Wrestling Then and Now

Revisiting the wrestling classic, I LIKE TO HURT PEOPLE!, directed by Donald G. Jackson.

written by Dwayne Walker

Donald G. Jackson's movies dominated cable television in the early part of the nineties. Even today, it's difficult for an addicted channel surfer not to find one of his flicks playing on Cinemax, Showtime, or other cable networks. Jackson's films have showcased the pecks of some of America's finest wrestlers and hottest B-movie starlets. Roddy Piper starred in Hell Comes to Frogtown, which featured Sandahl Bergman as a scientist who must lead him through a nuclear wasteland of frog mutants to his ultimate fate: impregnating a tribe of supermodels.

Wrestling aficionados may remember his drive-in classic I Like to Hurt People, which featured the Sheik and a number of other icons like Dusty Rhodes, Abdullah the Butcher, Bobo Brazil, Dick the Bruiser, and Heather Feather. The Sheik carries his snake into the ring, bows to Mecca, then each of the wrestlers appear to challenge his reign. Lou Firpin steps in as president of S.T.S. (Stop The Sheik). He is tolerated by most audience members, though not all. "Why don't you go crusade in front of a dirty bookstore?" a feisty woman tells him.

I Like to Hurt People was originally intended to be a wrestling horror movie called Ringside of Hell. Various copyright restrictions and other limitations turned it into the classic wrestling documentary. I Like to Hurt People alternates between documentary footage and comedy bits.

This movie owes a lot to Robert Altman's Nashville, which Jackson credits for inspiring scenes of a variety of characters with different plots blending in and out of each other. Indeed, it's hard not to imagine Geraldine Chaplin's reporter in the role taken by 70s TV Psychologist, Sonya Friedman. Sonya describes the fans as regular folks vicariously getting out their transgressions through watching wrestling. One by one, fans describe what they like to see. The camera is then turned on a wrestler for his motivations: "I like to hurt people."

Robert Altman is a man who never stopped working. Altman always found some medium to work in when financing was not forthcoming. Altman started out making drive in classics with Karen Black (who also stars in Jackson's Roller Blade 7), did industrials, cable programs, television. Donald G. Jackson, like Altman, also never stopped working. He took hold of the video revolution and produced/directed a number of video features like Raw Energy, Lingerie Kickboxer, Ride with the Devil, and many more. When he isn't making features, he's creating video portraits.

The best piece of advice I've read about filmmaking comes from Donald G. Jackson from an interview at a Web page I can't seem to find! Trust me, when I find it I'll return and give you the link. The interviewer asked about struggling filmmakers. Jackson's response:

Quit struggling. You're not struggling. You're growing and learning. First, you have to love filmmaking. There is no struggle. You're only competing with yourself. Enjoy movies and music videos. Have fun with visuals and experimenting. Try to find some new ways of doing things a bit different. Read the film publications, go to the movies, and make films for any budget and any format you can afford. My entire life and philosophy of ZENDANCE is enlightenment through filmmaking.

His Web page, zendance.com, is a treasure trove for fans and an inspiration to anyone with desires to put their vision on screen. I Like to Hurt People is difficult to find, but not impossible. I got my copy on e-bay. Visit e-bay and see if you can't snag a piece of wrestling history!

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