Back in 1998, there was a wrestler who ran for governor of Minnesota. You might remember him. With his bleach-blond hair and feather boa, Jesse “The Body” Ventura had a good gimmick running as a WWF superstar, and then somehow got into the good graces of Minnesotans and became their elected official. Who knows, maybe he had some charisma and charm to back him up. Though, the same could not be said for another ex-wrestler vying for the governor’s seat in the Land O’ Lakes. Yes, another one.
Impaler is a documentary that tells the tragic story of Jonathon Sharkey, who also took a shot at said political office in 2006. And while his platform varied from the radical to the unrealistic, it was his self-promotion as a “Hecate Witch, Satanic Priest, and Sanguinary Vampire” that makes this cautionary tale both cringeworthy and entertaining — the latter, in a way that any self-perpetuated human train wreck might entertain.
Of course, Sharkey is in no way an actual Satanist. Given his sidestepping of the law, his general irresponsibility, and his total lack of accurate self-examination, he falls off that map pretty quickly. His statement that MySpace is full of Satanists is also pretty telling of someone who confuses horror movie imagery and screwed up kids into dark music subculture as actual Satanism. In other words, he’s no doubt well at home in that social network’s cesspool filled with cretins who believe the “S” word can be tacked onto anything Mom and Dad are afraid of. Annoying at 15. Simply pathetic at 42.
What really turns the laugh-o-meter to 11 on this one is Sharkey’s juvenile parading of his so-called vampiric lifestyle. The level of goofy pretentiousness coming from him and his blood-sipping girlfriend is staggering, like grade-school kids who want you so badly to look at them and pay complete attention to their translucent grasp for importance. In fact, once you get over the overt pandering rampant in this documentary, you see the portrait of a deluded and powerless individual who struggles to escape his white trash background by donning cloak and fangs and claiming himself someone unique and worthy of serious consideration. Sadly for him, his schtick is as obvious as they come.
His schtick, of course, poorly masks the disaster that is his real life, and the documentary brings that out as well. Sharkey ultimately ends up in shackles and an orange jumpsuit, his girlfriend files a restraining order against him, boastful lies he created to puff himself up now deflate for all to see, and the doc’s conclusion finds this sad vampire clown guzzling whiskey and playing with guns in the trailer park, where he no doubt belongs.
So while this barely-produced movie has absolutely nothing to do with Satanism or vampirism or even literal impaling, it is a revealing account of one man’s clueless attempt to exceed beyond his abilities, to fail miserably at it, all to fall back to a familiar mediocrity and still not seem to know what happened or why. It is subject matter ripe for being documented, and this one does a somewhat competent job — which is to say that it rides more on its story than on the means by which it’s told. You’ll wince. You’ll chuckle. You might even be able to relate Sharkey to the mass of other largely-Internet driven losers who desperately cry for notice and some sort of suspect lordship over troubled idiots online.
And then, you’ll forget all about him.