Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer

Jon Knautz and John Ainslie's cheerfully gross, deliberately retro horror picture pays tongue-in-cheek homage to the kind of genre movies Charles Band and Roger Corman's companies turned out in the 1980s. Rage-o-holic plumber Jack Brooks (Trevor Matthews, whose family name features conspicuously in the film's production credits) has never really recovered...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Jon Knautz and John Ainslie's cheerfully gross, deliberately retro horror picture pays tongue-in-cheek homage to the kind of genre movies Charles Band and Roger Corman's companies turned out in the 1980s.

Rage-o-holic plumber Jack Brooks (Trevor Matthews, whose family name features conspicuously in the film's production credits) has never really recovered from the childhood trauma of seeing his parents and younger sister torn to pieces by some kind of troll that burst the woods during a family camping trip. No-one believes young Jack's story, therapy hasn't eased his guilt or helped him control his hair-trigger temper -- the song "Beyond the Sea," which was playing right before his parents were attacked, is like a red flag to a bull -- and until he can put the past behind him he can't begin to formulate a real plan for the future. Jack's whining girlfriend (Rachel Skarsten) persuades him to take a night class, but his heart isn't in it ands the sight of her flirting with the class cool guy just about gives him an apoplectic fit. Still, when Professo r Crowley (Robert Englund) mentions some problems with his pipes, Jack volunteers to take a look and accidentally unleashes a wave of eldritch hell: Crowley is transformed into a ravenous, lavishly tentacled cross between Jabba the Hutt and a Dalek, and Jack finally finds a constructive outlet for all that simmering fury.

For a film that's essentially one long flashback to the origins of a character you've never heard of -- it opens with Jack the Slayer helping some ludicrously Hollywood backlot-looking natives deal with a club-wielding Cyclops - Knautz and Ainslee's fan boy trifle is surprisingly engaging, especially for viewers less enchanted with CGI effects than the average mainstream genre filmmaker. The effects recall the heyday of John Carl Buechler's ghoulies, cellar dwellers and demonic toys: Kind of crude (you didn't get A-list monster makers Rob Bottin or Rick Baker on an Empire Pictures budget), gory, occasionally quite clever and always undeniably there in all their physical glory. With a little support from horror buffs with a soft spot for the kind of unpretentious monster pictures American low-budget filmmakers like Peter Manoogian, David DeCoteau and even Stuart Gordon used to turn out, the film could spawn a series of direct-to-DVD sequels.

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  • Released: 2007
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Jon Knautz and John Ainslie's cheerfully gross, deliberately retro horror picture pays tongue-in-cheek homage to the kind of genre movies Charles Band and Roger Corman's companies turned out in the 1980s. Rage-o-holic plumber Jack Brooks (Trevor Matthe… (more)

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