I have complained in the past about movies which feel like they were designed for a very specific audience, and I wasn’t part of that audience; but here comes a movie where I get most of the deep-inside references, am familiar with nearly every one of the cast and am a long-term fan of the activity portrayed. So this should be great for me, right?
Oh dear me, this was absolutely terrible. It only has its concept going for it – indeed, most of its positive reviews state “pro wrestlers vs. zombies, what more do you need?” – and fails miserably in every possible way. I was about to say that I felt bad for the people who committed to the Kickstarter for this movie, but screw ‘em as it was never going to be anything other than terrible and they all deserved to lose their money. Anyway, let’s recap. This review will be full of spoilers, so if you’ve not seen this yet, congratulations.
We start off at a wrestling show, where some formerly famous guys, now working in front of 30 bored people in a high school gym, display their skills. Given the number of zombie extras in this movie, they really should have got some of them in to pack the audience of this show as it looks absolutely terrible, beyond low rent. “The Franchise” Shane Douglas, former star of WCW and ECW, kills a guy in the ring after seeing him kissing his girlfriend in the locker room, but unfortunately this guy has a brother, Angus, who chooses to perform with a shockingly bad Irish accent (well, that’s not the unfortunate part).
Angus wants revenge on the Franchise so, rather than shooting him or anything sensible like that, formulates a somewhat different plan. I know, everyone who’s wronged does this, so I barely even need to recap it, but he makes a deal with a demon who gives him the power to raise the dead; then pays the local wrestling promoter a wad of cash to send Douglas, the dead guy’s former girlfriend (who left him for Douglas, or something) and a bunch of random wrestlers, to a show in a disused prison. That the promoter offers him a bunch of fairly famous guys when he had no reason to, cutting into his profit, is like the tenth stupidest thing this movie does. Anyway, while they’re on the bus to the show, Angus sends his zombies to kill Douglas’ entire family, then ships those zombies to the wrestling show, where he creates a bunch more zombies; then sets his horde of the undead on the assembled pro wrestlers.
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper is one of the most famous pro wrestlers in history, who quit being a full-time bone-bender in the late 80s to concentrate on movies (although he came back plenty of times, often for extended periods). He remained a legit B-movie leading man for the rest of his life (his last starring role, best as I can see, was in 2012), so it’s super-sad to see him in this, presumably done as a favour to one of his old wrestling buddies. His part, originally written for Mick Foley, is sort of the romantic lead for the movie, which with the substantial age difference feels curious at best. His lady friend is Sarah (Adrienne Fisher, the only person who looks like she’s trying throughout) and her arc is a tad…under-developed? She gets a job with Angus, as her marketing savvy will take pro wrestling to the top, but Angus isn’t interested in the wrestling biz as much as he is in slaughtering two particular pro wrestlers. Or did I mis-remember that bit? I’m certainly not going back to check. Anyway, either Angus or the neck-bearded promoter (who’s the writer-director of this movie, in case you ever see him on the street and have a bag of flaming poop close at hand) takes her into the back room for a blow job, and then she just joins the wrestlers on the bus the next day, for no reason other than “why not?” Luckily, she’s an extreme badass – way better than most of the male professional fighters – and bonds with Roddy quickly.
Oh, when the wrestlers arrive at the prison, the driver (who is also the demon) tells them first to surrender their phones, that these fights will not be predetermined, and the prize for victory will be wealth beyond their wildest dreams. Now, if I’m any of those pro wrestlers, who rely on being physically able to work multiple times a week, and was presented with a plan that shady, I would be telling the bus to turn around and take me home. No doubt. But because the script said so, these guys are all fine and trot off inside, where they’re almost immediately set upon by the undead.
So, by 32 minutes, it’s full on war, as the prison is packed full of pro wrestlers and zombies; and for the next hour or so, we’re treated to the same thing, over and over again. Group of people run, fight zombies, and either die or escape to run, fight and die slightly later. One chap, the “Neon Ninja” Michael Façade, got a lot of time to showcase his wrestling skills on a variety of zombies, and I hope he did quite well out of his appearance (although the fact I had to look his name up indicates otherwise). We’re treated to some extremely well-preserved civil war dead later on, people turning on each other to save their own skins, and revelations about Angus’s plan – sadly, no-one goes “hold on, slaughtering hundreds of people seems a bit over the top just to get to the guy who killed your brother and his slutty ex-girlfriend, doesn’t it?”
How do the pro wrestlers do in this? Roddy Piper is, of course, excellent, doing world-weariness well; although he has a scene where he attacks a zombie while sporting a completely blank expression, a shot he must have expected would be cut from the final movie. Shane Douglas tries but can’t really act, Kurt Angle is decent in his few scenes, and Matt Hardy seems high the entire time. Some of the indie guys are fun, like The Mountain, and I had a soft spot for “Thomas Rodman”, who may well be a brother of the famous Dennis (who has at least 20 brothers and half-brothers, apparently), and certainly dresses and acts like him. The non-wrestlers are, excepting Adrienne Fisher, absolutely terrible, with nothing to set them apart from every other garbage non-professional bargain basement horror movie cast ever.
Obviously, only pro wrestling fans will be watching “Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies”, so it’s kind of unfair to judge it the way you would a normal movie. They’re not trying to rip people off here, it does exactly what the title says it will, but…boy oh boy, this is still such a bad movie. If they’d bothered to have the pro wrestlers and zombies actually wrestle, then resort to run, fight, eat when the wrestlers started beating them, it could have been a lot of fun; as it is, it was just one thing, over and over again, which made it feel a hell of a lot longer than it actually was – I checked the clock, convinced there were maybe ten minutes left, to find I was barely at the halfway mark, and groaned.
After a brief moment to ponder the ending (killing all my friends, hundreds of zombies, then bringing down a demon gets me pretty horny too), would I recommend this movie? Nah. Even the hardest-core of wrestling fans among you would be better off re-watching a classic Roddy Piper movie than popping this on. Don’t let people make money by pandering to you. Demand better.
Rating: thumbs down