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  •  REVIEW: THE BACKYARD



    Bo and Justin Gates act out their family psychological traumas with the help of a barbed-wire ring and their taunting mom. in The Backyard
    Bo and Justin Gates act out their family psychological traumas with the help of a barbed-wire ring and their taunting mom.

    A world of hurt

    The amazing documentary "The Backyard" is a mind-pounding look at teenagers across America and abroad who imitate pro wrestling in their backyards.

    By JOSHUA TANZER
    Offoffoff.com

    (Originally reviewed at the Brooklyn International Film Festival in April 2003.)

    Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!

      
    THE BACKYARD
    Directed by: Paul Hough.
    Featuring: Rob Van Dam, Scar, Chaos, Jon Johnson, Joshua James, The Lizard, Bo Gates, Justin Gates, Bo and Justin's mom and grandma, Phil Snyder and family, The Retarded Butcher, Penny, Sanity, Wild Thing, Mantis, Sic, Heartless, Karnage, Turbo, Nympho, Razor Blade, El Salvador, 2DollarMan, Captain Anarchy, Botchie Rotton, The Haugan Family, Jennifer Choinsk, Cindy Bradshaw, T.J. Watson, Kristin Kowallek, Andre Jones, Mike Hughes and family, Tj Storm, The Gladiator, The Gump, Daddy Wigga, Jlow Bob, White Dragon, Dr. Michael Laughlin, Amy Crowe, The Suarez Family, Saton Avila, The Cook Family, Annette Lewis, Deathwish, Payne, Ivan Van Del, Beautiful Bobby Lee, LockJaw, Drastic, Smash.
    Music by: Seth Jordan.

    Related links: Official site
     SCHEDULE
    Cinema Village 22 E. 12th St. (212) 924-3363 Opens Aug. 29, 2003

     RELATED ARTICLES
    Brooklyn International Film Festival 2003
    Reviews:
  • Kagami
  • All Night Bodega
  • The Backyard
  • Letters from the Dead

    Previous festivals:
  • Williamsburg Brooklyn Film Festival 2000
  • Williamsburg Brooklyn Film Festival 2001

  • Official site
  • I think my brain is bleeding from watching "The Backyard."

    NYU film grad Paul Hough discovered the nationwide phenomenon of backyard wrestling — the subculture of teenagers who imitate their favorite pro wrestlers by bashing one another bloody for the entertainment of their friends and neighbors — and wound up with a spectacular smackdown of a movie. By the end of the film, I felt like I'd taken its hour and a quarter of body slams, barbed-wire massages, broken-glass gougings and flaming-club beatings personally.

    It felt awesome.

    "The Backyard" is an amazing and appalling display of what the youth of America can do given a little aggression, a pay-per-view subscription, a gruesome imagination and a backyard.

    The documentary is filled with fascinating, if disturbing, characters like "Chaos," a high school dropout who wrestles in the extremely bloody High Impact Wrestling league of Tucson, Arizona. He likes it because it reminds him of "going downtown and gay-bashing."

    Scar has his parents' wholehearted support as a wrestler after struggling through childhood with a debilitating liver ailment. in The Backyard  
    Scar has his parents' wholehearted support as a wrestler after struggling through childhood with a debilitating liver ailment.
      
    Chaos explains the difference between real "deathmatch" wrestling, which uses such paraphernalia as barbed-wire-wrapped club and fluorescent light tubes, not trash cans, breakable folding tables and "fucking weak barbed wire that's like rubber-tipped."

    "That's some pussy stuff right there," he notes.

    We also meet a 17-year-old impresario who bosses the teenagers of Modesto, Calif., by virtue of running the local cable-access wrestling show. There's a pair of brothers in Nevada who act out their angry family dynamics in what they call "3 Stages of Hell II," with their mother actively taunting them during the match. There's a high school junior named Matthew who goes by the name "Scar" because 28 major surgeries for a childhood liver ailment left his body covered in scars. His parents support his wrestling pursuits because "he just never had a choice with all the things happening to him and he ought to have a choice."

    We see more parents and school officials who, surprisingly, support their kids' wrestling — but one of them emphatically doesn't. A schoolteacher for the first time watches her son fight under the name "The Retarded Butcher," and she sobs through the whole ordeal. You'd be horrified too, most likely.

    Yet, there are two secrets that become clear as the documentary goes on. One is that most of the kids know pretty much what they're doing. Many of their stunts are designed — and repeatedly rehearsed — to look as entertainingly violent as possible without actually injuring anyone. Upstate New York college student Phil Snyder, who did regular high school wrestling as well, is planning to go into hotel management and notes that a scarred face might be a problem in his future career.

      Fluorescent light tubes, wooden boards, thumbtacks and more weapons are used to cause superficial but genuinely bloody wounds. in The Backyard
      Fluorescent light tubes, wooden boards, thumbtacks and more weapons are used to cause superficial but genuinely bloody wounds.
    It becomes clear that this stuff isn't fake but the arsenals are carefully chosen to break easily or to scratch the skin, maybe, but not to injure or wound. Opponents are never thrown onto hard ground — they're always thrown through breakable tables or boards to slow their fall. "It takes very little talent to fall through a stack of tables," one New York fighter points out.

    But secret two emerges on a trip to England, where youngsters think of themselves as more sophisticated than the American brawlers but they still give away one of the disturbing tricks of the trade — calculatedly cutting themselves in order to bleed more. It's one of the few really sickening moments in the film.

    Another comes when a Tucson girl is thrown right on her head, to the oblivious cheers of the small crowd. In the same backyard, Scar seems to land very badly on his back, and another kid is one false move from having his neck snapped in a flip. It wouldn't be surprising at all to see someone paralyzed from what they assumed was safe, harmless entertainment, and for that reason I can't accept backyard wrestling too easily. I sympathize with these kids more than I ever expected, but I really worry about them. You can view "The Backyard" with horror or amusement, but either way, you can't look away from this intensely real film.

    APRIL 29, 2003
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK


    Reader comments on The Backyard:

  • take my advice   from WWE FAN, Jul 14, 2003
  • Re: take my advice   from mike, Apr 29, 2006
  • Re: take my advice   from ECWFAN, May 10, 2006
  • Re: take my advice   from mike, Feb 5, 2007
  • Re: take my advice   from Barabbas Bo Gates, Aug 29, 2008
  • Re: take my advice   from ecwfan17, May 11, 2006
  • Re: take my advice   from Wrestler-frog, Jul 10, 2006
  • Be smart and professional   from Mal, Jul 31, 2003
  • Re: Be smart and professional   from ReNoStAr, Aug 7, 2003
  • Re: Be smart and professional   from Dmon Ma chine, Oct 6, 2004
  • Re: Be smart and professional   from Insane Sam, Oct 30, 2006
  • I know what it's like...   from Steven Michaels, Aug 20, 2003
  • sdfa   from asj, Sep 2, 2003
  • I know the passion you have for wrestling, but...   from Hardkore Kid, Apr 5, 2004
  • Re: I know the passion you have for wrestling, but...   from wrestler-frog, Jul 10, 2006
  • HIW   from Jen, Sep 17, 2003
  • Re: HIW   from CYRUS PHOENYX, Mar 5, 2006
  • Re: HIW   from The Belfast Bruiser, Mar 28, 2006
  • Re: HIW   from jimmie groudy, Apr 6, 2006
  • help   from nick brinkman, Dec 15, 2003
  • This shit is crazy   from Patricia Idle, Jun 3, 2004
  • wassup   from Jeannette, Jun 17, 2004
  • [no subject]   from , Dec 15, 2004
  • [no subject]   from , Dec 15, 2004
  • I backyard wrestle and love it   from Danny Sparks aka VIRUS, Jan 21, 2005
  • Oh dear....   from Whiskey, Feb 25, 2005
  • The Backyard   from "Bond" James Bond, Mar 27, 2005
  • Some REAL advice on backyard wrestling   from Jack "The Fat Man" Davison, Apr 8, 2005
  • The Retarded Butcher   from "Bond" James Bond, Apr 17, 2005
  • bond' james bond   from Madman mondo, Dec 14, 2005
  • crazy shit   from Crazy Dude, May 5, 2005
  • fuck u   from M80, May 21, 2005
  • EFW in FL time to unite!   from Rag Daul, Apr 4, 2008
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  • screw the WWE and screw Vince MacMahon   from Jonny Reno, Jun 20, 2005
  • VINCE MCMHAON IS A GENIUS SO DEAL WITH IT   from The Belfast Bruiser, Jun 23, 2005
  • Re: VINCE MCMHAON IS A GENIUS SO DEAL WITH IT   from ecwfan17, May 11, 2006
  • Re: VINCE MCMHAON IS A GENIUS SO DEAL WITH IT   from jordsnsa, Jun 28, 2006
  • backyard wrestling is dead!!   from The Belfast Bruiser, Jun 23, 2005
  • Re: backyard wrestling is dead!!   from tim, Jun 30, 2005
  • HIW IZ THA BEST DEAL WITH IT!!   from Madman mondo, Dec 14, 2005
  • Re: backyard wrestling is dead!!   from Sanity, Jan 2, 2006
  • Re: backyard wrestling is dead!!   from english slam, Apr 20, 2006
  • Re: backyard wrestling is dead!!   from "psycotic" Rob Staunches, Mar 18, 2006
  • The Backyard   from The Belfast Bruiser, Jul 3, 2005
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  • Re The Backyard   from Jack Wade, Jul 7, 2005
  • The Backyard   from The Belfast Bruiser, Jul 11, 2005
  • Re: The Backyard   from The Angry Amish, Nov 21, 2006
  • Scar, Lizard   from The biggest fan, Jul 23, 2005
  • The Backyard   from The Belfast Bruiser, Aug 3, 2005
  • backyard wrestling   from Commander James Bond, Aug 12, 2005
  • Scar & Chaos   from The Belfast Bruiser, Aug 21, 2005
  • Re: Scar & Chaos   from Tracey1978, Aug 25, 2005
  • The Backyard   from The Belfast Bruiser, Aug 27, 2005
  • Re: The Backyard   from Goth Kirby, Sep 1, 2005
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  • The Backyard   from The Belfast Bruiser, Sep 15, 2005
  • [no subject]   from PyRo, Sep 22, 2005
  • The Backyard   from The Belfast Bruiser, Sep 25, 2005
  • BYW and PRo   from Kolton, Oct 1, 2005
  • Re: BYW and PRo   from Acid, Nov 10, 2005
  • Re: BYW and PRo   from Sanity, Jan 2, 2006
  • BACKYARD WRESTLING   from PHOENYX FROM HCW, Nov 6, 2005
  • Re: BACKYARD WRESTLING   from The NightKrawler, Jan 1, 2006
  • The Backyard   from The Belfast Bruiser, Dec 1, 2005
  • Re: The Backyard   from , Jan 2, 2006
  • hiw and hwf   from Madman mondo, Dec 14, 2005
  • my website   from Madman mondo, Dec 31, 2005
  • We will always be here   from Sanity, Jan 2, 2006
  • Re: We will always be here   from Madman mondo, Jan 3, 2006
  • Re: We will always be here   from Madman mondo, Jan 3, 2006
  • The Backyard   from The Belfast Bruiser, Jan 3, 2006
  • The Backyard   from The Belfast Bruiser, Jan 6, 2006
  • backyard wrestling   from Madman mondo, Jan 7, 2006
  • this is for the belfast Brusier   from Kolton, Jan 9, 2006
  • Actually Belfast read this: Appology letter   from Kolton, Jan 9, 2006
  • The Backyard   from The Belfast Bruiser, Jan 11, 2006
  • The Backyard   from The Belfast Bruiser, Jan 11, 2006
  • backyarders   from Madman mondo, Jan 14, 2006
  • [no subject]   from kolton, Jan 17, 2006
  • ew ew ew   from Lauren, Feb 2, 2006
  • Re: ew ew ew   from Zodiac, Feb 28, 2006
  • idiot   from austin glodowski, Feb 6, 2006
  • Re: idiot   from Zodiac, Feb 28, 2006
  • Fuck yeah   from Nasty, Feb 28, 2006
  • The Backyard   from The Belfast Bruiser, Mar 4, 2006
  • [no subject]   from , Mar 17, 2006
  • Belfast Buiser   from Kolton, Mar 20, 2006
  • The Backyard   from Shane Finn, Apr 3, 2006
  • Why not publicize decent BYW?   from Jason Phoenix, Apr 12, 2006
  • Re: Why not publicize decent BYW?   from , May 4, 2006
  • Re: Why not publicize decent BYW?   from psycotic, May 4, 2006
  • WDF FOR LIFE   from wdfdraven, Apr 14, 2006
  • The Backyard   from The Belfast Bruiser, Apr 17, 2006
  • Re: The Backyard   from Madman mondo, Apr 29, 2006
  • Re: The Backyard   from psycotic, May 3, 2006
  • Re: The Backyard   from psycotic, May 3, 2006
  • the real story   from O.W.F champ, Apr 29, 2006
  • The Backyard   from The Belfast Bruiser, May 5, 2006
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  • what its all about   from psycotic, May 11, 2006
  • The Backyard   from The Belfast Bruiser, May 14, 2006
  • Re: The Backyard   from psycotic, May 22, 2006
  • TNTW   from TNTW CEO, May 28, 2006
  • Not so bad as it seems   from KTW Comissioner, Jun 4, 2006
  • The Backyard   from The Belfast Bruiser, Jun 14, 2006
  • Re: The Backyard   from Thomas Idol, Dec 28, 2006
  • 5 Years Later....   from MTW Guy, Jun 20, 2006
  • u   from cudlles, Jun 30, 2006
  • big up the backyard   from joey, Jun 30, 2006
  • The Backyard   from The Fighting IrishMan, Jul 4, 2006
  • this is inspiring.....   from PIW Wrestler 4 life, Jul 10, 2006
  • The Backyard   from Finn, Jul 20, 2006
  • The Backyard   from Captain Mick Sparrow, Aug 17, 2006
  • where do i join   from aidan, Aug 31, 2006
  • The Backyard   from Shane Finn, Sep 3, 2006
  • My Personal Experiences   from Ryan Reckers, Oct 1, 2006
  • T.B.W. "A CUT ABOVE THE REST"   from Dante, Jan 23, 2007
  • [no subject]   from zack, Feb 22, 2007
  • Backyard is for men only   from switch blade, Jun 6, 2007
  • Karnage   from justin doan, Dec 2, 2007
  • Karnage   from Bianca Jane Insane, Sep 20, 2008
  • Re: Karnage   from AToMic1, Dec 14, 2008
  • Wwe vs Bywf   from Die Hard EDDIE, Dec 26, 2007
  • backard wrestling rules   from xtreme terminator, Jul 17, 2008

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