The Mutilator - Blu-Ray Review - Arrow Video

The Mutilator:
Release Date: 15th February 2016
Format: Dual Format Blu-ray & DVD
Starring: Matt Mitler, Ruth Martinez, Bill Hitchcock Directed by: Buddy Cooper

SYNOPSIS (by Arrow Video):
Although the slasher film was in decline by the mid-1980s, there were still some grisly delights to be had… and they don’t come much grislier than writer-director Buddy Cooper’s sickening stalk-and-slash classic The Mutilator!

When Ed receives a message from his father asking him to go and lock up the family’s beach condo for the winter, it seems like the perfect excuse for an alcohol-fuelled few days away with his friends. After all, his dad has forgiven him for accidentally blowing mom away with a shotgun several years ago… hasn’t he?

But no sooner are the teens on the island than they find themselves stalked by a figure with an axe (and a hook, and an onboard motor) to grind…

Originally entitled Fall Break (watch out for the incongruous theme song of the same name!), The Mutilator has earned a reputation amongst horror fans as one of the ‘holy grails’ of 80s splatter mayhem due to its highly inventive (and not to say, decidedly gruesome) kill sequences, courtesy of FX wizard Mark Shostrom (Videodrome, Evil Dead II). Finally making its long-awaited bow in High-Definition, The Mutilator has returned to terrorise a whole new generation of horror fans!

REVIEW (by Jon Cross):
The slasher sub-genre is probably my favourite type of horror movie. The thing that can be frustrating about and mars a lot of slasher films is the lack of good gore or great kill effects. This is often due to the dreaded ratings board but can also be as a result of budgetary constraints or a stylistic choice by the filmmaker.

The best slashers entertain by creating an interesting killer, a fun or unusual setting, cranking up the suspense, setting up inventive deaths or, even, in a few films, having characters you enjoy, care about or root for.

The interesting thing to be said about The Mutilator is that it has almost none of these criteria at all. The killer seems to be just a nondescript, grumpy old man, the setting, a beach house, is boring and unimaginatively shot, the suspense is almost entirely non-existent and the characters are so thinly drawn they don't even bother to have stereotypes.

To speak to the lack of suspense and characters; I am not sure if this is down to the restoration or not, as I've only seen the Blu-Ray of this particular film, but there is an entire "blind man's buff" sequence in the film (sort of a hide and seek in the dark) which could've been, and I presume was meant to be, suspenseful. However the whole thing looks like it was shot just in a day-for-night fashion rather than using any interesting lighting or shadow. This results in people with no personalities, wandering around a bland house, supposedly in the pitch black, but we can see them clear as day. I would've tried to suspend disbelief but the whole thing was just too silly to be able to. Even if the contrast or black tones were changed or lightened during the picture restoration, it still wouldn't be a scary or suspenseful sequence with the light turned down on the TV. Nothing about the set up, shots, music, dialogue or any of it lent itself to so much as a jump scare.

That's not to say this film was, necessarily, a drag to get through because it sort of rattled through all this nonsense pretty quickly but, even for the budget and with the cast, it could've been a lot, lot better. I don't begrudge a low budget horror for its lack of money but I do for its lack of imagination. At the very least show me what you were trying to do and I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.

What The Mutilator has, just about, going for it is a pleasingly ridiculous and catchy theme tune and some truly gory and grotesque kills. Now, be aware, that I watched and am reviewing the Arrow Blu-Ray only so I presume I saw the most uncut version available. I am unaware of how vivid the deaths were on the original VHS but in this version of the film they are bloody, violent and, in at least one case, wince inducing.

Also, to give part of the script the benefit of the doubt, as I promised, previously, to do; towards the beginning, when they first get to the house and one of the kids is explaining all about his Dad, there were a few odd, weird, funny lines about the stuff adorning the walls of the living room that I enjoyed. You could, at least, see what they were trying to go for. Beyond that they gave up and it turned into a series of

"Where's Jeff and Jeffina?"
"They went swimming"
"Swimming you say? and they're not back yet?"
"We should go look for them..."

Cut to an uninspiring and slow lead up to a death scene.
Then, some-while later...

"Where's Barry and Barrina?"
"They went to look for Jeff and Jeffina"
"And they're not back yet?"
"Maybe we should wander around the house saying each others names some more before we go down to the garage and get offed by your Dad"
"Sounds like a plan..."

Rinse and repeat.

So, is this worth picking up then? Well, it may surprise you but despite my comments, I would actually say yes, especially if you're a fan of slasher films and are building a collection. Mark Shostrom's work alone would make me say yes but when you add to that the fine, clear picture restoration, the ample and excellent special features and that catchy, silly theme song, it seems like a no-brainer.

It doesn't have the cool villain and suspense of a Halloween or a Friday 13th, it doesn't have the fun characters of a Sleepaway Camp or a Silent Night, Deadly Night and it doesn't even have the clutching-at-straws setting of Aerobicide/Killer Workout or a Fatal Games but it's enough of a random and reasonably rare curio, with enough head lopping and stomach gushing to make the gorehound in all of us, happy.

Brand new 2K restoration of the unrated version from original vault materials
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
Original mono 1.0 audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Introduction to the film with writer-director Buddy Cooper and assistant special make-up effects artist/assistant editor Edmund Ferrell
Audio Commentary with Cooper, Ferrell, co-director John Douglass and star Matt Mitler
Audio Commentary with Buddy Cooper and star Ruth Martinez Tutterow
Fall Breakers: The Story of The Mutilator – brand new feature-length documentary on the making of the splatter classic featuring interviews with Cooper, Douglass, Ferrell, Mitler, actors Bill Hitchcock, Jack Chatham and more
Mutilator Memories – special make-up effects artist Mark Shostrom looks back at one of his earliest projects
Tunes for the Dunes – composer Michael Minard reveals how The Mutilator’s unique score was created
Behind-the-Scenes Reel
Screen Tests
Alternate Opening Titles
Trailers and TV Spots
‘Fall Break’ Theme Song (Original and Instrumental Versions)
Opening Sequence Storyboards
Motion Stills Gallery
Original Fall Break Screenplay (BD/DVD-ROM content)
Reversible sleeve featuring two original artworks

Region: Free
Rating: 18
Cat No: FCD1149
Duration: 86 mins
Language: English
Subtitles: English SDH
Aspect Ratio: 1:78:1
Audio: 1.0
Discs: 2
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