Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer & Devil’s Playground

Posted: 04/09/2012 in Movies
Tags: , , , , , ,

The Poll Results were in for Zombie Movie Night April 2012 and the winner was…JACK BROOKS: MONSTER SLAYER! Well, kind of. In a definitive statement about the strength of my readership, the April poll ended in a four-way tie. Four votes, one each for Jack Brooks, Burial Grounds, Zombie Apocalypse, and Choking Hazard. Jack Brooks got the first vote though, so it was in!

Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer

Ok, so our titular character is a dude with an anger management problem (he punches customers who accuse him of making their toilets explode and scoffs at his therapist’s relaxation techniques). He refuses to talk to his therapist about his parents, but has no problem narrating to the audience that the source of all his anger stems from watching his family get killed by an anonymous monster when he was a boy. He now finds himself with a girl he doesn’t like in night classes that he doesn’t care about. After class one night, he decides to help out his teacher, Freddy Kreuger, with a plumbing problem at his haunted house. An ancient evil is unleashed, which ultimately leads to some zombie-like creatures running around during night school.

THE GOOD: The last twenty minutes are easily the strength of the film. Once zombies and monsters start running around and Jack decides to become a hero, things start to get a little fun. Unfortunately…

THE BAD: It takes forever to get there. The first hour of the movie is just plain boring. Jack’s struggles with anger and his annoying girlfriend were supposed to be played for laughs (I think), but they just weren’t funny or interesting. Robert Englund’s physical acting as he slowly transforms into a Jabba the Hut-looking demon are mildly amusing, but not enough to carry the story.

THE ZOMBIES: The zombies don’t come in until the very end of the movie. The Jabba the Hut demon inserts his man-tentacle down the throats of his victims, turning them into evil demon minions. They run around, attack, and eat people, but not very many as their screen time is short. They also don’t look great. My eleven-year-old niece (who is often scared of the DVD title screens) walked in at one point and declared, “Those zombies masks look really bad. This movie isn’t scary.”

THE VERDICT: Brooks had some potential. If the script was flipped with the boring build-up only twenty minutes and the monster action the last hour this could have been a pretty good movie. As it is, the payoff just isn’t worth the wait. It ends up being a mediocre movie falling smack dab in the forgettable middle of the ZMN Standings.

Current ZMN Rank: #40 out of 74

Devil’s Playground

My brother’s entry to Zombie Movie Night was Devil’s Playground, featuring Danny Dyer (The first actor to appear in two non-sequel ZMN features. He also starred in Doghouse). Playground takes a whole bunch of unoriginal ideas and throws them together in an attempt to make something awesome! (spoiler: it’s not).

THE GOOD: While not anything strikingly new, everything in Playground is passable. Decent budget, decent actors, decent story, decent make-up. Unfortunately, nothing really rises past that point. Craig Fairbrass’ performance as a corporate goon with a newly developed conscience comes closest.

THE BAD: For some reason, even with good actors and a budget, most everything in Playground falls flat. On paper, the drama seems good: Fairbrass’ goon trying to do the right thing in order to save the world, Danny Dyer’s disgraced cop wants to redeem himself and save his estranged wife, the wife may have the genetic make-up to create a cure, and a couple realizes they’re on the outside of the group looking in and are willing to do anything to save themselves. That all sounds good, right? I can’t put my finger on it, but it just doesn’t work and I found myself not caring about any of the characters. Maybe it was the fact that everything felt borrowed, either from 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, or the Day of the Dead remake….what, you say? The Day of the Dead remake? We may have found the problem….

THE ZOMBIES: Houston, we have super zombies!

I like running zombies, it works for me. The Dawn of the Dead remake is my favorite zombie movie. What I don’t like is when zombies start to do things that ordinary humans can’t do. The Day of the Dead remake is one of the worst zombie movies of all time because of those damn Spider-Man zombies. Devil’s Playground is almost as egregious. While the zombies don’t hang from the ceiling, they do run up walls, do forward leaps through car windows, and generally perform YouTube-worthy feats of athleticism (not the one’s where dudes end up getting hit in the crotch, though). While this certainly didn’t destroy the movie, it did a lot to take me out of the mood.

THE VERDICT: Devil’s Playground also finds it self right in the middle of the ZMN Standings. Not anything terrible, but ultimately it will end up forgotten in a sea of equally average zombie fare.

Current ZMN Rank: #37 out of 74

Current ZMN Standings

  1. I stand corrected. My brother has pointed out that Peter Stormare starred in both Insanitarium and Dylan Dog: Dead of Night. Therefore, Danny Dyer is the second actor to appear in two, non-sequel ZMN features.

  2. kjburke says:

    I was thinking about it and the drug in Devil’s Playground was supposed to be a performance enhancer, so it makes a little bit of logical sense that zombies might gain some athletic ability. Not MUCH logical sense, but at least it can be explained. And that still doesn’t mean it’s not stupid.

  3. I have no recollection of them saying what the drug was for. I think I was too busy trying to figure out where I recognized the CEO from. The answer was Resident Evil.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s