In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer

This past Thursday, I took a trip to the legendary Bloor Cinema to catch Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer. The line-up snaked around the block, largely due to the fact horror icon Robert Englund (who appears in the film) was going to be in attendance. As the movie was shot in Ottawa (a few hours east of Toronto), there was a large presence from the cast and crew, as well.

Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer is about a Joe-average plumber (Trevor Matthews) with anger issues that never seems to be able to get ahead in life. When his community college professor (Robert Englund) is possessed by a demon, Jack realizes that he may have finally found his calling.

My experience watching Jon Knautz’s Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer was very much like 2006’s Hatchet. It was a fun filled experience, best enjoyed with an audience. As time goes on, I’m finding that to be the case more often. Some movies, especially some that play here at genre festivals – Undead and Black Sheep are two examples I can quote right away – just lose some of their punch if they are viewed alone in a dark basement.

Matthews brings a ton of energy to the title character. The scenes were he is paired up with Englund and scene-stealer David Fox (who plays Howard the storekeeper) are the strongest of the movie. Jack Brooks features a shit load of practical effects, which I unsurprisingly embraced completely. I give them full props for all they attempted to do here. The production values were actually a lot higher than I was expecting. The influence of The Evil Dead films are obvious here with there even being exact shots culled from Raimi’s trilogy.

And, of course, Robert Englund is great, as always. Even though he has earned his share of ‘paychecks’ during his career, he does seem to have a knack for allying himself with fresh new filmmakers. This is a guy who must have to sift through dozens of scripts from two bit hacks on a daily basis. Yet, in the last three years, his notoriety has helped give us Scott Glosserman (Behind The Mask), Adam Green (Hatchet) and now Jon Knautz. In the Q&A after the movie, Englund said that is was Knautz’s early short film Still Life (which I saw as part of a 2005 Short programme at TIFF) that cemented his decision to work with him. I can appreciate that, as Still Life had a Twilight Zone quality that showed equal parts creativity and ingenuity. He was extremely excited about being given the opportunity to do some physical comedy for a change.

Producer Patrick White(?), Director Jon Knautz, Star Trevor Matthews and the man himself, Robert Englund.

Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer was a real crowd pleaser. It’s just a fun movie in the tradition of those old eighties monster movies, like Gremlins and House. I believe Jack is getting a limited theatrical release, so if it’s playing near you and this seems like your bag, go out and support it!

Oh, one other thing. Knautz's short film Still Life is available through the Atom website. Here it is below, if you want to check it out.

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