Roddy Piper became a part of horror history when he starred in John Carpenter’s They Live, facing off against those zombie alien thingies. So it seems like a no brainer (or eat brainer) to put him in a film about wrestlers taking on an army of zombies.
Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies is loaded with real wrestlers. It’s also loaded with nonstop, incessant, raucous heavy metal as wrestlers perform endless routines on other wrestlers dressed like zombies. The cast’s acting, both delivering lines and wrestling, is about as convincing as it is in the WWE. Not helping the matter is the fact that it seems they may have had to dub all their lines into the movie. There’s something off about the dialogue and the movement of the mouths.
But hey. It’s a movie starring real wrestlers playing themselves fighting zombies summoned by a guy who is getting revenge on one single wrestler who killed his brother in the ring. You kind of go into it expecting bad exploitation—body parts flying, gore galore, and tons of naked boobs. Unfortunately, a couple of very detailed gore close-ups seem to have absorbed the budget for blood and makeup—and all the women in the film seem to have wanted to be taken seriously as actresses because there’s no nudity!
So that puts all the weight on Roddy Piper to carry the film. He still looks good and he becomes the hero, but he comes across as too tired to be fighting zombies these days. In fact, he keeps saying, “I hate zombies,” as if that’s supposed to be his funny catch-phrase, Considering Roddy’s playing himself, there was a huge missed opportunity here to humorously play off the fact that he starred in a horror film 25 years ago and should therefore know just what to do in this situation. But They Live is never mentioned.
After a whole lot of time running around the prison (did I mention the wrestlers have come to a prison for a match?) things move out to the woods. All the hokey fighting action chaos will probably entertain wrestling fans, but it wore thin pretty early on for me. In an attempt to add something else to the plot, more zombies rise from the ground and one wrestler is forced to mercy kill his entire family with loving wrestling chokeholds—the only time the metal music goes away and we are treated to a poignant melody.
Don’t think me anti-patriotic, but I am anti-patriotic pandering. And Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies ends with Roddy and his woman standing under an American flag like a proud couple that has just fought for its country. Talk about an involuntary eye-roll.
Based on the trailer, I was convinced the movie was going to be a campy, cheesy, offensive exploitation masterpiece. Roddy’s presence alone should have made this a cult winner. But better than Roddy is hulking gay porn star Matthew Rush, who has a role as a ditzy muscle head wrestler.
Matthew runs around in a tight, shiny gold speedo, reacting giddily to everything going on around him—and even snaps a zombie in two over his head, giving himself a gut shower.
He’s the most fun the movie has to offer and he’s killed off pretty early. Why put such a hot commodity to waste? Aren’t flamboyant steroid heads in tight, shiny speedos what wrestling is all about?