A Panther Joe Romp
Director: Jesse Bagat
Starring: Rey Misterio, Sr, Leyla Milani, Jeremy Radin
It's always good to see an entertaining, independent movie. A flick you just know the creators poured more sweat into than actual dollars. This is how I felt after I watched the campy horror flick, Wrestlemaniac.
Predictability has never been a positive attribute of the slasher-horror genre, but that doesn't matter when you consider execution and whether or not this was a tribute movie. I believe fans of the bad-guy-wiping-out-people-with-no-remorse movies who turn around and produce them have good intentions at heart and often strive to remake what they so love. Just interchange the setting, faces and back story and all that's left is actually producing the film. Unfortunately the line between fun thriller and Octopus 2: River of Fear is finer than the typical 'slut' you'll find getting killed off early.
Wrestlemaniac follows six people venturing down into Mexico to shoot scenes for an amateur porn movie. Somewhere along them not being prepared and (holy shit, don't do that) actually going into the Mexican wasteland they become stranded in the ghost town, La Sangre de Dios. One of my favorite parts of this movie was seeing that town name hand-painted on the entrance at the foothill of the valley.
Before breaking down in their Dodge van, the crew learns of the story of El Mascarado, arguably the craziest and best Mexican wrestler ever to walk into the ring. Steve, by far the smartest of the group, tells his friends that back in the 60's Mexico wanted to win the gold medal at the Olympics in wrestling so they created El Mascarado from the parts of the four best Mexican wrestlers at the time...
and then he went batshit insane and killed everyone he wrestled with so they banished him to La Sangre de Dios, where he proceeded to slaughter all the townspeople, thus making it a ghost town. The fact that these idiots stumbled into his lair made for quite the conflict.
The cast did an excellent job throughout the movie. It's one of those isolated movies and if I remember we only saw a total of eight people in the entire movie. The crazy local, the stoner, the douchebag, and the smarter girl all put in their work but the main protagonist Steve (Radin) stood out. I guess you would call him the reasonable one but his heroic qualities and enthusiasm for Mexican lucha-libre wrestling was refreshing.
The two main female leads served their purpose, but Dallas (Milani, pictured) became more and more likable as the movie progressed. Even the bad guy, El Mascarado, was downright creepy at times. The only thing that was slightly off is when he was around he would make this strange growl, almost as if he were trying to clear his throat. The violence was tempered and tasteful but still maintained its spooky backbone. This is definitely not a cheesy movie where it depends on how much gore they can fit into the lens; it maintains the mystery in that you can only imagine what that monster did to end that poor persons life.
My only complaint about the flick was the lack of actual wrestling. I was under the impression that the psychopath would stage matches against his victims but this is barely brought to the surface (see: one backbreaker and a couple of Ric Flair-esque slaps to the chest).
Any slasher fan will appreciate most aspects of Wrestlemaniac, whether it be the pacing, the intriguing back story or the eye candy. It was damn practical, too; the movie clocked in at just under 75 minutes.