Commentary

August 16, 2013

Fly Over: ‘Monster Brawl’, and ‘Sharknado’

Monster-Brawl-poster

‘Monster Brawl’

It’s my fault, really. Nobody forced me to go on Netflix, surf through the movie selections and pick this. But what was I supposed to do? It was called “Monster Brawl,” it promised monsters brawling. I had to give in to my passion for stupid and violent movies. “Monster Brawl,” however, is stupid without the charm and violent without the imagination.
Portrayed entirely as a pay-per-view wrestling event, “Monster Brawl” invites eight monsters separated into the “Creature Conference” and the “Undead Conference.” The former contains such competitors as Cyclops (Jason David Brown) and Werewolf (R.J. Skinner), where the latter contains Frankenstein (Robert Maillet) and Lady Vampire (Kelly Couture). Hosted by Buzz Chambers (Dave Foley), “Sasquatch” Sid Turner (Art Hindle) and Jimmy Hart (himself), each monster is given a backstory before their death battle in the wrestling ring, unwisely placed in the center of a graveyard.
This movie just did not know what it wanted to be. One moment they’re treating it as an actual wrestling program with interviews and whatnot. Then they take us to a hidden warehouse where two AWOL soldiers are training a zombie for the tournament. It also doesn’t help that Buzz and “Sasquatch” are clearly the only ones in on the joke, while the monsters seem to be taking it too seriously. The intensity takes you out of the humor and vice versa.
“Monster Brawl” has a wide variety of performances: there’s annoying, boring and just plain bad. Jimmy Hart is one of the annoying ones, though to be fair I think that’s his job. Herb Dean, playing himself, is just dull as the ref, and half of the actors portraying the monsters just don’t have as much fun as they should be having. Then again, those that seem to fully embrace their role fill in the bad category. I can forgive over-the-top acting, but only if there is some actual talent beneath it.
The best performance is Dave Foley’s. As his character takes the occasional swig of alcohol (at least, I think it was in character), and bad-mouths the Mummy for unknown reasons, he found the balance this movie needed. I really can’t find anything negative to say about Art Hindle. He does seem to be enjoying himself, but he’s just kind of there.
The biggest sin this movie commits is failing to make the fight scenes interesting. Sticking to their wrestling motif, most of the time the monsters are just clotheslining or punching each other. I can remember only a few instances where the monsters use their powers. Admittedly, there’s not much you can do with a fight between Frankenstein and a zombie, but I expected supernatural powers to be flying left and right when Lady Vampire faced off against the Mummy. Would a legion of undead scarabs swarming from the ancient pharaoh’s wraps be enough to take down an immortal vampire? Or could she turn into a bat long enough to avoid them and take a bite out of the Mummy, therefore making him her slave? Would the bite even work on something like a mummy? Would she then have to destroy his frail body? Or would the Mummy have some sort of magic keeping his rotted bones together? Could he maybe call on Anubis, Egyptian god of mummification and the afterlife, to help him? I don’t know … they just hit each other.
“Monster Brawl” takes a concept many horror fans would love to see realized, but lacks the focus and creativity to make it worth watching.
“Monster Brawl” is not rated, and contains violence and harsh language.

 

Sharknado-poster

‘Sharknado’

How I would have loved to be a fly on the wall of Syfy when they were coming up with a new original movie. The conversation probably went something like this.
“Think of your worst nightmare. Not the one about the murderous clown or where you get eaten alive by maggots. Dig deeper into your fears. There you will find sharks, the kind that eat people.”
“Well I’m not scared of sharks, but I am scared of tornados. Let’s do a horror film about tornados.”
“Nope, it’s going to be sharks, but I guess we can include tornados.”
“Let’s call it ‘Sharknado.’”
Yes, the plot of “Sharknado” seems to be the result of a late-night planning meeting with Syfy channel and The Asylum, the company who brought us classics like “Supercroc,” “Transmorphers,” “Allen Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls,” and don’t forget the horror films “Paranormal Entity” and “Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus.”
Well, it looks like they hit the mark with “Sharknado.” The first night running it was the second-most watched show on TV with Game of Thrones coming in first. It did so well, Syfy reran the show a few days later. That is when I stumbled upon this gem of a movie.
Warning: “Sharknado” doesn’t follow any rules.
A large hurricane forces every shark in the ocean to the shores of Los Angeles. This is where our epic tale of horror ends, because I can’t honestly tell you it was scary. With bad acting, computer-generated imagery effects, character development, plot and script, did I say, bad, the movie is just plain stupid.
The hero, Fin, is surfing and his Australian buddy Baz is on a Jet Ski. Fin sees a shark eat another surfer so he dives off his surf board to swim 30 meters to Baz on the Jet Ski, and they head for the beach.
The sharks also arrive on the beach and start attacking people playing in ankle-deep water. The attack ends and Fin, who just saw a dozen or more people eaten by sharks, returns to his bar on the pier and begins serving drinks like nothing happened.
While there Fin sees a newscast saying flooding is anticipated at the ocean and a few miles inland, so Fin calls his ex-wife April, played by Tara Reid, to make sure she’s OK. While making the call, the storm breaks a window in the bar allowing sharks to stop in for a bite to eat. While running down the pier with a small group of people, Fin, Baz, Nova, a female bartender and a drunk named George dodge CGI rubble in a storm so bad it rips a Ferris wheel out of the ground, but it can’t pick up a car with four people in it, so Fin drives away.
From here, the movie spins a tale of ridiculous events that are beyond disbelief. Water flows uphill to destroy only Reid’s house and sharks throw themselves from the tornado to eat people.
Finally, they get a break when a tornado tears through an airport. Everything is destroyed except one untethered helicopter and an Army surplus store on the airfield where the team makes a wheelbarrow full of bombs to blow up the three shark-raining tornadoes.
I’d like to say it gets better, but the movie may be just ridiculous enough that it could become a cult classic. It has everything to make you laugh until your sides hurt. It just doesn’t have a good script, talent or idea, for that matter.




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