Monday, 24 January 2011

Wrestlemaniac (2007)

When I was a kid I used to love Saturday afternoons. Saturday afternoons meant The Incredible Hulk, The A Team and Wrestling. Now, there’s probably a vast difference between how you understand wrestling and how I do. Wrestling to me means good old fashioned Her Majesty’s British wrestling which roughly translates to overweight middle aged men who wouldn’t look out of place propping up the bar in the local pub wearing leotards and bashing into each other a bit. Our wrestlers looked like your uncle just before he went in for a heart bypass, they were the legends Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks, Mick McManus and big screen stars like Pat Roach and lovely Brian Glover and they were gods among men. They ruled Saturdays like majestic lycra clad warriors and Saturdays have never been the same without them.

With this in mind I was naturally delirious with excitement when I came across Wrestlemaniac and while I had a vague suspicion that wrestling had changed since my early Saturday afternoons sprawled on the carpet in front the TV cheering for Giant Haystacks memories I was confident that this was going to be the best film ever. So confident was I of this fact that I immediately texted everyone I knew (three people) proclaiming that I, Jinx, had found the best film ever and that they better ruddy well get themselves over on Friday night to watch the heck out of it. You may know by now that I’m prone to irrational overexcitement, most days are like Christmas Eve for me, so when Friday night finally rolled round my overexcitement was finely tuned to a pitch only dogs hear and by the time we all settled down with our pizzas and whiskies to watch this cinematic gem my head was almost ready to explode.

Wrestlemaniac begins with a van full of clichés heading out into the Mexican desert to make a porn film, this annoyed me from the outset, not because they were clichés or even because they were largely un-likeable clichés, but because this, from square one, shows a shocking amount of fiscal irresponsibility. Sadly I don’t produce porn of a living, but if I did I’m fairly certain that I wouldn’t be wasting my valuable time and bloody hard earned cash driving a load of people unnecessarily to Mexico when I could stick a cactus in a motel room.

Our merry band of pornmongers are made up of Alphonse (Adam Huss), team arse and hat wearer, his badly structured beard offends me, pointless stoned friend only included on account of it being his van, Jimbo (Zack Bennett), chubby guy, Steve (Jeremy Radin), who obviously knows about the holy lore of wrestling because he’s a chubby guy, this proves to be useful later, and, of course, every porn film needs its lovely ladies so we also have Daisy (Catherine Wreford), largely unconscious, could do with a good meal, Debbie (Margaret Scarborough), her curiously shaped implants alarmed my BFF Kev, and Dallas (Leyla Milani), final girl, contortionist and manicured mechanic. (It took a surprisingly long time for me to realise that the two lovely ladies were called Debbie and Dallas, it made me snigger, eventually).

In a shocking and completely unprecedented turn of events the porn gang find themselves running out of petrol on an isolated stretch of road with still a hundred miles to go to their intended destination and things only get worse when they stumble upon a dilapidated petrol station that doesn’t have any petrol but does have liberal supplies of cocaine and a local nutcase (Irwin Keyes) who thinks the best way to make friends is to jump out people wearing a wrestling mask. Local nutcase points the porno kids back to the road and portentously adds that they will have to pass La Sangre de Dios to complete their journey.

Fortunately the team have a chubby guy so he is able to explain that La Sangre de Dios is a ghost town where the infamous wrestler and insane killer, El Mascarado (Rey Misterio), was banished for, well, being an insane killer. This raises my first question; how exactly does one banish someone to a ghost town? I can only assume that the banishee isn’t keen on this arrangement so how precisely is the banishment maintained? This first question pales into insignificance when the rest of the tale comes to light. El Mascarado, it turns out, was assembled from the miscellaneous body parts of the world’s greatest wrestlers in order to create the ultimate, unbeatable wrestler to compete in the ’68 Olympics. (So many questions). He never made it to the Olympics because before he even made it through the qualifying stages he went somewhat mental and started tearing people’s faces off rather than making the concerted effort necessary to secure Olympic gold.

Exercising phenomenal stupidity, but marginally better fiscal acuity, Team Sexy Times sagely decide that this ghost town will be the ideal impromptu location for their pornographic extravaganza and wasting no time they run over a rock (a rock not The Rock) suitably ensuring their crappy van is going nowhere fast and get right down to amateur porn hour in the ghost town bar.

Amateur porn hour goes badly to say the least, again, I’m sadly not a producer of porn, but if I was I’m fairly certain I’d have utilised my given space and time in a better manner than a bit of girl on girl writhing, I’d have also probably suggested that, given her semi-conscious state, Daisy probably isn’t best placed for anything requiring coordination like climbing atop a ghost town bar, or walking and I definitely wouldn’t have allowed the arse with the badly constructed beard to join in the action. Fortunately for everyone this erotic interlude is short lived as poor scrawny, semi-conscious Daisy comes over all queasy and makes a run for freedom. To her credit she manages to run a fair old way before she finally succumbs to some violent vomiting, less to her credit she then proceeds to stumble about bare foot in some wasteland littered with broken glass, but ultimately this is really the least of her worries as, before she has time to worry about tetanus, El Mascarado proves himself less of an urban legend and more of a crazy man in tights and swiftly puts her out of her misery, and rips off her face.

From here on in it’s fairly easy to predict the course of events; El Mascarado, still governed by the rules of wrestling for which he was created, continues to systematically engage ‘opponents’ in combat and once triumphant doles out the ultimate wrestling humiliation; the ritual removal of the mask, or face, he not really fussed on this score. As our wrestling madman methodically limits the potential of any decent porn being made there that day, chubby guy, Steve, commits cinematic suicide by working out that El Mascarado can be defeated by using the rules of wrestling to their own advantage and then merrily tells everyone this information to ensure that he now serves no tangible purpose and can be freely slaughtered so maybe some more attractive people can live.

To be perfectly honest, while Wrestlemaniac may not have been quite the best film ever, it was certainly the best film I saw that night, and I actually did enjoy watching it, whether the whiskey and the good company had anything to do with this conclusion is probably best not mentioned. It did give me everything I was expecting; blood, boobies, ample silliness and a little bit of crassness. It was also surprisingly well made, the direction and camerawork was unexpectedly competent and for the most part it looked like a much better, classier movie than it actually was. I am reliably informed that Rey Misterio is a big name in the wrestling world (though apparently not as big as his nephew Rey Misterio Jnr.) and I would imagine that he pretty much conducts proceedings here as he would do in the bona fide wrestling arena. While it’s partially a little difficult to take a man in white tights seriously I’m still reasonably sure that I’m sufficiently scared of him for him to make a decent enough villain, but of course he’s no Giant Haystacks and it would be silly to pretend otherwise. Ultimately I’m glad that I got to see Wrestlemaniac, even if it was only for the happy memories of childhood Saturday afternoons, it does have some good things going for it and frankly, considering, it could have been a lot worse. If you’re easily excitable like me I’d recommend you give this a go, you’ll probably have a bloody good time, if you’re more reserved and discerning then you probably haven’t even made it this far and are mostly likely already reading/watching something much better.


  1. Whiskey and good company are wonderful tools for film enjoyment. Also good is a great meal with company afterwards so everyone can dis and dish on the film.

    Lazarus Lupin
    art and review

  2. Oh my....I haven't even gotten around to watching those awesome shark movies you hipped me to...and now this??? I have friends who are nutty about "wrasslin'", so I absolutely HAVE to see this! What's more, I'm going to FORCE them to watch it as payment for all of the times they've made me sit through the latest brawl with The Rock or Cactus Jack or whoever the big sweaty dude was who was jumping onto the other sweaty dude was. I mean, it has a KILLER LUCHADOR! That is freaking awesome on its own!!!!

  3. Oh my GOD! I was so obsessed with wrestling when I was a nipper in the late seventies my parents were genuinely WORRIED.
    Biggest piss-off of my childhood was when I wrote to Jim'll Fix It (I swear this is true) and asked to wrestle Big Daddy. Heard nothing of it, and then about a year later some other little runt was on the programme with the EXACT SAME WISH. (My sister also wrote to the programme, asking to be held up at gunpoint by Swiftnick from Dick Turpin, who she fancied at the time.)
    Have you read Simon Garfield's oral history of British wrestling? It's called The Wrestling, and it'll bring it all back: a laugh and a tear on every page...
    This film looks pretty good but you're right: it's just not wrestling unless the people fighting are grossly overweight and pissed and have big sweat patches on their leotards...

  4. It's not surprising that I loved wrestling as a child (after all, what is wrestling but a Godzilla Vs. Whatsanator sequel without the rubber suits?)

    America's equivalent of your haystacks character was Haystacks Calhoun, a man who dressed exactly like your guy but weighed something like 500 pounds. I saw him wrestle in person in Atlantic City's old Convention Hall, where they held the Miss America pageants. The next afternoon I saw him walking on the boardwalk, causing it to creak frighteningly. At one point he was next to one of those golf-cart-like vehicles that richer tourist couples rode in, and he looked like Godzilla towering over it -- he was much wider than it too. Scary stuff.

    BTW, I've seen Mr. Mysterio and his son wrestle. Both of them are considerably smaller than your average pro wrestler these days, but compared to normal folks like us, they must seem formidable.

    There's a big bald wrestler named Cain who shows up nowadays as a psycho killer in horror films, too. In the old Mexican flicks, the masked wrestler was always the hero. I guess times have changed.

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  6. Oh, Lazarus, you are so right.

    Hee hee, Gill-Man, "wrasslin'", that made me giggle so much, that's how it should be pronounced. Love it! Sorry about all the sharks pics in advance, 'specially Raging Sharks, I'm starting to feel guilty about passing that one on. You must let me know your thoughts later.

    Matthew!! I knew you'd be a wrestling fan! Jimmy bloody Saville though! How dare he?! Have to say I'm kind of glad that you didn't crushed by Big Daddy on national television at early age. Kudos to your sis though, fabulous 'fix it' story. I never wrote to Jim, which surprises me, maybe I just realised early on how damn creepy he was. My friend did though; she wanted to be a Mini Pop, which is distrubing on many levels.
    This book sounds fascinating, I must investigate. Not something I'd ever imagine there'd be a book about but I'm curious now.

    Jack, love the Godzilla comparison. Modern wrestling has always vaguely pissed off because all the elements of it I should love, but I don't. It's super camp, it's got fabulous, garish spandex outfits, it's theatrical, it's essentially the opera of the working class, but somehow it leaves cold and that makes me mad at it.
    Your Haystacks sounds just like ours. Bet he was a sight to behold striding down that boardwalk, wish I could have seen it.
    I actually think I've seen a movie with this Cain chap in it. I have vague memories of law breaking kids being forced to clean up an old hotel or some such and he has being all slashery all over the place. Was odd I recall.
    I remember reading a post you did about the old Mexican movies that I thought was awesome, I think I prefer the good guy casting.

    Thanks, Jeremy! Super cool. Sssshhhh.

  7. I so love that you've joined The Revenge. Welcome and thanks for following!

  8. PS - 'Shadowland' is my 2nd favorite novel of all time, right behind 'The Talisman.'



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