Wrestlemaniac (2006)

If the idea of a Lucha Libre luchador taking apart the cast and crew of a low-budget soft-core porn movie, like Michael Myers after a visit to Dr V McMahon, sounds like your idea of fun, then watch this movie. If it doesn’t – which I can fully understand many people will have many reasons for it not to – then don’t watch this film. That’s really about all there is to say about this, as the box sells it as a wrestling-centric slasher flick, and the first 15 minutes make it crystal clear that that’s all you are going to get for the remaining hour of run time. This film, written and directed by Jesse Baget, does not mess around and you’re either in, or it’s utterly indifferent to you.

So, the van load of victims have decided to drive to Somewhere, Mexico, to shoot a porno. Everyone is various shades of sleazy and sex-positive, whilst the cameraman has the added personality trait of being overweight. (Ha! Classic!) Like all sensible people, they decide to drop all previous plans and break into the abandoned town/lunatic asylum La Sangre De Dios as soon as they hear that the wrestling-obsessed serial killer “El Mascarado” (played by actual wrestler Rey Misterio) killed all the other inmates there. I mean, who wouldn’t?

Amazingly, that isn’t the most questionable decision the cast makes in the first act. That goes to the porno’s director/male lead Alfonse, deciding to shoot a scene on the bar of the abandoned salon, three minutes after turning up in the town. And then all three of the female co-stars think that’s a wonderful idea! Because splinters, dust, tetanus, or even basic structural integrity apparently aren’t any kind of consideration when making such movies?? Still, the audience gets two minutes of people with their clothes on, titillatingly rubbing each other down like sofas in a DFS sale advert, plus one shot of a pair of breasts. Then we’re back to the serious business of slasher-time!

Things start mildly with the killer stalking people, people screaming as he gets closer, and then people finding corpses in positions even a chiropractor wouldn’t claim to be able to fix. As the cast get slowly whittled down (oh my, would you believe their van broke down?), the violence goes up. Whilst it’s not especially big on detail, having large amounts of very dark blood sloshed around the bodies and sets really gets across a visceral level of unpleasantness. Well, beyond the dismemberments and heads facing the wrong way etc. Essentially it’s fairly standard stuff, handled in a competent and occasionally imaginative manner.

Eventually, it’s down to Final Girl and friend, and things take a surprising turn as the plot and acting knocks it up a level for some really dramatic and heartfelt moments. Rey Misterio also gets to show off some of his acclaimed technical wrestling techniques, with the final 15 minutes of the film being where 80% of the total camera work, set dressing, and script polish for the film all got stockpiled into a cheesy but very well executed ending.

Then there is another ending, a bit of a twist, and then an actual ending that yells “Sequel Me!” whilst you wave going “Not A Chance In Hell!!” and hit eject because you don’t bloody care what nonsense is missed in the credits by that point. It’s annoying, it’s overused, and if you can’t think of a decent ending, don’t muck around with something you think Lynch would come up with. Because he’d come up with a decent ending and a better film, and not fanny around with such jackassery.

…And relax.

For a film that is so confident and single-minded in what it wants to do, it may appear difficult to work out who this film was aimed at. Slasher fans won’t find much outside the standard tropes and can get more violently unpleasant material elsewhere. Wrestling fans will be similarly let down by the absence of much wrestling, especially when there are so many spectacularly over-the-top lucha libre movies to watch. So, the inevitable audience is the casual viewer who sees it on a rack and picks it up for a couple of quid. It’s mean-spirited, low budget schlock, with an unthreateningly novel premise and deaths you can scoff at. So, on that level, it’s a bargain bin treasure you can fill an hour with before passing on to a chum as a curio for them to do the same. Anyone who expects more won’t even consider putting it in the player.

The Raggedyman

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