Review for The Mutilator
Although the so-called slasher film was in decline by the mid-1980s, there were still some last minute chancers figuring it gave the best return for a limited buck. Maybe putting ‘Fall Break’ (re-named as a far more tantalising ‘The Mutilator’ just prior to release) in that category is a bit unfair but it is, to a large degree, a slasher on auto-pilot.
What possibly differentiates it from other similar low-budget contributions to the canon is its slightly superior cinematography, grisly effects and catchy theme song. Indeed, the story of the film’s making is every bit as entertaining as the end results.
When Ed receives a message from his alcoholic dad asking him to go and lock up the family’s beach condo for the winter, all his friends are up for it. After all, it beats hanging around the same coffee bar all Fall holiday. But Ed’s relationship to his Dad isn’t great. Ed accidentally blew his mother’s brains out when he was just a small kid whilst trying to clean his Dad’s shotgun as a birthday surprise – and his Dad never really forgave him, sinking into depression and alcoholism as a result.
But Ed figures he may as well go down and have some fun with his buddies, so off they go. When they arrive, the isolated house is full of empty drink bottles and in a terrible mess. It looks as though Ed’s Dad has thrown a party. SO they set about cleaning up and having fun, unaware that Ed’s Dad is including one scene with a giant fish hook that really is not for the faint hearted.
The kill sequence effects were the early work of Mark Shostrom (Videodrome, Evil Dead II) and shoe great invention. After all, this was the pre-CGI era and all the effects had to happen in camera.
The acting throughout is very average (or below average if I was feeling cruel) and there is little to distinguish the film other than the gruesomeness of some of its effects. Sure, there’s some youthful japery and moments of romantic interest, but this barely raises itself above a kill by numbers teen flick. One critique for me would be that, given the acting isn’t all that great, and the story and dialogue nothing to write home about, is that there’s just too much dialogue for the film’s own good – not all of it serving the story to any great degree. The occasional humour misses more than it hits too.
Fans of the genre will be delighted that this is the uncut version, which hasn’t been available for some time – in fact, forever really, until now. It looks in great shape too with a crisp transfer showing off its surprisingly good cinematography. There are noticeable ‘cut ins’ of the restored material, which doesn’t quite match the rest, but this won’t spoil your viewing too much.
The extra features are plentiful, in accord with Arrow standards for such releases, and include an informative and entertaining feature length documentary called ‘Fall Breakers – The Story of The Mutilator’, comprised mainly of Director, crew and actor interviews about how the film came to be made.
There are also two related featurettes : ‘Mutilator Memories’ (16 mins) featuring SFX and make-up man, Mark Shostrom and ‘Tunes for the Dunes’ (8 mins) featuring an in-depth interview with the composer, Michael Minard.
Not only that, the film gets two audio-commentaries (the first by Buddy Cooper & actress Ruth Martinez Tutterow) and the second by Buddy Cooper, Edmund Ferrell, John Douglass & Matt Mitler.
There is an optional intro to the film with Buddy Cooper & Edmund Ferrell, a Behind-the-scenes reel (16 mins); some screen tests (13 mins), alternate opening titles (4 mins); the ‘Fall Break’ theme Song (Original and Instrumental Versions); Opening sequence storyboards (4.5 mins); a motion stills gallery (9 mins); trailers and TV and radio spots; an original Fall Break Screenplay (BD/DVD-ROM content as a *.pdf file) and a 30 pages booklet containing an articles by Ewan Cant and Tim Ferrante.
So a fun movie, if not a great one, given the kind of release treatment usually reserved for classics. You’ll know if you want it or not.
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