Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer

Plumber by day and student by night, Jack Brooks (Trevor Matthews, below right) is an angry, wound-up guy. He has a girlfriend he doesn't really seem to like, a therapist whose advise he can't fully embrace, and a scarred past that leaves him prone to irrational outbursts. When his community college professor (Robert Englund) becomes overtaken by an awakened ancient evil and is reanimated in belching, vomiting, meat-craving form, Jack finally realizes he can't run from his Batman-esque back story (the brutal murder of his parents, though here via a nasty beast), so he grabs his socket wrench and decides to kick a little monster ass.

Lean, thinly sketched and, as the title aptly indicates, unapologetically populist in tone, Jack Brooks channels Slither and particularly early Sam Raimi, all by way of Tales From the Crypt. There isn't much in the way of frills or production design (the movie is seemingly budgeted only for its bookends and final act), but director Jon Knautz makes up for it by keeping things moving fairly briskly. If there's a problem, it's that the script withholds its protagonist's transformation for too long, and could additionally use a bit of an upgrade in swaggering archness. Otherwise, though, grading on a curve, it's easy to glimpse the potential franchise cult appeal here; all that awaits is the hearty blurb of endorsement from Bruce Campbell. For more, from the movie's official web site, click here. (Brookstreet, R, 85 minutes)


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