Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Askewed Review: Wrestlemaniac

Have you ever heard about something that you were extremely excited for? Yeah that was me with "Wrestlemaniac." Seriously how could this movie lose? Here is the Netflix description that hooked me.

"Director Alphonse (Adam Huss) makes a big mistake when he decides to shoot his film in a remote Mexican ghost town. Turns out, the town is the lair of the legendary El Mascarado (Rey Misterio Sr.) -- a deranged wrestler who begins to kill off cast and crew in bloody death matches. One by one, El Mascarado stalks, captures and attacks his victims, as the remaining members of the group try to find a way to stop the killing spree."

How could I not be drawn to this? It brings together wrestling and horror. It seems a concept that was crafted specifically with me in mind. So I did my part I added the movie to my queue put it up top and waited. Once the movie came though I was reluctant to watch it. The wait had given me time to think, could the movie be pulled off? So on the shelf it sat... on the shelf it should have stayed...

Had the movie been the one that had been oh so eloquently described by Netflix been the one that I watched I would have been happy. Unfortunately it wasn't. Sure they had the title and the actors correct, but after that it kind of fell apart.

The Basics-ish
On their way to Cabo San Lucas a porn film crew gets lost. Low on gas they have no choice but to make their way back towards civilization by way of a road which will take them through La Sangre de Dios, a ghost town said to be haunted by a demonic masked wrestler known as El Mascarado (Rey Misterio Sr.). The intention of driving right past the town without stopping is thwarted by a giant rock (or is it a small boulder?) in the middle of the road which driver/porn director/porn actor? Alphonse (Adam Huss) manages to not see until it is too late.

So the crew pulls up to the town to have a look around. Alphonse decides that the town would make an excellent setting for their little film so he has cameraman Steve (Jeremy Radin) start filming as Dallas (Leyla Milani of WWE Diva Search and Deal or No Deal fame) and Debbie (Margaret Scarborough) start up what has to be one of the least sexy sex scenes ever. Things take a turn for the worse when Alphonse himself joins in the scene along with the up until this point drunkenly passed out Daisy (Catherine Wreford). Thankfully the "sex scene" doesn't last long as Daisy gets sick and runs out the door to find a private place to get killedsick, I too considered hurling at this point.

The resident stoner tagalong Jimbo (Zack Bennett) goes looking for Daisy, he thinks she has his weed. Jimbo then becomes the first victim we see being taken out by El Mascarado. The others discover Jimbo's body sans face and soon enough find themselves being chased by El Mascarado.

Alphonse being the fine upstanding man that he is locks himself in a church, locking everyone else outside with the masked one. He didn't anticipate the back way in and finds himself going one on one. During the "fight" Mascarado is barely seen, but Alphonse is seen flying into every breakable wooden object in sight, he then shoved neck first into a protruding nail. Not dead yet he manages to sneak away to hide in the graveyard outside, which is where El Mascarado finds him and rips his face off.

While looking for a hiding place Steve and Debbie run into some old audio reels that sheds some light on Mascarado's past. They are in Spanish so Steve only barely understands them, something about multiple lobotomies and cuatro latero (I apologize for my terrible Spanish spelling)... They scurry on and find what must be Mascarado's personal room. The ripped off faces are displayed on the walls much as wrestler's masks might be, and the room has four barrels in a square with a rope loosely draped around it. It snaps with steve "Cuatro latero" a ring, he is following Mexican wrestling rules! So when he defeats his opponent he de-masks/faces them. All they need to do to stop him is remove his mask.

The celebration of this epiphany is short lived when El Mascarado shows up. Steve man's up, puts on his own mask and attempts to "wrestle" Mascarado in the makeshift ring. It doesn't go so well and we hear him getting knocked around fairly violently. While is being a distraction Debbie makes an attempt to crawl out of the room only to be dragged back in and given a brutal looking back breaker(holy shit an actual wrestling move!?!).

Meanwhile Dallas, who has been up to this point oblivious to the happenings has been busy fixing the van. While looking for the group she finds the body of Daisy who we now learn was the first victim of Mascarado. She then runs into Debbie and Steve's bodies. Ok well Steve is only mostly dead. Faceless he still manages to inform Dallas of his de-masking idea before kicking it.

Next up some more chasing and hiding which includes one of the most gratuitous hiding poses ever committed to film. Through the course of the hiding and chasing Dallas even finds herself having to hide in a barrel full of water, and then the poor thing has her pants ripped off by a car door. Fed up with running she decides to fight back. Once again finding herself in Mascarado's room she waits for him, as he enters she smacks him down with a board full of nails and impales him on a large metal pipe. Just as she is about to remove his mask he takes another swing at her. She counters by removing the car key that was jammed into his hand. The distracting pain gives her a chance to escape, not to the van though she instead runs into the church where she breaks down.

Next thing we see she is running out of the church screaming, which is actually the scene the movie started with, only this time we see the full scene. The scream goes on way too long and her running slows, then she looks down to see herself impaled on the metal pipe. Dallas falls to her knees dead, while El Mascarado makes off in the Van headed towards Sequelville population eh...probably nobody.

So in a movie lousy with potential what happened? Everything went just lousy.

As a horror movie it failed to be even remotely scary. There was some decent lore that could have been explored but instead it was just tossed out there. Told to us and not shown in any way. We don't even really find out if removing Mascarado's mask would in fact stop him. On top of that there is sort of two versions of the back story given in the movie. One early on when Alphonse and Steve are talking about La Sangra de Dios, and one later when Steve is listening to the tapes. I guess the point was that one was supposed to be fact and the other supposed to be a "legend" which would be fine except that the original and more fantastical version appears to be the case.

As a slasher movie it failed in that it really wasn't all that gory. There was blood thrown about quite a bit true enough, and a couple of de-facings. Though I wasn't as thrilled with that effect as apparently others were. For instance, wouldn't someone who had no face also have no lips? Then how did Steve still have them when he was telling Dallas about the mask? The nail through the neck was fairly gruesome though, so that is something. It didn't fail as miserably as a slasher as it did in other areas, but still.

As a horror movie surrounding a wrestler it completely failed. There was MAYBE 3 wrestling moves in the entire thing. The one actual "match" that took place in the movie took place behind a closed door so we only got to hear it and not see it. Really why did they bother to get Rey Misterio Sr. for the part at all? His abilities were wasted. In case you didn't know Rey Misterio Sr. is an actual Mexican professional wrestler and the uncle of Rey Mysterio/Rey Misterio Jr. the former ECW and WCW and current WWE wrestler.

Hell lets go the whole nine. This wouldn't have saved the movie for me anyway but the movie even failed at being a flesh fest. Which being that it was about a porn film crew seemed obvious.

This movie could have been great, it really could have but instead it turned into a "horror by numbers" that just seemed lacking in almost every conceivable way to me.

Even the name "Wrestlemaniac" isn't ideal. Not when you consider the other two names that the movie has gone under; "El Mascarado Massacre," and my favorite "The Mexican Porn Massacre."

I was so disappointed that I even found myself getting angry at the small things that normally wouldn't have bothered me. For instance, if the Doctors in the past had given Masarado several lobotomies to curb his violent ways wouldn't that have meant that they removed his mask thus ending his reign of terror? Also Steve translates "La Sangre de Dios" as "The Blood of Jesus." But I'm fairly sure that it actually would be "The Blood of God." Now if the town had been called "La Sangre de Jesús"....

Or maybe I'm just getting too cranky?

that's what I thought....

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