When I was a kid, I was really into monsters. I had a friend who was really into WWF wrestling. If Monster Brawl had existed back then, we would probably have watched it a million times. That really tells you about all you need to know about Monster Brawl: if you’re really into monsters and you’re really into the WWF-style theatrics of pro wrestling, you’re almost guaranteed to enjoy Monster Brawl. If you’re a fan of one and not necessarily the other, you may still have some fun here, and it goes without saying that if you hate both monsters and wrestling you should probably just move along and watch something else. There is nothing here for you.
Opening with Lance Henriksen’s unmistakeable voice explaining the setup, Monster Brawl quickly moves into the pre-game show. Dave Foley and Art Hindle star as color commentators Buzz Chambers and “Sasquatch Sid” Tucker, flown in to a cursed graveyard in Michigan for the first annual Monster Brawl. Eight monsters in two divisions– The Creatures and The Undead– battle it out for middleweight titles in each division and one champion heavyweight to rule over them all. Jimmy Hart, a familiar face to WWF/WWE fans, performs the fighter intros and provides commentary between matches as well. The structure of the film is virtually identical to that of an actual wrestling broadcast, with Tales of the Tape breaking down the fighters’ stats and short “origin” stories filling in where commercial breaks usually go.
The monsters are a mix of the expected (Werewolf, Frankenstein) and the more unusual (Cyclops, “Swamp Gut”). Strangely, almost all of the monsters seem to have been trained in classic pro wrestling moves, as there are plenty of leg locks, jumping from the ropes, and body slams. A good chunk of the film’s run time is made up of fighting, naturally, so fortunately it’s well-choreographed and occasionally slapstick. The main problem with Monster Brawl is the simple fact that this is a fine idea for a short film or a series of shorts, but drawn out to feature length the concept starts to wear out its welcome, especially in the final match. And without resorting to spoilers, it’s hard to say that the film even has an ending– clearly, the filmmakers are ready to get Monster Brawl 2 out there as soon as possible.
There’s really not much to say about Monster Brawl: once you know the concept, you’re either on board on you’re not. The makeup and practical effects are mostly great, and any CGI is kept to an unobtrusive minimum for the most part. The fighting is cartoonish and theatrical, just as it should be. If there’s one thing to be said for Monster Brawl that is both its highest praise and most damning critique, it’s that the movie gives you exactly what you expect, nothing more and nothing less. It’s mindless fun, and that’s all it aspires to be.
Image Entertainment released Monster Brawl on DVD and Blu-ray on 12 June 2012. Special features include a commentary track, extra Jimmy Hart scenes, a “making of” featurette and the film’s trailer.