DID YOU READ

10 movies you’ve never heard of starring pro wrestlers

santa-with-muscles

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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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The Nutty Professor Eddie Murphy 1996

Weird Science

10 Weird Movie Substances That Had Hilarious Consequences

Catch The Nutty Professor this month on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal Pictures/Everett Collection

If you’ve ever opened your refrigerator to find some seriously gnarly days-old potato salad, then you know that sometimes the most harmless-seeming things can turn freaky. Movies have conjured up some truly bizarre stuff, often the work of crazed scientists. Before you catch The Nutty Professor on IFC, check out some of the icky-est, gooey-ist and just plain weird substances on the big screen.

10. Flubber

Flubber
Walt Disney Studios

Professor Brainard’s “flying rubber” increases its speed every time it bounces, and increases the chaos, destruction and unlikely basketball-dunkage of anyone who uses it. Thankfully the movie ends before its thermodynamic impossibility cause the incineration of the entire universe.


9. Quantonium, Monsters Vs. Aliens

Monsters Vs Aliens
DreamWorks

In Monsters vs. Aliens, both action-packed parties are battling over Quantonium, an exotic material which massively empowers anyone who holds it. Literally in the case of Susan Murphy, whose exposure turns her into Ginormica and enables her to fight against Gallaxhar’s invasion force.


8. Sustengo, Little Fockers

Sustengo
Universal Pictures

After finally finding favor with his hard-bitten father-in-law, Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) finds himself strapped for cash and starts promoting Sustengo, an erectile dysfunction drug. Which means leaving boxes of ED drugs lying around a family who can’t even use a toilet without triggering a series of hilarious misunderstandings.


7. Iocane, Princess Bride

Iocane
20th Century Fox

Iocane is a deadly poison with no odor or taste that dissolves instantly in any liquid. The perfect tool for murder isn’t usually hilarious, but The Princess Bride makes everything funny. Hero Westley (Cary Elwes) tricks cunning Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) into drinking the poison in a game of wits. Vizzini lost, not knowing that the answer is “Don’t drink anything offered by someone who just talked about how awesome their poison is.”


6. PX-41, Despicable Me 2

PX41
Universal Pictures

The mutation compound engineered by PX-Labs turns anything into a purple, fluffy, indestructible killing machine. And when Despicable Me‘s famous Minions are dosed with it, look out. Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) crafts an antidote, PX-41 Antidote, proving he’s much better with chemicals than he is with names.


5. Mood Slime, Ghostbusters II

Mood Slime
Columbia Pictures

When the Ghostbusters came back for their 1989 sequel, the slime they encountered was sillier and scarier. The “Mood Slime” was a special form of ectoplasm utterly saturated in the emotions of everyone and everything around it. And while our heroes energize some positive vibes with Aretha Franklin tunes, the entire city of New York’s psychic outpourings are filling the sewers with something distinctly less positive.


4. The Stuff

The Stuff
New World Pictures

A science fiction soft-serve satire, The Stuff is about an oddly organic treat which is utterly delicious and zero calories. In fact it’s negative calories, because if you eat enough it’ll take over your brain and hollow you out from the inside.


3. Miracle Weight Loss Serum, The Nutty Professor

Buddy Love
Universal Pictures

The core component of The Nutty Professor‘s plot is a miraculous weight loss serum, a simple fluid which re-engineers human DNA all by itself. This allows sweet but sizable Sherman Klump (Eddie Murphy) to transform into the tight, toned and turbocharged Buddy Love (Murphy again). The serum is revealed to be fatally dangerous, but anything which allows Eddie Murphy to play himself cranked up to the max is pure comedy gold.


2. Cobalt Thorium G, Dr. Strangelove

Dr Strangelove
Columbia Pictures

Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb is about a bomb built with Cobalt Thorium G. It’s a doomsday device designed to annihilate all human civilization and is, slightly worryingly, based on the least fictional materials on this list. Cobalt and thorium both have applications in nuclear weapon design. Luckily we haven’t got them up to G yet.


1. Ectoplasm, Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters
Columbia Pictures

The Ghostbusters live in a world where ghosts are real but physics is still in charge. So while the ghouls are flung around with proton packs, they get the boys in grey back with their appalling ectoplasm, or slime, trail. As Venkman says, getting covered in the stuff will make you feel all funky.

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Fast Times Jennifer Jason Leigh

Retro Grades

The 11 Best Movie Comedies of the ’80s

Catch Fast Times at Ridgemont High during IFC's '80s Weekend.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

The ’80s gave us so many great things (Tab, anyone?), but when it comes to movie comedies, the Reagan years were a golden age of funny. In honor of IFC’s ’80s Weekend, we’ve selected the best big screen comedies from the decade that gave us Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy and other comedy greats. And like one of the movies featured below, this list goes to 11.

1. Back to the Future

“A high school slacker goes back in time, takes his mother to a dance, and gets dangerously close to becoming his own father.” The elevator pitch for Back to the Future doesn’t sound so charming, but the 1985 flick starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson and Crispin Glover is declared by many as being the perfect movie. (Though we can’t officially say if the Eric Stoltz version would’ve been better.)


2. Ghostbusters

The sheer number of childhoods that were professed to be ruined by the recent reboot should tell you how beloved the original film is. A perfect blend of comedy, horror and fantasy, Ghostbusters has an indelible cast at the top of its game and a heap of one-liners worthy of countless casual references. They have the tools, and they have the talent.


3. Airplane!

Speaking of one-liners, it doesn’t get much more quotable than the 1980 Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker classic Airplane!. Almost a one-to-one parody of the 1957 disaster film Zero Hour!, Airplane! works so well because of how straight faced the zaniness is played — which is something its many imitators fail to notice.


4. This Is Spinal Tap

Rob Reiner, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer created the de facto mockumentary film with the hilarious 1984 rock diary This Is Spinal Tap. Heralded as one of the most accurate depictions of backstage life by actual real-life bands, the movie showcases an aging glam metal band struggling for the spotlight while keeping the group intact (especially the spontaneously combustible drummers).


5. National Lampoon’s Vacation

While Caddyshack and Fletch are quintessential Chevy Chase films, nothing beats the bumbling patriarch of the Griswold clan losing his mind en route to Wally World, America’s favorite family fun park. Yes, the sequels saw diminishing returns (aside from Christmas Vacation), but the one that started them all is endlessly watchable. Amen, let’s go!


6. Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Director Amy Heckerling and writer Cameron Crowe managed to capture exactly what high school life was like in the early-’80s. The awkwardness, the frustrations, the scares, the search for purpose and gratification, Fast Times presents its young characters as fully fleshed-out individuals (even the designated stoner shows nuance) and doesn’t talk down to its audience like many teen movies do. (Click here to see all airings of Fast Times at Ridgemont High on IFC.)


7. Beverly Hills Cop

A reminder of the days when Eddie Murphy was the edgiest comedian in showbiz, the one-two punch of Beverly Hills Cop and 48 Hrs. set the template for modern action comedies. We wouldn’t have the Rush Hour franchise and every Kevin Hart film without Axel Foley.


8. Trading Places

A treatise on the Nature vs. Nurture argument at the height of Reagan-era excess, Trading Places depicts the lives that are held in the balance when the mega-rich make friendly $1 wagers and just how joyous the retribution can be. Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy and Jamie Lee Curtis are terrific as the leads, the Duke Brothers are delightfully evil, and in all seriousness, that is a nice purse.


9. Better Off Dead

This 1985 Savage Steve Holland movie is teen angst at its most surreal and affably goofy. John Cusack stars as Lane Meyer, a high schooler still reeling from the loss of his girlfriend to a cocky champion skier. (Is there any other kind in an ’80s movie?) With bloodthirsty paperboys, foreign-exchange street races and stop-motion hamburger interludes, Better Off Dead doesn’t let realism get in the way of accurately portraying pure teen heartbreak.


10. Midnight Run

Of all the critically acclaimed pairings that actor Robert De Niro has had through the years, few are as entertaining as his reluctant team-up with a persnickety Charles Grodin in 1988’s Midnight Run. Perfect foils, the bounty hunter and mob accountant race against time, the Feds and mafia hits until mutual Stockholm Syndrome kicks in and the partnership stops becoming merely professional. (The counterfeit bill scene alone is worth the watch.)


11. Heathers

Heathers is the kind of pitch-black comedy that would never get a major release in 2016. Unflinching in its satire of school shootings, teen suicide and the tragedies that come with the need to fit in, the movie remains relevant to the kids currently growing up in a cruel and judgmental world. And the fact that it’s laugh-out-loud funny while also making a sharp point about youth culture is a testament to how great the movie really is.

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Bill Hader in Conan Star Wars Audition Sketch

Acts of Wars

Watch Bill Hader, Melissa McCarthy and More Audition to Play Young Han Solo

The Documentary Now! star shows off his best Han and Chewie.

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Photo Credit: TBS/YouTube

Thanks in large part to The Force Awakens not sucking, the Star Wars universe is about to get a lot more expansive. Sequels, spin-offs, TV shows, and more are underway — which means a helluva lotta casting calls. Fortunately, Conan O’Brien got his hands on a few audition tapes of celebrities trying out for a role as a young Han Solo.

Check out Documentary Now!’s Bill Hader, Melissa McCarthy, Portlandia favorite Jeff Goldblum, Todd Margaret star Will Arnett and other funny folks offering their takes on what that younger, brasher space swashbuckler would be like.

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