The Mutilator!!!

By sword. By pick. By axe. Bye bye!

THE MUTILATOR (1985)

This delightful film starts out innocently enough with tender music and soft focused shots of a wife lovingly preparing a birthday cake for her husband, Big Ed. Little Ed Jr decides to give his Daddy a big birthday surprise by cleaning Daddy’s beloved gun collection. Ed Jr goes from being meticulous to matricidal when he accidentally gives his poor Mommy a back full of buckshot. Big Ed comes home to find his son cowering over his dead wife and becomes unhinged. He drags his wife’s bloody carcass into the living room and begins pounding booze to steady his nerves. He even pours some into the mouth of his dead wife for grins.

Then we flash forward several years and find Ed Jr all grown up, nursing a Budweiser and sporting some impressive chest hair. Ed Jr was enjoying an evening out at a bar with his frigid and horrible girlfriend Pam when he receives an unexpected phone call from his long estranged Father. Big Ed wants Ed Jr to close up his condo on the beach for the winter. Big Ed encourages his son to “take the responsibility and face it like it man.” Ed Jr is none too pleased at the idea of having to go to the isolated condo for the mundane tasks of turning off the electricity and water, but his bossy and manipulative girlfriend decides it would be the perfect chance for four days of rest and relaxation on the beach. Their annoying friends Ralph (a beer obsessed law student who wears a sweater on his shoulders), Sue (Ralph’s pretty puritanical love interest), Mike (a big blonde doofus), and Linda (Mike’s horny girlfriend) invite themselves along, and the next morning the six pals all load into Ed’s car for a fall break getaway.

When the gang arrives at the condo they are shocked to find the front door wide open. The place is trashed, full of garbage and empty bottles of booze. Ed Jr assures his friends that there is nothing unusual about this because his father and his redneck pals are notorious drunks. He does get a bit worried when he notices that his pop’s prized battle axe is missing, however. What Ed Jr and his friends don’t know is that Big Ed is lurking inside the garage. There he silently wrestles his inner demons and is confronted with his violent memories. As he clutches his axe, he closes his eyes and dreams of the different ways he should have killed his young son.

Mike and Linda wander around the garage and eventually stumble across Big Ed’s trophy room. This allows Mike to make a crack about “Goose – the moon god” and grab Linda’s ass. Then they go back to the condo and have dinner with the others. Then they go for a moonlit walk on the beach. For some reason we watch all of this. This stretch of the flick is torturous to put it nicely. Things finally pick up when doofus and the slut go skinny dipping in the condo’s pool. This allows Big Ed the opportunity to drown Linda. Mike doesn’t notice of course, and then spends the next several minutes walking around looking for his missing clothes and girlfriend. Being an especially big retard, Mike doesn’t suspect anything is wrong and instead has fun playing a game of hide and seek with himself. This all ends rather violently when Mike utters his immortal line “I’m…coming…to get you!” and Big Ed shows up to rip his chest apart with an outboard motor!

As all this is going on the other four kids are taking a stroll on the beach. They run into a friendly police officer who warns them to be careful on the beach at night. The cop should have taken his own advice, as shortly thereafter he has a large piece of wood slammed into his face and is swiftly beheaded by Big Ed! Then the kids play an extended game of “Blind Man’s Bluff,” which is yet another retarded variation of hide and seek. (a recurring theme throughout) This pads out the film nicely, as the kids and the killer stalk after each other in the dark for a while. Then the game ends without incident and the scene whimpers out like a dying rat.

Then as the kids decide to settle in for the evening, Ralph goes out on one last mission to track down Mike and Linda. Instead of finding his friends he finds Big Ed and gets the business end of a pitchfork in his throat. Sue becomes worried when Ralph doesn’t return and convinces Ed Jr and Pam to join her in the search. They make the infinitely wise decision to split up, which gives Big Ed the chance to get up close and personal with sweet little Sue. He drags her into the garage and in one of the most notorious moments in horror history proceeds to slowly insert an oversized fishing gaff into her crotch!

Ed Jr. and Pam eventually find Sue’s mutilated body and the bodies of their other missing friends, which Big Ed had displayed as gruesome trophies. As they attempt to escape the hellish condo with their lives intact they have an unbelievably drawn out and agonizing final confrontation with Big Ed that results in massive loss of life and limb. Their horrifying fall break vacation was no longer just a day at the beach, it had become a nightmare. By sword. By pick. By axe. Bye bye!

I’m a huge fan of this infamous slasher shocker from writer/producer/director Buddy Cooper that so proudly pushes the boundaries of good taste. This clas-sick flick starts off with a brutal scene of accidental matricide, and then degenerates into a series of increasingly perverse and lurid murders. There is no doubt that the single most effective and memorable element of the film is the graphic gore. The multiple death scenes in “The Mutilator” are about as over the top as they come. The juicy fishing gaff and boat propeller murders in particular are the stuff of legend for gorehounds. In terms of sheer splatter, “The Mutilator” easily ranks right up there with other truly brutal 80′s slasher flicks such as “Maniac” and“Nightmare.”

The pacing and acting on the other hand are abysmal. All of the actors are uniformly awful, with the exceptions of Jack Chatham as the silent but deadly killer and the one and only Morey Lampley – who steals the show as the rather dimwitted Mike. Morey’s performance in “The Mutilator” is not good by any means, but it is one of a kind to say the least. Acting or not, he comes across as a guy who never quite learned his multiplication tables, and the film never fully recovers after his quirky character is quickly dispatched. I just wish the incredibly annoying character Pam could have been snuffed instead. She rivals the lead actress in “The Dorm That Dripped Blood” in the “unlikable cunt”department. The biggest flaw of the film however is the pacing, as it takes a good long while before finally getting down to bloody business. That said, I always find the film’s down moments more than silly enough to overlook this and just go along for the ride.

No review of “The Mutilator” would be complete without mentioning the incredible toe tapping theme song – “Fall Break,” which was performed by the aptly named Peter Yellen & The Breakers. The film was originally going to be titled “Fall Break,” and obviously Vestron Video decided not to bother replacing the theme song after changing the title to the more graphic (and commercially appealing) sounding “The Mutilator.” Some critics complained that “The Mutilator” was just another run of the mill massacre, but I assure you, your average slasher flicks did NOT feature a hideously catchy theme song with lyrics like this:

When the leaves of summer turn red and gold, and the football games bring a hint of the cold, time to get away. We’ll pack the car with escape in mind, forgettin’ our classes leavin’ books behind, time to get away. We’re goin’ on a fall break! (Fall break!) Running in the sand, feelin’ all right. And when you fall into my arms I’ll break into your heart…”

THE MUTILATOR  is a treasure from the glory days of the independent horror craze. It’s also one of the all time great slasher flicks. For far too long, this flick languished in semi-obscurity due to a lack of a proper DVD release. Every other 80’s slasher flick under the sun would get a DVD release (and a remake) over the years, or at least a crappy bootleg. The Mutilator wasn’t even that lucky in the States. A few years ago the retards at Code Red DVD promised a special edition release but in typical fashion they produced nothing but bullshit and excuses, even stooping as low as blaming Buddy Cooper himself for not providing them with “pristine” source materials that didn’t exist at the time. Idiots. Fortunately, the good folks at Arrow Video USA recently stepped up to the plate and released an absolutely AMAZING special edition Blu-Ray/DVD combo set!

the-mutilator-blu-ray
As I’ve quickly come to expect from Arrow Video, their release of THE MUTILATOR is nothing short of spectacular. The film is presented totally uncut and has been beautifully remastered for high definition presentation. Trust me, this is a HUGE difference from the old unrated Vestron VHS that most of us are familiar with. There’s also an incredible wealth of bonus features, including an in depth 75 minute feature length behind the scenes documentary titled “Fall Breakers: The Story of The Mutilator.” There are also two shorter pieces titled “Mutilator Memories” and “Tunes For The Dunes” that cover both the makeup and music, respectively. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also two different cast & crew commentary tracks, trailers and TV spots, still galleries and storyboards. It’s a fully loaded package that will be a mandatory purchase for fans of the film and 80’s slashers. The only drawback of this release is the overuse of the “FALL BREAK” theme song, which blasts throughout the menus, and accompanies most of the special features. I love that song as much as the next Mutilator Madman, but after a couple screenings it did start to drive me batshit insane…so have the mute button handy. I can’t recommend this one highly enough, it was well worth the wait.
KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

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One Response to “The Mutilator!!!”

  1. Awesome review!

    I never got the Code Red DVD, but the Arrow BD is at the top of my list. I haven’t watched this since VHS days. It’s been getting so much more attention since the Arrow release, it’s got me all excited to revisit it. It’s hard for me to find and early 80s slasher that I don’t like on some level.

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