River of Darkness is a no holds barred, no-budget allowed, no catering horror film with a tired, familiar theme (think John Carpenter’s The Fog, but on a river!). Only one thing makes the movie stand out: Wrestlers!
Yes, the casting agent must have confused WrestleMania for an audition reel, as nary a role is filled by someone who never traded arm drags and/or chair shots in the squared circle. Methinks Sir Anthony Hopkins would have been rejected for his inability to to properly nail the Avalanche Flip Piledriver.
Former Olympic Gold Medal winning actual wrestler turned darn good pro wrestler Kurt Angle plays a small town sheriff investigating a series of brutal murders. Former WCW mid-carder Ray Lloyd, a.k.a. “Glacier” is Angle’s rival, the diner owner who lost the election for Sheriff to Angle (what was Angle before being Sheriff, the Milk Man?). Kevin “Diesel” Nash and “Psycho” Sid Vicious are two of the three undead, vengeful zombies causing all the ruckus. Sadly the zombies basically resemble wrestlers in the middle of mud baths rather than actual zombies. (Wait, what does an “actual zombie” look like?)
Sadly, no Doink the Clown performing in the town sqauare. There is a church prominently featured, the first church to call the police over someone breaking and entering in order to pray, but it’s not the wrestling monk Friar Ferguson in charge. I would have killed for a scene with Duke the Dumpster Droese taking out the trash, but sadly not to be.
Rest assured, River of Darkness is bad. But it’s not enjoyably bad. There is no proper scene chewing by any of the cast. Kurt Angle actually tries to act, and while he fails he does not fail so spectacularly as to be entertaining. Sid Vicious gets zero dialogue and his turn as a zombie leaves him no closer to his stated goal of world domination. Kevin Nash has one line (and Big Poochie nails it!).
The main joy we derived from River of Darkness was in the details. For example, all victims of the undead spirits are small town white folks, and they have the word “HIX” written on them. This leads to much speculation as to what “hix” means, leading to much joy and “hicks” jokes during the screening.
Also, there are some bizarre character actions. Such as, in the tiny town beset with a wave of ruthless murders, a mother allows her little eight year old daughter to go out to the river. At night. Alone. To get some nightcrawlers. Good parenting, there!
Is River of Darkness worth your time? I don’t know you or what your time is worth, but I’m going to have to go with “no.” Unless you’re a really, really, really, really big Kurt Angle fan. Even if you are, you’re probably a lot better off just popping in some wrestling dvds or the youtube vid embedded below the trailer.
Some of the good wrestling that’s out there, a best of Kurt Angle vid on youtube:
Some of the worst of wrestling, some of Psycho Sid Vicious’ least good moments (there were so darn many choices!)
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