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Local, national pro wrestling stars featured in zombie film

Principalities of Darkness
'Pro Wrestlers Vs. Zombies' writer and director Cody Knotts, center, goes over some material while wrestling icons 'Hacksaw' Jim Duggan, 'The Franchise' Shane Douglas and Kurt Angle prepare for action.

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Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, 12:11 a.m.
 

Good old-fashioned American violence will be on display in Uniontown when Principalities of Darkness LLC releases its latest film.

“Pro Wrestlers Vs. Zombies” is exactly as it sounds — sports entertainment icons and local ring talent using their signature fighting styles, athleticism and anything they can get their hands on to fend off the undead.

State Theatre Center for the Arts at 27 E. Main St. in Uniontown is hosting the first screening on Friday.

Red carpet is at 6:30 p.m. with the show starting at 7.

There is an exclusive preshow party and autograph session with the wrestlers and stars at Uniontown's famed Italian restaurant Meloni's on Friday at 4.

VIP tickets are $50 and include access to the preparty and after-party at DiMarco's Bistro & Cantina. General admission is $10.

Tickets are available online at www.brownpapertickets.com.

Tickets will be sold the day of the show at Meloni's and the theater box office. Black Label Society guitarist Nick Catanese will be at Friday's screening.

“We want to pack the house and have a good time,” writer and director Cody Knotts said. “We expect to have a pretty good crowd of 500-plus people, which is really good for a film, and they'll have a really enjoyable evening. It's going to be a rare night for wrestling fans and a special night.”

Knotts, of Washington, Pa., interweaves the action with a tale of vengeance and a subplot of love.

The main villain in the film is played by Renegade Wrestling Alliance legend and former McKeesport-based Pro Wrestling eXpress superstar Ashton Amherst. He calls upon dark forces to exact revenge on “The Franchise” Shane Douglas for killing his brother during a wrestling match.

He leads an ever-growing zombie horde against Douglas, his family, and wrestlers “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, “Hacksaw” Jim Dugan, Matt Hardy and Olympic gold medalist and Moon Township native Kurt Angle.

Piper develops a relationship with lead actress Adrienne Fischer throughout the survival horror flick.

Many zombie movies have a lot of gun play, huge firearms or a bunch of unrealistic kung fu moves. None of that is in this film.

“People hold their nose down at professional wrestling,” Knotts said. “There's a bit of cultural snobbery, and it's a shame because from a business standpoint the market's there. There's people who want to see it, but everybody would rather have someone doing martial arts mumbo jumbo. They move their arms 16 ways instead of just hitting somebody. They think it looks cool on screen, and honestly I've always thought it looked kind of ridiculous.”

Other wrestlers in the cast are Ryan “The Steel City Prodigy” Mitchell, Shane Taylor, Ryan Edmonds and Facade. Taya Parker, Penthouse Pet of the Year in 2009, and Reb Sky, Howard Stern's Woman of the Year, are in the cast, as is a guy with a mustache you have to see to believe.

“It's been an amazing experience to be able to work with Roddy Piper, Hacksaw, Matt Hardy, Kurt Angel, and I always bring up Shane because I know Shane,” Knotts said. “It's a dream come true, and they're great to work with.”

Knotts and Douglas attended Bethany College. Douglas is one of the producers and became main choreographer when pro wrestling legend Terry Funk was injured. Knotts said Douglas was a keystone in constructing the movie.

“It couldn't have happened without Shane because (the wrestlers) trust him because of things he's stood for,” Knotts said.

“Pro Wrestlers Vs. Zombies” was an opportunity for upcoming indie wrestlers to learn from the superstars.

“I think they learned a lot from Roddy and from Hacksaw,” Knotts said. “Probably the biggest thing is to understand that this is all a business. It's entertaining but it's business, and there's certain things expected of you when you hit a certain level. The other thing was how better to present themselves. I know Roddy one day told Facade he needs to have a better intro when he enters the arena, and he was giving him advice. I think they were picking up stuff along the process.”

The movie first screened last month at an international horror festival in Whitby, England, and received critical acclaim.

“The big thing everybody agreed with is it's entertaining,” Knotts said. “Isn't that what you want in a movie, to enjoy it?”

The U.S. version is a little different. Changes will be made from each screening until the movie's formal release in March.

Movie soundtrack features music by Dead in 5, Reverent Skye, Ken Hampton, and 2011 Italian Golden Globe winning composer Marco Werba.

“Pro Wrestlers Vs. Zombies” primarily was filmed in Parkersburg, W.V., with locations at the former Wood County Jail, Fort Boreman Park, City Park and several restaurants.

More information is available online at prowrestlersvszombies.com.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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