Our editor-in-chief Nate Yapp is proud to have contributed to the new book Hidden Horror: A Celebration of 101 Underrated and Overlooked Fright Flicks, edited by Aaron Christensen. Another contributors include Anthony Timpone, B.J. Colangelo, Dave Alexander, Classic-Horror.com's own Robert C. Ring and John W. Bowen. Pick up a copy today from Amazon.com!
Only watch Wrestlemaniac if someone pays you to do it. I can't state strongly enough that this is movie is more than just a waste of your time. It's a waste of the resources used to press and distribute the DVDs. A collector's edition of Howard the Duck would have been a better idea than producing this piece of crap. It is, simply, complete s**t.
The plot is simple. A van full of amateur porn filmmakers gets stranded in a deserted Mexican town, where a psychotic Mexican wrestler, El Mascarado, systematically hunts and kills them. It's not the most innovative story, and one that doesn't necessarily suck, either. On paper, it looks like it could be schlocky fun.
But any joy from the outlandish concept is ruined by the production values. It obviously shot on video, immediately giving it a feel of a low budget amateur production rather than anything remotely professional. We have some passable makeup effects when El Mascarado begins ripping his victim’s faces off, but the entire budget must have gone into these effects, since not even the later impalings seem like they cost more than a few dollars. One of the clearest examples of this film's complete suck is when El Mascarado is bashing one of our wannabe porn stars jaw first into a stone alcove. The sound effects don't accentuate the blows (there's barely any sound at all), and the blood effects are barely noticeable. Add in the fact the deserted village setting, seen quite clearly in broad daylight as a podunk little place that isn't scary or even remotely interesting to look at. It's simply a cheap film, and it shows.
It shows mainly because the director (Jesse Baget) just doesn't know how to direct. He typically places the camera in front of his actors, with no care for or sense of the frame composition. His incompetence is quite clear when he repeatedly allows us to see the pulled punches and lack-of-impact attacks that El Mascarado doles out. The most damning bit, however, is that fact that out of six victims, two are actually killed off screen. While that's common in Greek tragedies, I doubt Jesse Baget was aspiring to those heights. No, instead he merely doesn't have any skill or nuance behind the camera.
When it comes to our cast, they are unrecognizable, barring Irwin Keyes (House of 1000 Corpses) in a bit role as 'The Stranger'. Irwin actually turns in the best performance of the movie, obviously embracing the fact the film is completely ridiculous as he gurns his wonderfully expressive face to deliver his few lines. Sadly, he lasts no longer than a single scene. Rey Misterio Sr, legendary Mexican wrestler, gets top billing as El Mascarado. Since he wears a traditional wrestling mask which covers his face and has no lines, his performance is entirely one expression: wild, crazy-eyed stare. His part becomes entirely comedic -- three parts Nacho Libre, one part Jason Voorhees. Such a combination might have worked if the movie surrounding him didn't just suck so incredibly hard.
Indeed, El Mascarado is a character who deserves a better movie. His mythos, a sort of lucha libre Frankenstein's monster who tears off the faces of his victims in a grotesque parody of the wrestling tradition of unmasking one's foes, is something actually original and familiar enough to be a solid, interesting idea. But the fact that he stalks this shanty town with a grandiose name (Sangre de Dios, mistranslated in the film as 'The Blood of Christ'), and has to kill these entirely pointless characters just means he is a wasted idea. You almost honestly hope this movie gets remade by Hollywood, just so it has a chance to live up to its potential.
I've seen a lot of bad movies in my life. Wrestlemaniac is one of the worst. A crappy film made so much worse from the fact that you can tell that they just didn't try. You feel sorry for Rey Misterio, who must have been lured into this film with delusions of becoming the next El Santo. Instead, he ends up in a dead end film that he can only hope is ignored by the coming decades, rather than become a new horror movie punchline. Do Rey a favor, and just ignore this movie's existence, will you?