
Let’s go back to the summer of 2012 when, after months (nearly a year?) of anticipation after seeing the trailer on YouTube, I was thrilled to finally have a copy of Monster Brawl in my hands. An independent feature by Canadian filmmaker Jesse Thomas Cook promising a showdown of the world’s eight most legendary monsters at the Hillside Necropolis at midnight, I figured MONSTER BRAWL would be an instant, modern cult classic. How could it not?
I eagerly popped into the DVD player and sat at the edge of the sofa. I leant forward, eager to jump up and down and cheer for Frankenstein to crush some heads; for the wolfman to eviscerate his foes; for the cyclops to heroically swing his maul-like fists, and then miss his foes due to his lack of depth perception. So many questions too: If a zombie bites his opponent while giving him a headlock, will that other monster turn into an undead version of itself, and if so, how cool is that?! If the mummy uses his bandages to strangle an opponent, is it considered use of a foreign object? What will the physically weaker Witch Bitch do to best her opponents? Use black magic? Or sexy black magic? I had to know.
The disappointment was not immediate. I rather liked the way each monster was treated to a brief origin story, providing some promise, not unlike a first date wearing a warm smile, a lovely yet not too strong perfume and, if you’re lucky, showing a bit of cleavage. But it all quickly turned into a painful exercise in patience once the matches began.
Instead of a maelstrom of violence, Monster Brawl was like watching subpar professional wrestling match after subpar professional wrestling match after subpar professional wrestling match (and yes, I intentionally wrote that three times to convey the agonizing tedium of my viewing experience). Now our date is killing us slowly us with one-sided conversation about kitty cats, knitting, kitty cat sweaters, and knitting kitty cat sweaters. And urinary tract infections.
As our gruesome grapplers fumble around like they were in a very outdated video game, not even Jimmy “The Mouth of the South” Hart, Dave Foley of “Kids in the Hall” fame, nor Lance Henriksen (or rather his voice doing a Mortal Kombat-like “Finish him” spiel) can rescue us from boredom. Our date has just confessed that she has a unique gynaecological condition called “vagina dentata” long thought to be folk lore or at the very least metaphorical but, no, it’s real. And she may be meowing mad due to something called Toxoplasma gondii, stemming from that litter box she never seems to get around to emptying. Too busy knitting, she says, as she starts chewing the skin off her hand.
And it’s really too bad, because Monster Brawl seemed like a no-brainer. Terrific premise, good monster makeup. And that’s why it is such a bitter disappointment. I’ve seen worse films, but had no expectations for them. But Monster Brawl could have—nay, should have—been something special.
Special like this ball of yarn and pair of dental forceps. Now where did I put that girl’s number …
Read all the previous Ecstasy & Agony pieces by clicking them: