Thursday, 24 October 2019

Movie Review: Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies (2013)

Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies Movie Review - movie poster
It can't have escaped your attention that it's Halloween next week, which means that if there was ever a good time to review 2013's Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies, this was it. 

For the unfamiliar, Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies is an indie horror film written and directed by Cody Knotts and starring, of all people, The Franchise Shane Douglas in a lead role.

If that choice of casting doesn't tell you everything you need to know about this 80s zombie flick throwback, hopefully, this review will.

Of course, despite the fact the whole movie basically revolves around the former ECW Champion, he doesn't even get top billing on the movie poster.

That honour goes to Rowdy Roddy Piper. and quite rightly too.

God Rest his soul, Hot Rod tried his hardest to make this movie into something credible by delivering just about the only decent performance in the entire thing.






Yet even the guy who started in They Live couldn't rescue what ultimately turned out to be a complete mess of a movie.

*This review contains spoilers*

That's a shame too because, in theory, the over-the-top nature of pro wrestling and zombie movies should have worked well together.

Combining the slapstick dramatics of 'sports entertainment' with the guts and gore of your favourite slasher flicks could have been a riot.

We could have had the likes of Douglas, Piper, and their co-stars (including Matt Hardy, Reby Sky and Hacksaw Jim Duggan, with a brief cameo from Kurt Angle) playing up to their larger-than-life characters, powerbombing zombies into oblivion and engaging in all kinds of hardcore shenanigans with the undead.

It could have been hilarious in the kind of dark, twisted and gory way that some horror movies intentionally are.

Alas, Cody Knotts decided not to go for gross-out humour.

With Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies, he and a supporting cast of indie jobbers created a movie which  tries to be scary, disgusting, dramatic and emotionally poignant all at the same time but which ultimately fails to be any of those things at all.

The ring is the only place you can kill a man and get away with it 

Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies Movie Review - The film featured lots of unnecessary shots of SoCal Val's feet
Totally giving away the first plot point, our movie begins with a screen which informs us that if you want to commit murder, a pro wrestling show is the best place to do it.

Cut to our star, Shane Douglas, backstage at some low-rent indie show.

There, he discovers his girlfriend, Taya Parker, making out with his upcoming opponent, the terribly named Battling Billy.

I'm not certain, but I think this is the same Battling Billy who formed that famous Freebirds-style tag team with Fighting Frankie and Kick Your Ass Kevin.

As The Franchise rages about his partner's betrayal, SoCal Val is seen out in the ring, getting the thinly-sparsed crowd ready for tonight's big match between Douglas and Mr Battling.

Now, I'm not suggesting Knotts has a foot fetish or anything, but there are way too many shots of Val's feet in this opening scene and it's anything but subtle.

In between looking at her feet, we're shown lots of clips of some really fat indie jobbers while the opening credits play.

Eventually, Battling Billy battles Duelling Douglas, with Shane hitting a tombstone on his opponent and actually killing him dead.

Man, even The Undertaker didn't take the gimmick that far.

Cody Knotts - The Worst Business Man in History

Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies Movie Review - Battling Billy vs. Shane Douglas
Later, Billy's brother Angus (played by indie wrestler Ashton Amherst) visits Cody Knotts himself. Knotts, it seems, isn't only a director, he's also a pro wrestling promoter.

Anyway, Angus hands Cody a big wad of cash and asks to select a couple of wrestlers for a private show.

Cody hands him an envelope with pictures of his roster. From this, Angus picks Taya and a picture of Shane Douglas that looks to be about twenty years old.

"I just want these two," said Angus who, it has to be said, has the worst Scottish accent in history.

Now, if I were Mr Knotts, I'd be thinking I'd gotten a pretty sweet deal here. A guy hands me a huge wad of cash and from this I only have to pay two wrestlers?

Great. More money for me.

Except I'm not Mr Knotts, and I'm glad too, because the real one (or at least the fictional version of the real one) apparently has no business sense whatsoever.

Instead of taking the really sweet deal, he says "I tell you what, you can also take Piper, Hardy, Reby Sky, and a bunch of jobbers so insignificant that the guy from Retro Pro Wrestling won't even bother looking up their names."

I know you're supposed to find yourself shouting at the screen during horror movies, but that's usually when the girl is running through the dark woods to get away from the evil monster, not when a pro wrestling promoter is screwing himself over with terrible business deals.

They're Coming to Get You, Barbara

Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies Movie Review -  They're coming to get you, BarbaraThat isn't the only deal that's made either.

Knotts, revealing himself to be some kind of sex pest, interviews some woman called Sarah for a vague and unspecified job and spends most of the time rubbing up against her. Meanwhile, Angus makes a deal of his own with some demonic figure:

Gain the power to summon hordes of demons at will by killing a woman and eating her heart. To do so, Angus finds a woman at the local hospital by the name of Barbara, fulfilling the legal obligation that every indie horror film has to reference.

Welcome to the Uh-oh Penitentiary

Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies Movie Review -  Sarah and Rowdy Roddy Piper
With his new demonic superpowers intact, Angus drives the group of pro wrestlers out to an abandoned prison under the guise of having them take part in a pro wrestling show, only to reveal that it was a rouse the whole time:

He's going to set the zombies on all of them, all because Shane Douglas killed his brother.

It's at this point that the film stops being interesting.

Don't get me wrong, it doesn't stop being bad, but it does stop being interesting.

Once inside the abandoned prison, all of the wrestlers basically spend the rest of the movie running away from the zombies, stopping to fight them for a bit, and then running away again.

I say all of them, Matt Hardy spends most of the time making out wife Reby Sky until he too gets attacked and ends up having what is admittedly the best fight scene in the whole movie.

At first, I wondered why anybody would agree to make this film, then I realised that Matt Hardy got paid to basically make softcore porn with his wife and I suppose that at least makes sense.

At one point, Kurt Angle pops up. He thinks he's been booked to do a surprise run-in at the non-existent wrestling show but like Hardy, Sky, and later Hacksaw Jim Duggan, he too gets devoured and transformed into a zombie.

Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies Movie Review -  Zombie Jim Duggan
Speaking of Duggan, it's him you have to feel sorry for the most.

As they're doing the running away part of the run-chase-run thing, Douglas stops and has a heart to heart with Hacksaw, thanking him for his help when he (Douglas) broke into the business 30 years ago.

Then, in the ultimate act of heel-dickery, The Franchise then turns on his friend, running away and locking the door on him, leaving the man and his 2x4 to the mercy of the zombies.

Seriously, what a dick.

Other than that, most of the actual wrestlers vs. zombies part of the movie is all kind of samey. Piper and Sarah get close and tease at a romance despite the fact that he's old enough to be her dad, some spot monkey indie kid does a bunch of flippy stuff, but after you've seen the wrestlers run, then fight, then run away again once, you've basically seen the entire second half of the movie and there's really no reason to keep watching them do it over and over again, especially when Knotts keeps using the same small group of extras as the zombies.

It's all a bit samey and more than a bit terrible which is a shame, because, as I say, Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies could have been a really fun movie.






In fact, it even started out fun in a Wrestlecrappy this-is-terrible-lets-laugh-at-it kind of way, but after a while, this just became a chore of a film with almost no redeeming qualities outside of one really hysterical line when Reby Sky suddenly shouts "I WANT YOUR BRAINS!"

If you like your really horrible Halloween films with a touch of pro wrestling, you might enjoy this in a so-bad-its-good way, but otherwise, save yourself an hour and a half of your life.

Otherwise, you'll find yourself sitting there, as I'm sitting here now, hours after the movie is over pondering one serious question:

Was all that worth it just for Shane Douglas?

Other pro wrestling movies you might like:
Enjoyed today's review? Get more Retro Pro Wrestling on Facebook and Twitter

0 comments:

Post a Comment

Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.