Fantastic Fest Movie Reviews Movies

Fantastic Fest 2019: “Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro” Film Review

“Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro” is not just another professional wrestling documentary. The film dives into the impact that professional wrestling has had on Ian “Vampiro” Hodgkinson and his new life navigating the management of a lucha libre federation in Mexico while raising his teenage daughter in Canada. “Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro” had its world premiere at Fantastic Fest 2019 on Friday, September 20.

Hodgkinson’s career started in the early 1990s; it took him from his humble beginnings in Canada to the epicenter of Mexico City’s massive lucha libre industry. Now a talent director and commentator for Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide, Hodgkinson divides his time between his undying love for his daughter Dasha and the incredible sports entertainment platform that has made him an international phenomenon.

You don’t need to be a fan of wrestling or even know the world to watch this documentary. However, if you’re a fan of wrestling like myself, this is another behind-the-scenes glimpse into the world of the sports entertainment industry that is fascinating to watch from the perspective of Hodgkinson’s career and present dealings.

Through the use of home videos and interviews, director Michael Paszt constructs a heartfelt look into the wrestler known to most as “Vampiro.” This wasn’t just a highlight reel of wrestling accomplishments and talking points of the success Ian has had, but rather an insightful look to the man behind the mask.

Nail in the Coffin

As we learn in the documentary, lucha libre is intertwined in the fabric of Mexican culture. It’s not just sports entertainment, but a way of life, and the “Vampiro Canadiense” took the very traditional world of lucha libre by storm. Women were crazy about the “Vampiro Canadiense” and flooded the arenas like never before. This was a precursor to the sports entertainment we know today, and it was a different angle that American wrestling documentaries tend to not explore as in-depth.

We learn about the success he could have had in WCW if it had not been for the similar persona known as Sting. It’s heartbreaking to hear and think of what could’ve been, but Hodgkinson is not one to throw a pity party.

One of the most poignant moments in the film that is touched upon for a short time is when Hodgkinson reveals the sexual abuse he endured at the hands of a priest. This ultimately led him to do drugs, suffer from depression due to the shame he felt, and led him inadvertently down the path to becoming “Vampiro.”

Where “Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro” really shines is not talking of years past, but in the present, where a father just wants to be home with his daughter playing Playstation. It’s a portrait of a man that you come to know has disliked the fame aspect of his success since its inception. Seeing the physical toll that he endures on a daily basis, like not being able to walk yet still accepting jobs to get back in the ring, is hard to fathom as a viewer. But when you see Hodgkinson’s love for his daughter and the sacrifices he’s making to ensure she has a good future, you might not understand it, but you respect it.

Catch “Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro” at Fantastic Fest on Thursday, September 26 at 2 p.m.

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