15th Jan2015

‘Ninjas vs Monsters’ Review

by Joel Harley

Stars: Daniel Ross, Cory Okouchi, Jay Saunders, Devon Brookshire, P.J. Megaw, Dan Guy, Carla Okouchi, Jasmine Guillermo, Sam Lukowski, Elliot Kashner, Daniel Mascarello, Lyon Beckwith, Mina Noorbakhsh, Vicki Parks | Written and Directed by Justin Timpane


With a title like that, what could possibly go wrong? The epic finale of a trilogy (no, really, there are three of them) which has seen the titular ninjas take on vampires and zombies now has the superhero team battling horror’s most classic villains – Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman and the Mummy. It speaks volumes for the monsters’ recent output that this ultra low­budget film is the best some of them have been in years.

Going into Ninjas vs Monsters blind, there’s a surprising amount of history to catch up on. The gist of it: a gang of slacker friends are gifted ‘Ninja’ super powers while battling zombies and a resurrected loved one turned bad. In the sequel, they fight vampires and Dracula. Here, it’s Dracula’s old Universal studio cohorts – most notably Victor Frankenstein, Wolfman and the Mummy. Beyond a quick recap of the first two movies and brief introduction to the characters and their powers, there’s very little time to settle in and get to know everyone. Kicking off with a frantic battle between demonic clowns and our hero ninjas, it gets down to business almost straight away.

It may look as though it were filmed in a series of warehouses and back gardens, but there’s an unexpected level of competency to everything else Ninjas vs Monsters does, from the consistently amusing script to the surprisingly well­done (and frequent) action sequences. On this budget, it was never going to be Hollywood level fisticuffs, but there’s more artistry and passion at play here than such dreck as I, Frankenstein or (Hugh Jackman’s) Van Helsing.

Packed to the hilt full of pop culture references and silly jokes (on a bigger budget, the characters would almost certainly have been played by Seth Rogen, James Franco and Danny McBride) it’s entirely evident throughout that Ninjas vs Monsters is a labour of love, made entirely for its fans by a bunch of guys who really dig their own material. While it is accessible to newbies and the curious, those who will get the most from it will be the guys and girls who pledged to its Kickstarter and sat through the first two movies of their own volition. The rest of us will be more than a little nonplussed, but it’s hard to resent something so earnest.

What could go wrong? Plenty, actually. Ninjas vs Monsters is a more difficult sell than that crowd-pleasing name suggests, but it makes a nice alternative to much of the mainstream chaff we’re used to seeing these days. Its rough around the edges brand of low­budget silliness won’t be to all tastes, but those who do enjoy that sort of thing should love it.

** 2/5

Ninjas vs Monsters is released on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD in the UK on January 26th courtesy of Left Films. The film is released on iTunes, XBOX, Playstation, Comcast and other VOD outlets, as well as on DVD from Ninjasvs.com on February 3rd in the US.


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