Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Grunt! The Wrestling Movie

Grunt! The Wrestling Movie (1985)
Dir: Allan Holzman (Mutant)
Starring: Wally George/ Magic Schwarz/Dan Spivey/Mondo Guerrero/ " Exotic" Adrian Street/Dick Murdoch

Mad Dog Joe Decurso is the baddest man in wrestling , The hottest heel in the biz and things are looking up for the Mad Dog as he takes on Skull Crusher Johnson for the World Heavyweight Championship until a freak incident occurs during the brutal fight for the gold. While preparing to finish the match Skull Crusher gets his head caught in the ring ropes as Mad Dog goes for a dropkick that turns fatal as he decapitates the Champ, Sending his head flying into the crowd. Shocked by his actions and upset for being disqualified in his biggest match , Mad Dog goes missing and rumors of him hitting rock bottom and eventually killing himself by jumping off the Bay Bridge in Oakland California begin to surface.

                                              "Mad Dog" Joe Decurso Wins..... Fatality

                                              The Bay Area getting some Love .....Sort of.
Flash Forward to six years later, The commissioner has still not come to a conclusion on who will be the new champion and due to Skull Crusher not defending his title in so long due to him being dead , the Title is going to be vacated and decided in a Battle Royal. We meet Leslie Uhgums is making a documentary on a new wrestling phenomenon named the Mask, whom many people speculate may be Mad Dog Decurso under a new moniker. One of these believers is Dr. Tweed the President of the Mad Dog is The Mask Fan Club. Leslie and Tweed hit the road to investigate and get to the bottom of the speculation. After interviewing many fans , Doctors , Wrestlers and trainers they Go to question Lola , Joe's ex manager and girlfriend who wants nothing to do with the film. After hitting a dead end The film makers go to a wrestling show where Mask is taking on The Grunt brothers in a handicap match where tweed compares the move sets to further solidify his case. Afterwards the two meet up with Joe's old high school wrestling coach where they see a young Decurso dawning a mask that bares a strong resemblance to the Mysterious new wrestler.
             Six Years and they still kept the title on a dead man? that is some devotion to the business

     This is the only part of the film that earns it an R Rating which is too bad , I could see kids loving this film
Continuing the search for answers , Leslie and Tweed visit Mad Dog's first manager in the business Dick Kopf. he took Joe in after he won a open challenge against his main attraction a 500 pound wrestler named the giant Goon. After that Decurso was teamed up with Captain Carnage but Mad Dog was not a team player and he turned heel almost immediately attacking his partner, At that point Joe hooked up with Lola and became the biggest heel draw in the business. Once again Leslie and Tweed approach Lola looking for answers and she gives in finally breaking down and unloading all of Joe's memorabilia on Tweed, including  some old home movies. Meanwhile Mask is beginning to turn heel as he challenges the Georgia State Champ El Toro ( Mondo Guerrero). During the match Mask loses it and attacks the champ with a set of stairs to win the match in brutal fashion. After the switch the mask's heat rises and he and his valet Angel Face grant Leslie an interview which is cut short when they ask if he is in fact Mad Dog Joe Decurso, Mask's popularity gets him  invited to appear on a controversial conservative talk show hosted by shock jock Wally George. This does not go well as Mask is kicked off after attacking the host for insulting him and bringing up the sore subject of Decurso.

                                                      Class of Nuke Em' High reject

                                                                      The Dougie

 After the show Mask is set to challenge The Human Pyramid which turns out to be four dwarf wrestlers and Furious with this situation The Mask walks away from the match pissed and ditches Angel face for putting him in such a spectacle of a match believing he is above such attractions. Mask Then takes on a more serious Manager in " The Golden Greek" John Tolos . Tolos and Mask are interviewed on "Exotic" Adrien's Street show and they reveal that Mask will be in the upcoming Battle Royal for the Vacant Heavyweight Title. While on the show Adrien brings out Captain carnage who states there is no way Mask is Mad Dog because Mask is not nearly as good, this starts a brawl as the show wraps up.
The main event approaches and fans are interviewed about what they like about wrestling and their thoughts on the entire Mad Dog is the Mask theory, with many of the spectators believing he is in fact the same person. Before the Battle Royal we are treated to a woman's match featuring the legendary Queen Kong and the stage is now set for the big show as the now 12 competitors make their way to the ring. The match takes off as each wrestler is individually eliminated until the last remaining three of Mask, Adrien Street and Carnage fight for the gold. After Street is eliminated due to outside shenanigans , Captain carnage and Mask face off and as Mask attempts to go for the fatal blow that decapitated Skull Crusher six years prior, None other than Mad Dog Joe Decurso rides in on a motorcycle to make the save. The shocked fans watch as the two brawl violently as Mad Dog fights off Mask and Tolos until Decurso gets the upper hand and unmasks the Mystery man. After the fight we see Leslie visiting Dr. Tweed and he is upset that he did not get the dramatic finish to his film he was looking for as Decurso did not win the title since he was not legally in the match and afterwards Mad Dog and Lola seemingly disappeared and retired from the sport, And the mask is now wrestling elsewhere as The Human Ice Box. Leslie and Tweed walk off to talk about how to wrap up the film over dinner as the ending credits roll.

Grunt! The Wresting Movie has and will always have a special place in my heart, I remember this film fondly from my childhood and still to this day I can't help but love this film. Growing up as a wrestling fan I thought this was the coolest thing ever as a child and no when I look back at it, I can't help but love it just for it's pure campy cheesiness. You cannot find a more silly over the top film and it is truly entertaining from beginning to end. The humor is done well and although it is pretty true to it's source material it never takes itself to serious. the film makers were obviously looking to make a silly over the top film and that is just what they accomplished. All the characters are larger than life much like the actual wrestlers of the era and thats probably because they used actual wrestlers in the roles. The fight choreography is nothing to spectacular but at times it does feel as if you are watching a Saturday morning wrestling show from before WWE took over the business, A fond time for a kid who loved watching smaller feds Like AWA, NWA and Global on Local T.V. Stations in the 80's. The fights are decent as they are put together by Mondo Guerrero , Uncle of the legendary Eddie  Guerrero . If you like wrestling or were ever a fan of the "sport" growing up you will get a kick out of this film, otherwise you may enjoy it just for it's pure 80's cheesiness. Obviously this may not be for everyone but I cannot see any fan of true cult cinema not enjoying this film. Adrien Street although his role is small is entertaining as can be and I would love to have seen a film solely based on him because he was a awesome performer in his day and if not for him we would have never had characters in wrestling such as Gold Dust and several other Alternative personalities. All the characters in this film each are endearing in their own unique ways even ones with little to no screen time still manage to shine through. I would love to watch this film back to back with The Wrestler just to see the two completely different approaches to the Business of Professional wrestling. Obviously this one is not nearly as dark and grim as Aronofsky's film this is more like The Naked Gun to that films Dirty Harry. If you are looking for a fun movie to just sit back and laugh at this one is a real winner, grab yourself some cold ones and soak in the nostalgia with this one and you will not be disappointed. I miss the days when wrestling was fun and camp like this , it just ain't what it used to be, and that to me is just sad.
Overall: 8 out of 10 (rating this one a bit different than usual, Mostly based on the nostalgia factor and my memories of growing up on Pro Wrestling.)

1 comment:

  1. Excellent - thanks for trying to revive this movie from the deep memories of me seeing this on cable. Holzman did a good job here and this should be on a double bill with, wait for it, Velvet Goldmine.

    Cheers, Roger