Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Our film opens with the titular Jack Brooks (Trevor Matthews) doing just as the title suggest, slaying or at least attempting to slay a monster while saving a tribe of Africans. I gotta tell ya though that these ‘Africans’ look a lot more like cast member rejects from ‘The Steve Harvey Show’ with some stripe make up than actual Africans. Regardless, how does a young Canadian white man go from junior college to the wilds of Africa saving SoCal looking Black people? This is what the film ‘Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer’ is all about.

Jack’s problems actually began when he was just a boy camping with his family when his stupid sister pirouetted way too close to the dangerous woods and gets snatched for her trouble. The parental units attempted to save her only to see some wicked wolfman looking type character leap out and devour them both while the scared little boy looked on helplessly before fleeing in absolute terror. Not surprisingly, this little event has had some lasting effects on Jack as he has grown up into one incredibly angry dude with a complete inability to manage this anger and an equal inability to maintain any kind of mental focus. Jack does have a psychologist who is doing what he can to help Jack, but alas to no avail. However Jack isn’t a total loser and is trying to better himself by taking a course or two down at the local U with his supremely bitchy girlfriend Eve (Rachel Skarsten) though again he doesn’t focus all too well.

However, as a favor to his professor (Robert Englund), and perhaps to save his grade in the class, Jack decides to help the man with his backed up plumbing at his newly inhabited old house. You know the house, it’s been on the market for years and the professor got it for real cheap even though it’s worth ten times as much? The house that the yokels think is haunted for some reason or another? Yeah, that house. The house that the weird old dude at the hardware store vividly informs Jack about his horrible childhood experiences at. The house that somehow via bad plumbing frees an

ancient evil in the form of a detached beating heart that takes over the professor’s body and makes him eats stuff like dogs and people. Worst still is that the professor inexplicably transforms into a gross looking Jabba the Hut with tentacles and zombie transformation powers and terrorizes our poor kids at the Juco. Is anybody more worthy of our pity and sympathy than a hard working Junior College kid? I don’t think so.

So now Jack, his anger management problems and his bitchy girlfriend are up against it as they are locked in a school late at night being chased by Jabba the Hut on androstenedione with endless tentacles and track star zombies. Flight or fight? Jack Brooks now has transformed from a monster fleer into a hopeful monster slayer as he goes head up against The Beast with the Rotten Heart. I can’t remember what they really called him in the movie.

In the final analysis I enjoyed ‘Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer’, though good lord it took a long time for it get going, and I think I was getting a little pissed off because I wanted see some monster slaying dammit! A more accurate title for our movie would probably have been ‘Jack Brooks: Birth of a Monster Slayer’ since this is really what the movie is about. The film actually has the feel of one of those really bad early 80’s NBC pilots like ‘Manimal’ or the ‘The Man from Atlantis’, although unlike those quickly canceled disasters (which remain warm in my heart) this movie didn’t take itself nearly as seriously. Also unlike those TV shows there’s not another episode coming next week in the same time at the same place, and since this has a serial feel to it a couple of years is quite a long time to wait for the next exciting episode. So after about a half hour in and I came to the stark realization that I’m not about to watch 90 minutes or so of monster slaying, my disappointment was almost completely overcome as watching Jack only slay one monster was pretty entertaining anyway.

The best thing about ‘Jack Brooks’ is that all of the make-up effects and the monsters we did see, at least to my untrained eye, didn’t use any CGI. Full make up by make up artist using real live goo, slime, and gunk my friends. Talk about reviving a lost art. The movie, lightly directed by one John Knautz, also had a lot of nice humor to it in addition to it’s high level of gore and mayhem and when the monster finally kicked in and started doing monster stuff, then the movie took off.

Now star Trevor Matthews isn’t exactly Marlon Brando over here though he does do Jack Brooks slaying monsters much better than he does Jack Brooks: Angst Ridden Plumber. I imagine in the subsequent sequels there will be lest angst and more slaying, which is a very good thing. Also Robert Englund seemed to have a lot of fun in his role as the professor with a bad case of indigestion and this performance almost makes up for his directorial disaster ‘Killer Pad’. Almost.

So ‘Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer’ is disappointing because there simply isn’t enough monster slaying, but it is a success on some levels because it does manage to be humorous and watchably entertaining. I wish they would’ve made two back to back. I would’ve even have given them five on it if they had asked.

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