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Remembering Rowdy Roddy Piper (Dissection)!

08.04.2015by: Jake Dee

"I don't need to know how tough I am to know how tough I am." - Rowdy Roddy Pipper

Much more than a world-class wrestler, Rowdy Roddy Piper was a world-class entertainer. As my own father's number one favorite WWF star, I was groomed from the womb to watch every week and hold the highest order of respect for this loud barking, boiling-tempered, kilt-wearing badass. And I did. I still recall the epic brawls and bouts he had with nemeses like Hulk Hogan, Greg Valentine, Superfly Snuka, Bad News Brown, etc. Hell, I still think I have that one Royal Rumble from 1990 or so on recorded VHS...the one where Roddy and Bad News fought their way out of the ring all the way out to the curtain. Shite's legendary. Indelibly etched on my mind. Forever.

Which is why the sad and shocking news of Piper's passing last Friday is so damn disheartening. This untouchable fighting god, a warrior hero for generations of young boys and men alike, a wild man who at once exuded a blue-collar, every-guy accessibility with an air of absolute invincibility - was clearly taken from us all far too early. I can't stand it. The ever relatable Roderick George Toombs, survived by his wife and four daughters, shall not and will not be forgotten any time soon. Join us as we take a look back at Rowdy Roddy Piper's decorated career!

BEST WORK

GET THEY LIVE HERE

Although Roddy has amassed over 120 big and small screen credits over a 35 year span or so, I think most would agree - certainly us genre heads - that his work in John Carpenter's THEY LIVE is his most eminently watchable movie. A cult classic, no doubt. It's the one flick that not only got to showcase Piper's raw brute strength and hand-to-hand prowess, but his bona fide acting chops as well. I mean it. Without Piper's convincing performance in an otherwise ludicrous story, the overall result likely would not have ascended to the campy sci-fi favorite it remains to be almost 30 years on.

Of course, the great thing about THEY LIVE is how it's actually a trenchant social commentary and prescient precautionary tale disguised as a silly alien invasion B-movie. It's like the STARSHIP TROOPERS of the 80s - wildly entertaining on the surface, scarily incisive underneath. But don't take it from me, here's Piper's own words on the subtext of the film:

"You know, when we did it, it was about Reaganomics, but it was also a political statement [about] where our society is headed. Right now, what they're trying to do in society is get rid of all cash money so you just have a chip and everything is on your chip. Well, that's full control. If you go on an airplane right now, they won't take cash anymore. They actually say, "We're a cashless airplane." Wait a second? You won't take cash? That's "OBEY. This is your God." I think this movie is a statement of "keep our freedom," and I believe everybody gets that from it no matter what generation."

Pretty cool shite, right? Well, perhaps even cooler, certainly more heartfelt, is how Piper found great support from friend and costar Keith David. Scope it:

"Keith David, it took us 20 years to see each other after we did They Live. When we were shooting that movie, Keith came over to me and he's a schooled, Julliard actor - a professional - and he would help me with my script, while everyone else was saying, "This is just some dumb jock coming to act now." But he stood up for me, and we had such a bond."

Doesn't get much better than that, ay? Bonds endure, even after death, and I have a feeling the same kind of bond between Piper and David is the kind to be forged among Piper fans for many years to come.

TRADEMARKS

The kilt baby, the kilt. Once quoted as saying "real men wear kilts", Piper was never shy about boasting his own heritage through his one of a kind fashion statement. And you know what...dude cracked more skulls than the NFL in that damn kilt...so much so that you'd be foolish to disrespect it with so much as a sneer or snide remark. And if you did, chances are you'd come face to face with an additional pair of wrestling trademark moves of Roddy's...the eye-poke and sleeper hold head lock. Seriously, Piper put more motherf*ckers to bed than a high-powered sedative. Kevorkian couldn't even keep up with this dude. Beyond that, of course, is how he carried the demeanor over from the small to big-screen, retaining a take-no-shit attitude while still being constantly relatable. A working class hero, an anti-celebrity everyman. A real JoBlo, if you will.

HIDDEN GEMS

GET HELL COMES TO FROGTOWN HERE

It's no secret Rowdy Roddy made an innumerable amount of movies, some good, some great, some not so. Never his fault however, as the man's entertainment value was consistently delivered each time out. As examples, we'll give you a closer look at two movies I think you should definitely go out and see if you haven't already. The first is an absurdly fun 1988 flick called HELL COMES TO FROGTOWN, and the other teams Piper with the great Sonny Chiba in the 1994 flick IMMORTAL COMBAT.

Good god. In HELL COMES TO FROGTOWN, Piper plays Sam Hell, a prisoner of a race of women who run the world after a global catastrophe has rendered the human race infertile. Worse, a breed of mutant monsters have sprung up, and despite having the unenviable distinction of a bomb strapped to his balls, must rescue the remaining harem of fertile women on the planet. This includes going through the Frogman boss and avoiding testicular detonation. No easy feat. Fun film, over the top and campy in all the ways you want from a late 80s sci-fi cheese-fest. Piper is highly amusing in the film, which might be the reason why Carpenter cast him in THEY LIVE later that year. Definitely worth a look!

GET IMMORTAL COMBAT HERE

Speaking of worth a peep, how can one resist a Rowdy Roddy/Sonny Chiba team up? Unthinkable. Yet, while Paul W.S. Anderson was prepping his MORTAL KOMBAT adaptation, these two warriors from different fighting arenas (and corners of the world) united to kick some serious undead ass in IMMORTAL COMBAT. That's right y'all, Hatori Hanzo and the Rowdy Man together to quell an army of undying ghost-ninjas. What the hell could be better than that? Throw in genre vet Meg Foster and my man Tommy Tiny Lister and we've got a well-rounded action extravaganza. Seriously, my jaw hit the floor when I stumbled on this sucker on cable one night. I pray you have similar good fortune!

NEXT PROJECTS

Not to be flip or glib, but when we say next projects, we're simply intent on addressing the various genre joints Piper had in the works during the time of his unfortunate demise. As always, the man had many irons in the fire, and his slate for 2015 and beyond was no different. Hell, our man even tallied his second associate producer credit this year. Let's take a peek shall we...

First up, on the acting front, the Rowdy man recently wrapped a promising horror flick called THE CHAIR, from director Chad Ferrin (EASTER BUNNY, KILL! KILL!, SOMEONE'S KNOCKING AT THE DOOR). News dropped late last week, in response to what happened, that the film will be dedicated in Piper's honor. Here's what we can expect when the sick graphic novel adaptation likely drops later this year:

Based on the Alterna Comics graphic novel of the same name, THE CHAIR follows the story of Richard Sullivan, an innocent man struggling to escape execution on death row. Witnessing the savage killings of his fellow inmates at the hand of the prison's sadistic and psychotic Warden, Sullivan decides that the only way to survive is to fight back. But as he matches the brutality occurring in the prison, Sullivan is forced to come face to face with his sanity and his own horrifying past.

Perhaps a bit more of Piper's speed, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention a cool vigilante wrestling thriller he did called THE MASKED SAINT that's slated to come out in 2016. Check it:

The journey of a professional wrestler who becomes a small town pastor and moonlights as a masked vigilante fighting injustice. While facing crises at home and at the church, the Pastor must evade the police and somehow reconcile his violent secret identity with his calling as a pastor.

Not to be outdone, marking only his second producorial credit in a four decade career as an entertainer, Piper lent his blessing to an upcoming flick called VAMPIRE SOUL: HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT. Peep the gist below:

For centuries they have walked among the living undiscovered, until one woman's desire to be a mother leads to another family's revenge.

As sad as it is to see him go, at least we can take some comfort in knowing we've not seen the last of Rowdy Roddy Piper onscreen. I know I'll keep an attentive eye on these trio of flicks to come out in the near future. I'm sure you will too!

OVERALL

Roddy Piper. Hall of Fame Wrestler. Actor. Author. Golden glove boxer. Judo black belt. Cancer survivor. Husband. Father. Entertainer. Inspiration. Suddenly taken from us far too early at the age of 61. I think I echo the sentiments of all of us around here at AITH...we're really going to miss you Hot Rod. Thanks for all the memories. R.I.P.

Extra Tidbit: What's your fondest Roddy Piper memory?
Source: AITH

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