Junk in June: Mohawk

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. Luke harper mohawkHarper mohawkHarper bracecolonel-and-harper.jpg

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.

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Junk in June: Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe

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.

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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.

Junk in June: Bushwick

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

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.

 

Myths & May: Hercules (2014)

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_ver7.jpg

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.

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JOhn hurt cotysJohn 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.

TydeusAksel Hennie as Tydeus

kurgan-prisoners.jpgKurrgan as the executioner among prisoners

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Myths & May: Hercules Reborn

There is no other character from mythology in my opinion more suitable to be played by a professional wrestler than the Greek hero Hercules. Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks this way either as through the many years of adaptations of myths starring Hercules there have been a handful of wrestlers to portray this legendary character. This entry begins a slew of films that I will cover over the week that feature Hercules as a character in which wrestlers also star in. Hercules Reborn was not the only Hercules film released in 2014. That year also saw The Legend of Hercules starring Kellan Lutz (Twilight saga) and Hercules starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson hit theaters. Unlike the latter two movies Hercules Reborn was released direct to DVD in the states.

Hercules Reborn

Hercules Reborn stars John Morrison (Impact, Lucha Underground, WWE, AAA) as Hercules. However, the movie doesn’t actually revolve around Hercules. Instead the main character who drives the plot is a soldier recently made captain named Arius. His general Nikos is a jealous and angry man who is sick of the king and desires Arius’ fiancee princess Theodora for himself. Nikos slays the king and kidnaps Theodora so Arius sets out to find Hercules who is known to help those in need.

 

I was very surprised by this film, it has good production values and although the plot is pretty simple it manages to entertain throughout. The genre of sword and sandal films also known as peplum isn’t quite as popular nowadays as it was in the 50’s and 60’s when Italian made films of the genre flooded theaters. I think Hercules Reborn does a good job of taking that genre and giving us a modern day B movie peplum offering. Hercules in this movie is a constantly gassy drunk, often burping and vomiting after having too much to drink. He has a tragic past where he kills his family. We are shown this in the beginning of the film. The rest of the film sees him trying to redeem himself from his haunting actions. John Morrison does an awesome job portraying this version of Hercules and is given ample opportunity to put his acrobatic wrestling talent on display in numerous fight scenes.

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I am Hercules

Bloody Hercules

If you are a fan of Morrison, direct to DVD fare, or sword and sandals films you could do worse than sitting down with this film for its hour and a half run time, I really think if you go in with just the expectation of being entertained for a bit you’ll have a blast. Hercules Reborn also stars James Duval as Horace, Arius’ faithful friend. Grab a cup made of the finest ancient pottery and fill it with some wine and give Hercules Reborn a viewing.

 

Myths & May Extra: Blood Circus

I was originally going to write about two movies that star Robbie E. in anticipation of Quaker City Wrestling‘s Gym. Tan. Wrestle which features him this Sunday in Salem, Ohio.  However it turns out Robbie isn’t actually in The Wrestler from 2008 which stars Mickey Rourke as Randy “The Ram”. He is mentioned in an early scene where it is announced Rob Eckos is scheduled to wrestle but upon contacting Robbie via twitter it turns out he wasn’t actually there. He was in 2017’s Blood Circus though.

GymTanWrestle From Left to right “Warmaster” Max Alexander, Mambo Italiano, Lee Moriarty, Robbie E, Joey Vincent Martini, and “Five Star” Thomas Adams

Before I get into Blood Circus I would like to encourage anyone near Salem, Ohio or anyone just willing to travel to hit up this show. Not only will Robbie. E. be there but some of my favorite wrestlers will be there as well. “Five Star” Thomas Adams is always a pleasure to see wrestle and I have always enjoyed my conversations with him. I hope to have him on the site in the near future to talk about movies. The Bouncer is also scheduled to wrestle. The Bouncer is no stranger to the acting scene as he was in the film The Zombinator from 2012 and more recently The Refractor. Joey Vincent Martini is also on the card, he was in The Refractor too. Last but certainly not least is Beastman. Beastman is the reason I am such a fan of independent wrestling and I’m so glad to be a fan. He has a cameo in Pro Wrestlers Vs. Zombies. If you can make it to the show, I’m sure you will have a blast. Doors open at 5:30 with a special preshow match at Salem Memorial building located at 785 E State St. Salem, Ohio.

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Blood Circus is about an ex MMA fighter named Sean Dillion who is roped into a fight to the death tournament called Blood Circus. Bodies start popping up and the cops are investigating whether or not Blood Circus is happening in their town. It stars Kevin Nash (WCW, WWE), Tommy Dreamer (ECW, WWE, Impact Wrestling), Robbie E (Impact Wrestling), Josef Von Schmidt (various independents), Zane Bernardo, and DG Haven.

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I enjoyed this movie. I thought the actors did a good job and it’s production values were excellent. If you are a fan of Cop dramas or MMA you should be able to have a fun time with it. Kevin Nash plays Santos the mysterious man behind the underground fighting and internet phenomenon known as Blood Circus. He has the most screen time of the wrestlers in this film. Robbie E plays a bar patron who has a close encounter with the retired MMA fighter Sean Dillon who gets involved in the Blood Circus, as does DG Haven a manager who got his start in wrestling because of Tommy Dreamer who he worked with on a previous film. Tommy plays the bar’s bouncer. Josef Von Schmidt plays one of Santos’ thugs and if I’m not mistaken Zane Bernardo does as well. Also the MMA and street fight legend Dada 5000 stars in this. If you like action films give this one a shot.

Robbie ERobbie E

DreamerTommy Dreamer as the bouncer

Robbie E and Dg HavenRobbie, left and DG Haven, right

Josef Von Schmidt.jpgJosef Von Schmidt as a thug

Nash Santos.jpgNash as Santos

 

I’d definitely recommend this film to fans of B movies who are fans of professional wrestling and folks who are keen on cop dramas. This movie also stars Tom Sizemore and a couple other names. All in all this was an enjoyable film and one I wouldn’t mind watching again. I’d say this one is worth picking up.

The Junk Files- Myths & May Extra: Thor

The Junk Files are premiering a little bit earlier than I expected. While I was watching Almighty Thor the other day for my first post of Myths & May, I remembered that the Marvel movie Thor also starred a professional wrestler.

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Since it was only a cameo, it is perfect for this post. Jesse “Justice” Smith appears as the Frost Giant Brute in Thor. Justice Smith was trained by Ultimate Pro Wrestling in California at their Ultimate University. He later appeared in the 2004 edition of WWE’s Tough Enough along side a favorite of mine Mike Mizanin more commonly known as The Miz. Justice would wrestle briefly on the independent scene before retiring and competing on the American Gladiator reboot in 2008. He is also a mixed martial artist.

 

Justice_SmithJesse “Justice” Smith

There are so many frost giants in Thor that it is hard to see which giant Justice actually portrayed. Since they appear in a hyper kinetic fight scene on the mythical plane of Jotunheim it is almost impossible to take note of each one as they are being destroyed left and right by Thor and his compatriots. I think the giant that charges into battle when Thor demands a larger challenge is portrayed by Justice but I could be wrong. I’m going to include a capture of who I think is Justice as the Frost Giant Brute but I could be mistaken. Perhaps if I can find Justice on social media I will be able to ask if it is him.

Justice possiblyMy guess as to which frost giant is the Brute played by Justice Smith

Myths & May: Almighty Thor

I’ve been missing in action for months.  However, my love for wrestlers and their foray into the acting scene never wavered. I’ve been on somewhat of a personal growth journey lately but feel I can finally give my blog the attention it deserves.

Although we are almost through the month of May, I’m going to do some articles on movies that are inspired by ancient mythology that star pro wrestlers. My first one for the month is from The Asylum and is titled Almighty Thor. Almighty Thor is a mock-buster of the Marvel Studios film Thor. It was made for the Syfy channel and premiered May 7th 2011. It stars Kevin Nash (WCW, WWE)  as Odin, Richard Grieco of 21 Jump Street fame as Loki, Cody Deal as Thor, and Jess Allen as Baldir.

Almighty Thor

 

The plot centers around Loki and his quest for the hammer of invincibility. This movie is loosely based on Norse mythology. I was hoping Nash would have a much larger part to play in this movie, however, despite such high billing he is only prominent in the first twenty minutes of the film. Nash chews scenery and delivers a few lines, he is given a small fight scene as well. He looks the part of Odin and given what he was handed to work with does a decent job in his portrayal. His fight scene is not the greatest but he does get to deliver a signature big boot to the baddie Loki.

Nash as Odin

 

Nash Almighty Thor

The boot

Cody Deal who plays Thor seems more suited to play Thor’s brother Baldir (more commonly spelled as Baldur) as he is far more fair looking like Baldir is described in the myths. Jess Allen who plays Baldir looks like he not only would have suited the role of Thor but looks like he could have had a small stint in the squared circle. He had such a prototypical McMahon favorite look that I immediately searched if he did indeed have a career as a professional wrestler.

Deal Nash AllenLeft to right; Deal as Thor, Nash as Odi, Jess Allen as Baldir

The movie takes place both in the dwelling of the demi gods and the modern day real world, a plot similarity that it shares with the blockbuster it tends to ape. However, instead of landing in New Mexico, Thor and a demi goddess Jarnsaxa (played by Patricia Velasquez who genre fans will recognize as Anck-Su-Namun from The Mummy)  sent by Odin to help him land in a grungy nondescript cityscape. Thor and Jarnsaxa dress as humans but Loki decides to strut around the city dressed in his Midgardian garb. It suits Greico as he was a fashion model as well at one point in his career.

VelasquezVelasquez as Jarnsaxa

Greico.jpgLoki portrayed by Greico arrives at the human realm

This film as a whole was a hard watch. I have never seen Thor portrayed like he is in this movie, he lacks confidence and his constant whining is more fitting of an adolescent than a god. Almighty Thor doesn’t seem like it knows what exactly it wants to be. It aims to be much bigger than it actually ends up being. The destruction of the city is Loki pointing at things with a bone scepter and screaming Ragnarok while people skitter here and there amidst the CGI explosions At a length of about 92 minutes it should be an easy watch but it drags on incessantly.  I wouldn’t really recommend this film unless like me you feel that you have to watch as many movies starring wrestlers that you possibly can. However, if you enjoy alcohol, with a few beers or shots you and your friends could possibly enjoy it. I’ll probably end up picking this up if I can find it used extremely cheap just for completion sake.

On a side note; I have been thinking about what to do features on this month and the many months going forward. I have decided to start a little odd column that will pop up once in a while called The Junk Files. The Junk Files will be little blurbs and summaries of movies that wrestlers appear in only as very small cameos, stunt workers, or behind the scene personnel. I may also cover whatever I watch that doesn’t star professional wrestlers. I’m not quite sure yet.

Rock’in Around the Christmas Tree Extra: “Shawn” We Now Our Gay Apparel, Pure Country: Pure Heart Review

Today, I’m taking things in quite a different direction. Pure Country: Pure Heart is a country musical that was put out by Warner Bros. and WWE Studios back in August of this year. It’s about the Spencer sisters who want to find out information about their late dad, a former Marine, who also happened to be a singer. Their mother, Elizabeth, played by Amanda Detmer (Final Destination) has kept details about their dad from them.

 

Their journey takes them to a veteran’s home where they meet CJ Simms, a Korean veteran, played by Ronny Cox. You may know Cox as Dick Jones from Robocop (1987) or Cohaagen from Total Recall (1990). Ronny very rarely takes roles in films nowadays and focuses on his music career and he sure can sing.

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Their journey also takes them to Nashville to seek out a friend of Simms who reveals to them that their father sang with Marq Dunn, a famous female musician. Marq’s bodyguard, Ted, is played by none other than former WWE Superstar, Shawn Michaels. This happens to be Shawn’s second film, his acting debut, The Resurrection of Gavin Stone was released on DVD back in January 2017.

 

Shawn Michaels Pure Country Pure HeartShawn Michaels as Ted

This movie is a heartwarming tale and it is quite the emotional roller coaster. It also stars Willie Nelson. If you’re looking for something to watch this holiday season with your friends and family and they are a fan of country music then you certainly could do no better than this film. I’m not the biggest fan of current country music but this movie was enjoyable and all the music was wonderful. I’d be remiss to not inform you that this is indeed a sequel to the 1992 film Pure Country,  it is actually the second sequel being preceded by the movie Pure Country 2: The Gift. However, it doesn’t seem to be necessary to watch the first two to enjoy or understand this one. So settle in with some cocoa and enjoy this film if it seems you would enjoy it.

Rock’in Around the Christmas Tree: Good “Scorpion” King Wenceslas

Today, I’m covering The Rock’s first major foray into Hollywood, The Scorpion King. This was not his acting debut as he appeared on an episode of Star Trek Voyager in 2000 and he played the Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns a year later. However, he was just the villain in The Mummy Returns and was mostly CGI. Here in Scorpion King, a spin off of the The Mummy series, Dwayne has the starring role as Mathyus.

 

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The movie opens with a daring rescue by Mathyus of his brother Jesup, played by Branscombe Richmond, from a band of Barbarians. Branscombe would later star alongside Dwayne in the movie Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. It just so happens that the Barbarian Chieftain is played by Tyler Mane. Tyler is a former professional wrestler turned actor. He was trained in the infamous Hart Dungeon and wrestled in Japan for AJPW and in Mexico for CMLL. You may know him as Big Sky, his role in WCW, where he wrestled alongside Vinnie Vegas, better known as Kevin Nash. Nash himself is no stranger to film.

 

Tyler Mane.jpgTyler Mane as Barbarian Cheiftain

Mathyus is among the last of the Akkadians, an almost mythical tribe, he along with his brother are hired by a local chieftain to kill Memnon’s sorcerer. Memnon, evil ruler and main villain is played by Steven Brand, mostly known for voice acting and TV roles. On the way to kill the sorcerer there is a scene where a horse thief is being tortured. One of the torturers is played by Nils Allen Stewart. Stewart had a brief stint as a wrestler in Eddy Mansfield’s IWF, as The Stomper. IWF is known for producing stars such as Billy Gunn and Rob Van Dam. Stewart is known for his many roles in film, however, much more is known about his son “BooBoo” Stewart, famous for his role in the Twilight Breaking Dawn films.

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This movie is an action packed romp through the desert and a perfect vehicle for The Rock to strut his stuff action wise. You’ll notice some mannerisms in this film that will later be hallmarks in his other films. You can even see a bit of his comedic timings that would be more fully realized in a series of family films and more recently Central Intelligence. If you’re a fan of action films, or a fan of The Mummy franchise, it’s really a must watch. Although The Rock never would reprise his role as Mathyus , The Scorpion King would spawn three sequels; The Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior which starred UFC star Randy Couture, The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption starring WWE star turned actor, Batista and the late Kimbo Slice, boxer, mixed martial artist and once to be professional wrestler, the most recent sequel The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power, starring Royce Gracie UFC super star, former WWE superstar Eve Torres, and UFC Star Antonio Silva.

I’d also like to take the time to share that I had the privilege to write for local Pittsburgh Wrestler Shirley Doe’s movie blog B&S About Movies this month for Christmas Cinema Week. Although the movies I reviewed do not star pro wrestlers, if you’re interested in reading about what other stuff I like to watch you can check those out below. As of the posting of this only two of my reviews are up there but one for Mother Krampus is coming soon.

23846532_10155232731064397_222194057_nNight Before Christmas

 

25437103_10155290246094397_1878957089_nThe Elf