This week sees the premiere of the 2nd World Wrestling Entertainment’s Mae Young Classic. It’s a tournament where 32 of the world’s premier female athletes compete to win the honor of being crowned the victor of the tournament. I have been a fan of wrestling for about 4 years; I’ve been following many of the amazing female talent who wrestle both on the independent circuits and in places like Impact Wrestling and World Wrestling Entertainment for just as long. I’ve decided to focus on the many kick ass ladies who have graced not only the squared circle but the silver screen as well for the next week or so.
I thought I’d kick off this feature with a film that I’m not certain many folks are aware of, The House of Him. The House of Him after debuting at the Glasgow Film Festival released on October 31, 2014 in both the United Kingdom and United States through the Vimeo Video on Demand service. The House of Him is about a misogynistic serial killer who targets women exclusively. He has invited a couple girls to his house for a wee bit of bullshit when something strange starts occurring in his home. Is a ghostly apocalypse descending on his neighborhood or has something even worse come to visit the film’s villain?
The House of Him stars a few wrestlers from Glasgow based wrestling promotion Insane Championship Wrestling, namely Carmel Jacob, Jack Jester, and Isla Dawn. You may be familiar with Isla Dawn as she wrestled as Stacy Coates in a match against Asuka at a WWE Raw in Manchester, England and she is a participant in the upcoming UK Women’s tourney that WWE is putting on. Although Isla Dawn doesn’t have much of a screen presence in this film and features as a disembodied voice, it is still very much a must see. Carmel Jacob held the ICW Fierce Females title but retired from in ring competition in 2016. Jack Jester stills wrestles at ICW and is also a wrestling coach. If you haven’t heard of ICW I suggest you check them out for some fun wrestling. Some of their alumni are doing some pretty cool things in the wrestling world, both Kaylee Ray and Piper Niven were in the first Mae Young Classic and have continued to compete internationally. Although these wrestlers only make cursory appearances in The House of Him, the movie stands on its own with their minor. Isla Dawn’s sister Louise Stewart plays one of the two main roles in the film as Anna, Him’s latest victim. Her performance was great and I hope to see more from her in the future.
The House of Him is an independent film and is largely confined to one setting, Him’s house. I am simply amazed at what they were able to achieve with this film. It’s a taut, mysterious slasher film turned on its head and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in horror or films that star wrestlers no matter how minimal their roles may seem. This film is masterfully crafted and satisfactory from beginning to end. It may seem a little daunting for some folks as the Scottish English sometimes is a bit harder to understand for folks not familiar with it’s dialectical nuances. I sometimes have a hard time grasping at what is said in some films where it is used but this one isn’t too hard to handle. Honestly the less I say about this film the more you are bound to enjoy it. You can watch the film on Amazon Prime.
It’s the end of Sharknado week. Sharknado: The Last One premieres tonight on Syfy and I’m winding down my features on sharks with a movie that I really enjoy. Piranha Sharks features cameos by Al Snow (ECW, WWE, TNA) and future wrestling personality Jose Canseco, a former major league baseball player, who recently signed with World Class Revolution Pro Wrestling.
Piranha sharks is set during the holiday season where bio engineered sharks to be used as weapons are a total failure. They are too erratic and end up eating a lab technician from the inside out. A couple of jamokes suggest to the head of the company that they market them like sea monkeys. Naturally everything goes tits up when people start buying these pets since you know, “People love sharks.”
This movie is a blast to watch. The characters are likable and it really works as a fun slice of dark humor centered around miniature freaking sharks. The exterminators that are the main focus of the film have some really fun dialogue with each other and you really do care about their lives. Kevin Sorbo plays the constantly pantsless mayor of Manhattan. Al Snow plays the creator of piranha sharks, an anthrophobe, who is scared to death of people. For someone with so few lines, he surely adds to the film, with his spastic outbursts and petting of plants. Jose Canseco plays himself, he is a spokesperson for piranha sharks. They are his babies and they saved his marriage. The CGI isn’t horrible and the practical effects of the piranha sharks when they are dissected and used in closeups are great. I really like the look of them. Although not super heavy on the gore when the mayhem begins it doesn’t let up very often. This is a fun movie that I’m sure most people who love B-Movies will enjoy. It’s a step above most of the stuff you see on SyFy. Unfortunately it never had a DVD release in the United States as far as I know. There is a German DVD with the actual title of Piranha Sharks and a release from the United Kingdom under the title Jurassic Piranha. It is available to stream on Amazon Video if you want to watch it. I definitely recommend this film.
Al Snow as Dr. Parsons
Jose Canseco in deep contemplative thought about his beloved piranha sharks
We’re throwing it back today to 1976 with Mako Jaws of Death. Mako stars Harold Sakata most known as Odd Job from the Bond movie Goldfinger. Harold was also a professional wrestler from 1950-1975 billed under the name of Tosh Togo. The native Hawaiian played a part in bringing professional wrestling to Japan after the second world war.
Mako Jaws of Death is quite the odd movie, it’s a shark attack movie in a different vein than most of the public is used to. It is about a loner named Sonny Stein who has a deep connection with sharks. Sonny loves sharks, he goes after everyone who mistreats sharks by attacking them and throwing them to the sharks. A strange medallion he wears around his neck was given to him by a priest of the shark god after he escapes through a Filipino inlet while doing salvage in the south seas. Mako moves slowly, sometimes even painfully slow but I enjoyed it. In the movie the sharks are sympathetic instead of being a menace terrorizing anyone who dares enter the water. Man is mistreating sharks and Sonny Stein armed with his medallion is here to avenge the wrong doings against shark kind.
Harold Sakata plays Pete in the movie, a drunken shark hunter. Pete along with his friend, Charlie torment Stein every chance they get. Harold does a fine job playing the physically imposing shark hunter and though his lines are hard to understand in the film, his body language and physicality are top notch in the film. There are a few other unsavory characters in the film including a scientist, a bar owner, and his wife. Stein seems to be just misunderstood at first but we see that he is deeply disturbed throughout the movie. The movie as a whole although not an action packed film is still satisfying. A man with a psychic connection to sharks is an interesting and original premise for a film and it didn’t disappoint me.
If you’re a fan of 70’s movies, shark movies, or oddities this is a film for you. If you don’t go in expecting something along the lines of more modern shark attack movies you may really enjoy it. The film is also unique in that it doesn’t employ animatronic sharks but instead uses real sharks who are actually in the water with actors at times. It’s worth a view for that alone. Check it out not only for the late Sakata’s performance of Pete but also the novelty of real sharks being showcased and filmed.
If you’re picking up a movie called Shark Exorcist, you pretty much know what you’re in for. You’re not here for high brow entertainment, you’re down in the gutter, ready for a good time with the expectation to be asking yourself, “What the hell?”. That’s exactly what you’ll get watching Donald Farmer’s crazier than a bed bug movie Shark Exorcist.
Shark Exorcist is about a lake in Tennesse plagued by a demonic shark, summoned by a satanic nun. It attacks a girl visiting with her friends and all hell breaks loose. Shark Exorcist stars Roni Jonah, an OVW alumni and at one point the Miz’ onscreen girl friend. Roni Jonah wrestled for a short time but has made a splash in her acting roles. She is in the upcoming movie Powerbomb which I have written about in prior posts. I can’t wait for that film. Roni plays a paranormal investigator, Nancy Chase who is on a tv show called Ghost Whackers. She is on scene at the lake to communicate with the spirits of the victims of the shark attack but in doing so she is possessed by the demon shark. Although she is not the central focus of the film, the focus being the group of friends who visit the lake, namely Ali the girl attacked and possessed, she certainly brings the movie a bit of comedic relief and brightness. Shark Exorcist is largely a mess but boy, what a mess it is! It will certainly not be everyone’s cup of tea but I enjoyed it for what it was. The exorcism parts with a priest played by Bobby Kerecz who also portrays his brother in the film seem like a different movie but it still works. I would have liked for it to be more seamlessly integrated into the film and have a more prominent role than it ends up having, however. Apart from the low quality of the demon shark and the way the actors portray being dragged under by it, the effects are good. It’s largely lots of blood and vomit but there is also a toothy bit of makeup later in the film. The movie is pretty short at 70 or so minutes but 20 minutes of it is what appears to be an extended shoe horned after credit scene. If you like bottom of the barrel straight to video fare I hope you get the chance to see this. It’s no masterpiece but it satisfied me as a viewer. Be sure to follow Roni Jonah on twitter to keep up with her upcoming roles and grab a few brews, take a couple shots and sit down to experience Shark Exorcist, it’s gonna be one hell of a time.
Today marks the beginning of what will most likely the last Sharknado week on the SyFy channel. It’s a week I sometimes painfully look forward to as it has become somewhat a tradition to get trashed and watch the newest Sharknado in hopes a wrestler will cameo. You may remember my Drunknado articles where I covered some of the Sharknado films that star wrestlers. Today I continue my voyage into open waters with a few other shark films that star professional wrestlers and wrestling personalities.
The Sharknado franchise may seem like the movies that took the gimmicky shark movies to it’s peak popularity or dare I say infamy but there were a slew of gimmick ridden shark attack movies before it both on cable tv and direct to video releases. Sand Sharks is one of those. It is from 2011 and stars Brooke Hogan, Hulk Hogan’s daughter. Brooke was involved in Total Non Stop Action Wrestling as the head of the Knockouts division in 2012-2013.
The movie is about a beach town, White Sands, that is on a bit of down swing economically. The mayor’s son Jimmy Green is back in town and ready to bring a little prosperity to the town with a spring break Sandman Festival but first he needs his dad to loan him a bit of money. However, something odd is happening at the beach, with people being eaten. At first it seems like just an ordinary shark attack to the cops but it soon becomes apparent that the sharks are actually swimming in the sand and not the water. Brooke Hogan plays Dr. Sandy Powers, a marine specialist. She does a fairly good job at portraying this role, although sometimes her line delivery is a bit odd. There is a bit where she calls the sheriff Roger Corman which made me chuckle like an idiot. The CGI isn’t top notch but it looks decent. The practical effects when used are great, especially the shark bits and pieces. The kills are fun and the movie has some fun action pieces. As far as B movies go you could do a lot worse than sitting down to watch Sand Sharks. If you’re a fan of Brooke Hogan I think you will love this film because it is her first non cameo role in a movie. It didn’t have the greatest budget so some of the party scenes look a bit sparse but it works. All in all a fun little movie. If you have Amazon Prime it is included as part of Prime Video so if you’re in the mood to have some mindless fun for 90 minutes check it out.
On July 29, 2018 we lost Josip Hrvoje Peruzović better known as Nikolai Volkoff of WWE fame. It was a hard loss for me not because I knew him personally but because when I was first getting into professional wrestling I signed up for the WWE Network and watched nothing but WWF Saturday Night’s Main Event. I instantly was in awe of this man who belted out the Soviet Union’s national anthem, a culture I had been fascinated by for many years. Although he was a heel I still related to the proud Russian portrayal by Josip. I never met him even though I had wanted to very much to tell him that he helped a 20 some year old through some difficult times. I watched the network on a laptop perched on the foot of my bed and it was always a delight to see him wrestle. It is with a profound sadness that I say, “пока старый друг.” In a while old friend. I feel the best way to honor him is by reviewing his only on screen appearance in the film Terror in the Pharaoh’s Tomb.
Terror in the Pharaoh’s Tomb is an interesting film. It is in B&W and interspersed with footage from movies starring Bela Lugosi, Peter Lorre, and Lon Chaney. It revolves around an expedition in Egypt and a marriage postponed. The expedition finds a tomb and opens it only to release a mummy and a queen who longs for power and revenge. It was largely shot in front of what I believe to be blue screen. At times it works well but it largely fell flat for me. Apart from some ham fisted acting from most of the actors and actresses on screen the thing that bothered me most was the use of what I believe to be air soft guns wildly out of period for the time frame the movie is portraying, the 1930’s.
I actually felt that the scene that Nikolai Volkoff is in was probably the strongest portion of the film. I felt that it was not only the best shot but also the most competently acted of the film. You may enjoy this film if you are a fan of B&W film or the preservation of film. Otherwise it is largely a pass in my opinion unless like me you feel the need to seek it out for Nikolai’s involvement in the movie. It also stars Nikita Breznikov, a manager from the Baltimore scene who worked with Volkoff on local shows.
Volkoff: Far left in what appears to be part of his WWF ring attire and Breznikov; Far right
This past weekend I had the pleasure of visiting one of my favorite historical sites, Fort Niagra in Youngstown New York. Fort Niagra is the oldest continuously occupied military site in North America. Seeing use in the French and Indian War, American Revolution, War of 1812, Civil Wars, both World Wars, and the Korean War. Fort Niagra also happens to be relevant to the movie Mohawk, the subject of today’s post as the fort is mentioned about 5-10 minutes into the film. The film was shot in upstate New York.
Mohawk is set during the War of 1812, a conflict between the American and British Forces. It is about 3 lovers; Joshua, a British officer, Oak, a Mohawk female, and Calvin, a Mohawk male. It revolves around their conflict with a rag tag group of American soldiers hellbent on revenge after an attack on their garrison by Calvin. It stars Luke Harper (WWE) as Lachlan Allsop, one of the American soldiers.
Mohawk is a great horror/thriller film and a wonderful period piece. I’m a sucker for movies with a historical bent but this is also a really well done movie. All of the characters have motivations for their actions and it creates a great tension between the two factions after each other in a deadly chase. It had me engrossed the whole time and I was interested in their conflict. The music is exceptionally well done, creating aural tension that works alongside the imagery perfectly. It’s a brutal unforgiving film portraying violence in a blunt way that really knocks you back. If you are a fan of gore, you will surely appreciate the effects in this film. Luke Harper as Lachlan does a bang up job in his acting debut. I hope this leads to other roles for him, he really brings Lachlan to life. His knee injury showcased in the movie as part of his character happened to be real as Harper was injured around the time of the filming of this movie while wrestling. I don’t wish harm on anyone but the fact that Harper was able to work on this movie is a treat for us wrestling fans who also love genre film. Lachlan is decidedly more calm and articulate than Harper’s character on WWE television but we see a bit of his unhinged side later in the film. I really don’t want to go too much into the plot of this movie as it is a fairly recent release and I think everyone who is a fan of horror or Luke Harper should check this out. Rent it at your local video spot if you have one or if you don’t pick it up on DVD.
A few years back I bought a pack of movies from Amazon simply called 9 Action Movies starring Hulk Hogan & Jesse Ventura. I picked it up not only for the film I’m writing about today but also because the movies on the set also featured Roddy Piper and Asbjørn Riis. The icing on the cake was being able to get both Shadow Warriors films starring Hulk Hogan which are pricey separately.
Abraxas , Guardian of the Universe released in 1990 stars Jesse “The Body” Ventura (WWE). Jesse has been in a handful of films including a memorable role as Blaine, the mini-gun toting soldier in the 1987 film Predator. Jesse Ventura is probably most known as that professional wrestler who became the governor of Minnesota or that guy who talks about all those conspiracies on that one show. Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe is about two intergalactic cops known as finders, Abraxas played by “The Body” and Secundus played by Danish body builder, Sven-Ole Thorsen. Finders have a certain set of directives they must follow and are virtually immortal. Abraxas has been a finder for near 10,000 years and Secundus as told to us by Abraxas is a renegade, who he has been tasked to apprehend. Renegades happen every once in a while because as Abraxas tells us that over the many years of being a finder you see things and do things that take their toll. Secundus comes to Earth because he needs a woman’s body so he may create a comater. A comater retains the anti-life equation he desires which will allow him to be the most powerful being in the universe. Upon Secundus simply touching a young woman, a comater is conceived and born almost instantly. Abraxas ordered to kill the woman and the possible comater that is within her hesitates because of his firm grasp on the concept of right and wrong. The film then jumps forward 5 years to when Abraxas is ordered once again to kill the comater before Secundus, who has returned, obtains the anti-life equation.
The cut included on this DVD looks and sounds like it was ripped directly from an old VHS tape. I think that really adds to the experience although I would love to see a remaster released. Abraxis, Guardian of the Universe feels more like an 80’s film than a 90’s film but I don’t hold that against it, it is entertaining despite it’s ham-fisted ineptitude. Abraxas is a mess and could possibly be called one of the worst films made from technical and plot standpoints, however, it was made with heart in my opinion redeeming it from its shortcomings. The movie knows what it wants to be and does it. It doesn’t care that it leaves many questions unanswered. It simply wants to take you on a ride where these two ancient beings are pitted against each other, Secundus looking for the comater to retrieve the anti-life equation and Abraxas, hell bent on protecting the comater because of his moral fortitude. It’s a cheesy movie with decent special effects for its time. There is plenty of awkward line delivery from both Jesse Ventura and Sven-Ole but that only lends to it’s appeal to me. If you like your movies full of cheese and acting that isn’t quite the greatest I feel you will get a kick out of this film. The soundtrack is odd and doesn’t seem to entirely fit the movie but I still enjoyed it. I especially like the song Strong As Am by the Prime Movers which plays near the final showdown. Jesse delivers his lines in a robotic manner but it really works for the character, who is a total outsider from the human race despite his human appearance. If you are a fan of Jesse Venutra or just a fan of B-movies you owe it to yourself to give this a shot.
The entries this month will be a mix of everything. I originally had a theme planned for June but I’m getting such a late start that I can’t do what I wanted to with it so we are doing Junk in June. This doesn’t mean the movies I watch will be junk just that they have no central theme that links them together.
Bushwick (2017) directed by Cary Murnion and Jonathan Millot stars Dave (Batista) Bautista (WWE) and Brittany Snow (Pitch Perfect). Batista is no stranger to movies; he found his groove acting wise in the movie Guardians of the Galaxy but other films that he has starred in were also entertaining. I especially enjoyed Enter the Warrior’s Gate. Bushwick is about Lucy played by Brittany Snow who has returned to her home town to meet her folks with her boyfriend Jose. An odd announcement about the subway station being shut down is swept aside by Lucy as trains are shutdown all the time. Upon seeing a burning man run down the station stairs, however, it is abundantly clear that something is not right. Jose runs for help but is killed by an explosion. Lucy walks outside to see her home of Bushwick has turned to utter chaos, there are people clad in black military gear shooting folks. She is handcuffed by one of these mysterious men but manages to escape and get out of her cuffs, unfortunately, she is witness to two men executing another citizen. Pursued by these men she enters a basement, they attempt to rape her but are beat up by the inhabitant of the house, Stupe, played by Batista. This movie is a fine example of modern day exploitation, a trend I hope to see continue. Although it has sleek hollywood style visuals, it’s pure grime underneath. It plays to our fears as a nation, that of political unrest so great that it leads to another civil war. The music in this film is always great. It reminds me of Carpenter’s music in Assault on Precinct 13. It’s a score that really lets you know that the stuff is really going to hit the fan. Batista’s emotionally tormented portrayal of Stupe is heart felt and sincere; his action scenes as always are fun to watch from body slams and tackles to small close quarter gun skirmishes. I feel that 10-15 years down the line this will be seen as a cult classic. The story is simple but characters are developed just enough for you to really care about Lucy and Stupe’s struggle to survive Bushwick’s invasion by mysterious forces. Bushwick hits all the right notes in my opinion, it left me satisfied and unsettled like a good exploitation film should. I’d definitely recommend this one to everyone even if they aren’t a fan of films that star professional wrestlers.
Hercules released in 2014 stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. This is the second Hercules movie I’ve watched today and I don’t know if I’ll end up burnt out on films based on his legends. Hercules is actually based on the comic Hercules: The Thracian Wars written by Steve Moore who is of no relation to Alan Moore who is also a comic writer. In fact Steve Moore helped Alan learn how to write comic scripts.
Hercules is a beautiful film, and it feels like a comic brought to life which it is. Hercules played by The Rock is accompanied by a band of loyal warriors and is haunted by a murky past. He is now a mercenary working for those who give him the most gold. His many labors are recanted by his cousin in elaborate stories. His labors are of mythical proportions but all have earthly explanations. He is hired by Lord Cotys played by John Hurt who you may know as Kane from Alien (1979). After training Cotys’ forces for a battle for Thrace, things turn to be not at all what they seem.
John Hurt as Lord Cotys
This movie accomplishes bringing Hercules to the big screen in a fun, stylish, and competent way. If one longs for a perfect modern entry into the sword and sandals genre they may find it in this film. Hercules may not be all about Hercules and his many labors as the Italian films from the 50’s and 60’s were it is still a worthy successor to them. The Rock commands attention from the beginning of the film to the end. His band of warriors are also portrayed well by the actors who play them. Of them Tydeus played by Aksel Hennie is my favorite. Aksel Hennie is a Norwegian actor who played Max Manus in the film Max Manus: Man of War. I am very invested in foreign cinema and Max Manus was a lot of fun. I would also be remiss not to point out that the executioner in the latter half of the movie is played by Robert Maillet, the former WWE wrestler Kurrgan, turned actor. Hercules works perfectly as a popcorn movie and should be in everyone who is a fan of the theatrical output of The Rock’s collection.