Ninjas vs. Monsters (2013)

Ninjas vs Monsters posterSometimes a film franchise just doesn’t click with you. NINJAS VS. MONSTERS is the third and (I believe) final film in the series where the heroes first battled zombies in NINJAS VS. ZOMBIES (2008) and then found themselves nipple-deep battling vampires in, you guessed it, NINJAS VS. VAMPIRES (2010). All the films in this franchise are marked with a lot of action framed inside a horror setting. The films are also set up to be watched individually without needing to see the previous one to understand what’s going on. Kinda. I never saw NINJAS VS. ZOMBIES and was (kinda) able to follow what NINJA VS. VAMPIRES was all about. I say ‘kinda’ because the plots of the films seem unnecessarily complicated. There is a lot going on in these films and this becomes a problem (more on this below). The basic story is that four twenty-something slacker/losers are, through magic, turned into ninjas who now fight all kinds of evil in the world. In NINJAS VS. MONSTERS the guys are up against the classic horror monsters such as the mummy, the Wolf Man, Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula, some witches, and more. It sounds like a pretty simple premise, right? Unfortunately writers Daniel Ross, Kelly Timpane, and Justin Timpane give us so much backstory and try to summarize the two previous films that the viewer feels as though they’re trying to take a sip of water out of a firehose!!

Ninjas vs Monsters1I don’t want to make it sound as though this film is a complete disaster because it isn’t. I’ve seen a lot of indie horror films since I started running Anything Horror — a lot!! I really admire what Justin Timpane sets out to do here. He takes on a very ambitious storyline (that spans three films) and manages to put in more action and fights scenes than most blockbuster Hollywood releases do, and all this on a very meager budget. NINJAS VS. MONSTERS has an estimated budget of around $500K, so yeah … I’m impressed with the cast and crew here. But ultimately a review comes down to whether or not a film entertained me and that’s going to be the criteria on which I rate this film.

Ninjas vs Monsters2All the twenty-something, evil-fighting ninja buddies are back. Kyle (Daniel Ross), Cole (Cory Okouchi), Aaron (Jay Saunders), and the psychic Alex (Devon Brookshire) have survived in their battle against the vampires from the second film and are now facing their biggest challenge yet. Dracula (the extremely overacting, scenery-chewing Sam Lukowski) appears to be heading up a gang of evil folks intent on ruling the world and plunging it into darkness (ya know, the usual). But before they can reach their goals they need to kill those pesky ninjas and they have one last trick up their sleeve: They unleash the above mentioned monsters on the gang. Lucky for our group of plucky ninjas they have some allies this time out, including the cute ninja Step (Jasmine Guillermo). After the set up we get tons of fight scenes, more scenery-chewing acting, cheesy dialogue, and lots of monsters. 

Ninjas vs Monsters3One thing is for sure; this film, and the entire series for that matter, is made by movie lovers for movie lovers. You’ll spot verbatim lines from such movies as PREDATOR, DIE HARD, THE MONSTER SQUAD, ARMY OF DARKNESS, and I think there was even a line from MALLRATS!! But it’s all meant to be fun and there are parts of this movie that are indeed fun. On the positive side the dialogue for the most part is decent enough; the editing, again for the most part, is well done; and the pace is definitely one that deserves the moniker, “break-neck speed.” There’s definitely no padding here in an attempt to try and fill up the ninety minute run time. On the flip side of the coin the film feels as though you’re missing something if you didn’t watch the two previous installments. If you don’t like shoestring-budgeted horror films then you can just stop reading right here. This flick won’t click with you at all if you don’t like low budget films. Although the acting is ‘decent enough,’ there’s many instances of overacting, melodramatic acting, and times where the acting just plain sucks. One of the biggest hindrances in the film is Justin Timpane’s ambition. There’s too much going on in this film and there’s so many actors and monsters that none of them really get the treatment they deserve (then again, Joel Schumacher does the exact same thing in his 1997 BATMAN AND ROBIN flick!!). This problem extends to the fight scenes — Timpane has too many people fighting at the same time and the cameras get in so close that it’s difficult to see what’s happening.

Ninjas vs Monsters4NINJAS VS. MONSTERS isn’t a complete disaster and I really admire the passion and ambition of the filmmakers, cast, and crew. Despite it all, I found myself enjoying parts of NINJAS VS. MONSTERS but am still somewhat on the fence about the film as a whole. I’m moderately recommending this film but if you’re going to tackle it just bear in mind that this is an amateur horror film with a small budget, amateur actors, bad looking monster make up, poor lighting, and hit or miss pop culture references — a lot of them. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one. NINJAS VS. MONSTERS is already available on both DVD and VOD platforms in the U.K, and will have an American DVD and VOD release on February 6, 2015.

My Summary:

Director: Justin Timpane (& co-writer)

Plot: 2 out of 5 stars

Gore: 3 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

Stay Bloody!!!

Ninjas vs Monsters6

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