TADFF 2011 – Monster Brawl and The Legend of Beaver Dam

Last night was the opening gala of the 5th Annual Toronto After Dark Festival, which I’m glad to see continue its yearly week of horror, cult and gore at the Toronto Underground Cinema while the Bloor Cinema is under construction. This year’s festival was opened (for the first time) with a Canadian feature by Jesse T. Cook entitled Monster Brawl. The film is set up like a typical televised wrestling special with commercial breaks, commentary, and all the fixing to pit eight legendary monsters against each other.

Images via twitchfilm

Frankly I’m not much of a wrestling fan, so outside of the inherent comedy of mashing up monsters and fight tropes the theme didn’t do much for me, but I can see how it could be fantastic for long-time fight fans. Especially with the celebrity cast filling out various roles, from well-known manager Jimmy Hart and UFC ref Herb Dean to WWF wrestler Kevin Nash. All three bring the usual cheese of wrestling melodrama to their performances, fitting the tone of the film very well save for Hart who gets a bit grating at times.

Rounding out the celebrity cast is Dave Foley and Art Hindle sitting in as the commentators for the matches. While all the actors are enjoyable for the most part, the reliance on cameos for their own sake becomes apparent once in a while, somewhat taking away from the experience.

Images via twitchfilm

The film itself follows the wrestling set-up very closely, with a heavy amount of padding and exposition in between matches. The back stories for each of the fighters and motion graphics are consistently awesome, but often feel like a series of shorts which were sort of mashed into another film.

The actual fights are all the right kinds of bloody and gross and call on plenty of wrestling staples, from interference and foreign objects entering the ring, to choke holds and last-minute character revivals. By the fifth match though they really start to retread the same motions and lose a lot of impact. The final fight also goes on way too long and by the end you are happy it’s over. The film also ends like it starts: out of nowhere for no reason, but that sort of fits the television special style.

Images via twitchfilm

The makeup and individual monsters on the other hand are excellently put together and, save for my personal disinterest in wrestling, the film manages to be a fun and enjoyable experience overall. A worthwhile watch for monster and wrestling fans alike.

Jesse T. Cook has also produced another film which is in the festival this year called Exit Humanity which made TdotComics’ Most Anticipated Films of Toronto After Dark. It plays tonight at 7:00PM and I highly recommend checking it out.

On a second note, Monster Brawl’s screening last night was preceded by the fantastically awesome, hilariously gruesome musical short The Legend of Beaver Dam. Starring musical comedian Sean Cullen as a disgruntled scout leader and a host of talented children, this short had all the right amounts of music, horror and gore. I was laughing and cheering throughout the entire film and can’t possibly recommend it enough.
While I couldn’t find it online you can check out the trailer below and cross your fingers that it gets released soon.

That’s it for the first night of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2011. Check back tomorrow for a roundup of the 2nd day’s awesome lineup. If you want some more details on the upcoming films or for some reason haven’t bought tickets yet you can check out more information at torontoafterdark.com.

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  • Anonymous

    I felt the same about Monster Brawl – they also had these wrestling babes in bikinis with Jimmy Hart who just posed & kept looking directly at the camera which was weird after the first couple shots.
    The Legend of Beaver Dam was so epic and amazing, it had all the right conventions – misfit kid the cute love interest, the annoying authority figure. The short was played out so well it is really something that stuck with me after the screening, definitely recommended!

  • Anonymous

    I felt the same about Monster Brawl – they also had these wrestling babes in bikinis with Jimmy Hart who just posed & kept looking directly at the camera which was weird after the first couple shots.
    The Legend of Beaver Dam was so epic and amazing, it had all the right conventions – misfit kid the cute love interest, the annoying authority figure. The short was played out so well it is really something that stuck with me after the screening, definitely recommended!

  • Christian

    Exit Humanity is directed by John Geddes. Cook co-produced it.

    • Anonymous

       Thanks Christian the correction has been put into the post :)

  • Christian

    Exit Humanity is directed by John Geddes. Cook co-produced it.

    • Anonymous

       Thanks Christian the correction has been put into the post :)