Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Monster Brawl (DVD Review)

Image Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment

Writer/Dir: Jesse T. Cook
Cast: Dave Foley, Art Hindle, Robert Maillet, Rj Skinner, Holly Letkeman, Kevin Nash, Lance Henriksen (voice)
Canada, 2011

Reason to see: I love monster and love fighting films, so Monster Brawl is win/win!

Monster Brawl brings us an ultimate monster showdown, giving us a Pay-Per-View-style monster fighting championship full on with sports commentators (Davey Foley and Art Hindle who were often hilarious), event personality played by Jimmy The Mouth of the South Hart himself, as himself with pretty ladies at his side and monsters galore from classic fan favourites of Werewolf and Frankenstein to the new permutations of Swamp Gut and Witch Bitch.

I adored that each character got their own introduction, and those in it of themselves felt like short films provide some awesome character origin stories and hilarious monster action (Frankenstein & Swamp Gut were my faves) with great pre-show ramblings that really parallel the wrestling model well with over the top bravado, mouthy managers and setting up the character story line to pitch the fight. I truly loved the character intros, they were so much fun and some I would be happy to watch over and over.

I loved the enthusiasm of Monster Brawl and how it really went for and used the model of the ultimate showdown, but the structure of it did feel familiar after a couple of fights which which actually make it read very well on TV because you can feel where the breaks would be. It's hard to give it a hard time on feeling like you know where it's going, because using the model of wrestling has that element to it - there could be an upset here and there but really you know where that is going to so you have to just give in and let it take you away and pretend you don't see that foreign object/foul play/manager interference happening... even if you might know it.

There were lots of gem moments, often with the commentators played by Dave Foley and Art Hindle or event "voice" Lance Henriksen that really have me laughing. Monster Brawl was It was a lot of fun and I had a blast revisiting it on DVD. It's amazing just how many monsters they made the creativity and drive that went into the film. For us fans of monsters and wrestling, it's certainly a must-see.

DVD Extras:
If you are a fan of extras, the DVD has lots to enjoy including an entertaining commentary and extensive behind the scenes look at how the film was put together. Here are the details of the DVD extras:
  • Audio Commentary with writer/director Jesse Thomas Cook and producers Matt Wiele & John Geddes discussing the concept of combining monsters with the wrestling format, the design & aesthetic, the small crew that worked on the film, the dedication of the actors and everyone involved in the film, how actors played multiple roles, the classic horror riffs they used, cameo appearances, the locations, the special effects, inspiration for the characters and their back stories, the acting experience of the wrestlers, how different actors got involved with the film, the challenges of working and shooting the different sections separately, the process of the stunt coordination for the fighting and shooting the fights, the work that the actors have gone on to do since starring in the film, The Brothers Gore work on the make up in the film, the audience reaction to different characters especially when it's different than expected as well as fan favourites, scenes and segments that didn't make the final cut, the multiple hats people wore during the film (which is amazing, so many people did an extraordinary variety of work on the film) and even homages to specific wrestling matches. And entertaining listen and
  • Monster Brawl: Beyond the Grave (23 minutes) Behind-the-Scenes featurette including Pre-Production including inspiration of the film, amazing concept art, monster character selection and character outlines, creating the indoor Graveyard set, 7 practical locations incorporated into the film often to establish back stories, The Cast with a special focus on people who played multiple characters like Jason Brown who played 3 characters as well as the set of amateur wrestlers who made up the majority of the monsters and icons from the wrestling, MMA and the Canadian film icons who worked on the film, Gore & SPX behind the scenes with The Brothers Gore creations from outlining each of the monsters as well as the zombie extras monster and creature suits, gore gags and effects, Crew awesome section giving kudos to the dedicated crew as well as fun Q&A asking folks their favourite monster. Fun behind the scenes that has tons of footage from filming from of putting the set together, on location, shooting, fight choreography and I love how the sections are often injected with the harsh realities of working on a micro budget but always with a sense of humour.
  • Tales from the Hart: Jimmy Hart Outtakes (6 minutes) behind the scenes chattingwith Jimmy Hart including lots of wrestling stories including the history of the megaphone used in the film, working with lots of different people and wrestling matches, being in and working in Canada, choosing favourite monsters (and tag teams), working on the film and working with the cast & crew.
  • Trailer
If you want even more extras I have a bunch of videos from when I was lucky enough to first see Monster Brawl at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival in 2011, where many guests where in attendance including director Jesse T Cook, cast members Robert Maillet (Frankenstein), Jimmy Hart (The Mouth From The South!) Rj Skinner (Werewolf), Holly Letkeman (Witch Bitch) for a post show Q&A and also some pre-show shenanigans (see clip here). You can see all the videos here and my vlog review of Monster Brawl.

Monster Brawl is available on DVD here in Canada on March 27, 2012l check it out over at Amazon.ca. US release date Monster Brawl is June 12, 2012; check it out on Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'll watch it again & again
I strongly recommend it to monster movie fans and highly recommend it to wrestling fans.

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© Shannon Ridler, 2011 - 2012
Originally reviewed during Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2011

Dave Foley and Art Hindle in Monster Brawl - Image Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment

Robert Maillet as Frankenstein - Image Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment

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