Heaven help us if this is not some elaborate joke…
In the backyard wrestling capital of "the Ohio Valley," the WRC (which stands for…World 'Rastling Coalition) is home to several of the locale's most celebrated wrestlers. From Skulls, the skeleton mask wearing champion to fan favorites like Mullet Man and Philbert (who carries around a wooden rabbit named…Philbert?), Mic Flair's dynasty rivals few…or maybe it's many. Anyway, the WRC sanctions bouts out of Sebring, Ohio and they feature no-holds-barred lawn tussles where anything, from a trampoline to a hospital street sign, is fair game, as long as it can inflict damage. Presented as an overview of the League's famous feuds and most charismatic wrestlers, host Sam the Dirty Bum gives us an agonizing blow-by-d'oh round up of the best falls, the fiercest rivalries, and the nastiest injuries ever to come out of a bunch of drop-outs drop kicking each other. Violent, raw, and very clever, park your butt into the Barco, baby, it's time to unleash a little Splatter Rampage Wrestling. And unlike the Rock, the only thing you'll smell cooking here is someone's ballsack.
Splatter Rampage Wrestling is either the biggest pile of half-baked horseshit ever sprayed like illiterate diarrhea all over an unsuspecting home theater viewing public, or it's the most brilliant homemade comedy since Mulva: Zombie Ass Kicker. Loud, obnoxious, fake, real, silly, smart, inventive, regressive, and deeply sarcastic, this non-erotic male backyard grappling "film" is, in theory, a highlight reel from a "season" of "WRC" "wrestling," a sampler of mat magic like you'd get from the WWF or the WCW. Obviously, a creation of its cracked pack of unemployable Midwesterners, these Wrestlemania fanboys must love their muscle men. The attention to detail, the ad-libbed dialogue and ringside color commentary and the absolutely stupid names given to these unitards all adds up to it being either an elaborate scam or a heartfelt homage to a favored sport. Now, backyard wrestling is nothing new, nor is it something to really champion. After all, if you want to throw yourself off the roof of your duplex and land, head first, into a rotting piece of particle board so that your buds think you're the man, there is nothing but your stupidity stopping you from doing it. But to videotape it so that you can replay the paralysis and gray cell ear leakage over and over is a far too disturbing concept. And yet this is apparently what directors (and brothers) Andy and Luke Campbell did. Along with several of their severely stunted friends, they developed their own backyard "league" and held matches, all for their own mutual enjoyment and indictment. So get ready for lots of folding chairs to the head, an unhealthy obsession with barbed wire, and some truly unnatural acts with fire and/or lighter fluid. Splatter Rampage Wrestling contains enough potential lawsuits and Dateline scare segments to have you wondering where the parental supervision is (or was).
Buried inside all this faux sports show is a smart, smarmy sense of humor that understands how bizarre this whole outdoor pastime really is. From the wrestlers' handles and personas (Sam the Dirty Bum? Orange Sherbert? Puppylover?) to the nomenclature for their specific holds (which sound suspiciously like old WWF terms made a little more mischievous by the use of certain connotations) and goof filled play-by-play announcing, there is a feeling that they love the sport, but dig the spotlight more. And then they take their showboating even further and actually add humorous asides, comically character-based gestures, intelligent comments, and painfully pointed putdowns to prove that this is not all mindless violence. But unfortunately, there is a lot of that too and if you are disgusted by thrill seekers doing dumbass stuff like lighting themselves on fire and driving thumbtacks and staples into each other, then you may want to skip this set. In a great many ways, the Jackass culture has made this Steve-O inspired stupidity palatable for the new generation of masochists. Oh sure, backyard wrestling and its danger antics were around way before Mr. Steve pierced his butt cheeks together, but it's thanks to the mindless mutilation of Johnny Knoxville and Bam Margera that you even take something like Splatter Rampage Wrestling seriously. Before, everyone would swear sights like you see here are faked. Nowadays, we tend to celebrate those who can take a rusty rail spike to the forearm and come up smiling. The laughs to be found in this homemade movie can't quiet make up for the physical mayhem these droogies manufacture on each other, but you have to give them bedlam brownie points for not making this solely a showcase for the pathetic pain threshold limits.
Tempe's decision to release this title is strange, until you know the whole story. Apparently, the company liked the directing duo's skateboard slasher flick, Midnight Skater, but the brothers would not sell the title unless Splatter went along for the release ride. Always the businessman, J.R. Bookwalter (Tempe's main man) took both and they give the wrestling roundup a decent DVD release. The full screen 1.33:1 image is actually pretty good, considering non-professionals with camcorders created it. There is a lot of handheld shakiness to the compositions, but the transfer is clean, defect free, and only a tad on the grainy side. There is not a lot of depth or detail to the picture, but then again, the recording equipment limited the amount that the directors and camerapersons were able to capture. The sound is the bigger problem here though. The voiceover is very loud (as is the punk/death metal music that makes up the soundtrack) and you have to turn the volume down very low as to avoid destroying your home theater system. It is completely overmodulated, distorted, tinny, and terribly noisy. Maybe this was the intent, but it's very annoying. The bonuses include some "interviews" that appear to be outtakes from failed skit ideas for the film—just like the little backstory moments you find with Vince McMahon and the WWE. A couple are very clever, but they would have made Splatter Rampage Wrestling too much of a pre-conceived joke. There are also two music videos for bands that, interestingly, seem to include several members of the WRC brood. The songs are rather derivative and noisy, but the accompanying clips are energetic and no worse than some of the stuff shown on Empty-Vee.
As recently as a couple of years ago, television news magazines were decrying the horrible, violent bloodbaths occurring in suburban backyards as fans of superstar wrestling threw themselves and each other into, on, and through all manner of objects and videotaped it, hoping for 15 minutes of fame to match their 15 hours in the local ER. It was the end of the world as we knew it, and these weekend warriors even created a seedy video experience that became a cable channel commercial staple. But with Splatter Rampage Wrestling, you get the best of both worlds. There is enough gratuitous brutality to satisfy your claret craving. And it's damn funny to boot. It may not have any redeeming social value, but it will show you how the future leaders of America like to spend their free time. Maybe it's not too late to move to Australia…
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Tempe Video
• WRC Interviews
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