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Home | Film Reviews | Film Review: Manson Brothers Midnight Zombie Massacre (2021)

Film Review: Manson Brothers Midnight Zombie Massacre (2021)

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After being relegated, the two fighting brothers signed up for a new game. But they didn’t know that they need to stay in an arena to fight zombies.


As a reviewer I’ve never been of the complete feel that the balances that exist in moviemaking (dialogue to action, slow or deliberate versus fast or energetic pace etc.) in any way require a precision on the level of some intricate chemistry. It is mostly about the gut feel that the director and producer have as to how the material should flow and hopefully correspond with the storyboard forming in either their mind’s eye or on paper.

The one challenge to that belief may just be the horror comedy because of the inevitable tendency for one element to dominate the other, creating an imbalance that has one collapsing under the weight of its supposed partner. As has been made evident by example throughout cinema history, the best chiller comic fare has a thin line equality that seems to be measured by the most exacting of scientific methods as to have a seamless mesh.

In other words, both the horrific and the humorous scenario emanate naturally from the situation of the moment. It is this unique mixture that has classics like An American Werewolf in London a universe apart from, say, Saturday the 14th or even John Landis’ later Innocent Blood. The script, director/producer vision, comic and dramatic timing of delivery by the cast all have to be working in some harmony. Sadly, there ends up being misfires moreso than successes. A rarity happened in the latter with my recent viewing of Max Martini’s gross out joke fest gem Manson Brothers Midnight Zombie Massacre. Two struggling pro wrestler brothers are looking for their next payday.

They get it in a rundown dive arena, headlining a midnight cage match event. Problem is that, a fellow wrestler in the group, looking for an edge steroid, is given a powerful mystery drug by a local pusher that turns the athlete into a raging, flesh-eating zombie. As this beast tears his way through the crowd and anyone nearby making a living dead army, our heroes are a bit slow as to what is going on. Ultimately, the two catch on and must battle their way through the hordes to save themselves and their friends.

What makes the feature really gel is how the characters are fleshed out as rather sweetly naïve compared to the usual tropes involving bitter or sad backstories as the motives behind their actions and having the humor come from their personalities rather than a manufactured contrivance. The brothers are, in a sense, a refreshing far cry from the symbols of machismo usually found in muscular good guys in action movies. The joy is that Stone and Skull Manson, and indeed most of the support roles, would seem to enjoy a hug and kiss from other guys as much as they would a simple fist bump and appear not afraid to cry when needed.

Script-wise, writers Chris Margetis and Mike Carey imbue the story with truly funny bits (Brick believing that Quasimodo was a guy who went to Notre Dame University is just one bon mot) and a passion for Mexican wrestling horror movies of the 60s (the ghosts of Santo and Blue Demon permeate throughout). The cast mix of veterans and newer folks works well, with DB Sweeney having serious fun as the oily promoter Quickbuck and Randy Couture sending up his tough guy image some as fellow wrestler Thump Hanson. Adrian Pasdar steals the show as the Nitrous Oxide addicted fight doctor Dudembru. Scenes involving the doc and an always drunk referee are sidesplitters.

Gore aficionados will revel in the fact that Martini, along with Visual Effects producer Johnny Fisk and supervisor Dan Levitan, offer no shortage of bloody practical and digital effect. The mission statement of all involved looks to be to leave the viewer in a queasy state after the end credits roll and they succeed. Martini, himself, handles the material nicely by keeping the pace at such a level to never let the filmgoer have time to look for an odd hole in the plot.

In the end, Manson Brothers Midnight Zombie Massacre is that example of something equivalent to a dying art in the film world, a horror comedy hybrid that has neither in service of the other but both on the same field and all the better for it!

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