Yilmayan Seytan (1972)

Yılmaz Atadeniz made eighty films or more between 1963 and 1997, amongst them Spy Smasher, several of the Kilink movies, Super Salami and Special Squad Shoots on Sight, which is all about a hypnotist cop forced to work with the mob.

Welcome to Turkey, people.

Thanks to Stomp Tokyo, I have learned that this is a Turkish remake of the 1940 Republic serial The Mysterious Doctor Satan, a movie that nobody was asking for. Well guess what? I, for one, am glad this got made.

Our hero Tekin is investigating some murders when his adopted father — well, he doesn’t know the adjective just yet — tells him that his real father was The Copperhead, who was killed by Doctor Satan, making this seem like a Silver Age update. Moments after this happens, Satan’s henchman kills the secretary and Tekin’s once adoptive, now deceased father. He had two dads, Doctor Satan, and you killed them both!

This may be easier said than done, because the evil physcian has perhaps the most ridiculous man-crushing robot ever made in his employ.

Remember how it was a big deal when the reissue of Shriek of the Mutilated put Hot Butter’s “Popcorn” back in once the song was cleared for music rights? Turkish directors have no idea what that means, so that song is all over this movie, as it rightly should be. I doubt they paid Henry Mancini for “The Pink Panther” theme either.

The star of this movie, Kunt Tulgar, said that Doctor Satan’s robot was supposed to be human until the skin on his arm would be ripped off in a fight scene, revealing machine parts 12 years before The Terminator and a year before Westworld. That said, they didn’t have the money for that and decided to go with a cardboard suit.

Mondo Macabro released this on a double DVD with Tarkan vs. the Vikings. So if you see a strange man prowling your used video store seeking Turkish reisues, say hello. That’s me.

The Candy Witch (2020)

Two ghost hunters have been summoned to protect a family against something known as The Candy Witch. This might be their hardest case yet, filled with so many twists and turns, as this evil curse begins to kill nearly everyone connected to it.

Writer-director Rebecca J.Matthews also made the amazingly titled Pet Graveyard and has movies named Witches of Amityville Academy (my OCD for watching every movie with Amityville in its title is my curse, much worse than any Candy Witch), Jurassic IslandBats: The Awakening and Cam Girls in the works. Great names. Hopefully they are all better films than this.

That said, someone gets killed with boiling chocolate and another with cotton candy. I’ve never seen that, so it has that going for it.

The Candy Witch is available June 9 on DVD and Digital from Uncork’d Entertainment.

DISCLAIMER: We were sent this movie by its PR department.

The Wolf Hour (2019)

June (Naomi Watts) was once a known counter-culture figure, but that was a long time ago, before she cut herself off from the outside world. Now, she now lives alone in her South Bronx apartment as the “Summer of Sam,” escalating violence and brutal summer heat threaten to turn New York City into sheer terror.

This was written and directed by Alistar Banks Griffin, the second of his films after 2010’s Two Gates of Sleep.

A lot of people ask me if I ever just shut down on a movie, knowing how many bad films I watch. I would trade nearly every direct to WalMart movie I watch this year for this film, a ponderous and doddering odyssey into one woman’s sophmore slump and need to never leave the house.

This movie had that moment I dread the most: I pressed pause to see how much more time the film had, thinking that it had to be nearly over. It was only twenty minutes in to its run time. I stuck it out for a little longer. Becca could take no more.

Strange Behavior (1981)

Also known by its much more in your face title Dead KidsStrange Behavior holds a place in New Zealand film history as the first horror movie made in the country. A homage to American horror films of the 1950s, it was intended to be part of a trilogy. However, after this movie and Strange Invaders underperformed at the box office, that was not to be.

It was relased in the UK as Small Town Massacre and ran afoul of the video nasty controversy, ending up on the Section 3 list of films.

This — and Strange Invaders — were both directed by Michael Laughlin (Two-Lane Blacktop), who co-wrote the film with Bill Condon, who would go on to direct Candyman 2: Farewell to the Flesh, both parts Twilight: Breaking Dawn and write 2002’s Chicago and The Greatest Showman.

Speaking of the word strange, perhaps the strangest thing in this movie is that while it’s supposedly based in Galesburg, Illinois, it couldn’t be geographically further from America if it tried. That’s because the movie was lensed in Auckland, New Zealand.

It all starts with the murder of Bryan (co-writer Condon), which ends with his body getting stuffed into a scarecrow.

Local cop John Brady (Michael Murphy, who has been in plenty of Robert Altman’s films) is on the case. And his son Pete (Dan Shor, who was in Wise Blood) and his friend Oliver (Marc McClure, who you’d know as 1970’s Jimmy Olsen) are learning all about the work of Dr. Le Sange from Professor Parkinson (Fiona Lewis, who was in plenty of films, but around here, we celebrate her for her work in the seminal — and semenal, really — Tintorera…Tiger Shark). Oh yeah — his dead mom (and John’s lost wife) once worked for Le Sange.

Pete wants to go to college and doesn’t have the money to apply, so he signs up to be part of the professor’s experiments. After all, Oliver did it and it wasn’t a big deal.

Or was it? Because later that night, a maniac in a Tor Johnson mask attacks and kills a boy at a party before being unmasked as — you got it — Oliver. He can’t remember anything, not even the bizarre surgical cuts that he did near his victim’s eye. That said — whoever killed Bryan and the kid at the party couldn’t have been the same person.

Despite all that, Pete stil undergoes one of the professor’s tests, swallowing pills and repeating key phrases. He also begins a romance with Caroline (Dey Young, Kate Rambeau from Rock ‘n’ Roll High School), a fellow student.

The murders only ramp up in intensity, with one woman finding her son chopped to bits in the bathroom before her throat is slashed. John, being a good cop, starts to feel that perhaps the professor has something to do with all of this, questioning her while being unaware that she’s about to inject his son in the eyeball with a concoction of mind-altering drugs.

That’s when we get the exposition — during John’s date with his girlfriend Barbara (Louise Fletcher, who everyone else will tell you was in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but I’ll confide that she was Dr. Gene Tuskin in Exorcist II: The Heretic) — where we learn that everyone who has died — including his wife — was tied to the unethical experiments of Le Sange. Even worse, Le Sange is probably still alive, because when the lovey-dovey twosome break into his crypt — talk about a romantic date! — his casket is empty.

The end of this movie is a mix of mind control madness, a mistaken case of paternity, doctors ordering their patients to kill themselves and even a happy close. It all lives up to the title — strange — in the best of ways.

You have to love when a movie totally stops to give you a synchronized dance scene, like a slasher film variant of the same kind of stuff that used to happen in 1950’s films like I Was a Teenage Werewolf. That song — Lou Christie’s “Lightnin’ Strikes” — was also covered by Klaus Nomi.

Speaking of music, Strange Behavior also benefits from a score by Tangerine Dream. I really need to get on to writing a list of movies that thier music made even better. They rival Goblin for how many cult films they scored.

You can still grab this under its alternate title Dead Kids at Vinegar Syndrome, who have the out of print Severin blu ray. Or watch it on Shudder.

Mat Monsters: Aliens

Sure, Roddy Piper may have battled aliens in They Live and Jesse “The Body” Ventura fought the Predator, but even pro wrestling couldn’t be silly enough to have aliens get in the ring. Could it?

Yes, that’s right. Even the sacred squared circle is not safe from extraterrestrial invaders. Here are but a few — actually we had to look pretty hard — out of this world grapplers:

Max Moon was the man of a million names when he debuted in 1990. Also known as Maximilian Moves, Relamapago, Latin Fury and The Comet Kid, he was originally lucha superstar Konnan.

This was a completely ridiculous — and awesome — gimmick. I mean, take a look at this photo from WWE.com: Konnan was going to be a real-life giant robot.

Image from wwe.com

Image from wwe.com

Eventually, the man who would one day be known as K-Dawg went back to Mexico and Paul Diamond discovered that the suit fit. The highest Max Moon got on the card was a loss to Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels on the debut episode of Monday Night Raw. How do I know he was an alien? He was billed as being from “Outer Space.”

Extraterrestrial Life comes to us from Japan’s small Zipang promotion, where he comes to the ring on a stretcher instead of being taken out on one. He also used to team with Giant Watermelon Head. Ah Japan, you happily bring us the strangest pro wrestling there is.

Speaking of Japan…

This old site — back from the days when the Death Valley Driver message board was the end all, be all of smart wrestling fandom — proves that someone, somewhere (David Bixspan) loved the war between former All Japan star Ryuma Go and a series of, well, space alien Jewish men.

It got to the point that when Weekly Pro Magazine ran a huge all promotion show in 1995, Go’s Go Gundan promotion presented a battle between Go, as the Interplanetary Champion, against Uchu Majin Silver X and an entire team of space monsters (including one that oddly wore overalls and dressed like an American redneck).

Here’s all you need to know: the aliens came out to Gustav Hoist’s “The Planets: Mars: Bringer of War”, Go came out to “Eye of the Tiger” and a dildo was used as a weapon.

To top that, the aliens once battled one another in Yokohama’s Yong Dong Village.

Ryuma Go’s life is pretty tragic. After some initial success as one of the first independent wrestlers in Japan, he was soon overshadowed by Atsushi Onita and his Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling (FMW). Despite a string of money marks and promotions like Pioneer Senshi, Oriental Pro, Go Gundan and Samurai Project — he also wrestled for Tenryu’s WAR — by the end of his life Go was a heavy drinker and was publically derided for appearing in gay pornography and stealing a woman’s purse. After a bicycle accident, he suffered a wrist injury that later became infected and killed him.

Just as sad, the wrestler who was Super Uchu Power, Koichiro Kimura, died of pneumonia in 2014. Beyond wrestling for Dramatic Dream Team, Fighting World of Japan Pro Wrestling and All Japan Pro Wrestling and W*ING, Kimura also did MMA. He lost a high profile match to the legendary Rickson Gracie in the 1995 Vale Tudo Japan. Yes, in the same year he was a space alien, he also battled in this historic encounter.

When you need to know about strange wrestlers, you should always ask the amazing Kurt Brown. He responded with this: “South America ROCKED the alien scene, especially with YOLANKA, with his magic pacifying gun in 1973! Plus he was lowered into the ring in Luba Park on the big October show of that year!”

His LuchaWiki entry claims that this left side working ET “would usually wrestle by the rules, but when rudo got out of control, Yolanka would shoot him with his raygun, that would freeze his opponents, making them unable to move, or even lay down for a pin, taking a win after that.”

LuchaWiki also introduced me to the AAA wrestler named Alliens. He was also the leader of a stable known as Los Alienigenas that also included the gray monster Kriptor, the chameleon-like Mungo and their mini snail-like monster Mandrox, all of whom feuded with Alebrije and Cuije. Supposedly one of those guys was MS-1 and the other was El Verdugo. Alliens is pretty much 100% the wrestler now known as Monster Clown. Regardless, when Antonio Pena died, the aliens all went back to their home planet, which is a shame, because their promos were insane.

Speaking of lucha libre, by the second season of its Americanized-cousin, Lucha Underground, it was revealed that Aerostar was actually an alien with some time travel abilities. That would explain why he can do these things and not die.

A note for lucha fans — before he was Aerostar, this luchador also wrestled as Chiva Rayada II, one of the soccer playing wrestling goats. Yes, that really happens in Mexico.

I’ve also heard of an alien wrestler near Philly that works for PWE named Telepo-1. I’d love to learn more about him — or her — so someone please fill me in!

There’s also “The Alien” Kristen Stadtlander, who has been making some big waves on the indy scene as of late. She recently told 1495 Sports about portraying an alien: “It is a weird extreme version of myself. Most of the greats in wrestling will always say be the best character you can be is one where you take yourself and times it by ten. My whole life I never really fit in anywhere, but I always had something interesting about me not everyone knows. Aliens don’t fit in with humans and there is so much curiosity about them that is so intriguing. That is kind of how I feel.”

There are several instances of aliens battling wrestlers in pop culture, too.

In Sega’s Pro Wrestling for the Master System — based on the arcade game Gokuaku Doumei Dump Matsumoto (released outside Japan as Body Slam), the final hidden bosses are an alien tag team.

Known as M.U.S.C.L.E. in the US, Japan’s Kinnikuman is all about the adventures of Suguru Kinniku, a superhero who must win a wrestling tournament to become the prince of Planet Kinniku. That’s just the start of the story that’s been going on for multiple generations and four decades, even crossing over into the real world at times.

If aliens are coming to Earth and want a battle, who better than the Von Erichs to lead the fight? This blast of pure insanity, published in 1989, posits a place where Kevin, Kerry and Fritz are beamed into space to use Iron Claws and Tornado Punches against bug eyed monsters. You can read more — and you totally have to — right here.

I mean…just look at this page:

If you could Superman as an alien, you can always look back on the time he fought against Antonino Rocca, too.

When it comes to wrestling toys, Mattel released a line of WWE Mutants action figures. Along with a scorpion-looking Sting, a metal John Cena, a demonized Finn Balor, a four-armed Brock Lesnar and an alligator man Bray Wyatt, future AEW boss Cody Rhodes’ character Stardust would become an alien.

Despite how silly this glow in the dark figure is, it’s still cooler than his Star Trek: The Next Generation entrance at All Out.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the alien-filled Champions of the Galaxy game, which has been around since I read PWI in the 1980’s. It’s still available — along with plenty of other cool games — from Filsinger Games.

Want to know about more mat monsters? We’ve already covered:

What would you like to see us get to next?

NOTE: The awesome Star Wars wrestlers that we used for this article come from Healey Made.

Thanks to Kurt Brown, LuchaWiki, Kris Erickson and Emily Fear for their help with this article.

Mat Monsters: Zombies!

We’ve covered plenty of monsters in wrestling, but it’s been awhile. Just in time for Halloween, we’re back to talk about the living dead in the squared circle.

Plenty of pro wrestling promotions have done zombie wrestling shows — I’m on one this Saturday night in Pittsburgh, cheap Foley plug — but right now, we’re talking about individual wrestlers that have become zombies and some zombie vs. wrestler themed films.

Probably the most famous zombie wrestler is The Undertaker. You could argue that he probably has the best gimmick — or the longest lasting — of the modern era of wrestling. He’s been an undead minion of Paul Bearer, the leader of a quasi-Satanic church, an unliving biker, an MMA fighting member of the walking dead, a semi-retired once a year fighter and now, inevitably, he’s back for “one more match.”

The Undertaker has been around since he made his official on-camera debut at the 1990 Survivor Series as Kane the Undertaker (he had done a previous TV taping three days earlier), making one of the best pushed first-night appearances ever, eliminating Koko B. Ware with his tombstone piledriver and Dusty Rhodes by double elimination. Soon, he’d be in the title mix and off to a career to has seen him be a face, a heel, somewhere in the middle and finally the kind of legend that no one wants to boo. Throw in his incredibly confusing connection with his brother Kane, that moment when Mabel crushed his face and he had to wear a mask, getting buried by all the heels and coming back to battle his twin brother after Leslie Nielsen (!) searched for him, that time he had the American flag inside his trenchcoat because undead dudes are jingoistic babyfaces, his association with managers Brother Love and Paul Bearer, his Ministry of Darkness, the Corporate Ministry and his epic 21-0 Wrestlemania streak and you have the kind of first ballot Hall of Fame career that few wrestlers will ever match.

Undertaker doesn’t do many full on zombie spots, instead of relying on a Michael Myers-like instant recovery and the power to a funeral urn that can heal him. He also used to use a body bag on his foes after he beat them, but we can only assume that parents got angry when little brothers got shoved into sleeping bags and put a stop to that.

ECW had one zombie. And only one. On June 13, 2006, the premiere of the SciFi version of ECW featured the late Tim Arson as The Zombie, who lasted all of a few moments before The Sandman mercifully Singapore caned him in the brain.

Finally, there’s Onryu, the Japanese wrestler Ryo Matsuri, who is just as much a ghost as he is a zombie. He won a cursed championship, died and must now forever walk the Earth. He has magic powers, such as being able to appear and disappear to his opponents, as well as disconnecting his hand so that he can make impossible rope breaks.

When I wrestled for Pittsburgh’s International Wrestling Cartel promotion, we were lucky to get to use Onryu for the Super Indy 3 tournament, which was won by Chris Sabin. In the first round, Onryu defeated fellow WMF wrestler Soldier before losing to Alex Shelley in the second round.

I first met Onryu in Tokyo after wrestling a six-person intergender match for the bonkers DDT promotion. Someone told me that Onryu wanted to meet with me before he came to America and I was honestly pretty excited, as I was a big fan of his work. I was kind of worried though — how does one talk to a zombie? The reply came: Onryu is a rock star. I’m not putting myself over — I’ve met plenty of pro wrestlers, big, small, famous and unknown. Only Onryu was legit a rock star, appearing before me like a miniature Japanese David Bowie in full zombie paint, wearing a long shirt and bell bottom pants with a dragon pattern all over them.

This is not my most insane Onryu tale. He stayed in my home for several days on his tour and we made sure to take him to plenty of places in the USA so that he got to see what our country is all about. His favorite? Target, where he stocked up on dishwands, those sponges that you fill up with liquid soap. He’d never seen one before and wanted to bring them back for all of his friends in Japan. Keep in mind, he was still dressed like a rock star in a small town Target, standing out as no one has ever stood out before.

Beyond wrestlers who have shuffled off this mortal coil, there have been plenty of wrestling vs. zombie movies, dating way back to Plan 9 From Outer Space. In this Ed Wood opus, or Johnson, formerly known as the wrestling Super Swedish Angel, rose from the grave to aid an alien invasion alongside Vampira. His part was played by pro wrestle George “The Animal” Steele in the Tim Burton biographical film.

Even better, there was a movie called Pro Wrestlers vs Zombies, where pro wrestlers like Roddy Piper, Kurt Angle, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Matt Hardy and Shane Douglas.

I had the chance to speak with Ashton Amherst, who is more than just a pro wrestler who has torn it up all over the country. He also played Angus in Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies

B&S: So how did you get involved in Zombies vs. Pro Wrestlers?

ASHTON: Originally, I was asked to be cast as a pro wrestler extra in the film. But, with real work and real life, I couldn’t commit to the 2+ weeks of filming in WV for that amount of money. So, in a twist, Sylvester Turkay, who was originally going to be the lead villain, backed out. I auditioned for the role and they liked me and kind of tailored it more to me than a big monster like Sylvester. Funny side note, he did come for one day of filming and is the monster that rips Kurt Angle off of me in the one scene.

B&S: Had you had any acting experience before?

ASHTON: Other than the acting that is pro wrestling, I had no real movie set experience.

B&S: What was it like working with some of the bigger names?

ASHTON: It was awesome. I remember the first morning, we had gone late the night before. It’s 6 AM and I’m at the hotel Starbucks and it’s just me, Shane Douglas, Roddy Piper and Hacksaw Duggan in line. I’m like, “Oh shit, this is pretty damn cool.” Over the two weeks, I got to hang with them a lot and really got to know Shane, who was my idol as a teenage wrestling fan. Roddy really took a liking to Ryan Reign, who I had brought in as an extra a few days into filming and Roddy ended up helping Ryan a lot and taking him to Raw and some WWE stuff with him. So, it was very cool to meet those guys and get to hang with them.

B&S: Any stores (that you can legally share)?

ASHTON: Oh man. So many (laughs). Day two, we were filming and they needed some extras to work with Matt Hardy in a fight scene. I was done filming that day and offered to get into some zombie gear and work kind of under a hood, so no one would know that it was me. We did a scene where he knocked me off a prison cell and when I fell the crash pads moved and I separated my shoulder badly!  

They had to put me under at the hospital to pop it back in and when I woke up it was just Shane sitting next to my hospital bed. Very surreal (laughs).

But yeah, so after that I was in a sling the next week or so and I took it off to film scenes. The scene I mentioned early with Kurt, I reminded him probably five times that my shoulder was recently separated. He either forgot or didn’t care, because he jacked me up against the wall for about nineteen takes straight (laughs).

But we were put up in a nice 5-star hotel and the room service guys always remembered my hurt shoulder and would deliver me ice packs every morning or night after filming. Since Parkersburg is such a small place, the filming of the movie was a much bigger deal than it would have been other places.

It was also probably 10 degrees or less most nights of filming. And the second week, the filming shifted to 6 PM to 6 AM. So we had some nice warm trailers to chill in, but the other like 1,000 extras that were just Parkersburg residents wanting to be in the movie stood in freezing temps just to be part of it, which was awesome. But yeah, all the fight scenes on the hill at the end?  It was freeeezing.

Then after those filmings, most of us would go to this local pancake house place. So you’d have a bunch of pro wrestlers, a male porn star guy, a Penthouse Pet of the Year, and all the other oddities in our troop just posting up eating pancakes at 6 AM in zombie makeup and ripped up clothing.

SAM: Are you a horror movie fan?

ASHTON: Absolutely!  My poor wife has to live thru watching all the Halloweens roughly 100 times each October!

Thanks, Ashton!

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that WWE has made several series of zombie action figures and characters for their Supercard and WWE2K19 games, including a skull-faced “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, an even paler than normal Paige and even a brains craving Shinsuke Nakamura. Yeaoh! Brains!

I didn’t even get to the luchador named Zombie Clown! Man! But are there any pro wrestling zombies that I missed? Feel free to let me know in the comments. Do you have a wrestling monster that you’d like to tell you more about?

In case you’re wondering, past Mat Monsters have included:

MAT MONSTERS: Robots!

Whew! It’s been awhile, but we’re back with plenty of new about the monstrous side of pro wrestling. And that brings us to…robots.

You can’t discuss mechanical grapplers without Shockwave the Robot. He’s wrestled all over the world, feuded with Mecha Mummy (you can even get a set of figures of the two of them via his website) and he breakdances!

Our good friend Kurt Brown noted that “Oh man, we had Robot C3 here in SoCal in ’78, but he had more staying power in Mexico. Let me think about it… OH! Of course, Lars Anderson as “The Bionic Wrestler” in ’76!” Yep, that’s right. For a short time, Lars Anderson was known as “The Man with the Bionic Arm!”

Even better, Kurt shared an image with us: For Sam Panico, My past, RUR 2000 (Rossum’s Universal Robot, from the Russian play that first coined the term “Robot!”

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You can also call up The New Breed here, as Chris Champion returned from a car injury with a bionic arm.

The New Breed also battled a babyface robot named Lazer Tron, who dressed in gear that looked like the kids’ Lazer Tag game. He teamed with Jimmy Valiant in the hopes of sending the New Breed back to the future they came from…2002, where Dusty Rhodes had become President of the United States. They also proclaimed Lazer Tron a “Go-Bot” and swore allegiance to the Decepticons.

Also, John Cena did a cyborg-style character while he was “The Prototype” before making it to the WWE. That said, it was more in promo and not like he dressed like a robot.

Believe it or not, C3PO and R2D2 have wrestled, notably in the most conservative promotion ever, All Japan Pro Wrestling! Here’s a rare photo of them gearing up to battle junior sensation (and pre-death match king) Atsushi Onita and Masa Fuchi!

According to a member of the WrestlingClassics message board,  Robot R2e was “better known as El Rebelde. The other guy is small time wrestler Barba Negra (Raul Rodriguez). In one of these interesting wrestling stories: the original Robots R2/C3 wrestled in Mexico City but they had a disagreement with the magazine that created the gimmick, so they basically became independent wrestlers all over the country. Eventually, two new guys took the masks (Rebelde, a veteran by then, and Rodriguez), with support from the magazine.There was a nasty war of words, and a feud was teased, but eventually, the two Robot R2 became a short-lived tag team after the original C3 got injured. However, the original R2 hit it off with the second C3 so they became a regular tag team all over the country where they could make money without having to give a percentage to the magazine. The second R2 kept working for EMLL and was eventually unmasked as Rebelde.”

But if you really want to discuss Star Wars-based robots in wrestling, go no further than Michinoku Pro Wrestling. For years, they’ve been having the Great Space War, where the Mu no Taiyo cult…defend planet Earth from Superman, Darth Vader, Yoda, R2-D2 & C-3PO.

Also, for a short amount of time, Osaka Pro Wrestler Kuishinbo Kamen was forced to give up his character and wrestled as Super Robo K.

Finally, I wouldn’t be doing my job right if I didn’t mention the time that RoboCopo showed up to help Sting against the Four Horsemen. The less said, really, the better. But here it is…

What’s next? Well, we’ve covered the following so far:

Pro wrestling vampires, part one and two

Frankenstein’s monster as a wrestler

A three-part series on wrestling mummies, including Argentina, Mexico and an interview with Prince Kharis himself!

Undersea and amphibian grapplers

Jason, Nightmare Freddy and Leatherface, too!

But we haven’t gotten to zombies yet, so look for that coming soon! And please share any feedback or ideas you have with us!

Mat Monsters: Jason

Wrestling takes you to some funny places. Sometimes, you’re facing a lion/tiger hybrid who grew up in Hiroshima that hits you with palm strikes. Other times, you’re battling a robot. And if you’re not careful, you’ll end up on the wrong side of a boy who drowned and came back to life to kill some camp counselors.

There’s no way that a few words on this page can explain the huge influence of Friday the 13th on pop culture. And wrestling, the ultimate sponge of what is popular, seized on this slasher favorite and gifted us with some amazing gimmicks.

The most well-known Jason was Karl Moffat, who started his career in the Hart family’s Stampede Promotion. His career didn’t start normally — he was a fan who charged the ring to see how tough the wrestlers were and then had to endure the pain of Stu Hart’s infamous Dungeon training. After working under his own name, he was given the new gimmick of Jason the Terrible, complete with coveralls and goalie mask (one would assume there are plenty of those in Calgary).

He was paired with Randy Orton’s uncle, Barry O (who was essentially blackballed out of the business after he spoke up against the WWE ring boy scandal) who worked as his manager The Zodiak. Orton’s promos during this time are, well, legit insane. I had never seen them before and they blew my mind. They’re near stream of conscious Lovecraftian odes to evil and darkness. They’re like the best song lyrics ever (some of them ARE song lyrics) for songs you never heard of.  Please watch these and be mindblown. I’ll be waiting a few paragraphs down.

Moffat was known as a willing bleeder, a fact that seems to disturb the Hart brothers to this day. He also was part of the Gaspar Brothers tag team with Bob Orton Jr., hockey masked “brothers” that were part of Antonio Inoki’s numerous 1988 attempts to create new foreign heels (they even made it into one of the first versions of the Fire Pro Wrestling video game). Of those gimmicks, one of them, Big Van Vader, became a legitimate hall of fame candidate and is, in my opinion, the best working big man wrestler of all time. The Gaspars? Only marks like me remember them.

Moffat’s career progress was curtailed when he was injured on July 4, 1989, when a car containing the Moffat, Davey Boy Smith and Chris Benoit was involved in a head-on collision in Jasper, Alberta, Canada. It took five years and nine operations to get him back into the ring, at which point he wrestled for several Canadian promotions before retiring.

In Puerto Rico, there was another Jason the Terrible who took the gimmick to W*ING, IWA Japan and FMW. He was also a willing bleeder, getting more juice in his matches than nearly anyone I’ve ever seen, nearly every match. From what I can tell, his name was Robert Rodriguez and he was trained by Johnny Rodz. He had a crazy feud with a second Jason who was played by Tracy Smothers, including a match where Smothers Jason wins by dropping Jason the Terrible neck first onto a coffin. It’s seriously one of the craziest, most sickening bumps I’ve ever seen.

Somehow, Jason survived that and even made his way to ECW, as the W*ING promotion was starting up again and brought in early ECW stars the Pitbulls, Sandman, Jason Knight and Public Enemy for a tour. Jason was the main star of the promotion and was brought to Philadelphia to team with the Pitbulls to battle Hack Myers & The Young Dragons to gain some magazine publicity for the W*ING comeback. There were only six shows or so of this new W*ING, with Jason feuding with Boogie Man (ECW’s JT Smith) and the Gravedigger.

I’ve always loved this version of Jason the most. Maybe it’s the strangeness of seeing a hockey masked Vorhees in the ring, perhaps it’s that his face underneath is always smiling in skull makeup, maybe it’s just because he is so good at being a selling, bleeding Southern babyface halfway around the world.

Finally, I’ve been debating where the Undertaker should fit in as a Mat Monster. Part zombie, part Michael Meyers and definitely part Jason. He definitely picked up that sitting up, no selling, back to hurting people move somewhere!

Next time, we’ll take a trip into the future and discover several wrestling robots. Do you have any comments or suggestions for future episodes? If so, let me know!

This article was originally written for That’s Not Current. Their loss is your gain.

Mat Monsters: Vampires part 2

During our last installment, we discovered the vampiric ring denizens of Mexico. This time, we’re going to grab a spray bottle of holy water and load our fanny packs up with crucifixes as we go in search of more ‘rassling Nosferantus!

The 1990s/2000s promotion 100% Lucha, based in Argentina, seems to be the bastard son of Titanes en el Ring with a more WCW Nitro-esque flair. With a six year lifespan, the promotion even gave birth to a few movie spin-offs and action figures. They had their own resident evil vamp in Molok el Vampiro, who had a bevy of batty beauties that followed him to ringside. He looks more like Bobby Liebling of doom metal giants Pentagram than Bela Lugosi, but let’s give him some credit for rocking out that sick spandex spider-laden ensemble!

Traveling to America and the abortive SciFI Network relaunch of ECW, we find Kevin Thorn. Once known as Mordecai, a religious zealot character poised to feud with the Undertaker before strangely being phased out, he reappeared with a new valet, Ariel, as part of The New Breed, an upstart team of rookies who would routinely defeat the ECW Originals. The new ECW was a bust for many reasons — it was a few years too late, the biggest stars of the past were often booked to lose, SciFi/SyFy asked for fantasy characters that the fans rejected — but Thorn had an interesting look and he and Ariel seemed to make for an intriguing couple.

Ariel, or Shelly Martinez as she is now known, went on to be part of The Search for the Next Elvira, as well as appearances in several independent horror films and work as a correspondent for MoreHorror.com.

But when it comes to the most well-known American vampire wrestler, Gangrel would be the go-to ghoul. Born David Heath and trained by the famous Malenko family, Gangrel started as a black masked member of the tag team The Blackhearts known as Destruction. His first vampiric appearance was on WWF TV in 1994, when they showed his marriage ceremony to Luna Vachon in a segment entitled “Wedding to a Vampire.”

Heath wrestled as The Vampire Warrior in USWA (Of course! Memphis!) and was named the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Rookie of the Year for 1993. Five years later, he was hired by the WWE and became Gangrel, with the name taken from the RPG Vampire: The Masquerade. Gangrel had one of the greatest ring entrances in wrestling history — he literally rose to the stage in a circle of fire, drinking the blood of his victims. And when he found Edge and Christian to be his teammates as The Brood, things really got vampy. They’d attack their victims with a blood bath, ala the first Blade movie, and were also part of The Undertaker’s ultra-creepy Ministry of Darkness faction.

After leaving the Ministry, the Brood feuded with Michael Hayes and The Hardy Boys, with Gangrel turning the Carolina boys into The New Brood. It was short-lived, however, Gangrel soon left the WWE, although he’s returned several times. And if you like the work of Rusev, thank him, because he — along with Rikishi — trained the Bulgarian bully.

Gangrel’s been super active in the indies and has had quite an out of the ring career, too. In 2007, he signed a deal to direct 12 films for a company called the “New Porn Order,” using his Vampire Warrior name (of note, he also used the ring name Lestat the Vampire) and his debut film was to be called Miami Rump Shakerz 2. He also appears as a prisoner in The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence), or so Wikipedia says.

Finally, I’ve discovered a few vampiric footnotes in Japanese wrestling, with Tracy Smothers having gone under a hood as Golden Vampire XIII, Tomokai Honma’s nickname of Vampire Chicken and a strange tale of “The Fashion Plate of Wrestling” Freddie Blassie. One could write an entire library of books on Blassie, but this nom de plume came from his propensity to bite his opponents. To get over on one of his first trips to Japan, Blassie bought a file at a hardware store and walked off the plane filing his teeth into sharp fangs so he could more effectively bite into the skin of his Japanese competition. From his legendary in-ring career to insane appearances on Late Night with David Letterman and a starring role in Andy Kaufman’s Breakfast with Blassie, there will never be another Fred.

Do you know of any more wrestling vampires? Please share in the comments below — I’d love your help! And if you have any comments — good or bad — share them as well. Next time, we’ll see what happens when Jason leaves Crystal Lake for the confines of the wrestling ring!

This article originally appeared at http://www.thatsnotcurrent.com/mat-monsters-legend-of-the-wrestling-vampires/

Mat Monsters: Vampires part 1

Now, we’re gathering up all our garlic and wood stakes as we search for the vampires of the wrestling world! As always, let’s start our journey south of the border in Mexico. You may wonder, did the venerable El Santo ever battle vampires? Of course — many, many times! From 1962’s Santo Contra Las Mujeres Vampiro (Santo vs. the Vampire Women) and 1965’s El Barón Brákola to 1968’s Santo en El Tesoro de Dracula (Santo in the Treasure of Dracula), 1969’s Santo y Blue Demon Contra Los Monstruos (Santo and Blue Demon versus the Monsters), 1970’s La Venganza de Las Mujeres Vampiro (The Vengeance of the Vampire Women, a return match with female vampires), 1972’s Santo y Blue Demon vs. Drácula y el Hombre Lobo (Santo and Blue Demon vs. Dracula and the Wolf Man) and finally, 1981’s Chanoc y el Hijo del Santo contra Los Vampiros (Chanoc and The Son of Santo vs. the Killer Vampires), Santo pretty much makes himself the Van Helsing of Mexico. I’m probably missing a few encounters that the man in the silver mask had with nosferantic beasties — this lucha hero made 54 movies, which is plenty of monster and Nazi fighting. In Operation 67, Santo even joined a James Bond-inspired organization!

Get this — 68’s Santo en El Tesoro de Dracula had a version made for foreign markets with nude female vamps that was thought lost for decades. Guillermo del Toro found a print and was going to play it at 2011’s Festival Internacional de Cine en Guadalajara, but was blocked by El Hijo del Santo, who asked the organizers to not show the film and sully his father’s (who would never agree to the nudity as he had a clean image) legacy. Unfortunately, El Hijo del Santo couldn’t stop 2001’s Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter from being made, a movie that features a gringo version of El Santo helping the Son of Man battle all manner of ghouls.

So what made Santo such an awesome adversary for those who love the taste of human blood? Perhaps it’s his strong Catholic faith or there’s actual silver in his mask. Maybe we’ve just never considered how effective lucha libre is against a monster. We’d do well to consider it in the future.

Santo’s biggest contemporary — and often, rival — Blue Demon would also battle the hordes of the unliving in 1968’s Blue Demon en la Sombra del Murciélago (Blue Demon in Shadow of The Bat). And upstart lucha hero Mil Mascaras would battle “Skinny Dracula” John Carradine himself, playing Count Branos, in 1968’s Las Vampiras (If you’re interested in an in-depth essay on that film — and how Carradine found himself making 5 Mexican horror films in one week — check out my article in TNC contributor Bill Van Ryn’s zine Drive-In Asylum). Mil would go on to team with Superzan and battle more of the Transylvanian undead, specifically Baron Bradok, in 1974’s Los Vampiros de Coyoacán.

Mexican flavored monster fighters have influenced so many productions up north, such as the Angel character on The Strain (who has had a spin-off comic and a special episode directed by the aforementioned del Toro that pays perfect homage to enmascardo films) and in an episode of the Buffy spin-off Angel entitled “The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco,” a family of luchadores battle supernatural evil. Oh yes — as previously mentioned in the Frankenstein’s Monster chapter, Mike Mignola’s Hellboy battles vampires while wrestling in Mexico.

That said, vampire vs. masked man battles didn’t just happen in the movies. Lucha libre is full of grapplers afraid to appear in the sunlight!

Foremost amongst Mexico’s bloodsuckers is Vampiro, who ironically isn’t even from the country! Hailing from Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, Vamp started his career in Mexico’s venerable CMLL promotion and was a near-overnight success, thanks to his charisma and unique look for the time (today, it seems like everyone has blue hair and tons of tattoos, but this was the early 90s when these things weren’t commonplace). Since then, he’s wrestled all over the world, including stints in AAA, WAR, WCW, All Japan Pro Wrestling and has had a long association with the Insane Clown Posse (even appearing with them on WCW television and at their wrestling events).

Vampiro also brought The Misfits – yep, the Lodi, NJ “I want your skull” Misfits — to WCW TV, where they backed him up. And while in WCW he had an infamous feud with Sting, setting him on fire and even meeting him in a graveyard match. Plus, in another feud with the Kiss Demon — yes, WCW was strange enough at this point that KISS had an officially licensed grappler — he stole Asya, the Demon’s girlfriend, in a skit that took its cues from The Vanishing.

What didn’t happen in WCW is probably even more interesting — a planned PPV from Las Vegas on the last day of 1999 that would end with the KISS Demon winning the world title and his soul from Vampiro. Again — WCW was getting into some strange territory at this point.

In 2007, Vampiro helped book the MTV project Wrestle Society X, which is best described as Lucha Underground V1.0. After seeing Vamp take a fireball to the face from El Mesias, MTV got cold feet and sooncanceledd the project after the first season.

Speaking of Lucha Underground, Vampiro is a major player in the promotion, as he isn’t just a commentator and manager, but also will occasionally wrestle. He had a brutal, bloody death match with Pentagon Jr., who he would later guide.

Vampiro’s career isn’t all just in the ring. He’s performed with ICP, the Misfits and several other bands and at the height of his 90s lucha fame, he starred in the movie Guerrero De La Noche (Warrior of the Night). And when interviewed recently, he claims that two spirits from Guadalajara follow him around as the result of an unfinished ritual, so he has that going for him. Today, he’s also a major part of the AAA lucha libre organization.

There have been other vampiric-named or related luchadores, such as Los Draculas ,Ultimo Vampiro and Nosferantu, but none of them have embodied the look and feel of being a blood loving beast more than Vampiro. There was even a clone named American Vampire (Vampiro was originally known as Vampiro Canadiense, or Canadian Vampire), played by future WWE commentator and bully John Bradshaw Layfield.

Next time, we’ll travel beyond Mexico to other countries where vampirism has taken root inside the wrestling ring. I’d advise you to stock up on holy water!

This article originally was written for That’s Not Current and viewable here http://www.thatsnotcurrent.com/mat-monsters-never-drink-wine/