GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling

GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (2012)

A GLOWing review

GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling

The Olympics are in full swing, and I couldn’t be more excited. Not because I am a fan of events such as Short Track Speed Skating or the Nordic Combined. Let’s face it; nobody has given a damn about the majority of the sports that comprise the Winter Olympics for the past three years and 50 weeks. So I don’t feign excitement when some nincompoop from Moose Jaw makes it down a mountain faster than some dingbat from Helsinki.

So what has me excited, then? Well, as opposed to professional sports, I feel male and female Olympic athletes are treated as equals. People care as much (or as little) about a female luger as they do a male luger.

Contrast that with the spotlight (or lack thereof) that is shone on female professional athletes. The WNBA has been around since 1996, but legendary female basketball players such as Swoozy McBossoms and Sassy Fannypants are far from household names. In fact with the upcoming increase to the Ontario minimum wage, a woman would be financially better off working at an Oshawa Arby’s restaurant than trying to make it as the point guard of the Indiana Fever.

Luckily there is one professional sports league that is at the forefront of gender equality, that being World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). While the ladies of the WNBA and LPGA are segregated from their male counterparts, performing in front of crowds of a dozen or so in church basements, female professional wrestlers are treated with the utmost respect. They perform on the same events as the male wrestlers, and therefore their competitions are shown in primetime on major television stations, and broadcast in colour. Those are claims that other female pro athletes cannot truthfully make.

It wasn’t always a bed of roses for women wrestlers, however. Back in the 1980s, female and male grapplers were not on equal footing, and as a result, the women were forced to compete in their own league, known as GLOW, the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.

GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling is a fascinating documentary that details the short history of the women’s-only pro wrestling organization. The company was founded in 1986, when a group of young women with little to no grappling experience were brought in and taught the basics in a short boot camp. From there they would appear in a very successful syndicated program that featured rap videos, comedy skits and of course, wrestling matches. Stars such as Hollywood, Mt. Fiji and Tina Ferrari battled it out, under the watchful eye of Jackie Stallone (Sylvester and Frank’s mother), who portrayed the organization’s owner. What the women lacked in athleticism, they more than made up for with over-the-top personality. They were tremendous performers who gave it their all. The only thing that differentiated them from the likes of Andre The Giant is that Andre was not able to write off halter tops and Daisy Duke shorts as a legitimate business expense.

The show became an international phenomenon, before it was shockingly cancelled after four seasons. In this documentary we get to learn not only about the company, but more importantly we are taken behind the curtain, and learn about the women behind the characters. In yet another example of wrestling promoters bending the truth, only a handful of the women were gorgeous as advertised. The rest of roster was, quite frankly, rather homely. But Homely Ladies of Wrestling would not look very good on a marquee I suppose. Plus HLOW sounds like Dutch profanity, which would have affected the promotion’s chances of success in the Netherlands.

I assume that it is every young girl’s dream to grow up and become a professional wrestler. Therefore, GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling is an absolute must-see film for young women. The names Gloria Steinem and Susan B. Anthony get bandied about when people discuss great feminists in history. If you ask me, there are some other names that have played an equal, dare I say greater role in the feminist movement. GLOW stars such as Matilda The Hun, Jailbait and Babe the Farmer’s Daughter should each have their own page in Encyclopedia Britannica.

While great women of the past burned their bras in the fight for equality, these tough-as-nails women did them one better. They scratched, clawed and maimed one another so that the next generation of competitors, names such as Trish Stratus and Stacey Kiebler could perform in their bras in front of appreciative audiences. I can only hope that one day the women of the WNBA, LPGA and Lingerie Football League are held in the same regard.


Cheerleader Camp

Cheerleader Camp (1988)

Campy thriller will have you cheering

Cheerleader Camp

Ripped from today’s headlines, the Cinema Connoisseur’s Halloween Spooktacular Fright Film Festival concludes with a film featuring plenty of spirit – not the ghost kind of spirit that we think of this time of year, but school spirit.

Recently London made front page news across the country when a group of Western Mustang cheerleaders were fined for performing a street cheer on the way to the Western’s homecoming game. When I first heard of this development, I immediately sat down and penned a script for Bring It On 2 Fast, a mashup film about the illegal world of street cheering, starring Kirsten Dunst, Vin Diesel and The Rock. I’ve contacted all three of them through Twitter, and it is just a matter of time until we begin production.

Until my film is completed, the title of “greatest movie ever on the subject of cheerleading” belongs to the 1988 classic Cheerleader Camp.

The lovely and talented Betsy Russell leads the cast of Cheerleader Camp. You may recognize Russell for her work in the Saw horror series. She portrayed Jigsaw’s ex-wife in Saw parts 3 through 87, except for Saw 23: Assignment Miami Beach, where she instead played a sassy crocodile hunter. Russell shines as Alison, one of the most popular girls at her high school. Despite this, she is plagued with feelings of jealousy, as her boyfriend Brent (Leif Garrett) has a wandering eye.

Alison heads off to Camp Hurrah, where she will compete against other cheerleaders from all across the country. The competition is intense; it is like the NFL combine or an Olympic trial, amped up by a factor of a 1,000. On a bit of a side note, did you know that cheerleading is the only major sport where the competitors commonly use pompoms?

Unfortunately, Alison has little to cheer about. Her boyfriend Brent has also come to the camp, and is like a kid at a candy store with all the other cheerleaders around. Soon Alison begins to have intense nightmares about the deaths of these other women. Worse yet, the murders actually do happen. Alison must wrestle with the fact that she may in fact have a split personality, and that she might be the killer!

Cheerleader Camp is a campy thriller that delivers scares, sex, silliness and surprises. If you are on the fence about whether or not you want to watch Cheerleader Camp this Halloween season, I should point out that the whole film is up on YouTube in one part (just search for cheerleader camp full movie). If you are like me, however, you will be so guilt-ridden after watching it for free, that you will feel obligated to write a cheque and send it to film’s producer Jeff Prettyman. And yes, that is actually a real person’s name, and he went on to produce a film called The Magic of the Golden Bear: Goldy III, starring Cheech Marin and Mr. T, so I have a feeling I will be writing about him again.

Body Slam

Body Slam (1987)

Wham, bam, thank you, Body Slam

The Tonga Kid and Roddy Piper

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I most certainly do not feel fine.

Every four years, the world gathers to witness the majesty of the summer Olympic Games. But the world’s biggest stage will never be the same after it was announced that starting in 2020, in all likelihood, wrestling will no longer be an Olympic event.

That’s right, wrestling, one of the oldest sports known to man will not be a part of future Olympic games. However, they will still award equestrian medals – presumably to horses, since they are doing all the work. No fretting, Popeye, as sailing will still be included. As will synchronized swimming. Not to mention the other 30 or so variations of swimming which are included in the event. Who cares how you are getting from one end to the other, as long as you do it? How much hardware does Michael Phelps need?

Olympic wrestling had provided some incredible moments, like the time in 1976 when France’s Andre The Giant tossed Japan’s Mr. Fuji completely off the wrestling mats and into the third row of spectators en route to capturing the gold medal, while his mother Stella The Giant looked on in tears. I’ll never forget the 1984 Olympics when U.S.A. representative Hulk Hogan (accompanied by Ronald Reagan and Sylvester Stallone) single-handedly ended the Cold War with his victory over the Russian Bear. No, that was not a nickname. Russia’s wrestling team that year was captained by a grizzly bear.

Sadly, many have forgotten these moments. If you do a quick Google search, you’ll be hard pressed to find any recollections of these events – hell, you might even find contradictory information.

Thankfully, wrestling will always live on through film. Legendary films such as Nacho Libre and No Holds Barred should be viewed by the International Olympic Committee before any rash decisions are made. As should the film I’ll be taking a look at this week – Body Slam.

Dirk Benedict (The A-Team, Battlestar Galactica) portrays M. Harry Smilac, a music promoter who has seen better days. He has one floundering act, and is up to his ears in debt. However, in a case of art imitating life, the worlds of rock ’n’ roll and wrestling unite to raise Smilac’s career out of the doldrums.

In a case of mistaken identity, Smilac signs Quick Rick Roberts (“Rowdy” Roddy Piper) and Tonga Tom (Sam Fatu, a.k.a. The Tonga Kid), thinking they are musicians. The only beautiful music these two are making is inside the wrestling ring, where they are top contenders to the prestigious tag team championship.

Once he realizes his mistake, Smilac decides to stick to his guns, because music simply wasn’t paying the bills. But Smilac is not exactly welcomed into the wrestling business with open arms. Legendary professional wrestling manager Captain Lou Albano takes on the challenging role of legendary professional wrestling manager Captain Lou Murano. Captain Lou is a despicable character whose Cannibals team puts Smilac and his tandem on the shelf.

Now injured and basically blackballed from the major leagues by Murano, Smilac decides to take his wrestling duo on the road with his only musical act. The Rock ’n’ Wrestling connection is a huge success, leading to a winners-take-all battle between the forces of good and evil.

Body Slam is a beautifully acted and tremendously written look at what the stars of sports entertainment really go through. It is everything the 2008 film The Wrestler should have been. Wrestling icons Bruno Sammartino and Ric Flair make cameos. As does renowned comedian Charles Nelson Reilly, and Billy Barty, the greatest under 4-foot tall actor who ever lived (sorry, Tom Cruise). For the second time in his career, Dirk Benedict was a member of an A-Team as part of this stellar cast. Body Slam will have you pinned down on your sofa for its entire 89 minute duration.

D.C. Cab

D.C. Cab (1983)

D.C. Cab deserves an A+

D.C. Cab

Whenever a limousine or horse drawn carriage isn’t available, I am forced to be transported by taxi. It is always an awkward situation. If I am traveling alone, I feel obligated to sit beside this complete stranger and engage in forced small talk about politics, sports or the latest Dame Judy Dench film. Then the cabbie has the nerve not to accept a post-dated cheque!

While I may find riding in taxis to be taxing, I sure do enjoy movies about taxi drivers – well, except for Taxi Driver, that movie is bollocks. A much better film about taxi drivers is the 1983 classic D.C. Cab starring Gary Busey, Mr. T and a host of other Hollywood heavyweights.

D.C. Cab is a comedic yarn that introduces us to a zany group of cabbies, played by the aforementioned Mr. T and Gary Busey, along with stand-up legend Paul Rodriguez, talk show host Bill Maher and Adam Baldwin. You know what they say – if you absolutely have to a have a Baldwin brother in your film, and Alec is too expensive, William and Stephen are busy, and Daniel is in rehab, then by golly, Adam Baldwin is your fifth and best option. Hopefully movie-goers will not catch wind of the fact that he is not actually a Baldwin brother.

The D.C. Cab company is falling apart, due in no small part to the unprofessionalism of its drivers. A rival taxi operation is threatening to hammer a nail into their coffin. But when the owner of D.C. Cab manages to get his hands on the massive sum of $10,000, he embarks on a mission to turn the ship around. In addition to this main storyline, there is also a kidnapping subplot.

It is not the plot of the film that is the real selling point, however. It is the wacky cast of characters. And no character is wackier than Dell, played by Gary Busey. He is such a natural performer. I’m not entirely sure that Busey knew that there was a film crew following him around. Actually I’m not sure he is aware that he is an actor. He must have been very confused that one time he was invited to the Oscars. In any other film, Busey would be the highlight, but that is not the case here, due to the man who I am about to extol the virtues of.

What can be said about Mr. T that hasn’t already been said? Actor. Wrestler. Singer. Role model. Yes, the man who was birthed by a virgin mother and originally given the moniker Laurence Tureaud has truly done it all.

While most people are quick to heap praise on Mr. T (or Sir T as he is sure to be known if the Queen has a lick of sense) for his acting ability and toughness, I feel he has never been granted his just due for his impeccable fashion sense. It is on full display in this film. At one juncture he dons an orange tank top, neon green spandex tights and pink wristbands. It’s like he stepped right out of a GQ photo shoot and showed up on set. There are many great things about this film, but the performance of Mr. T is what truly elevates it. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a fool. And I feel sorrow – nay, pity – for those fools.

If you are not already sold, the film also features MacGyver himself, Richard Dean Anderson in a small role as “Bad Guy.” With all due respect to the cast of Bikini Car Wash 2, D.C. Cab features the greatest cast ever assembled.

D.C. Cab is one ride that is definitely worth taking. So sit back, let the meter run, and enjoy a motion picture that is well worth the fare.

Just One Of The Guys

Just One Of The Guys (1985)

Gender-bender full of splendour

Just One Of The Guys

We live in very uncertain times. The economy is in the toilet. Mother Nature is hurting. Hell, some believe the world could soon be coming to an end. Thankfully, there is one thing we can count on. Nearly every year, we can look forward to a laugh-out-loud hilarious cross-dressing comedy.

Yes, the cross-dressing comedy is a Hollywood staple. It has generated hundreds of millions of dollars, most of which has gone to buying cars and swimming pools for Martin Lawrence.

Choosing a favourite cross dressing comedy is quite difficult for me. You may as well ask me which of my children I love the most. But if I absolutely must do so, then I would have to pick the 1985 classic Just One of The Guys.

In Just One of The Guys, popular high school student Terri Griffith (Joyce Hyser) dreams of becoming a big-time journalist, much like the Cinema Connoisseur. However, she feels she is not being taken seriously because of her beauty. The last straw comes when she is passed over for a newspaper internship.

Convinced that sexism is standing in the way of her dreams being fulfilled, Terri resorts to drastic measures. She enrols at another high school as a member of the opposite sex.

From there, hijinks ensue. Just to get off topic for a second, why has there never been a film called Hijinks Ensue? Well, the Columbia Pictures Corporation would have been justified using that title for this particular film. Ladies out there may think that passing yourself as a male is as simple as getting a short haircut and adopting the mannerisms of 1980s film star Judd Nelson. Well, that will get you most of the way, but then you might run into some obstacles.

Such as gym class. Terri must come up with a variety of excuses to avoid having to share a change room or hitting the showers with her significantly hairier classmates.

Plus, what if you were to fall in love with one of your male classmates? Would you be surprised if I told you that this happens to Terri in this film? Sure enough, it does.

Terri becomes best broskis with Rick, a shy young man who is in need of some lessons on how to woo young damsels. Lesson number one: avoid using phrases like “young damsels.”

Terri promises to find Rick a suitable mate, but in reality, she sees herself as the girl of his dreams. Things get even more complicated when Sandy (Sherilyn Fenn), a hot-to-trot sexpot, begins to put the moves on Terri. Oh, what a gender-bending calamity! Sure, this was the era of Boy George and Fraggle Rock, but still, this was some pretty racy stuff for the time.

Things get ever wilder when Terri reveals the truth to Rick by flashing him at the prom. I vividly remember this scene from when I first saw it over 20 years ago. I was flipping through the channels one night when POW – naked breasts were plastered on my television screen during primetime. How is this possible, I wondered. Maybe I was getting an illegal satellite feed from France. I would then learn about City TV and their rather liberal use of censoring. God bless that station for teaching me more about anatomy than any Family Life course taken in a classroom.

Just One Of The Guys is a smart and sophisticated look at society’s attitude towards gender roles that is just as applicable today as it was when it was released 27 years ago. Watching this film is the equivalent to burning 27 bras. Plus it is significantly cheaper than doing that, and less likely to result in a public nuisance complaint.

KISS Meets The Phantom of the Park

KISS Meets The Phantom of the Park (1978)

Movie starring KISS is a can’t miss

There are a lot of people fretting these days about global warming, terrorists and deadly viruses that have the ability to wipe out millions of lives. I myself am not particularly worried. Why am I not worried, I’m going to assume you just asked? I’m not afraid because I know there is a bigger problem – evil inventors.

This global warming could cause some serious damage 100 years from now, but any day now some perverse scientist could unleash an army of killer robots or an evil weather machine. These are things that pose an immediate threat.

Thankfully there are heroes out there to protect us. No, I’m not referring to the politicians. I’m not referring to the police. I’m not even referring to The Police. I’m referring to a far more powerful band – KISS!

KISS Meets The Phantom of the ParkIn the 1978 film KISS Meets The Phantom of the Park, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley and Peter Criss team up to take on Abner Deveraux, the engineer at a theme park called Magic Mountain. Abner has secretly created a procedure to turn humans into robots that will do his bidding. Clearly this film was a major influence on Robocop, which was released a decade later.

When the owner of the theme park notices that Abner is acting erratically, he decides to cut some of Abner’s funding, and use the extra money to bring KISS in to perform a concert. Abner is eventually fired altogether when the owner blames him after some hooligans take over the park.

Abner is none to pleased by any of this, and puts his evil cyborgs to work in an attempt to put the kibosh on the KISS concert. He creates his own robotic version of KISS, kidnaps the real band and programs the fake band to perform instead. This leads to rioting in the park. This is all very similar to the situation that took place about five years ago when Axel Rose unleashed a new version of Guns ‘n’ Roses.

Unfortunately for Abner, he’s not just facing a bunch of ordinary musicians. He’s facing a rockin’ group of superheroes. Each member of the band has an alter ego that possesses great abilities, which allow him to battle the forces of evil.

Gene Simmons’ alter ego is The Demon, who has great strength and the ability to breath fire. Paul Stanley, a.k.a Starchild, can shoot lasers out of his eyes. These lasers give him the ability to control minds and hear distant conversations, much like the Whisper 2000. Ace Frehley, who goes by the moniker Space Ace, also can shoot lasers, and has the ability to teleport himself to another location. Finally Peter Criss has incredible leaping ability, thus earning himself the name Cat Man. Criss accomplishes a rare feat in this film, despite the fact that he speaks English, they had another actor dub in his lines. Allegedly they had to stick peanut butter on the roof of his mouth to get it to look as though he was speaking.

I don’t want to give away the ending, but KISS does triumph over Abner and put an end to his robot making ways. I guess I did kind of give away the ending. Don’t let that deter you from seeking out a copy. Unfortunately it has never been released on DVD, and was only released on VHS for a short time in the 1980s. If you don’t happen to have access to a De Lorean, you can watch it on Youtube. It is cut into several parts, and the great thing is that it really doesn’t matter what order you watch them in.

I think this is such a great film that I am going to SHOUT IT OUT LOUD!!! If you want to rock and roll all night, and also party everyday, then I cannot think of a better way to get the festivities started then by watching this film.