Horror fans, in general seem to enjoy pro wrestling, and vice versa. And believe it or not the two have been married for quiet sometime. El Santo fought Monsters, and aliens back in the 60’s. Matt Hardy, Roddy Piper, and Shane Douglas battled zombies. Kane was a serial killer, the list could go on and on. Well back in 1994 Dale Schnek, and Ed Polgardy fame came up with a concept for a pro wrestling slasher movie. They used their own money to finance and hit a few snags. So filming stopped for a bit and picked back up in 1996. They once again ran out of money and the actors involved moved on to other work. The film was almost done, and Schnek packed up the negatives and stored them away in his basement. Finally in 2017 he took the negatives out and began converting them to High Def. He added a beginning and end sequence to sandwich what he had filmed and finally after almost 24 years had finally completed his masterpiece.
The Masked Mutilator was a pro wrestling superstar. But one night after applying a sleeper hold to his opponent he becomes overzealous and snaps his opponents neck, killing him dead center of the ring. That’s frowned upon and he is banned for life. We pick up with him years later as he is now without his wrestling mask and working in a group home for troubled teens. The kids call him “Commando” as he is huge. He gives them a lot of tough love. Simple yet effective things like locking them in “The Cell” when they misbehave, or putting them in choke holds and the ever popular “Chicken Wing” to subdue them if they get out of line. He runs a tight ship, and in the beginning breaks up a fight involving one of the more troubled kids named “Rocker” he throws Rocker in the cell and goes back to work.
The next day we see the arrival of two new characters. Brian Worth (Tom Taylor who also did the stunt coordinating) a martial arts bad ass with a heart of gold. Gotta have at least one good hearted delinquent, and Steve Carson (Brick Bronsky from Troma Fame) as the new group home councilor, fresh out of school and ready to make a difference. Steve and Mike (the Masked Mutilator) clash right away over there different approaches in dealing with troubled kids, but that’s not all. Unfortunately a killer wearing the mask of the Masked Mutilator has arrived and begins murdering the kids. Has Mike snapped or will he need to step into the ring with a new killer? You’ll have to watch and see.
I simply loved this film. Top to bottom its great. Its very low budget, like in the sense the group home its filmed in is clearly somebody’s house with signs taped to doors. The effects are all practical, and a bit on the lower budget side but to me this added to the charm. The acting was pretty good and all of the characters had great chemistry together. There was an ample amount of blood so the slasher fans will no doubt enjoy it. And yes, don’t worry wrestling fans, when there are fight sequences there are done with lots of wrestling moves.
One of the things I like the most about this film, aside from the fact its so fun is that you can tell the creators are not only wrestling fans, but horror fans as well. You can feel the passion they have for both. The wrestling aspect is never presented as something goofy, and the horror element is never done to over the top. It’s a perfect blend of both worlds, and to see it all play out is really a thing of beauty.
Thanks to the awesome folks at Severin under their InterVision label they have given this the Blu-ray release it deserves. It looks really good especially its coming off a 16mm transfer that sat in a basement for 24 years. The audio is fantastic. That actually sounds as though it would have been receded in high def. Its even got special features, one of them with the late great Mean Gene Okerlund which was a blast for me to watch.
· Audio Commentary with Cast & Crew (Dale Schneck, Tom Taylor, Paul Sutt, Steve Mittman and Jim “The Tank” Dorsey)
· You See Me Sweatin’? – Interview with Actor Tom Taylor
· Slice the Pretty Boy – Interview with Actor/FX Artist Paul Sutt
· Scissors, Tape & Paste – Interview with Co-Writer/Co-Executive Producer Ed Polgardy
· Don’t Believe That, Folks – Interview with Co-Writer/Executive Producer Dale Schneck
· Audition Tapes
· Mean Gene Okerlund Interviews Tom Taylor
A great film from top to bottom and a true labor of love to watch and enjoy. Wrestling fans, slasher fans, and fans of independent films should definitely pick this up. It really has something for everyone. I’m glad it finally was able to see the light of day. Do yourself a favor and pick it up.
Overall 4out of 5 Stars!