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Monster Brawl (2011)



Monster BrawlStarring Dave Foley, Robert Maillet, Art Hindle, Kevin Nash, Lance Henriksen

Directed by Jesse T. Cook

Monster Brawl is 85 minutes of pure fan service. It’s structured more like a pay per view wrestling event than a film, but this won’t matter much to the 13-year-old boys who will flock to see it (and well, you know those of us that never quite outgrew our 13-year-old late night proclivities. Hey I’m talking about watching monster movies, pull your head out of the gutter!). Let’s face it, most of us love “versus” flicks, and Monster Brawl is just one long drawn out sequence of monsters bashing each other over the head. Who needs a plot? Fight!

In addition to the requisite classic monsters like Frankenstein, The Wolfman, and The Mummy, Monster Brawl invents a few of its own like Witch Bitch, Lady Vampire, Swamp Gut, Zombie Man, and a pathetically anemic Cyclops with a lisp. In addition, old time WWF fans will recognize Jimmy “The Mouth of the South” Hart as the pre-fight announcer, and mixed martial arts fans will cheer to see beloved UFC referee Herb Dean. If you like monsters and the old and new fight game, Monster Brawl’s got you covered. The real stars of the show, though, are the commentators, Sasquatch Sid Tucker (The Brood’s Art Hindle) and the riotously funny Dave Foley doing his best Howard Cosell impression in the role of ringside drunk Buzz Chambers. Just in case these luminaries aren’t enough, the brief bits of narration are handled by Lance Henriksen. For a low budget Canadian horror flick, these guys knocked it out of the park talent-wise.

Fantasia 2011 ReviewThe monster designs don’t stray too far from the old standards but are all competently executed by special FX team The Gore Brothers. Special mention has to go to 300’s Robert Maillet, who cuts an impressive Frankenstein at 6’11” of muscle and tendon. Given the wealth of classic monsters to draw from, it’s a little disappointing that so many of the combatants are unknowns, but the film remedies this somewhat by providing brief backstory segments for each of the fighters, and even if the monsters themselves are uninspired (I’m looking at you, Witch Bitch!), their origin stories and twisted entourage generally make up for it.

The fights themselves are unfortunately fairly lackluster, which is a bit of a problem for a film that spends most of its time in the ring. Rather than have the monsters use their own unique talents, most of the combat is of the typical WWF variety. The monsters leave their fangs and claws and special creature abilities at the door, preferring to body slam, box, and figure four leg-lock their opponents. The Wolfman wears wrestling boots, nuff’ said.

While the fights may be a tad underwhelming, the fight card presentations most definitely are not. One of the most impressive aspects of Monster Brawl is the graphic design that went into the title sequence and all of the pre-fight tale of the tape segments. Executed by Phantom City Creative, a company headed up by one of Rue Morgue’s graphic designers Justin Erickson and his partner Paige Reynolds, these two really nailed an original monster themed take on boxing posters and other fight related visuals. Well done title sequences are a rarity these days, and so it’s exciting to see a film lavish attention on such an under-represented art form. Keep your eyes peeled for the little details like Cyclops’ multi-thousand fight wins, Lady Vampire’s age (666), and other blink and you’ll miss ’em jokes hidden in the fight posters.

Ultimately Monster Brawl isn’t so much a movie as the kind of sporting event you wish really existed. It’s got all the spectacle of wrestling, all the athleticism of boxing, and all the fantasy and special FX of horror movies. It’s a love letter to a Friday night spent watching The Monster Squad, followed by a Saturday morning watching Hulkamania. Its black heart is planted squarely in the right place, and I for one can’t wait to see what Jesse T. Cook and his crew come up with next.

3 1/2 out of 5

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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review



Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

Directed by Colin Bemis

Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

  • Strawberry Flavored Plastic


Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)



We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View



Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

Directed by Marcel Sarmiento

Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

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Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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