This is an installment for a series on this blog where Joe Brown, Sports Editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle, and I have a back-and-forth review of a movie. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, Brown picked “Wrestlemaniac.”
The Movie: “Wrestlemaniac” (2006)
Starring: Irwin Keyes, Leyla Milani, Rey Misterio, Sr.
Director: Jesse Baget
Plot Summary: (From Rotten Tomatoes) When an amateur porn film crew takes a wrong turn while driving through Mexico, they quickly discover that the local legends concerning a murderous luchadore may have some element of truth in this bloody horror film.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: N/A
Brown: Well, folks, I hate scary movies. And yet, we had to go ahead and go with “Halloween Month” here at the JOE-DOWN. So while Froemming will try and freak me out with “Hellraiser” next week, I decided to go in the absurd direction for October, starting with “Wrestlemaniac.”
There’s slasher flicks with campers-turned-hockey-masked-murderers, a bad guy burned alive with razor hands and a psycho child in a whited-out Capt. Kirk mask. But nothing with the world’s finest masked insane people: The luchadore. Combine that with my love of pro wrestling (like my Summerslam preview and “The Final Deletion”) and we got to enjoy “Wrestlemaniac.”
Finding this on Hulu, this was a movie that didn’t even get a Rotten Tomatoes score, so you know it’s going to be good, right Froemming? Right?!
Froemming: I have seen a lot of terrible B-movie horror flicks in my life, and “Wrestlemaniac” falls on the side of “most generic” of the genre. I liked the idea of a horror film centered around wrestling, but watching this I sensed I had seen this premise before of kids in a van traveling in the middle of nowhere only to find impending doom, and I had. It was called the first half of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” There was not a whole lot of original ideas with this film. So Brown, why don’t you set up the plot.
Brown: Before we really delve in, I have the most random complaint about this movie that we’ve done on this blog, which is centered around random complaints in movies. So I watched “Wrestlemaniac” on my phone with earbuds on, and while the opening shots took place in a dark empty-looking Mexican town, there’s crickets in the background. And then, they cut out noticeably. Few seconds later, crickets. Seconds later, silence. Either this movie could not afford enough cricket tone or the editors just didn’t give a (REDACTED).
Then, because we are in a horror movie, we truly begin in a van while the most deplorable group of people make their way to Mexico.
Froemming: These are garbage human beings traveling to Mexico to film a porno film. Yes, that is the basic premise of the film. But, on their way Cabo San Lucas, they end up at a rickety old gas station where an old man explains to them that he urinates on the wall. Again, this is something that happened in a movie I watched.
Oh, that old man is the marquee name of this film, Irwin Keyes, who plays The Stranger. And he supplies one of the most obnoxious characters in the history of film, Alfonse who is driving the van, with a bunch of cocaine.
He is in the film for all of 10 minutes.
Brown: Ten minutes is generous. I’d say more like five. And he’s there for three reasons:
- A poor jump scare
- Directions to a gas station
Need we remind you, they are AT a gas station… that just so happens to not have gas. And, the path he leads them to goes through the ghost town of La Sangre De Dios with a sordid history according to urban legend.
In reality, The Stranger is here to be the old man from “South Park” telling them they shouldn’t go down that road.
Froemming: Yes, the legend of El Mascarado, a Mexican government project made up of dead wrestler parts and churned into a super wrestler that was created to compete….in the Olympics.
Look, it was the 80s man, things were different. Rocky vs Drago, El Mascarado vs logic, it was a wild time.
Now, The Stranger warns these burnouts that El Mascarado haunts the town, and they should not stop there. Frankly, because of how much I disliked Alfonse, Steve, Dallas, Debbie and the one character I thought was already dead in the van, Daisy, I was looking forward to these jabronis to be wrassled to death.
Brown: To summarize the characters, Alfonse is our coked-up sleazeball who is leading this amateur porn venture (spoilers: There is nothing sexy about what they’re doing). Dallas and Debbie are the most vapid women they could come up with in a casting call. And there’s also Jimbo, who is stoned constantly and is only along because he owns the van (but somehow, not a Great Dane). Steve is at least sympathetic because he knows the history around the area and knows plenty about lucha libre (or Mexican wrestling for rubes). And, Alfonse insists on calling him Fats, which led me to believe he was the long-lost son of Porkins from “Star Wars: Episode IV.”
Then there’s Daisy, who is passed-out drunk during their entire drive. Then, to jump ahead quick, when she wakes up, she’s sees daylight for maybe five more minutes before she’s unceremoniously taken out. One of my first notes in this film: In one van ride with these characters, I’m OK with all of them getting slaughtered. And really, they deserve that for letting their drunk friend roast in a van while passed out instead of, you know, taking her to a hospital.
Froemming: The reason they stop at La Sangre De Dios is because Alfonse is too coked up to see A GIANT ROCK in the middle of the road and wrecks the van. And so, because they are not very bright people, they decide to venture into the town they were just warned to stay away from minutes ago.
What puzzled me is that they totally seem unfazed by the fact their van is broken, they are in the middle of nowhere Mexico without any signs of water or civilization, and their first instinct is “let’s start filming this porno!”
This isn’t a horror film, this is Darwinism fixing the wrongs of this genetic line of people.
Brown: I don’t know if you noticed this when they go into La Sangre De Dios, but one of the buildings says “Vorhees” on the side. In no way is that foreshadowing for what is about to happen to them.
So they begin filming their movie and the whole time I’m thinking “Wait, shouldn’t someone check on Daisy? There is no AC going in that van right now. She’s probably scrapping on the window like a dog.” But sure enough, she waltz in as I put that in my notes and is about to hurl. And for a ghost town, she runs a VERY long way, into a prairie, to throw up. What, are you going to upset the locals by vomiting in the streets of the ghost town, Daisy?
Well, she didn’t have time to think about that, because she was killed by the most sinister villain in cinema: The quick camera zoom! Or, I guess we’re led to believe, El Mascarado.
Froemming: The gas station and van parts are rip-offs of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and Daisy is killed by a rip-off of the monster in “The Evil Dead” in this scene. This movie cribs from so many horror movies I couldn’t tell if there was an original idea at all here.
Back at the porn shoot, Steve notices a shadow in some of the frames during a playback that is following Daisy as she went to pray to her porcelain god. I had no idea someone making an amature porno film would have a Martin Scorsese-esque eye for minutiae like that.
Brown: Forget that! Like Alfonse says, and this is an actual line in this movie: “Who gives a (REDACTED) about ‘Taxi Driver?’ ‘Deepthroat,’ that’s what people remember.”
In the middle of that garbage line, Jimbo is coming down and is looking for Daisy. She had his weed, you see. And he’s shocked by this. Oh, you mean the woman who has been passed-out drunk your entire road trip, she couldn’t possibly steal your drugs? YOUR FRIEND NEEDS HELP. Well, needed help.
And honestly, I don’t remember how, but Jimbo is dead now.
Froemming: Well, Jimbo is strangled and then has his face ripped off by El Mascarado because, as the legend goes, when a wrestler defeats an opponent, he removes their mask to humiliate them. And stupid Jimbo didn’t bother to wear a mask, so what was El Mascarado to do? He had to rip something off this stoner’s head. Why not his face?
Brown: Why not his hair? That’s a thing in Mexican wrestling as well: Hair v. Hair matches, or Mask v. Hair matches. But, psychotic luchadore, whatever. At least the Mask v. Mask thing is legit.
So, people are missing and NO ONE in the group is really shaken up by this. Their “film” (really, one scene) is done, so now they need to fix the van. Turns out, Dallas can totally work on cars. And I’m pretty sure Michael Bay stole the “hot girl who works on car” premise when “Transformers” came out a year later. Though to be fair, Megan Fox didn’t listen to horrible EDM when she was working on her engine.
And now, FINALLY, when it happens to be dark, the group goes to look for Daisy and Jimbo.
Froemming: Well, they find Jimbo’s faceless corpse and realize that perhaps something fishy is afoot. And they are now being terrorized by El Mascarado, who chases them all over this ghost town. Because Alfonse is coked out of his mind, he locks himself in a building letting his friends to die at the hands of a wrestler. We need to remember that the monster in this movie is a wrestler. It would be like being terrorized by Ric Flair, it is ridiculous.
But Alfonse doesn’t fool a supernatural wrassling killing machine, and meets his end with a good old-fashioned curb stomping, which is genuinely a disgusting horror scene in this otherwise generic horror film.
Brown: I don’t do good with watching people’s teeth fall out like they did for Alfonse during the ass whipping he got. But I had some wires crossed with my bad movies when El Mascarado tears off Alfonse’s face. It comes off pretty clean, like there is a handle to tear it off like a microwave. If “Face-Off” taught me anything, you need lasers and precise surgery to have a face come off that clean. Then again, El Mascarado doesn’t want these people to live, whereas “Face-Off” gave us Nic Cage as John Travolta and vice versa.
Walking away from a movie I’d rather be watching, Debbie and Steve find some reels from the scientists that put the Frankenwrestler together and find out that El Mascarado obeys the rules of wrestling.
No, he doesn’t.
Dude uses a pipe to assault people and smashed Alfonse’s teeth in. I’m sure a referee would have disqualified him after one of those actions. That’s not convenient to the plot, though. What is convenient is that in order to defeat El Mascarado, they have to take his mask off.
Froemming: Look, El Mascarado plays by his own rules. Also, it was awfully convenient that these two just happen to stumble into a room that explains everything they need to know about this monster.
Also, for a being that was put together from the parts of other wrestlers, he has no scars and frankly that bothered me. There is nothing remotely scary about a fat guy with a lucha mask. That is just lazy horror movie making.
But, Steve and Debbie find their way into Charlie’s Angry Room from “It’s Always Sunny,” just replace the broken beer bottles with human faces. This was actually pretty decent looking for this film. And, Steve notices, he can set up the old squared circle in this room so he can face off against El Mascarado.
This would be like Joe Brown or myself thinking we could take on The Honky Tonk Man in real life. There would not be a good end to such a battle. And we can say the same for Steve.
Brown: Look man, I just had fun with them putting Rey Misterio Sr., the real-life uncle of wrestling legend Rey Mysterio Jr., as El Mascarado.
And yes, I thought the face room was effective and downright creepy. What I didn’t like is they set the stage with El Mascarado and Steve (with his own lucha mask) battling it out, only to have it take place behind closed doors. Isn’t the whole idea of making a movie called “Wrestlemaniac” to have some gory wrestling match? No. I felt cheated by this movie.
Froemming: And that, my friend, is the mission statement of the JOE-DOWN: “I felt cheated by this movie.”
So Steve gets his face ripped off (he knew what he was in for if he lost this match, I felt no pity for him) and poor Debbie, who had to suffer filming a porno with Alfonse, only had insult added to injury as El Mascarado cracks her over his knee like when Bane broke the Batman. She truly had the worst experience of all these people.
And now there is one: Dallas, who is still fixing a van in the middle of the night by herself, listening to her crappy music. And she finally goes out to find the rest of her doomed, sad gang.
Brown: When El Mascarado gets his hands on Dallas, she escapes by stabbing him… with keys. Ugggg…. And then because this is a B-movie, Dallas spends a chunk of time running around in her underwear after getting her jean shorts caught in the van door. And thanks to that, we got four (by my tally) gratuitous shots of Dallas’ butt.
But she has a way to fight back: A board with nails. It’s the famed strategy that liberated Springfield from aliens back in 1991.
Froemming: Well, that tried and true form of self-defense only worked for so long, because after Dallas fights off El Mascarado with a board — with nails in it — she takes off and stumbles into the church, which suddenly goes into slow motion. Then she runs out and finds she has been impaled with a metal pole. WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN? She didn’t have that when she ran out of the church! Am I missing something here?
Brown: No, I had no idea how she got impaled either. I think we can chalk this up to lazy filmmaking.
I will say that I liked the ending. With this horrible trope of people mutilated, El Mascarado hops in the van and leaves town, presumably to bring his brand of terror across Mexico. I personally hopes he drives through the States, wrestling in all the territories and ripping faces off while hoping to battle Ric Flair or Dusty Rhodes for the world championship.
Let’s hop in our own crappy 70s van and go to our recommendations.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Brown: I would not. This was a bland B-movie that was actually a disappointment to me. There’s actually something to work with there as far as the lucha maniac killing people via face ripping. But that’s all this movie has: A good idea. And it truly failed at capitalizing on that.
Froemming: No. It is pretty bad by even B-movie horror standards. It is generic and fails to even have much of what the title implied: Wrestling.