This past summer, the world of professional wrestling lost one of its true icons – ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper. The Hot Rod. The Rowdy Scot.
Piper was one of the best talkers in the history of the business. Who put butts in seats by being one of the best villains the sport had ever witnessed. Because of his incredible rivalry with Hulk Hogan in 1984 and 1985, culminating with the very Wrestlemania at Madison Square Garden in New York City, pro wrestling as we know it today (or sports entertainment, if you want to go that way) simply wouldn’t exist.
That’s just how important Roddy Piper was to the business.
Outside of it, Piper also established a decent acting career, most notably with his role as John Nada in John Carpenter’s 1988 science-fiction classic, They Live. Thought he’d star in other films, it’s this one that the media rightfully gravitated towards when discussing his death.
Piper never stopped acting, though, and one of his final roles debuts this weekend at TIFF. Portal To Hell is a short film, just 11 minutes, and finds Piper starring as Jack, the weary superintendent of an apartment building that’s basement serves as a Lovecraftian portal to…well, hell.
The version I watched was unfinished, but I can safely say that its heart is in the right place. It’s one of the more thorough depictions of Lovecraft’s Old Ones; I even had a moment where I felt I was watching scenes that could fit in Alan Moore’s Necronomicon. Director Vivieno Caldinelli, working from a script by Matt Watts, gets it right.
And unsurprisingly, so does Piper. He brings conviction and humour to the role of Jack, and its genuinely sad to know we won’t see more from this pop culture icon. Thankfully, his memory and work will truly live forever.
Cue the bagpipes.
The World Premiere of Portal To Hell is tonight at 10 pm EST at Scotiabank Theatre as part of the Toronto International Film Festival, with public screenings this Sunday, Sept 13 @ 2:45pm @ Scotiabank Theatre abd Friday, Sept 18 @ 6:00pm @ Scotiabank Theatre. More details, including ticket info, here.