We’ve all been there. Sat in a pub/taverna/steam room with your friends. A few drinks have been swilled down. You turn to the important business of the day. Who? Oh who would win in a wrestling match between a werewolf and Frankenstein’s Monster. It’s an ageless debate that Monster Brawl has deemed itself worthy to try and answer for us through scientific means.
Not so much a narrative film in the traditional sense Monster Brawl plays out like a WWE pay-per-view, albeit set in a graveyard. As you may be able to guess the tone is extremely tongue-in-cheek. Legendary wrestling manager Jimmy Hart pops up now and then to interview and shout in high pitched voice about which monster has just beaten which monster. Kevin Nash (known famously as Diesel in my day) plays a crazed US military type who has created zombies and Dave Foley, who’s biggest role was providing the voice of Flick in ‘A Bug’s Life’ plays an alcoholic announcer. A touch of class is provided by Lance Henriksen’s gravelly, yet silky tones as ‘God’ – who in this case is relegated to be a ring announcer, you’d have thunk God would have better stuff to do.
The set up’s all there. It’s silly, it knows it’s silly. There’s even a crazy crypt keeper who warns “you’re all gonna die” but ultimately Monster Brawl ends up feeling like a wasted opportunity. You come away feeling as though you’ve just watched crap as opposed to “entertaining” crap. The problem comes essentially from the premise. It’s a great set up. Get the most famous monsters of legend and pop culture in a punch up. You get The Mummy, Frankenstein’s Monster, A Zombie. But then you have such other legendary ghouls as “Lady Vampire”, “Witch Bitch” and “Swamp Gut”. It might sound like I’m picking a bit too much but it feels that the idea barrel has been scraped by the filmmakers before the film has even started. A notion that’s not helped by the way the film simply ends, in what is probably supposed to be some kind of meta joke but comes across as a cheap way out.
Even though the film is played for laughs, it’s not actually very funny. Relying too much again on the premise to carry the humour director Jesse T. Cook leaves the rest of comedy to come from people mugging to camera and goofy sound effects. The funniest moment perhaps being the film’s most misanthropic. As Frankenstein’s Monster approaches the ring (in this film the creature is referred to as simply Frankenstein) a voice over not heard before, probably Jesse T. Cook’s announces “yeah we know it’s technically Frankenstein’s Monster but anyone worrying about that is a dick”. I was wondering about that and I feel appropriately like a dick thanks Monster Brawl. The final thing to note is that although we spend the best part of 90 minutes watching monsters wrestling none of the fights are interesting or exciting in anyway. It’s like watching Celebrity Deathmatch but without the imagination or gore.
Monster Brawl is a film I genuinely wanted to like but when it promises such sweet things and only delivers blandness it makes it all the more disappointing. One to perhaps watch with a group of friends with a bit of wrestling nostalgia otherwise watch Cloudy With Chance of Meatballs. Not that’s related at all I just like it.