Thursday, October 20, 2011

Opening Day: Monster Brawl

The Toronto After Dark film festival has begun! They opened the fest with the movie Monster Brawl, which is basically a monster version of pay-per-view (PPV) wrestling. Before the film opened, some of the actors who'd been in the film did a little play-fight thing where they gave and took away a heavyweight champion belt - much like you'd see from wrestlers appearing at a televised event outside the ring.

I'm not a fan of wrestling at all and I've never asked myself which monster could beat which other monster in a fight, so I wasn't thrilled with this choice in the lineup. However, it is an all-Canadian movie that was shot in nearby Owen Sound and Collingwood and that interested me. As well, lots of other people around me were excited about the film so I was willing to give it a chance.

There were two middleweight and three heavyweight bouts in this movie. The match-ups seemed to be well-thought out and from what I can tell, each segment in the story was quite close to what a PPV wrestling event would be like. First the viewers see a bit of backstory for each competitor, then each competitor making some sort of statement denouncing their opponent, then the announcers compare the compeitiors statistics, and then the fight starts. The audience seemed to appreciate this attention to detail. I loved the way the voice of the narrator sounded like the narrator from Mortal Kombat when he commented on particularly great fighting moves.

Aside from the subject matter, which I didn't like, the movie was technically well done. The acting in the movie is about as good as the acting in wrestling, which is to say that it tended to be a little over the top. The lighting and scene effects were quite consistent and well done  throughout the movie. The "stone" props were also quite good in that although I knew they were styrofoam, they looked like stone - even when they were broken.Where the film really shone was in the way the monsters were realized. The makeup and costuming were fantastic and quite believable. The Brothers Gore, who did all that work, did a fabulous job - they're clearly very talented and deserve lots of other work based on what they did for this film.

If you've ever asked yourself who would win in a Frankenstein vs zombie bout, then I strongly recommend this movie for you. If you don't like PPV wrestling and you aren't trying to see every zombie film ever made, I recommend you skip this one.

Now, a word about the Toronto Underground Cinema. After trying out the view from three or four seats, I ended up sitting fairly close to the screen because the screen is a bit smaller than usual. While the cinema seats a lot of people the seats are a bit narrow (or maybe the people are wide). Unfortunately, the only sound for the entire cinema comes from two speakers located on either side of the screen. To ensure that the movie or microphone sounds reach the back, the speakers are cranked up just past their best level so that mid-sounds are a bit hollow and treble sounds are a bit screechy.

Apparently this festival is usually held at the Bloor Cinema but it's under renovation so they moved the whole festival to the Toronto Underground. I hope by the end of this festival to find the sweet spot for both the sound and the screen, and I hope that they get to hold this event back at the Bloor Cinema - or any other cinema with a better sound system - next year.

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