Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies

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When former pro wrestling superstar Shane Douglas kills a fellow wrestler in the ring, the deceased man’s brother makes a supernatural deal that will pit a group of pro wrestling veterans against a horde of the undead.

I don’t really understand the hate professional wrestling, or whatever you call things like the WWE, get over any other reality show. I’m not much of a fan myself, the last time I watched wrestling was when I was a kid and Hulk Hogan became a fictional bad guy (as opposed to real life where it took him an awful show about his awful family, an embarrassing sex tape, and racial slurs to become a bad guy), but I don’t think it warrants the hate it gets. People seem to be upset because it’s fake, well, no duh it’s fake, but so is every other reality show. You didn’t really think that episode of Operation Repo where the chick got pushed off a roof was real did you? How about that episode of {insert housewives show name here} where the one chick got angry because that other chick was angry because a third girl was angry (I don’t know what happens in those shows, so I’m going off the previews)? Yeah, those are about as real as the breasts of the women fighting. It’s called entertainment, as long as it entertains, who cares if it’s real, so yeah, wrestling doesn’t interest me much, but I loved Lizard Lick Towing, so who am I to complain about a different show’s level of realism? As long as the god awful Big Brother stays off the air…they’re bringing that back too now…mother fuc….

Our film begins in the dregs of independent wrestling with a group of hopefuls and has-beens fighting it out in the ring. The has-beens include former superstar Shane Douglas, and when he catches his competition doing a very different kind of wrestling with his girlfriend, Shane realizes what an asshole he is and tries to make amends for it. Just kidding, he gets angry and murders the man in the ring with a mega powered leg drop thingy (I’m not up to date with wrestling terms). While this makes it easier for Shane to go back to banging his girlfriend without interference, the brother of the murdered man, Angus, is understandably upset. Angus goes to local wrestling promoter, and the director of this movie, Cody Knotts to set up an event that will involve Shane and a bunch of his wrestling buddies (including veterans Roddy Piper, Jim Duggan, Matt Hardy, and Kurt Angle) being locked inside a West Virginia penitentiary. What Cody doesn’t know is that Angus has made a deal with the devil, or at least I think it’s the devil, it wasn’t exactly clear, could have been just a guy who really liked red light and had a copy of the Necronomicon for all I could tell. Anyways, he makes a deal with someone or something capable of granting Angus the power to control the living dead. After being gifted with his first zombie, Angus puts this power to good use and fills the prison with a horde of zombies, setting up a fight that he hopes will end with Shane Douglas being eaten alive, but the living have a trump card, a trump card with a name, and that name is Roddy Motherfucking Piper.

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{Thank god that jacket is bit proof}

I first heard about this movie while reading a “Where Are They Now” type of article that included “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, a former favorite of mine. It mentioned this flick, so when I came across it at the video store, yes, I still enjoy the video store, I figured I’d give it a watch. Sure, I’m not a huge fan of wrestling, but I adored Monster Brawl and that was basically just a wrestling pay per view event involving a bunch of monsters, so I figured there was a good chance that I’d at least find it entertaining if nothing else. Not only that, but it had the late, great Rowdy Roddy Piper, a man who was not only one of my favorite wrestlers from the long, long ago of my childhood, but the star of two of my favorite movies, They Live and Hell Comes to Frogtown. It’s not that he’s never been in a terrible film before, but his performance was always enough to somewhat save even the most dismal of films (somewhat is being used rather loosely here I know), so I didn’t think it would be all that bad even if it was far from great. It seems I’ve yet to learn that some movies just can’t be saved.

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{Rest in Peace you beautiful, beautiful maniac}

There is a lot to dislike when it comes to this bomb, but the absolute saddest thing would be the wrestlers’ performance. You have to remember that these aren’t actors playing wrestlers, these are actual professional wrestlers from television and small circuit, independent wrestling. Piper and Duggan are still the showmen they always were, so even if they’re a bit unable able to perform at the same level as their younger counterparts, they still put on a good show, and for what it’s worth, I enjoyed seeing them together again. Sadly, everyone else seemed to be phoning it in with their performances. Imagine watching a wrestling match where everyone took a bunch of valium before starting and you’ll get the idea of how bad the “action” in Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies turned out. It was some of the laziest play fighting I’ve ever come across. Actually, play fighting is a great way to describe what passes for fight scenes in this thing because that’s what it reminded me of, pretending to have epic battles with your friends when your ten years old. The hits come nowhere near landing and the punches are thrown so slowly you wonder if they’re even trying. As much as it seemed like these wrestlers (both the veteran WWE guys like Matt Hardy, Shane Douglas, and Kurt Angle as well as the independent circuit wrestlers) didn’t care about the film, I’m willing to believe that a lot of it could simply be age and the punishment they’ve put their bodies through during their lives. Say what you want about the “sport” of wrestling, those people have brutalized themselves for their fans, so I can understand them not being as agile as they once were. I just don’t see the point of bringing out a bunch of these wrestlers many people loved only to show them in a rather poor light. Either way, this doesn’t excuse the much younger wrestlers brought in to help flesh out the roster, they’re performances were just as lazy, only less excusable. The one exception is an unnamed wrestler with dreadlocks and a yellow outfit. I really hope something comes of this for him because he appeared to be the hardest working guy in the entire cast, bounding and leaping around as he took out as many of the undead as he could.

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{At least I got to see these two together again}

Though the “action” was the saddest thing about Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies, it’s by no means the worst thing about it. That award goes to the poor audio, a concern they must have been aware of since the film spends an inordinate amount of time trying to cover it up with loud music. The voices rarely match up with the movement of the character’s mouths, it’s hard to make anything out (the lack of any subtitles makes it that much more difficult), and turning the volume up does nothing because of the damn music that’s constantly playing. It was a mess that any amateur would have attempted to fix before release and shows a massive lack of care towards any fan base this movie could have picked up. Then again, I’m not sure if I would have been able to hear anything over my groaning anyways. The movie’s plot seems basic enough that you don’t need to know much about the details, hell, the entire plot is in the title. This is good because the film is lacking anything close to exposition, in fact, it seemed more about showing how much of an asshole Shane Douglas is than a fight against a zombie horde. They go out of their way to make sure the viewer is aware that Douglas is a murderous dick who somehow got away with murdering a man in the ring, a good sixty percent is all focused on what an asshole he is, all while Piper channels his “Maniac” persona from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I got how much of an asshole he was supposed to be early on, there was no need to hammer it home every couple of minutes. There was also no need to hammer home we were watching a wrestling themed zombie movie by having the zombies grapple with their victims for a huge chunk of the movie’s run time. You know what would have been cool to see, the zombies actually eating people, but no, they grapple with them for a while, then either bite the person at an angle the viewer can’t see or a bunch just pile on top.

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{Pretty sure we all got he was a dick when he murdered a man}

If there is one thing positive I can say about the movie, it’s that the FX work was pretty good. The few times we see anything clearly, be that a death or the zombie makeup, it didn’t look terrible, but when the only compliment towards a film is “the makeup didn’t look terrible” I can’t see the value in even a onetime watch.

 

The Undead Review

 

Directed By: Cody Knotts (Lucifer’s Unholy Desire, Breeding Farm)

Starring: Rowdy Roddy Piper, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Matt Hardy, Shane Douglas, and Kurt Angle

Written By: Cody Knotts (Lucifer’s Unholy Desire, Breeding Farm)

Released By: Principalities of Darkness and Troma Entertainment

Release Year: 2014

Release Type: Straight to Video

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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