One of my favorite independent movie games to play is “how will people work Eric Roberts into their movie?” Much like John Carradine, they often shoot him completely independent of their film and then splice him in, getting his name recognition while not having him matter at all narratively. I applaud this notion and a reminder of the better times of Z-grade cinema when a Mexican werewolf movie would suddenly be a mummy film and Carradine would be out there standing in front of a desk trying to scientifically explain it to us while hiding a whiskey neat in the side drawer.
Eric comes in here as the memories of our heroine Aella (Mair Mulroney), a girl who can’t get work until a job offer comes to audition for a movie about a female fight club. She gets hired, knocked out and shows up in a private video feed — hello Red Room — to fight for her life while people watch online.
To make this even better, the director’s name is Raphaello. That’s it — one imagines that he’s two of the Ninja Turtles joined up to make a fighting film. Or maybe just the guy who also made Rogue Planet Gamma and Bloodbath: The Motion Picture.
One of the selling points of this movie is that it features pro wrestler Taya Valkyrie, currently known as Frankie Monet in NXT, who is the wife of WWE superstar — and star of low budget action movies on the side — John Hennigan (Johnny Nitro/Retro/you fill in the blank). She’s the trainer of the girls, Regina, and she’s someone trained to do fighting yet never fights in the film. Instead, she works for The Warden, who threatens women throughout the movie.
Rock Riddle is also in this. He was a pro wrestler who got his start running the Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson fan club before getting into the ring himself. He also shows up in The Van, Blue Sunshine, Paradise Alley and a few other movies.
I mean, we could use more women being coerced into fight club movies. This one barely scratches that itch. But if you want to see it, Unchained is available digitally from Leomark Studios.