Directed by Jon Knautz
Starring Robert Englund, Trevor Mathews, Rachel Skarsten
CineGeek is a perfect home for cult horror films. We love ‘em! The trick with a successful cult classic horror film though is that the film never wanted to be in that category. Often films are made to be a part of the cult classic sub genre and they just feel forced. The film has to be really great in some way and often not so great in others. Evil Dead features a fantastic and charismatic lead actor, solid special effects, and great editing and cinematography but the story is of the most clichéd of the genre and most of the other actors are not great. Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer desperately wants to be a cult classic, but is it?
As a young child Jack witnessed his parents killed by a monster. Since that day he’s had an extremely bad temper. The slightest thing can throw him into a rage and get him into fights. In an attempt to resolve his “issues” and salvage his relationships with his girlfriend. His girlfriend Eve has even convinced Jack to take some night classes with her to better himself. Does some of this sound boring? Well there in is the problem with this movie, the first hour drags and is bogged down with all of this back-story about Jack’s day to day life.
Robert Englund plays the teacher that gives the night class that Eve and Jack attend. Robert gets the real fun of this film as he slowly over the first hour of the film becomes a monster. His scenes feature some really great “practical” (remember those) effects that demonstrate his de-evolution into monsterdom. He’s as much fun as always here and he makes the drudgery of the first hour of the film tolerable.
Now the final act of the film is where the fun begins. Englund finally transforms into full monster mode and Jack straps on his plumber’s belt to fight the good fight. As I mentioned the practical effects are fantastic and they make the film feel very 80’s and the humor that goes along with the gore is also of that era. I was reminded of old films like Ghoulies, Critters, Puppet Master, and others.
It’s actually ashamed that the director didn’t take better notes from the films that influenced him. A film like this one has to get right to the action. Evil Dead and the other above mentioned films waste very little time getting right to the gore and that keeps the film movie, brings on the fun, and makes the issues with poor actors, weak writing, and lower budgets less noticeable. If that first hour was cut back and the monster stuff happened quicker, this film could have been a cult classic. All the parts are there, they just don’t come together quick enough. Old school gore fans should suck it up though and buy this one because the monster effects in this film are some of the most fun in a film sense the 80’s.
The anamorphic widescreen presentation here is solid with good detail and color. There is some grain throughout though. Black levels are surprisingly good for a low budget film though.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation is surprisingly strong. Monster mashing fun kicks in all five speakers and even the subwoofer gets a little use. With that said everything feels on the low end. The film lacks much variety in dynamic range. Dialogue, score, and sound effects are clean and well mixed though.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The single disc comes packaged in a standard amaray case with a glossy slipcover featuring identical art to the case. The art is very retro, reminiscent a bit of Army of Darkness actually. It does a great job of selling the style of the film.
First up for bonus features is a full length audio commentary with the director, the producers, and the composer. Most of this commentary is made up of these good friends joking with each other while they watch the film. They have more fun than you will. If you stick it out though there are some interesting bits of behind the scenes information.
The making of documentary is surprisingly long running at just under an hour. The bit of passion required to push a film over the top appears to be out of balance in the film and the answer to that comes through in this documentary. Some of the team admits that they are in this project for the money and the potential opportunity for career advancement, not because they love the horror genre. There’s cast and crew interviews and plenty of behind the scenes footage throughout the documentary. This is easily one the best making of documentaries we’ve seen on a low budget film.
“Creating the Monsters” is a brief look at the creature effects of the film. Here is where the passion in this film rests. There are interviews with David Scott the creature designer for the film and some behind the scenes footage.
“Creating the Music” is another brief featurette that this time focuses on the music of the film from composer of Ryan Shore. “World Premiere, Sitges Spain is a brief voyeuristic look at the premiere of the film and a press conference. “Storyboard Comparisons” is a 10 minute look at some of the storyboards versus the final shots. There are also some still images, concept art, a theatrical trailer, and some deleted scenes.
This is a really huge variety of bonus features for such a low budget film and should be an example of how to do extras for these kinds of films.
There’s good fun to be had with Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer once you get passed the first hour. Fans of old school gore have to buy this DVD.
Overall (Not an Average) 7.5/10
The Movie 6/10
The Video 7.5/10
The Audio 7.5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 9/10
Overall (Not an Average) 7.5/10