10 movies you’ve never heard of starring pro wrestlers


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It’s the year of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Aside from a stint as WWE Champion and headlining Wrestlemania, we’ve seen him in “The Snitch,” “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” and “Pain & Gain” so far. Once upon a time, though, a professional wrestler starring in movies would have been considered a lame joke – outside of Hulk Hogan’s goofy stint in “Rocky III” and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper headlining John Carpenter’s “They Live.” But The Rock isn’t the only wrestler who’s tried to make their bones as a movie star, but he’s obviously the only thing close to a bona fide success. To better illustrate why that’s so impressive, here’s a list of ten movies you’ve likely never heard of which feature pro wrestlers in leading roles. It ain’t all that pretty.

1. “Hell Comes To Frogtown” (1987)

Outside of Dwayne, I think we can all agree that Roddy Piper has the best film out there with a wrestler in the lead role – we all love “They Live.” However, that doesn’t mean that The Rowdy One got off scot free as far as cinematic disasters go. In this film, he plays Sam Hell, one of the last fertile males in a post-apocalyptic wasteland riddled with mutant frogs, and he’s captured by a militant group of nurses, fitted with a chastity belt/bomb to force him to follow orders, and then he’s charged with heading into Frogtown to free a group of women being used as sex slaves, so that he can impregnate them instead. See, his name is Hell, and he goes to Frogtown. This time, his extended fight scene isn’t with Keith David, but a guy in a frog mask.

2. “Santa with Muscles” (1996)

Piper’s biggest adversary in his wrestling heyday was Hulk Hogan, arguably the most famous wrestler of all time. He scored big as Thunderlips in “Rocky III,” scored his own starring role in “No Holds Barred,” which even brought Tiny Lister into the squared circle for a while as the incoherent Zeus. The subsequent attempts to cash in on his fame cinematically were very iffy, however, including “Suburban Commando” and this holiday comedy, which has perhaps the lamest title ever. Hogan sports a shorter version of his trademark mustache, as well as disconcerting fake hair covering his infamously bald head, as a jerk millionaire who gets amnesia while wearing a Santa Claus outfit and thinks he’s actually Kris Kringle. Then he has to stop Evil Ed Begley Jr. from harvesting magical crystals under an orphanage. Okay. Keep an eye out for a young Mila Kunis as well.

3. “Santa’s Slay” (2005)

Perhaps the polar opposite of “Santa With Muscles” is this horror comedy, starring WCW legend Bill Goldberg as murderous version of St. Nick. It seems he was actually a demon who lost a curling match to an angel and was thus forced to deliver presents to children for 1000 years – but now, time’s up, and the Anticrhist’s murder spree is in full effect. We’ve also got Robert Culp and Emilie de Ravin along for the sleigh ride.

4. “Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe” (1990)

Jesse “The Body” Ventura certainly made a name for himself not only in Arnold Schwarzenegger movies like “Predator” and “The Running Man,” but also with his improbable victory to become the governor of Minnesota. But did you know that he was also an intergalactic cop trying to stop a renegade officer named Secundus from finding the Comator in order to unlock the secrets of the Anti-Life Equation in order to grant himself omnipotence and immortality? No. No, you probably didn’t. The Comator (Co-Mater?) happens to be a little boy who was conceived and born on the same day when Secundus touched an Earth woman’s belly. Will this odd family teach Abraxas the meaning of humanity? Probably. Jim Belushi won’t be any help, though, as he plays the worst principal ever.

5. “See No Evil” (2006)

In the modern era, World Wrestling Entertainment has their own film division, trying to see if they can’t duplicate the success of The Rock. Their first effort was this slasher movie starring Glenn Jacobs, aka Dr. Isaac Yankem (the evil dentist) and better known as Kane, The Big Red Monster. Standing seven feet tall, Kane is an imposing figure – and in the ring, he usually sports an ominous mask, but even his regular face has an aura of evil about it, making him a fine choice to play an eye-gouging psycho named Jacob Goodnight. Borrowing pages from “Psycho” and “Friday the 13th,” Goodnight was made a monster by his mother.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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