Monster Brawl (2011)

This direct-to-DVD monster bash makes one wonder why nobody has done this before, then answers the question.

Monsters have been duking it out on screen since “Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man” in 1943, and with the recent success of monster knock-down-drag-outs like 2003’s “Freddy VS Jason,” the battle royale shows no signs of slowing down. So why did it take so long to take all the classic movie monsters and put them in a wrestling ring to battle for the championship monster belt? Who knows, but “Monster Brawl” comes to the rescue for all those of you waiting all these years for that to finally go down!

To be fair, the Mexican Lucha Libre phenomenon actually started this cinematic sub-genre in the late 1950’s when the great Santo and the Blue Demon fought vampires, undead monsters and other creatures in and out of the ring. This is first time, however, someone has actually staged an entire feature based around a monster wrestling tournament. There is absolutely NO STORY whatsoever. This plays like a live Pay-Per-View wrestling event where for 90 minutes you’ll witness one brutal match after another featuring the classic monsters of the silver screen. You get Frankenstein, the Werewolf, the Mummy, Cyclops, Vampire Lady, Witch Bitch (!), Zombie Man and Swamp Gut battling to the death as the voice of legendary genre character actor, Lance Henrikson (“Aliens,” “Near Dark”) calls out ‘Mortal Kombat’-esque highlights during each match!

You also get commentary from Dave Foley and Art Hindle, and a host of WWE and UFC stars like Kevin Nash and Herb Dean doing cameos. You likely already know whether or not you want to see this, and don’t need some creepy critic giving it the thumbs up or down, but I have a job to do so let’s get it on!

The budget here is obviously very, very low. I salute the filmmakers for getting as much mileage out of this material as they do, but I found myself wishing they had just a bit more money for some of the monsters to actually use their supernatural abilities against each other in the ring more often. For example, I would’ve liked to have seen Witch Bitch fly around the ring a little or cast some demonic spells on her opponent. Most of the time, the monsters just use standard WWF wrestling moves on each other, and most of the matches aren’t particularly excitingly staged and/or shot. Some of the monsters don’t even bother staying “in character.” The Werewolf walks around and talks like a regular human, boasting about his terrible pugilistic skills between matches like a normal wrestler on Monday Night Raw! The first time the Werewolf started his swaggering strut to the ring, I nearly spit out my beer!

Which brings me to the truth of matter. This is a film best watched with a group of friends that aren’t looking for artistic fulfillment on a late Saturday night with a case of your favorite beer. There’s some fun to be had rooting for your favorite monster and giggling at the absolute ridiculousness of the whole shoddy affair.

The film’s brightest spot is watching gigantic actor Robert Maillet’s performance as the Frankenstein Monster. Maillet, who came from the WWF himself, is making a name for himself as a modern monster star, menacing Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in “Sherlock Holmes” (2009), playing the Uber Immortal in “300” (2006) and the Minotaur in “Immortals” (2011). He is a perfectly convincing Frankenstein’s Monster with a pretty nifty make-up job.

I can’t really recommend “Monster Brawl” with a straight face. It doesn’t quite live up to the fun that it promises, but it makes an effort to entertain, which is more than most direct-to-DVD and SYFY Channel movies even try to do. The concept alone makes it worth a watch, but it’s not quite a knockout.

~The Phantom of the Ville

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