Backyard Criminals Review

What you are about to see, if you are brave enough to insert this shiny disc into your player is 100 minutes of, well, it's hard to describe what you are about to see, really. For the uninitiated, watching this DVD is somewhat akin to being dangled by the feet into Bedlam. After a brief introduction by such luminaries as New Jack and Vampiro, in which they proclaim their love and respect of the Backyard Wrestlers, we get a very long introduction into their strange and awful world. It's a mystifying event. Three teenagers, in a home made ring, simply batter each other with shopping trolleys, wallpaper tables and stepladders. On one level, it could be seen as performance art, as disaffected youth attack each other with mass-produced objects, whose only purpose in life is to help their human masters and then slip quietly into the background when not needed. Imagine the shock experienced by the humble shopping trolley as it suddenly discovers a new sort of life as a missile. On another level, its just madness incarnate. At one point, one of the wrestlers writhes with pain and clutches his leg. It looks serious, and his friend’s first reaction is to throw stepladders at him. It's Darwinism in action. Hilariously, there's a referee whose one task seems to be simply to stay alive in the melee.

After that, the DVD gets down to the business of explaining what this is all about. It seems Backyard Wrestling is a sort of 'punk rock' of the wrestling world. Kids who grew up watching fat men camp about with each other on TV and simply taking it further than the normal sort of 'playing in the backyard' sort of thing and the whole thing has developed into an underground sport with it's own stars, rules and competitions. The main difference between Pro-Wresting and this offshoot is that Pro-Wrestling is dull and offers little to the casual viewer, unwilling to immerse themselves in the sort of entertainment that Josef Goebbels would have been proud to produce - pumping images of overblown perfection at the lumpen proletariat and encouraging them to cheer the 'Ultimate Men' to assured victory.

Backyard Wrestling is much different. It's main attraction, of course, is that there's always the possibility of seeing someone getting seriously hurt, and that's as always entertaining, as regular viewers of 'You've Been Framed' will testify. The stars of the sport, such as Josh Matthews AKA MGD, seem intelligent enough (outside the ring) and offer tips to aspiring backyard wrestlers. The professional wrestlers, while they respect the sport, are fairly unanimous in their verdict that these amateurs should go to wrestling school. Of course, they would say that, as it's their livelihoods these people are coming after. Wrestling school is expensive, and many of these kids are doing this 'cos they love to wrestle and can't afford it. More power to them.

There's one excellent moment of delicious irony; One character, when asked about whether this sport offers a way into Pro-Wrestling responds positively, because a lot of the Pro-Wrestlers are big guys, pumped up with steroids who look good but can't wrestle - "You know, then, because of that, they have to come up with some sort of gimmick and wrestling fans aren't stupid and can see through all that stuff". This line is delivered, with no trace of irony, by a character called Vampiro in full white-on-black make-up. A stupid gimmick, you say, Vampiro? Telephone call for Mr. Pot...It's a Mr. Kettle who'd like to discuss a glass house/stone-throwing incident.

There's really not much more to say. The video does suffer slightly from a lack of structure, that seems to presume a certain degree of knowledge from the viewer from the start, but if this is the case, why have the introductions and explanations about quarter of the way in? If you're a fan of this sort of thing, then you've probably already got this by now. Hell, you're probably in it, having shopping trolleys thrown at you. If you're not, then this does offer some entertainment value. If you like Skateboarding videos and the like, then this would not look out of place. When it's at its most entertaining, it's simply a collection of home video snippets of the most violent moments and most of these are enough to make the most jaded viewer sit there with slack-jaw at the sheer outrageousness of it all. It would be most at home, perhaps, running quietly in the background at a very noisy party.


Mostly very bad but given that most of this DVD is culled from home videos shot by the fans and participants, it would be churlish to complain and it does give the whole thing a rather pleasing bootleg effect. The professional footage, which consists mainly of interview footage is very good indeed. It looks like it's been shot on digital equipment and is of a very high standard, certainly comparable to broadcast TV.


Again, something of a mixed bag, but mainly very good. Stereo only, of course, it's generally very clear and direct. The home video footage is accompanied by some spectaculalry bad American rock and every power chord is clear and sharp. And no extras or subtitles at all.

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