Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer
Director: Jon Knautz
Screenplay: John Ainslie, Jon Knautz
Cast: Trevor Matthews, Robert Englund, Rachel Skarsten, James A. Woods
Producers: Neil Bregman, Trevor Matthews, Patrick White
Distributor: Epic Pictures
Horror-comedies can be lazy. They usually involve commitment to neither genre, quickly losing interest in both and messing around with other film styles. Before you know it, they’ve mixed in animation or kung fu in some sort of bizarre filmic threesome, and then nobody’s satisfied and everyone has crabs.
Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer, however, is more of a generic bigamist than a cinematic slut. It loves both styles, with its dialogue firmly steeped in comedy, and its gore, effects, and cast being pure horror.
The Canadian film stars Trevor Matthews as Jack Brooks, a young plumber with few skills other than the ability to act like a boorish minor league hockey thug whenever he gets angry. His entire family was slaughtered by a werewolf, or something, when he was young, but of course no one believes him. Now, he attends night classes at the adult high school, presumably either to better his standing in life or because the filmmakers only had the one set available that week.
Things go awry, however, when his teacher, played by Robert Englund (Freddie Krueger himself!), is infected by a demon heart, and soon morphs into a cross between Jabba the Hutt and a Muppet.
The film is low budget, and it shows at points. But the effects are inventive, and Matthews has strong comedic timing and screen presence, so all is forgiven. Director Jon Knautz has an obvious love for the horror comedy, drawing great influence from Sam Raimi’s seminal works in the field, and that affection overpowers an occasionally flawed screenplay, a few weak supporting cast members, and a touch of cinematic STDs.