Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro @ Festival du Nouveau Cinema

There has always been an argument about whether wrestling should be considered a sport or entertainment. While plenty of effort and time is put into this precious little is put into the discussion about the human cost. Even though professional wrestling today is scripted and highly choreographed it still takes a physical toll on those involved. And that isn’t even touching the emotional price due to the overworking, travel, separation, and availability of drugs and alcohol.

Director Michael Paszt’s film goes behind the curtain of the professional wrestling industry to peek in at the very personal story of one man Ian Richard Hodgkinson and his lifelong involvement in the sport. Being from a rough background where he dealt with abuse led to him turning to punk music and wrestling.

As a young man he moved from Thunder Bay to Montreal to escape his family life. There he became involved with the Montreal mafia. Soon after he moved to Los Angeles and went on to become a bodyguard for music group Milli Vanilli. It was during this time he discovered punk music and the Sex Pistols.

When he began his career as a professional wrestler he modelled his look on a combo of Milli Vanilli and Sid Vicious. After making a move to Mexico in the 1980s, Ian’s wrestling career took off. Known now as Vampiro, the Canadian vampire, he became the biggest star on scene. Women loved him, men wanted to be him and teenage boys worshiped him.

He got married and had a daughter. They were divorced and his daughter went to live with her mother. Ian’s crazy life continued. He worked a lot and partied hard. Finally he got clean though he continued on abusing his body in the ring.

As the documentary goes on it seems like Ian’s life has been a chaotic one. From the wrestling to raising his teenage daughter alone to producing AAA wrestling shows in Mexico. He is always on the move. Though he has been involved in wrestling all of his adult he doesn’t really like it. Yet he doesn’t seem to be able to walk away from it. Despite the fact that it has wrecked his body and brain.

What makes this film different from other wrestling films is Ian’s love for his daughter. His life now centers around her. He even moves her out of Mexico and to his hometown of Thunder Bay when she seems to be in trouble. That plus the fact that he does not like wrestling. Never meant to become a wrestler. Even admits that he is no good. That he cannot even do the simplest of wrestling moves. Why he became so famous was his appeal and the fact that he would do anything.

At the end we are told that the now 52-year-old has been diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s and was seeking treatment for it, but had returned to the ring despite the risks. For a man who claims to hate wrestling bottom line is that he absolutely loves it. It has become his addiction.

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