WRESTLEMASSACRE / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: BRAD TWIGG / STARRING: RICHIE ACEVEDO, JULIO BANA FERNANDEZ, ROSANNA NELSON, RENE DUPREE / RELEASE DATE: 16TH JUNE
There’s a thriving market for low-budget horror movies, ensuring that if you have the wherewithal to follow your dream and make that gory story that’s been sitting at the back of your brain for years, there’ll be an audience eagerly lapping up the gallons of fake blood used in the making of your film.
WrestleMassacre, completed in 2018 but now given a VOD release, is from director Brad Twigg, responsible for the low- to no-budget MILFS vs Zombies and Killer Campout, and eager contributor to the Grindsploitation series. Working with regular partner Matthew Furman, Twigg has crafted the story of a lonely groundskeeper keen to follow in his father’s footsteps as a professional wrestler, only to be thwarted at the first hurdle, sending him into a murderous rage.
Richie Acevedo, who wrestled in the 1990s and 2000s as the Cuban Assassin (but not the famous one), stars as groundskeeper Randy and, while he brings some sympathy to the role, you can see why his resumé mostly consists of uncredited background parts. He has all the skills needed, however, for the latter part of the film – and the reason most people will tune in to this kind of movie – when he embarks on a homicidal rampage, using wrestling moves and whatever weapons are to hand to render his victims into gory puddles.
Twigg and Furman try to build the story of a young couple – who, despite some attempt to have us feel for the wife, are a pair of massive assholes – in over their heads with colourful local loan sharks, led by the diminutive Mr Valentine, backed up by a wonderfully over-the-top Jimmy Flame, and including former grapplers Tony Atlas and Jim “Sandman” Fullington among their heavies. Bolted on is a former soldier, apparently supposed to be suffering from PTSD, played by former WWE star René Duprée, the brother of the asshole wife and set up to be the movie’s heroic ace.
Once it gets going, WrestleMassacre is a terribly bloodthirsty movie, with some stomach-turning ways of doing the death to people, both innocent and guilty, and really that’s what sells it. Just as blue movies felt compelled to tack on a storyline to earn a late-night showing on Channel 5, the poorly-acted first half of this film, full of unlikeable characters and gratuitous nudity, may seem like nothing more than an unwelcome prelude to what most people have come for.
The fight scenes are well done, choreographed by Acevedo, and some of the lo-fi special effects are impressive, but narratively the film is a mess, with a pre-titles scene that makes no sense once you’ve reached the end of the movie, and an inexplicable switch from day to night during the film’s final scene. And that’s without even mentioning the tacked-on demonic angle that comes out of nowhere.
Low-budget horror movies have their fans, and WrestleMassacre will find an audience with devotees of chop, slice and smash rampage flicks. It may even attract some curious old-time wrestling fans, with appearances from Jimmy Valiant, Nikolai Volkoff and Manny Fernandez added to those already mentioned. For anyone else, this is something that needn’t trouble you, and there’s nothing wrong with that; in a world full of video distractions, there’s enough to go round for everyone.