• Mutilator, The



    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: February 16th, 2016.
    Director: Buddy Cooper
    Cast: Matt Mitler, Ruth Martinez, Bill Hitchcock
    Year: 1984
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    The Movie:

    Can you hardly wait to head for the dunes, spread down a blanket for the sweet love tunes? Did you bring a radio and a cooler and a case of the best? If so, later on, then maybe who knows… take a swim in the surf… maybe in your birthday clothes? If that sounds like you, why not take a fall break and walk hand in hand in the moonlight?

    Wait… fall break? Who the Hell takes a fall break? Spring break? Sure. Summer break? Yep, that’s also a real thing. Winter break? Yeah, or you could call it Christmas break but it takes place in the winter so you’re not wrong. But fall break? School starts in the fall – you don’t get to take a fall break… unless you live in the alternate universe in which Buddy Cooper and John Douglass’ bizarro-world slasher film The Mutilator (a.k.a. Fall Break, of course) takes place.

    And our introduction to that bizarro-world begins when a kid named Ed Jr. decides to surprise his father by cleaning his rifles. This is a bad idea, because those rifles are kept fully loaded in an unlocked cabinet. Clearly Ed Sr. didn’t read up on gun safety before reproducing and for that reason he comes home to find his wife dead from a gunshot wound on the kitchen floor.

    Jump ahead a few years and Ed Jr. (Matt Mitler) is a young man about to embark on a ‘fall break’ with his pals – Ralph (Bill Hitchcock), Mike (Morey Lampley), Sue (Connie Rogers) and Linda (Frances Raines). His chaste girlfriend Pam (Ruth Martinez) is along for the ride, but if he thinks she’s going to put out he’s got another thing coming. Ed gets a call while they’re all hanging out at the bar one night and finds out that his old man wants him to head to the North Caroline coast to get the oceanfront home ready for the winter. Why he’s called at the bar is a mystery – maybe he hangs out there a lot. At any rate, Ed’s pals are stoked! Not only is it fall break but now they’ve got the use of a fancy seaside home to party in. They stop off for some beer (they only buy twelve bottles, which amounts to two bottles each… lightweights) and off they go.

    When they arrive at Ed Sr.’s pad, it’s littered with fishing gear and empty booze bottles but they’re not about to let that stand in the way of a good time. At least not yet. Once someone starts skulking around killing them off one at a time they’re more than happy to let that stand in the way of a good time – but you’re going to have to wait thirty-five minutes or so for that to happen.

    Once you do, however, you get some rad nudity, some ridiculous dialogue, a whole lot of local charm and some admittedly really impressive gore effects. The acting is hokey, the characters are all clichés, but the gore… the beautiful gore… and of course that damned theme song – it’ll get stuck in your head whether you like it or not (not) and there’s not a thing you can do about it. The North Carolina setting make this quirky, screwball slasher more interesting than it would be otherwise, you’ve got to love the fact that it doesn’t take place in the suburbs or in the woods or at a summer camp, there is some originality here if you dig deep enough.

    The movie also works in some comedy that it seems we’re supposed to take at face value, the most obvious example being a short scene where a male character wants to bone a female character and when it seems like he just might get lucky, things happen in ‘Benny Hill’ sped up time. This is the one and only time it happens in the movie, which makes it stand out, but it’s there… and it’s weird. Buddy Cooper never made another movie after this one – was that for the best? Hard to say. The Mutilator isn’t easy to appreciate on any sort of serious level, but it is easy to love. And now you can love it in high definition with a whole bunch of extra features. So let’s get to that part of the review…

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The Mutilator is presented in AVC encoded 1080p in a ‘Brand new 2K restoration of the unrated version from original vault materials’ framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and sporting a FALL BREAK title card. As to the quality of the transfer, compared to what we’ve had before on home video it’s a huge improvement, but keep your expectations in check because clarity and detail are limited by the elements that were available. Colors are a little flat in spots and the image sports heavy grain, but detail isn’t bad at all and skin tones look fine. The image is free of any noticeable compression artifacts and crush, which is good considering how much of the last half of the movie takes place in the dark. There’s no obvious noise reduction nor is there any edge enhancement and whatever softness is there would seem to be inherent in the original photography.

    The only audio option for the feature is an LPCM Mono track in the film’s native English. This isn’t the world’s fanciest mix but it seems like it’s pretty true to source. The score, which frequently (and blatantly) swipes from Jaws, sounds fine and the dialogue stays clean, clear and properly balanced. Optional English subtitles are also provided.

    This disc is stacked. Ridiculously stacked. This is one of those movies that, if you’d said a few years ago would get the deeeeluxe treatment on Blu-ray, well, you’d have probably been laughed at. But here it is, uncut and in HD with SCORES of extras starting with a short but sweet introduction to the film courtesy of writer/director Buddy Cooper and assistant special make-up effects artist/assistant editor Edmund Ferrell. It’s quick and to the point but it also effectively sets the stage for the feature to come.

    The disc also includes an audio commentary with Buddy Cooper, co-director John Douglass, makeup guy Edmund Ferrell and star Matt Mitler moderated by Arrow Video’s Ewan Cant. This is a scene specific track with Cooper talking about how the various cast members came on board, who did what in front of and behind the camera and more. Ferrell talks about the effects work he conjured up for the picture while Mitler talks up how he was cast in the film, his character, what it was like working with the different cast members assembled to appear in front of the camera and more. The disc also includes a second audio commentary with Buddy Cooper once again on the track, this time joined by star Ruth Martinez Tutterow, the actress who played Pam in the feature once again moderated by Cant. Tutterow talks about how this was her first (and last) film, how she wasn’t a fan of horror pictures, and how she was cast in the picture. This track isn’t as busy as the first one but it does cover different ground, with Cooper talking about how he worked as a film critic for his local newspaper and how he enjoyed writing about horror movies when they came out, sometimes watching three pictures in one night. Tutterow talks about her background in live theater, how she had a lot of fun working on the film and what the locals thought about the movie that was being made in their neighborhood while Cooper talks about the locations used in the picture.

    Once you’re done with the commentary tracks, check out the seventy-five minute Fall Breakers: The Story Of The Mutilator which is an all new documentary that covers the making of the film by way of some exclusive interviews shot with Buddy Cooper and co-director John Douglass, Edmund Ferrell, Matt Mitler, Bill Hitchcock, Ruth Martinez, Pamela Weddle Cooper, John Bode, Trace Cooper, Jimmie Guthrie, Tom Outlaw and Jack Chatham. The interviews in the documentary were all shot at the Oceana Motel in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina in 2015 – right where the movie itself was shot. The documentary covers a good bit of the same ground that the commentary tracks cover, with Cooper telling very similar stories, but getting the other interviewees in front of the camera here helps to give it plenty of value. This is pretty interesting stuff –not just because it talks about the locations and the effects and the story and how Cooper almost bought a winery instead of making this movie but because you really get the feeling that EVERYONE involved in this picture had a good time, just like the theme song says they should! The interviews are candid and interesting and there are some nice behind the scenes photos and clips used in the documentary. If you want to know about the difficulties of putting milk in a pool so you can kill someone in it while the hotel the pool is located at is trying to do business, this is the featurettes for you. Mitler also talks about how his work in the movie led to more work in other films like Basket Case 2 and other films. The audio quality is a little hollow in spots (admittedly this is nitpicking and a minor issue) but otherwise this is a well shot and nicely put together piece that really gets down and dirty with the behind the scenes stories. It’s also charming to see just how much the cast and crew seem to appreciate the movie’s fan-base.

    But wait, that’s not all! Mutilator Memories is up next, it’s a sixteen minute interview with special make-up effects artist Mark Shostrom about his work on the picture, a very early entry in his career and his first slasher picture. He talks about how the makeup effects were ‘ambitious’ but he also covers how he came onboard to work on the film, working with Cooper, the different people that he worked with on the feature, what it was like on set, the films’ infamous hook scene (which he calls offensive but notes as an easy one to pull off) and quite a bit more. Tunes For The Dunes interviews composer Michael Minard for eight minutes about how he and Buddy Cooper got together to work on the film, Cooper’s directorial style (‘a really hands on director’), what he tried to bring to the movie with his compositions, how he brought Artie Resnick onboard to write the theme song with him and how the song was ‘way too fast to be a shag in the North Carolina sense of the word.’

    The disc also includes a Behind-the-Scenes Reel that’s sixteen and a half minutes of footage shot on a camcorder during the making of the movie. There’s some neat stuff here, including the effects technicians working on some prosthetics for one of the gorier murder set pieces, some stunt driving, random input from different cast and crew members and more. Not to be outdone, we also get some Screen Tests, just over thirteen minutes of material here. These are pretty fun, actually, as it’s interesting to see just what some of the cast had to read in order to get the part!

    Outside of that we get the alternate opening title sequence under The Mutilator title card, some trailers and TV Spots, the option to watch the damn Fall Break theme Song solo in your choice of the original version of an instrumental alternate cut, some opening sequence storyboards, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection. For those with a Blu-ray drive on their computers, you can also access in PDF format that original Fall Break screenplay (fourth draft shooting script, April 4th, 1983) – all 258 pages of it complete with hand written notes!

    The Final Word:

    The Mutilator, of Fall Break if you prefer, is…. quirky. It’s got some noteworthy tension but so too does it have some weird comedy. There’s gore and nudity, but then there’s a completely out of place sped up scene that slaps you in the side of the head. It’s unpredictable but at the same time completely subscribes to genre clichés in a big way. Flawed as it might be, however, it’s fun in the way that the best eighties slasher movies are. The low budget doesn’t get in the way of a good time at the movies, and Arrow’s Blu-ray release not only presents the movie in what we can safely assume is the best possible condition, but with an amazing array of supplements as well. This is, to be blunt, the last word on this film. Well done, Arrow.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!
























    Comments 10 Comments
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      I hate THE MUTILATOR. It's so overrated. Its got one great gore gag. It's Gore Gag Hall of Fame worthy. It's also got Frances Raines' tits which can be seen in a few other films. Other than that it's too stupid for words. The hide and seek part is the most memorable of asinine moments. That said, I will give it another spin. I know what to expect this time and there is Frances Raines' tits in HD. And for some reason I'm intrigued by the special features.
    1. bgart13's Avatar
      bgart13 -
      Ah, Fall break is a real thing! Schools are doing it more and more - usually in October, but it varies.
    1. moviegeek86's Avatar
      moviegeek86 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jason C View Post
      I hate THE MUTILATOR. It's so overrated. Its got one great gore gag. It's Gore Gag Hall of Fame worthy. It's also got Frances Raines' tits which can be seen in a few other films. Other than that it's too stupid for words. The hide and seek part is the most memorable of asinine moments. That said, I will give it another spin. I know what to expect this time and there is Frances Raines' tits in HD. And for some reason I'm intrigued by the special features.
      No offense but do you know what the term OVERRATED means? The Mutilator definitely does not qualify. The only people who appreciate it are hardcore slasher nuts and cult movie weirdos like myself. It's not considered good by anyone even its fanbase.
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      Quote Originally Posted by moviegeek86 View Post
      No offense but do you know what the term OVERRATED means? The Mutilator definitely does not qualify. The only people who appreciate it are hardcore slasher nuts and cult movie weirdos like myself. It's not considered good by anyone even its fanbase.
      Its overrated by slasher fans. THE MUTILATOR is one the most talked about slashers on the horror forums I frequent. There are very few detractors. It's on numerous top 80's slashers lists. And it's not talked about in a "so bad its good" way either. Much of what is mentioned is atmosphere, kills, and characters. I've seen it once, and think its one the least enjoyable slashers I've seen. It's overrated (by slashers fans).
    1. moviegeek86's Avatar
      moviegeek86 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jason C View Post
      Its overrated by slasher fans. THE MUTILATOR is one the most talked about slashers on the horror forums I frequent. There are very few detractors. It's on numerous top 80's slashers lists. And it's not talked about in a "so bad its good" way either. Much of what is mentioned is atmosphere, kills, and characters. I've seen it once, and think its one the least enjoyable slashers I've seen. It's overrated (by slashers fans).
      Sorry bubba but nope. The only talk Mutilator gets was the interest in seeing it get some kind of disc release. It's still considered to be a bad slasher movie with great kills and gets love for that by hardcore b-movie nuts.

      Please stop using the word overrated because you keep using it wrong over and over again. Hate the film all you wish but it's not overrated and never will be.
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      Quote Originally Posted by moviegeek86 View Post
      Sorry bubba but nope. The only talk Mutilator gets was the interest in seeing it get some kind of disc release. It's still considered to be a bad slasher movie with great kills and gets love for that by hardcore b-movie nuts.

      Please stop using the word overrated because you keep using it wrong over and over again. Hate the film all you wish but it's not overrated and never will be.
      Bite me bubba. You don't know me or the places I frequent. The Internet is a large place. You can take your request and cram it.
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      Enough already, agree to disagree please.
    1. Andrew S's Avatar
      Andrew S -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ian Jane View Post
      Enough already, agree to disagree please.
      Agreeing to disagree is overrated.
    1. sukebanboy's Avatar
      sukebanboy -
      Saying agree to disagree is overrated is....overrated

      Dont think I have ever seen this movie..but I do love a crappy slasher flick when I am in the mood...so I will probably watch this at some point in the near future...especially with the amount of extras on the disc.love watching stuff about making low budget movies..
    1. King-Wasp's Avatar
      King-Wasp -
      What's ironic is that two members of the cast (Frances Raines, and Matt Mitler), shared a scene in Breeders. The coolest thing though is that Peter Yellen, better known as the burglar / second rapist in Ms. 45, and the obnoxious wino at the bus stop in The Driller Killer, performed the song Fall Break!