Featuring: Roddy “Hell Comes to Frogtown” Piper , Shane “Divided Loyalties” Douglas , Kurt “Sharknado 2: The Second One” Angle
Director & Writer: Cody “Lucifer’s Unholy Desire” Knotts
“While I wish you would have enjoyed it…I loved reading your review…I laughed and laughed. You have a talent for writing funny reviews (though I would focus less on references to feces..you have a real talent for whit).
Anyways, thanks for the review, even though it wasn’t good.”
Did you know that gods have gods? Yep. You know that old adage “Respect your elders”? Same applies to us, hence the term “Elder Gods”. The elderest of gods, Cthulhu, recently blessed me for my Cthulhumas sacrifices by gifting me with the second highest item on my tribute want list: Pro Wrestlers Vs. Zombies. The highest? Same as it always is: 1985 Barbara Crampton. But, like the little girl who asks for a pony every year (looking at you, Demeter), I’m destined to never get the one gift I really want. Oh well, time to get the disappointment out of my system by kicking the tar out of my silver medal!
By the way, as a lifelong pro wrestling geek, I had a few dozen wrestling related jokes to make through this episode. However, I didn’t want to alienate 90% of my audience, so I’ll be making an effort to stick to the general garbage movie defecation commentary you normally get out of me. Consider it your New Years endowment from moi.
Battling Billy (Michael H. Richmond, whose missing credit I actually had to submit to the IMDB cast listing!) is a professional wrestler. Well, given that performing in high school gymnasiums in front of 15-20 people at a time can’t possibly provided him enough money to survive on, “professional” probably isn’t the right word. Let’s just say Billy’s a wrestler. Period. Semantics aside (not to be confused with “semen ticks inside”, which makes my ebony fur stand on end just typing the words), Billy’s ring name is a big fat blumpkin in the realm of grappler monikers. Given that this was written by an obvious wrestling fan, “Bruiser Billy” would’ve been a much better alias. Not just because “Battling Billy” sounds like some kid’s submission to a Masters of the Universe create-a-character contest, but because “Bruiser Billy” would’ve been a decent call back to Bruiser Brody, whose murder is one of wrestling’s most infamous instances. It’s serious “Diagnosis Murder” type shit. Check out the following link to get the story from wrestling industry mainstay “Dirty” Dutch Mantell, who currently goes by the Tea Party conservative parody persona Zeb Colter in WWE.
Brody’s murder aside, wrestlers like to claim that they’re a brotherhood in the locker room, but they’re really just like any other boys’ club: at each other’s throats the minute money or pussy comes into the picture. Such is the case when Billy crosses washed up (actual) professional wrestler Shane “the Franchise” Douglas (playing himself) by dipping his pen in Dougie’s ink…by which I mean Mr. Battling is tossing his hot dog down Shane’s hallway. Well, not his hallway. I mean the upstart’s fucking the old man’s girlfriend, Taya (playing herself)!
Anyway, catching Tay wrapped around the younger man’s waist like a cheap replica championship belt, Shane doesn’t take too well to the scene. Rather than breaking up with her like an adult though, he instead breaks Billy’s neck during their match with a “botched” tombstone piledriver move. Yep, he kills him with a move called a “tombstone”. No room in the budget for subtlety, I’m afraid.
An indeterminate amount of time later (I guess screen subtitling ended up next to subtlety on the budgetary kill floor), Billy’s brother Angus (Ashton Amhurst) hires promoter Cody Knotts (yep, it’s the director playing himself) and his Extreme Rising wrestling promotion to set up an indie show at an abandoned penitentiary. Anus, errr Angus, insists that Douglas and Taya headline the event, then lets Dog Knotts fill in (yeah, as a man-dog I hear dog knots are pretty filling…) the rest of the card with other has-been grapplers like Roddy Piper and Hacksaw Jim Duggan, still active (just barely) guys like Matt Hardy and Kurt Angle, and some never-weres like what’s-his-name, who’s-it, and you know, that guy. Always wore a shirt? Yeah, him. All of which are self-players as well.
Quick time out. Angus’s ear raping Scottish accent would make Scrooge McDuck and Haggis McHaggis weep with disgust. Someone named Scott Miller gets credit for doing said voice, so Amherst didn’t even do his own lines?! What is this, Horror of Party Beach!? Scratch that. Party Beach‘s monsters were more realistic than the zombies we end up with here. They look like they were made up by a buncha brats during “Bring Your Kids to Work Day” at the Savini School. Blart. Anyway, as we were.
Shane’s given a scene with his extended family shortly after, where he indoctrinates his nephew to be a total Franchise mark. It’s supposed to somehow humanize a bloated sack of shit who we already know is responsible for MURDERING another man just because they became Eskimo brothers (look it up). All this interlude managed to do was make me want to slap the Fruit Loops out of the kid’s mouth, but the urge to backhand kids in movies is normal for me. Annoying turds. Once this is over, Shane and Roddy Piper have a scene where we learn that the two are apparently long term buddies, which is fine. My problem with the scene is the mob of children crowded around Piper begging for autographs. It’s not the kids themselves where my problem lies, it’s that nobody under the age of 25 even knows who the fuck Roddy Piper is! Maybe they mistook him for one of the creatures on “Yo Gabba Gabba!”? Sure, slap a kilt on him and replace his head with a bagpipe with huge googly eyes glued to it and I could see this being a thing.
Reunited for the show, Dougie Fresh and Skanky Not-So-Fresh hook up just like old times…which may very well have been anywhere from a few days ago to a few years. Again, it’s not clear how long it’s been since Billy got broke. Meanwhile, Piper makes friendly with a woman named Sarah (Adrienne Fischer), who’s just been hired as the new Extreme Rising head of marketing. Her whole hook for getting hired is that she promises Snotts (who spends their entire meeting feeling her up like he was that creepy uncle that isn’t invited to family gatherings) that she can make their little wrestling organization the biggest in the world…no. In a movie about zombies fighting men in tights, THAT statement is the most unrealistic thing in these entire 90 minutes. Suspending disbelief is one thing, but that’s the kind of crap that requires utter expulsion of your disbelief into the vacuum of deep space. I’ll let the Iron Sheik express my thoughts further on this one:
In a weird bit of idiocy, when the wrestlers’ bus arrives at the prison (nobody can afford their own cars, it seems), they’re randomly offered a chance to “challenge the gods” and “achieve their destiny” by doing combat “in the arena”. Are they performing in an abandoned prison or at Medieval Times?! Before they’re allowed off the bus though, they’re ordered to hand over their cell phones. Horror movie much? Well, that addresses why no one will be able to call for help later when they’re chin deep in living dead. Stupidly addresses, but addresses none the less. No sooner do our faces (wrestling terminology for good guys) get inside, then they’re confronted by Angus’s personal horde of necromanced undead heels (wrestling’s bad guys) and the movie finally lives up to its title. Well, it only took half an hour to get there, so my “finally” may have been a tad unnecessary. Wait a sec. Now that the zombie rampage has already started, what the fuck are they gonna spend the next hour on?! Uh-oh…
Yep, that’s it. The final 2/3 of the movie is really just a series of sequences wherein hordes of zombified extras chase the wrestlers and other cast members, killing them one-by-one, then moving onto the next. Do I look like a shitter? Because I shit you not. The script has to be about 10 pages long. Well, at least they give what they advertise, so that’s something, right? It’s like going into a place called “Ruptured Balls” and not expecting to get your testicles destroyed. They never said it was going to be enjoyable, they just advertised ruptured balls. Just like nobody advertised an enjoyable movie, just one where pro wrestlers go up against zombies. Hey, at least I can admit when my suffering is my own fault!
Sure, at one point Tying Knotts tries to write in that touching zombie movie staple where one of the survivors has to kill his best friend-turned-living dead a la Pete and Rog in Dawn of the Dead. The Romero one, you animals! But given how little time the movie actually dedicates to trying to make us give a shit about any of the cast on a personal level, NO time was spent showing us ANY connection between the two characters in question! Come on, guys. You invite us over to your place for a party, tell us it was a ruse to get us to help you move out of your 5th floor walk-up when we get there, then expect us to do all of the heavy lifting?! Fuck your couch. This is me throwing it through your big stupid picture window. Good luck getting your security deposit back!…and explaining to the cops how your couch ended up smashing your neighbor’s Lexus. I’m out!
Okay, I’m not out. I’ve still got pissing to piss, moaning to moan and bitching to bitch. While I’m on the topic of failed attempts to connect with the audience on a deeper level, there are a few more that shit the bed just as bad. Think Spud’s big brown breakfast in Trainspotting. These emotional moments resonate about as well as farts muffled by a pillow. Even the “will they die or won’t they?” scenes of manufactured tension end up as botched spots (wrestling lingo for failed moves). You know who’s gonna see the end credits and who’s just gonna wind up as the “meat” in an Arby’s pulled pork. Best example? At one point, Sarah’s overcome by a mob of grabby handed ghouls and struggles on the ground for several minutes as they paw at her. She eventually manages to escape without a scratch though because, surprise surprise, she’s scripted to have a future that doesn’t involve being fast food. Oh yeah, spoiler. Oops. Meh, you’ll get over it.
Speaking of pulled pork, whatever the effects guys spent on their “severed legs and torso” prop, they definitely got their money’s worth. Not based on the quality, mind you, just the number of scenes they use the stupid thing in. Remember that amazing scene where the asshole militant guy in Day of the Dead is torn in half while screaming “CHOKE ON IT!”? It was one of the movie’s greatest moments between his defiant death screams, the graphic realistic violence of the effects work and the fact that PEOPLE WEREN’T BEING TORN IN HALF EVERY 10 MINUTES. Sadly, the blood and gore is what you’d expect from a movie whose budget went to hiring out-of-work ex-wrestlers as its stars. It’s a whole bunch of red kero syrup and the occasional prop internal organs. Real effects zombie makeup and gore are an art. As stated prior, here it’s a shart. Multiple sharts, actually. Unrelenting, left and right, up and down, sharts. If it were to be named after a wrestling company, it’d be TNA: Total Nonstop Assblasters. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhharts!
Speaking of pulled pork…I mean, speaking of sharts, how about that soundtrack?! The music is generic half-assed metal that brings to mind a garage band trying to emulate Monster Magnet. Then there’s the ear bleeding bagpipe thrash shit. Holy Lucky Charms in a Guinness, Dropkick Murphys it ain’t. On top of that, of all the covers I’ve heard of “Amazing Grace” in my eons, this movie’s end credits easily has the worst. Worse even than when Mike Tyson did it on that clip from the Arsenio Hall Show that never aired. While my ears are still bleeding, let me call out the audio mixing here too, because it’s TERRIBLE! A lot of the lines sound like they were re-dubbed in post, while the music just explodes in your ears at random at a few decibels higher than the dialog. I shouldn’t have to have my stereo remote within talon’s reach when I’m watching a movie to keep the old lady in the tomb downstairs from banging on the ceiling with her broom.
Despite the few exceptions, there’s a general rule in the wrestling business that actors shouldn’t cut wrestling promos and wrestlers shouldn’t act. PWVZ reminds us why that is. Even if this dialogue weren’t…damn it. It’s hard to come up with a dozen different synonyms for feces. It’s just bad, okay? I don’t know how much of it is written and how much, if any, is ad-libbed by the performers, but it’s awful. Anyway, the acting. Mercifully, at least most of the wrestlers only have a few short lines before they’re killed off. The majority of the work comes from Piper and Douglas. At least Douglas lives up to his infamously self-serving real-life personality by fucking everybody else over left and right, letting other people take the fall for his bullshit, and trying to set himself up as the big hero. Not sure if the guy was acting or just being followed with a camera. Very convincing. Fuck you “Dean”.
Then there’s Piper. It’s so depressing to think that Roddy went from They Live to this. Or hell, from Hell Comes to Frogtown to this! The cantankerous Canadian who made his career pretending to be a scandalous Scot (didja enjoy the mind blowing I just put on your brain?) has been through a lot in recent years, beating cancer (as did Hacksaw!) and making appearances on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”, but the guy’s lost a few steps. It’s a little too hard to believe someone who can barely walk (damn hip surgery…and age) fending off waves of the ravenous dead just because he’s the best actor on the call sheet. Then again, he does have the uncanny and possibly mystical ability to pull a crowbar out of thin air to plant into a ghoul’s head when the need arrives for one scene, so maybe that’s reason enough he would be able to survive. Wish I could pull that trick right now and put it through my computer screen!
Before I finish off this episode and wipe its residual remnants off of me with a moist towelette, I wanted to point out that Piper calls Angus a “red-headed stepchild Danny Bonaduche fuckin’ throwback red-headed Carrot Top fuck him reason for legal fuckin’ abortions”. It might be amazing, it might be awful, but whatever it is, there it is. He also declares that Angus is just an “All-American bully”, then proclaims his intentions to thrash him for being as such, despite Piper establishing his entire career on being a bully bad guy character who kicked Cyndi Lauper across a wrestling ring and smashed a coconut over Jimmy Snuka’s face before whipping him with a belt. Such is the inherent hypocrisy of the face turn (what it’s called when a bad guy becomes a good guy).
So Pro Wrestlers Vs. Zombies, a movie I anticipated for the better part of a year. It sucked on toes worse than even I had feared it would. Yet Troma still picked it up for distribution, when it couldn’t hang with Troma originals on their worst days. Hell, Troma’s trailer is better than the movie just by tacking Toxie’s face onto it and making a title card that DOESN’T feel like the Great Muta spewed green mist into my eyes while looking at it. For your perusal:
In closing, I’d like to play a round of The Dozens, strictly for my fellow industry nerds on the wrestling memes boards. The rest of you can skip ahead to the screen cap-caps (captures and captions).
And…go! This movie’s so bad, Kevin Nash tore his quad while watching it! It’s so bad, if it had double d titties, even Dean Ambrose wouldn’t wanna master ’em! It’s so bad, it made Rob Van Dam stop smoking weed and made CM Punk start! It’s so bad, it made Shawn Michaels an atheist! It’s so bad, it doesn’t even need Triple H to bury it, cuz it buries ITSELF! It’s so bad, it must’ve been written by Vince Russo and directed by Eric Bischoff! It’s so bad, it botches more in 90 minutes than Sin Cara did in all of 2013! It’s so bad, it made Terry Funk retire FOR GOOD! It’s so bad, it made Jake Roberts AND Scott (Scotch) Hall relapse! It’s so bad, even Dolph Ziggler won’t sell for it! It’s so bad, it makes The Dead Hate the Living look strong!.. but does nothing for Roman Reigns. Fuck you, Reigns. Your new outfit looks like some shitty Tron cosplay that you couldn’t get to light up. Your “Superman Punch” is a twat move.
Unless you’re a celebrity, a politician, or just rich. Then you can kill people wherever you want.
Looks like somebody just discovered Photoshop’s font options.
Grown men (well, adult men) dangerously throwing each other around for the entertainment of a dozen or so strangers in a gymnasium. Living the dream.
Tea bagging an unconscious guy while flipping everybody in the audience the bird? I see Sammy Hagar’s finished “quality testing” his latest batch of Cabo Wabo.
Your writer-director, ladies and gentlemen of the audience. Just as shabbily thrown together as his movie.
“Taz Jaguar”? Is that your father’s name, or did you take your mother’s maiden name after the divorce?
Black Mass Ceremonial Parkas (white only): just $4.99 this week, only at KMart!
“Forget it, kid. You might as well call me Hulk Hogan because I don’t put ANYBODY over!”
Extreme Rising corporate headquarters. Except on weekends, when it’s the gift shop for the historical reenactment village they rent the space from.
“Come on, Roddy. This guy says he wants to Kickstart a Frogtown reboot and he wants us to star! This could be my big break! I mean, OUR big break!”
To hell with expensive CGI effects. Just paint him green and Kurt Angle could star in the next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie!
Bet Dennis Rodman wishes he would’ve stay in North Korea.
Apparently these zombies don’t crave brains. They just want to sink their teeth into man asses packed into shiny gold trunks like big ol’ Hershey Kisses.
“Stronger Than Death”? Fuck you, Matt Hardy. We’ll see who’s stronger this Sunday in our steel cage showdown!
“With a name like Smuckers, our zombies HAVE to be good!”
“God damn it, Shane! You are NOT going to die owning me fifty bucks! Gimme my damn money, you asshole!”
Roddy Piper reflects on his movie career decisions and wonders if maybe he’s finally fallen to the point that he should’ve just let the cancer take him.
“You don’t need to spend ten grand on a facelift, baby. I’ll just pull back your face like this, slap on a little rubber cement, and you’ll look ten years younger!”
“Shhhh! Don’t let any of the other guys here you say wrestling’s fake or they’ll piledrive your head into your lungs! It’s a very sensitive subject!”
Looks like somebody wandered away from the Nightmare City set.
And this guy used to be the NWA World Heavyweight Champion.
Bet Roddy REALLY wishes he’d left the house in his kilt today, rather than suffer the undead wedgie of doom!
Anubis will return next time in
“Radio Ga Ga, Eh?”
or “From Beyond the Mat”
Featuring: Dave “The Kids in the Hall” Foley , Art “The Brood” Hindle , Kevin “Almighty Thor” Nash
Director: Jesse “Septic Man” Cook
Writers: Jesse “Also the director” Cook & Jason Brown
“I’ll be DAMNED before I cheer for a mummy!”
Alright brawlers, let’s get brawlin’. For starters, let me apologize to the people of Canada. I have no issue with your country. I’ve actually visited your land and found it beautiful. I’d like to move away from Nile and out to Canada one day, as a matter of fact. I applaud your health care system and your lenient stance on marijuana usage and your “Degrassi Junior High” and your “The Kids in the Hall”. In recent years, I’ve also discovered your “Two Best Friends Play” on YouTube, of which my Evil Dead Bride and I take great joy from on a daily basis. As such, it’s with a heavy heart, the HEAVIEST of hearts, that the first Canadian born movie to be immortalized in the new Tomb is Monster Brawl. I’m sorry. So very very sorry. I’ll try to make it up to you somehow, some way, somewhere, someday.
What is Monster Brawl? Well, as the disembodied voice of God (whose name I’m only capitalizing because he’s voiced by fucking Lance Henriksen) tells us, it’s “Eight deadly monsters summoned to the ring from all corners of the Earth, fighting to the death to determine the most powerful ghoul of all time”. It’s a concept that’s near and dear to my heart. Or, rather it’s near and dear to the heart of my inner child. When I was a kid, my grandfather got me into watching WWF. It’s a childhood love that’s since turned into an adult curiosity and field of study. Also as a child, I loved playing with action figures. It’s another childhood love, but one that’s since turned into an adult hobby with which to make money. But, back when I actually played with said figures, I’d pit them against each other in wrestling tournaments. Masters of the Universe vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles vs. Thundercats vs. Food Fighters. My dad made me a wrestling ring out of a scrap piece of wood, four large nails, and two pieces of string tied between the nails. Cue the obvious jokes about me playing with myself in 3, 2, 1… Joke. Don’t worry ladies, I don’t play with action figures anymore. Like I said, my geek pursuits are more about making money than living out little kid daydreams. That’s what the video games and role play sex are for. And, at least for writer-director Jesse Cook and co-writer Jason Brown, that’s where Monster Brawl comes in.
These gents decided to bring to life (afterlife?) their childhood dreams of pitting movie monsters together in a wrestling deathmatch tournament. Don’t get too excited though, cuz this isn’t where you’ll see cinematically impossible pairings like Michael Myers vs. Leatherface or Freddy Krueger vs. Pinhead. No, this is where you’ll see generic, copyright impervious beasts the likes of “werewolf” and “mummy” and “zombie”, brought together my in-movie promoter Jake Blackburn (Jason Deline) to fight it out and see who the heaviest hitting horror really is! Unfortunately, what your brain thinks you’re in for and what your eyes and ears end up getting are not likely going to leave you satisfied. Imagine being invited to one of those Eyes Wide Shut masquerade orgies, but once it gets into full swing and everybody’s in somebody else’s mouth, they all take off their masks to reveal they’re your family members… Okay, this isn’t nearly as traumatic. It’s more like getting invited into bed by your celebrity fantasy, but while you’re locking lips and running yours hands over their nekkid back, you find a zipper, undo it, and it turns out your dream hump is actually Clint Howard in disguise. Even if you can convince him to put the suit back on, you still know that you’re fucking/being fucked by Clint Howard. And if Clint Howard is your celebrity fantasy, then you have problems of a far deeper and horrifying nature than watching Monster Brawl.
Hmmm, putting it like that, this movie actually doesn’t seem nearly as bad as it did 5 minutes ago. It’s true, there’s ALWAYS something worse out there than whatever it is you’re going through.
So, these generic participants are a mix of ancient and more modern (last few hundred years) creatures. They’re divided into two conferences: the Undead and the Creatures. The Undead consist of the Mummy, Lady Vampire, Zombie Man, and Frankenstein(‘s Monster). Even if you’re the type who accepts the term “Frankenstein” as a name for The Monster, here’s the real kicker: this monster’s creator isn’t even named Dr. Frankenstein! It’s Dr. Igor Igora! And no, there’s no mention of Igora (shit name, by the way) finding the creature either. According to the vignette, he created the monster and the monster refers to him as “father”, so don’t try to excuse it. One of the announcers even makes the point “Technically, it’s Frankenstein’s Monster if you wanna be a dick about it.”, leading me to believe that the commentary was mostly improvised, as even the actors are calling out the script. Anyway, the Creatures conference consists of Cyclops, Witch Bitch, Swamp Gut, and Werewolf. It feels odd that half of the monsters have actual names, while the others are simply named what they are. They’re essentially Pokemon, only they don’t shout “Werewolf! Were! Were! Wolf! Werewolf!”all the time. Having a unique name helps people invest in a character, just like in “real” wrestling. Names like “Stone Cold” or “Big Show” or “Macho Man” or “The Rock” help define those characters. They wouldn’t have been nearly as successful if they were just called “Tough Guy”, “Large Man”, “Flamboyant Guy”, and “Ego Man”. If these guys had written The Wrestler, Randy’s ring name wouldn’t have been “The Ram”. He would’ve just been called “Wrestler”!… though “Randy the Wrestler” does sound like a great name for a really lame create-a-character the next time I play a WWE game.
Trying to instill each monster with a modicum of interest, all participants are given a brief introductory mini-movie that sometimes includes an origin story, sometimes touches on their motivations to fight, sometimes introduces their manager, and sometimes just involves them killing someone because, again, the writers cared so little about developing some of these creatures and just tossed them in to pad their roster. The managers were an especially smart move on the writers’ part, though. Whereas in “real” wrestling, some performers failed out of acting class and need a convincing mouthpiece to get them over with the crowd, some of the monsters here are just devoid of coherent speaking entirely. Most notably, this is where Kevin “Big Daddy Cool” Nash comes into the script as Colonel Crookshanks – the militant caretaker and trainer for Zombie Man. Not to spoil anything, but if you thought Kevin Nash was hired for his thespian skills and isn’t going to end up in the ring at some point, you’d be ill-advised to join a poker game anytime soon.
Oh yeah, in case the tournament setup sounded too simple to follow, MB can and will complicate things further. Both conferences are also divided into two weight classes – Middleweights and Heavyweights. Each weight class from each conference will crown a champion, then the two heavyweight champions will fight each other to determine who is the mightiest of monsters… while the Middleweight champions will just have to be happy knowing they weren’t murdered, I guess. Though I’m happy that this means I’m spared any additional matches to sit through, it does shit all over their introductory concept about “Eight deadly monsters…fighting to the death to determine the most powerful ghoul of all time” when HALF of the ghouls in question aren’t actually eligible for the top spot! Liars! Truth spurners! Vile misleaders! It’s perjury I tells ya! And on a more nitpickery level, how the fuck does a werewolf wind up in the Heavyweights division, while a cyclops, know to be the giant superbeasts of the mythological world, ends up slapping around Witch Bitch in the Middleweights!? If you don’t want me to shit on your show, don’t feed me Taco Bell in every segment then lock the door to the Port-a-Johns. That brown’s comin’ down, and it’s gotta go somewhere.
We’re told that the Brawl itself is only viewable on Pay Per View, as it’s too dangerous to hold in front of a live audience due to “insurance purposes”, so the fights take place in a ring set up in an empty graveyard. This cuts out the potential for crowd casualties if/when things get out of hand and helps keep Blackburn’s insurance premiums down. Also, to cut out the movie’s budgetary burden of hiring and insuring extras. As a lifelong wrestling fan, this lack of a crowd KILLS any excitement to these “fights”, because one of the things that really makes or breaks the ballet of choreographed fantasy brutality is the teeming masses cheering or deriding the participants. Even King Kong vs. Godzilla and Freddy vs. Jason benefited greatly from having audiences to hype the blow-by-blow. When you reduce that audience participation to two intoxicated announcers just telling us what we’re looking at with little more than a “Why am I here?” interest while infamous pro-wrestling pitch man Jimmy “the Mouth of the South” Hart spews whatever artificial hype-juice he’s got left in him, then you’re shooting yourself in the foot instead of selling your product. An audience, even one PAID to cheer, is still better than none at all. And NO Jimmy Hart is still way better than ANY Jimmy Hart.
Maybe the thought was that the viewers themselves would be the audience? Maybe the creators envisioned movie theaters filled with cheering nerds holding up signs like “Swamp Gut 3:16” or “Who wants to see MY cyclops?!” while jumping up and down like over-caffeinated howler monkeys covered in spilled nachos and Junior Mints. How could you not want a Junior Mint?! They’re VERY refreshing! Back on track, the idea of Monster Brawl being shown in theaters outside of indy festivals is almost as farfetched as running into any of the movie’s titular brawlers in real life at the Rubber Love Toys Depository… you know, the place down at the corner of Russell Ave. and Waters Dr. across the street from the Arby’s where that junkie overdosed on the toilet. As such, even if the theater crowd thing WAS the intention of its makers (I really need to stop making up excuses for these movies), it still doesn’t fix the glaring problem of there being NO CROWD… or that I STILL have to listen to Jimmy Hart! Argh!
If you can’t afford to pay off a big group of extras with free lunch meat and off-brand cigarettes, you should at least try and cover the lack of crowd noise up with some exciting music to accompany your thematic rumbles. Yet again though, a potentially good concept farts all over itself. We get music, but instead of anything exciting to ramp up the already dwindling interest, the matches are further bogged down by droning horror movie generica that’s more suited for curing insomnia than stopping me from checking the time code every 10 minutes wondering why the fuck this movie’s STILL not over. My first viewing actually did end in a solid KO for me, as I drifted off about 25 minutes in and didn’t wake up until well later when I was greeted with the NetFlix “Other Shit You Should’ve Watched Instead of Monster Brawl” screen. I had to take half a bottle caffeine pills and a very minute dip of cocaine to make sure I didn’t fall asleep for the second viewing. I went to the imdb.com message boards for this snore orgy (a.k.a. “snorgy”) to see what others had to say about their own viewing experiences, and one of the first posts I noticed was another guy who took a spike piledriver from the Sandman during his viewing too! Professional wrestler CM Punk has a signature move he calls the “Go to Sleep”, where he drives his knee into his opponent’s face to knock them unconscious. An appropriate name for such a maneuver. But, you know what I think would be an even better name for it now? Yep, “The Monster Brawl”.
You can’t have a movie review without talking about the story, so let’s address that now – there is none. That was easy. Next? You can’t have a movie review about a feature that centers around a combat tournament without commenting on the action, so let’s do that too. For starters, each match features Mortal Kombat style narration comments by God (if you’ve rented Lance Henriksen’s voice for the hour, you’re gonna get your money’s worth, right?), which is wholly unnecessary in the presences of the running drunken commentary already being provided by Buzz Chambers (Dave Foley) and “Sasquatch” Sid Tucker (Art Hindle). Obviously these are meant as a nudge to gamer geeks, but when you’re already clusterfucking several genres to begin with, adding more ingredients to the stew doesn’t cover up the fact that your meat is just rancid, slimy, gray chunks. Speaking of video games, there’s also a callback to Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! stand out King Hippo. Tidbits like this used to make me feel so smart, being able to pick out the inside jokes. Now they just annoy the shit out of me. I don’t know why, they just do. Call me a bitter old Death God curmudgeon if you like. I’ve called myself way worse.
The combat itself is incredibly basic, which makes sense since you wouldn’t expect a mummy to do Moonsaults or a swamp monster to pull out a Tiger Driver. The most technical maneuver you’ll see is a figure-four leglock. Weapons and supernatural powers (and managers) come into play more often than not, including a rather nauseating scene of Cyclops beating Witch Bitch in the face repeatedly with a hammer… Not that I’m a weak-kneed pussy, but witch bitch or not, watching a woman’s face bashed numerous times by a big dude with a hammer while he’s pinning her down? No. You know what might’ve been a better idea? Why not just have Witch Bitch and Lady Vampire fight for a Monster Brawl Women’s Championship separate from the man-beasts? It’d make a lot more sense, especially from a wrestling nerd standpoint. Cyclops melting the bitch’s face with his monocular doomsday ray is fine, but jesus on a pogo stick, that face hammering scene unsettles me in a non-enjoyable fashion. So, strike 8 Monster Brawl… you really should’ve walked away from the plate, like, 5 strikes ago. This is just kinda sad to look at now. You’re just depressing us.
The glaring “powerbomb onto a bag of broken glass” with Monster Brawl isn’t that it’s not a movie (which it isn’t), but that it’s a big budget idea done on less money that it would take to hire Verne Troyer to host your next back alley cockfight. Cook & Brown scrounged up enough money to cast Dave Foley (who, having done Postal, obviously has no illusions of dignity left to get in the way of even the most modest of paychecks at this point), and after that it was just a matter of buying Hindle a bottle of Wild Turkey (or “Moderately Excitable Turkey” as the budgetary case may have been), convincing one of their sisters to blow Jimmy Hart, telling Kevin Nash he could be on camera without having to dye his hair (that one’s for my fellow wrestle-nerds), and, let’s say they blackmailed UFC official Herb Dean into reffing the matches… which are to the death… so… what needs to be officiated exactly? With the so-called “stars” in alignment, our intrepid troubadours bought an old wrestling ring from an abandoned storage locker auction (likely left by some crippled ex-wrestler wanna be who probably broke his neck during the backyard wrestling craze of the ’90s), and hired their buddies who dropped out of the Tom Savini Special FX School to monster up a group of local independent wrestlers he found falling all over each other during a show at a local bingo hall.
Actually, the makeup jobs and costume designs are pretty good, so I’m gonna say the buddies are graduates, not drop outs. Also, two of the monsters are actually played by experienced professional wrestlers – Lady Vampire is played by freelance Canadian grappler Kelly Couture (who knows how to throw a bitchin’ dropkick) and Frankenstein(‘s Monster) is played by former WWF colossus turned b-movie bigfoot Rob Maillet, who wrestling fans will know better by his ’90s era character Kurrgan. That’s right Highlanderers, the WWF had a Kurrgan of their own. On a more modern note, fans of Pacific Rim will recognize Maillet as Kaidanovsky, the towering bleach-blond co-pilot for Russian Jaeger, Cherno Alpha! Aside from these two things, I’m relatively sure the rest of my prior paragraph is apt.
In closing, though I will gladly shit all over the product of their dreams with my trademark Anubis aplomb, I will not shit all over Jesse Cook and Jason Brown for making said dreams come as close to true as they’ll probably ever get. Brown especially, who even steps into the ring to fill the shoes of two of the gruesome competitors – Cyclops and Swamp Gut. On my old site I tried several times to set up a monster brawling league of my own (Who Would Win a Fight? – WWWF?) that was little more than my poor attempts at illustrating fantasy face-off scenarios and posting polls for readers to determine the outcomes. I couldn’t even do that without giving up almost immediately following the first month or so, so going through with making a very niche movie about this kinda thing and actually getting it produced and shown at a handful of film festivals is an accomplishment I myself will never live up to. In that respect, I say congratulations Sirs. Be proud. Just don’t do it again, because fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, beg for mercy… while I bite off your fingers one-at-a-time… and your legs are lodged in bear traps… the big steel shark mouth looking ones at that… Good night, everybody!
Moral of the Story: Some playthings are better left in the toy-box.
Okay. I gotta admit, that’s pretty damn clever. Bravo.
“The three of us are only here because we’re getting paid to be. What the hell’s your excuse?”
Not sure which is more pathetic here – the guy dressed in the weird ’70s suit that should’ve been burned 30 years ago, or the 70 year-old man wearing Converse All Stars.
“Everybody stay where you are! I dropped my contact lens!”
“I thought that the most demeaning point of my life was taking that job as the helper elf to a mall Santa, but here I am!”
The girls are being paid for their appearance with cocaine. Jimmy’s being paid for his appearance with the girls. Life is cruel.
I call bullshit! If this were really shot in a Southern bayou, there’s no way that sign would be spelled right!
I know dogs can’t help but roll around in big piles of rancid filth, but come on. You don’t know where Swamp Thing’s been!
“Son, I used to make millions of dollars a year to pretend fight people on a globally broadcast televised wrestling program. Now I’m doing shit like this. Trust me, LET SOMEONE WITH A DIPLOMA INVEST YOUR MONEY FOR YOU!”
“By the time anyone discovers we’ve got the real Miley Cyrus locked up here, it will be too late and World War III will be unavoidable!”
“But… this… so sudden! Me… no prepared! But… YES! YES! Me… marry you! Me… love you!”
Looks like Kevin Nash was making pancakes and tore his quad AGAIN!… sorry, that was a joke for my fellow wrestling nerds.
Gerard Butler partakes in “No Shave November” to help raise awareness for cancer. After one week he’s kidnapped by a Mexican traveling circus and forced to perform as The Dog-Faced Boy.
Somehow, I don’t think he’s got any outfits that would go with that belt. It looks like something he bought at GWAR’s yard sale.
Anubis will return next time in
“It’s Okay, I Have a Black Friend”