When I had a backyard, back when I was a kid living with my mom, I did things like play on the slip and slide, threw water balloons at the neighbor’s house, peed in the bushes and pretended I was roughing it and picked up dog shit…that last one was against my will of course. Since then, things have changed…it’s either that or I was a boring fucking kid because Paul Hough’s The Backyard displays a whole other kind of outside playtime. On September 14th, Hough brought with him a few friends to the splendorous Vista Theatre in Los Angeles to teach the hipper-than-thou Silver Lake crowd what it means to engage in a little backyard wrassling.
Introducing The Backyard at the Silver Lake Film Festival was “Beyond the Mat” director Barry Blaustein. Beyond the Mat is an acclaimed documentary on pro-wrestling, so it was to the great pleasure of Paul Hough and crew to have Blaustein introduce their film, saying that he’d seen many a wrestling documentary since the release of his own film, but none that were as striking as The Backyard. And with that said, a particularly rowdy crowd cheered and the film began.
The Backyard is like an EXTREME version of “The Little Rascals.” You know how everything has to be extreme these days? Well, if “The Little Rascals” were around today, they’d be a lot like this…except the rascals would be older, in their late teens to early twenties. The Backyard takes a good, hard look at the backyard wrestling phenomenon that includes people getting thrown into pits of broken light bulbs, body slammed onto mats covered with tacks, smacked with a flaming rubber chicken and generally beaten into a bloody mess. Throughout this 75-minute beating, we get to meet characters like Scar, the Retarded Butcher, Bo and Justin Gates and the all mighty Lizard, who all thrash themselves inches from a trip to ER in their attempt to achieve the dream of becoming pro-wrestlers. It’s a train wreck and a half and it’s definitely a spectacle that needs to be seen by all hardcore Film Threat readers, especially those that think Heavy Metal Parking Lot, Mule Skinner Blues and Dancing Outlaw are absolute fucking laugh riots.
Following the film, director Paul Hough led a Q&A session with some of the stars of his film – the Lizard, Scar and Bo Gates, accompanied by both his mother and girlfriend. Although we had just seen these guys tear the living shit out of each other, standing right before us they appeared as some of the most friendly people you’d ever want to meet, who are all about trying to get a kick out of life, which is what being alive is all about, right?
An interesting point came up during the Q&A that somewhat addressed a slight concern that I had and it was that while watching the film, as everyone roared and howled at the ridiculous antics of these backyard wrestlers, would the attending stars get offended that people seemed to be laughing at them more than with them. This point came up when Bo’s girlfriend said, “The reaction I was watching and listening from everybody kinda struck me as odd because a lot of people thought a lot of things were funny where as (the mother) and I didn’t see it as funny. I do enjoy having you watch this and I beg of you to tell everyone about this movie.” So that right there proves that a little ignorance can be bliss.
After that, the wrestlers fielded questions about their dangerous ways and from what we all gathered, as crazy and especially retarded as some of these stunts these guys pull off may seem, they’re trying to approach their sport as professionally as possible because this is a career for them and as pursuing any career goes, you need to take risks to get ahead.
Later in the theatre lobby, a friend and I met up with the Lizard who was even friendlier face-to-face than when I saw him graciously answering questions from the audience just a moment ago. He was completely stoked about being in Hollywood to help promote the film and was more than happy about the uproarious reception of the film. Fuckin’ A! Good for him! Anybody that takes that much abuse for their dreams deserves to be treated like a hero…even if some of that treatment resides within their own minds.
Independent film madness continues through the 19th at the Silver Lake Film Festival.