I tend to be a sucker for slashers with “massacre” in the title. From The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (contender for greatest horror movie ever made) to 80s camp classics like The Slumber Party Massacre and Sorority House Massacre and modern ultra-low-budget oddities like Pool Party Massacre. There’s just something about the simple pleasures of the whole ***** Massacre phenomenon that really does it for me. So I jumped at the chance to review WRESTLEMASSACRE, a movie that fits firmly in that last camp. And though it’s not likely to appeal to anyone who doesn’t already have a taste for this stuff (and by stuff I mean wrestling fandom and actually independent, z-grade horror) WRESTLEMASSACRE is a charming low-budget satirical gorefest that lives up to the promise of its title.
The movie stars Richie “The Cuban Assassin” Acevedo as Randy, a quiet groundskeeper who dreams of becoming a professional wrestler to earn the respect of everyone around him and win the heart of Becky, a respectful client and literally the only person he knows that treats him with any kindness. Early on in the film, we get not-so-subtle hints (including a pitch-perfect, borderline Lynchian hallucinatory sequence) that Richie is teetering on the edge of sanity, and the constant barrage of insults, racial slurs, and gratuitous teardowns from his clients, coworkers, boss, and even his own father leaves little room for a redemption arc … for anyone. To quote the film’s official synopsis, “a brutal shaming at a local wrestling school pushes Randy over the edge and lights the spark for his blood lust. Donned in wrestling gear and armed with homicidal rage, Randy sets out on a blood-soaked rampage to punish those who wronged him. With each ghastly kill, Randy takes a trophy from his tormentors to add to a wrestling title belt crafted from human flesh.”
The thing you’re going to remember most about this movie, apart from the heavy lineup of wrestlers that fill out the cast, is the gore. It’s all visibly “fake,” I guess, but also exceptionally well-executed under the budgetary constraints. Director Brad Twigg has the passion and vision necessary to pull this kind of thing off, making each scene of flesh-tearing, head-crushing, blood-splattering revenge pop with artistry and genuine thrills. As is typically the case with z-grade horror, there are some dialogue scenes and awkward transitions that are either slow or sorta painful to watch. But more often than not the amateur aspects of the film make for charming ingredients. Plus, the wealth of wrestling talent in this movie means there are all kinds of weird, delightful vibes coming off the cast from scene to scene. And it helps that there’s a clear, uninterrupted commentary on the brutal social stratification of small, economically depressed American communities.
Equal parts gore, humor, camp, and z-grade charm, WRESTLEMASSACRE is the type of movie we’ll probably be seeing a lot more of in the coming years as the inevitable regression of Hollywood accelerates and the film industry becomes more fragmented and, hopefully, more democratic. Movies like this don’t look or feel like a “professional” movie (nor should they), but they represent the type of small community-based filmmaking we should all be rallying around as the gatekeepers of the industry begin to lose their power. WRESTLEMASSACRE will be released on DVD and On Demand June 16th.