By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Available through: Rogers, Telus, Shaw, Bell, Cineplex and also on iTunes Apple TV
According to Vampiro (aka Ian Richard Hodgkinson), pro wrestling originated in Mexico. A few talents from the WWE got their start there. Lucha Libre, as it’s known, is its own unique world and Nail In The Coffin: The Fall And Rise Of Vampiro is a very deep, insightful and tear-jerker of a documentary about this wrestler as a family man. It’s less about the world he’s still involved in, but more about how much he loves Dasha, his daughter.
In his better years, this wrestler flew back and forth from Ontario and Mexico City, from his home life to work, just to earn a living so to help his family out. It’s not just with his daughter, but also his mom. This piece doesn’t dwell too much on all the reasons on why he left the nest, but instead focuses on those lessons he learned as he navigated the harsh realities of life so that he can prepare his own little bird for the eventuality. He won’t be around forever, especially with the way he’s abused his body as this film unfolds.
This documentary feels different from others because there’s no wrestling organization producing this biopic. This fact helps make this work feel authentic. Plus, we get to see Ian discussing his time as a musician, and his time with The Misfits. We even briefly learn about how he gained his stage name, and part of it has to do with his interest in the occult. Much like Vlad the Impaler, his legacy will live on for all the good he’s done. He helps run the Mexican chapter of the Guardian Angels, a volunteer run safety patrol, and this country loves him for it.
It’s beautiful to see how Ian and Dasha have bonded as the film progresses. A fair chunk of the footage is from personal home videos made and by talking with other veterans from the wrestling world. But now, Hodgkinson is in the greatest fight for his life. He’s diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers’ and is living in Nevada seeking treatment. He still makes the odd return to the ring, but that’s only if the story needs him for it. Otherwise, his semi-retirement is suiting him quite well.
5 Stars out of 5