In the pre-credit sequence of "Grunt! The Wrestling Movie" (opening today at the Fox International following a live wrestling event outside the theater at 6:45 p.m.), we're shown a grainy black-and-white replay of the infamous 1979 heavyweight championship match between Mad Dog Joe DeCurso and Skull Crusher Johnson.
That's the one in which Mad Dog inadvertently decapitated the champ, leaving the title in limbo and himself in such a state of depression that he reportedly jumped off the Oakland Bay Bridge.
But a number of fans think that a new contender, Mask (Stephen Cepello), "the idol of children and kisser of dogs" is really Mad Dog in disguise. Among them are the nerdish president of Mad Dog's fan club (Robert Glaudini) and a young film maker (Jeff Dial) eager to make a documentary on Mad Dog. When these two join forces they provide the very slender thread that strings together a series of wrestling matches involving the Mask and typically gaudy and loud-mouthed opponents.
Director Allan Holzman, a talented Roger Corman discovery who made the amusingly gruesome space-horror film "Forbidden World" and the nifty teen adventure "Out of Control," has his work cut out for him here. First of all, how do you spoof what is already a spoof? Neither Holzman (and three others who wrote the film's original story) nor Roger D. Manning, credited with the screenplay, has been able to answer this satisfactorily. They just didn't think up enough jokes and gags to sustain their film between matches. Long before the finish, you realize it doesn't matter whether Mad Dog and Mask are one and the same.