WWE Studios

Leprechaun Origins

One of the smaller reveals at Comic-Con was yesterday’s look at Leprechaun: Origins, the new WWE-branded reboot of those terrible films where Warwick Davis would put on a hokey green Halloween costume and murder teens, Irish folklore, and good taste. For the eighth film in a franchise taken seriously by no one, ever, Leprechaun‘s offering of a trailer and poster weren’t gonna cut it; not when Christopher Nolan could descend at any moment and whisper, “Spaaaaaaace,” inciting mass panic in the streets. So Leprechaun: Origins upped its game the only way it could: revealing the yet-to-be-revealed design of its new, Hornswoggle Leprechaun. And for those who just asked, “What’s a Hornswoggle?,” he’s a WWE wrestler (real name: Dylan Postl) who happens to be a dwarf, and also happens to wrestle in a leprechaun outfit, because the WWE is where good taste is body-slammed until it is dead.

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Larry the Cable Guy

Larry the Cable Guy is still a thing, folks. It’s true. Larry, real name Daniel Whitney, has managed to sustain a weird level of pop culture relevance since debuting his redneck persona in the early nineties. The Blue Collar Comedy Tour staple alongside comedians Ron White, Bill Engvall, and ringleader Jef Foxworthy, Whitney has hosted Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy on the History Channel (“Larry’s Favorite Stuff” is a particularly touching episode), voiced the beloved tow truck Mater in Pixar’s Cars franchise, and swung a Golden Raspberry Award in 2013’s A Madea Christmas. Dude Ain’t going away, and both Fox and WWE Studios have every intention of keeping Larry Cable Guyin’ in 2014 with the weirdly random announcement of a sequel to 1996’s Jingle All the Way.

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roadhouse

The late 80s and early 90s were a golden age of ridiculous action movies that were so cheesy and bad, to look at them with modern eyes makes one wonder just what was going through everyone involved’s heads when they made them. For whatever reason the world was hungry for action during that period though, and the more faux badass the hero was and the more unbelievable the violence was, the better. Perhaps the ultimate example of late 80s, early 90s action cheese was director Rowdy Herrington’s (yep, real name) 1989 Patrick Swayze-starrer, Road House. It had everything that a so-bad-it’s-good action movie needed to be a success at the time: macho posturing, homoerotic fight sequences, random female nudity, throats getting ripped out, you name it. Despite the fact that Road House wasn’t really good enough to be remembered because of actual merit, years of ironic viewings on college campuses and late night repeat airings on TBS have kept it alive in the hearts and minds of movie fans, to the point where you can probably refer to it as a cult classic. And for some reason MGM seems to think that’s reason enough to try to capitalize off its notoriety with a remake.

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Momoa

Though he’s probably best known for wielding a big sword in the Conan remake and mounting a tiny woman in HBO’s Game of Thrones, it turns out Jason Momoa also fancies himself a director of films. Or, at the very least, he’s now directed one feature film, and thanks to a partnership with WWE Studios and Anchor Bay, that movie is going to be brought to audiences in North America, the UK, and Australia/New Zealand. The film is called Road to Paloma, and it stars Momoa himself, as well as his co-writer Robert Homer Mollohan, in an adventure tale that almost sounds too ridiculously chest-beating and man-affirming to be real. I mean, honestly, I’ve never actually seen that show Renegade that Lorenzo Lamas used to be on, but when I read the plot synopsis for Road to Paloma, it sounds to me like it’s exactly what watching a season of Renegade would be like. In a word: awesome.

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kane

When WWE Studios first launched with a gory slasher film called See No Evil back in 2006, it seemed like a company that was destined to usher in a new golden age of schlocky, exploitive B-movies starring professional wrestlers. Not too long after, a parent company decree that everything with the WWE name on it should be PG and family friendly kind of robbed the whole venture of its teeth though. Gone were gory horror movies like See No Evil and cheesy actioners like The Condemned, and in their place were wacky comedies like Knucklehead and The Chaperone. This strategy was stupid, so thankfully WWE has recently been getting away from it by doing things like taking a stake in the production of The Call, which was a fairy successful thriller, and developing Leprechaun: Origins, which is sure to be delightfully twisted. And today we got our best indication yet that WWE Studios might be going back to their original strategy of flooding the market with the sort of low-rent but charming grindhouse stuff that used to line the VHS racks of your local video store. Variety is reporting that they’re bringing back the star of See No Evil, Kane (Glenn Jacobs), and having him star in a sequel.

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WWE Studios has had an interesting history. First set up in the hopes that it would be able to develop theatrically released starring vehicles for WWE wrestlers in the action and horror genres, this fledgling wing of Vince McMahon Jr.’s empire has since gone through myriad strategy changes. It’s gone from making R rated films to making PG and PG-13 rated films exclusively, from giving its movies wide releases to giving them straight to video releases, it’s moved away from action and tried its hand at family films and comedies, and most recently it’s even teamed up with Lionsgate to re-boot the Leprechaun franchise. And today the studio announced that they’re going to be adding yet another type of film to their repertoire, by creating an animated feature. Which is an historic announcement indeed, as this new project will be the first time wrestlers have appeared in animated form since Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling hit the television airwaves in the early ’80s.

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WWE Studios has been producing a steady stream of big, dumb action schlock since ’02, their only real winner being Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s starring vehicle, The Rundown. To be fair, they co-produced to Universal’s Strike Entertainment; I imagine someone had the good sense to lock Vince McMahon in a closet during the lion’s share of that film. The wrestling organization’s studio wing has in recent years been playing it up to the PG-13 crowd to cast a wider demographic net, and thus their film library has seen some variation from wooden wrestlers blowing shit up and punching faces. Basically, WWE Studios wants you to know they have a heart– and so we get That’s What I Am, television writer/director Michael Pavone’s big screen feature debut.

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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