Directed by John Knautz (2007)
Reviewed by Teen Idol, added on Oct 13 2008
A reader review from Teen*Idol.
Throughout the years many horror films have come and gone. However, no matter what new films arrive with tons of hype or become deep cult classics, most horror fans are always and still awaiting those new films that will resemble classic favorites like Nightmare On Elm St, or The Evil Dead. Classic 80's horror is what fans of the genre always have a soft spot for. The cheesy lines, and practical FX is what made that era of horror so great. These past couple of years many upcoming directors have grown sick of CGI and decided to go back to horror film roots which thrived off of practical FX, comedy, gore, and specifically the perfect anti-hero. Films like Adam Green's Hatchet, or Joe Lynch's Wrong Turn 2 are perfect examples of that. John Knautz is the latest filmmaker to give his take on the 80's modern horror trend going on. Fortunately for us fans, Knautz pulled it off quite well. Here's my review for John Knautz directorial debut, 2007's Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer.
As a child Jack Brooks witnessed the brutal murder of his family. Now a young man he struggles with a severe anger problem, a pestering girlfriend, therapy sessions that resolve nothing, and night classes that barely hold his interest. After unleashing an ancient curse, Jack's Professor undergoes a transformation into something not-quite- human, and Jack is forced to confront some old demons,along with a few new ones. (IMDB )
After the whole "tribe under attack" intro of the film, I admit I was pretty worried of what I was about to watch. I thought that intro was pretty bad and didn't really work. Luckily it wasn't a huge part of the film exactly. Right after that the film goes into Jack Brooks introduction and origin of his anger from his childhood, to high school years, and to his college years. The plot of the film is pretty basic but what made it so enjoyable and fun to watch was the humor. Scenes of Jack Brooks exploding with anger and freaking out were hysterical and definitely scored some laughs out of me. The performances were just as great as well. Trevor Matthews as Jack Brooks was perfect. He was believable, and very likable. Robert Englund plays Professor Crowley and that was an obvious fantastic performance. Englund was very humorous and his character was definitely memorable.
Of course, the biggest draw about Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer is the actual monsters. All the practical FX is fantastic. Rubber and latex soaked in fake blood and other disgusting looking goo everywhere. Robert Englund's transformation scene into a huge tentacle Jabba The Hut looked awesome. There was also many scenes that involved fake vomiting, red and black blood squirting everywhere, and just overall gross FX that all looked great and were perfectly shot for a realistic view. One scene that really stood out for me was when Jack Brooks is bashing in one of the monsters face in and you see the actual cranium cave in and black blood ooze out everywhere. A scene that highly resembles one of my own personal screenplays that I wrote myself about 3 years ago. Good stuff.
Unfortunately, having alot of practical FX and gore can also lead to alot of minor problems. The biggest problem being that alot of the films budget might go into the action gore scenes. That leads the rest of the film to need alot of creativity and entertainment to keep the viewers interested. Even though Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer has alot of great humor and a fun story, most of the heavy action doesn't actually pick up until about one hour into the movie. I did enjoy all of the movie, but a couple of minutes before the actual good stuff started happening, I started wondering when the hell it was going to happen cause it seemed like the movie was dragging on and on.
Another minor fault the film had were some of the monsters. Although practical FX are the way to go (especially in the horror genre), over doing it, or even leaving a camera shot too long on a certain effect can reveal the "fakeness" of the effect causing it to lose the cheesy practical FX magic. One example of this was the "Cyclops" monster in the opening intro. That specific monster was obviously a guy in a rubber suit, which is completely fine, but the camera was left way too long on him that he came off as a really looking crappy monster Rita Repulsa might have spawned in a Power Rangers episode. The same kind of goes for Robert Englund's final monster layer where he was just one huge Jabba The Hut puppet. It all looked cool, but maybe some better lighting or even camera magic would've helped them look a little bit better.
Overall, Jack Brooks:Monster Slayer was a fantastic fun film. It was another solid entry in the current modern 80's horror films that pulled off what it intended to do great. Good laughs, good gore, good cheese; this film had a little bit of everything. It has it's faults but fortunately didn't suffer much from them. This is a definite good time that you can show to anybody. The fact that this movie is only priced at $10 at Wal-Mart is a perfect reason to pick up. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend somebody to add this movie to there DVD library because I'm certainly happy that I did.
Comments from MaT...
I liked Jack Brooks, Monster Slayer. It had some really funny spots (loved when Jack screams at his therapist that he's "cured"). I also really liked the monsters; great makeup effects. It loses points on some poor pacing issues and a "this could have been so much better" type of feeling after seeing it. I'm not faulting the filmmakers since they didn't have a whole lot to work with, but it could have been tightened up and been a tad more interesting in its set pieces.
That being said, I liked the film and would recommend it.