The Mutilator is the latest offering from Arrow Films’ new release slate. The film was made in 1983-1984 and supposedly released in 1985. It was a completely independent film that was almost lost for all time with the remnants of VHS. The story revolves around a boy who accidentally shot and killed his mother while playing with his father’s rifle. When his father arrives and discovers the chaos he goes into a semi-catatonic state.
We flash forward a few years and young Ed Jr. is now a man played by Matt Mitler is hanging about with some of his friends when he gets a phone call from his father and is tasked with closing down the family beach house for the winter. Ed’s friends are down for a little adventure and convince him to take them along for the ride.
Once everyone arrives at the beach house – the place is a bit run down and Ed’s father, Big Ed, is not around. Unbeknownst to the youngsters, Big Ed is passed out in the basement, with visions of killing his son. Big Ed snaps and begins stalking and eliminating Ed’s friends one by one in some of the most brutal ways imaginable.
That it is the basic plot of The Mutilator – no more, no less. The acting isn’t very good but everything else is more than okay. Slasher and gore fans will appreciate some of the creative kills – the kill scene involving a young woman and a fishing gaff was outrageous and can see that that was one of the many trims the MPAA took to it when it was being rated. It was quite horrifying and has been restored for this release.
The Mutilator was originally called Fall Break but the title was changed at the last minute and unfortunately the theme song to the film was not altered to fit the new name. It will get stuck in your head, no doubt. Overall, I did not care for the film all that much. The underlying themes of sex and sexuality are quite chaste and only when the brutal violence start-up does the film get interesting. I do give props to the production — the film was made for only $86,000 more than 30 years ago, so there’s that. Fans of the genre will gravitate towards the material, as will fans of fully loaded Blu-rays.
The Mutilator is presented in 1080p, 1.85:1. The film may be over 30 years old but this Blu-ray has been minted from what few vault materials remain. It took a long time to find these materials and even longer to restore it in 2K. The finished product looks pretty good. There’s softness to the picture and a sort of haze that encapsulates most of the outdoor scenes – probably due to it being filmed on the North Carolina Coast. The color palette is bright but those were the mid-’80s for ya. Banding and pixilation were not a problem and the finished print did not contain dirt, debris, or scratches. In terms of video presentation The Mutilator rocks.
The Mutilator is presented in LPCM 24-bit monaural. It’s a nice sounding soundtrack and the country theme song that was created for the film when it was entitled Fall Break comes through the center channel nicely in all its cheesy glory. Dialogue, effects, music, etc., shares the mono channel and sounds fine. There were no indications that one source was trying to overpower the other. I also appreciated the scenes involving the synth-score; it was minimal, but effective.
Arrow Video does not mess around when it comes to special features and they have outdone themselves on this release. I may not have been a fan of the film itself but the full-length documentary and interviews with the cast and crew was by far the more entertaining aspect of this release. Everyone involved with this release was gracious and everyone seemed to be having a ball. That’s actually a rarity for films of this type due to how obscure or cult they may be.
DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:
- 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
The Final Assessment
Ultimately, The Mutilator is a silly horror film, with horrible acting and great special effects make-up effects. I think the behind-the-scenes making of documentary is better than the film but the reason it holds up well is that the cast and crew all got along and just tried making the best possible product they could. Pardon the pun but The Mutilator has a lot of heart even though it’s not very good. The overall rating reflects the high quality of the Arrow Video Blu-ray and nothing more.
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