• Masked Mutilator (Intervision PIcture Corp.) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Intervision PIcture Corp.
    Released on: May 14th, 2019.
    Directed by: Jeff Beltzner
    Cast: James DeBello, Glenn Hetrick, Brick Bronsky, Jeff Sibbach, Tom Taylor, Amanda Kupchinsky, Heidi Shelhamer
    Year: 1994/2019
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    Masked Mutilator – Movie Review:

    Do you like flashbacks? What about flashback within flashbacks? It’s not something you see often in cinema, but it is quite an important part to the success of Masked Mutilator. We start out with a scene where a man named Brian Worth (Tom Taylor) and his girlfriend are set to be interviewed by a true crime podcaster named Bill Dorian (Steve Mittman). It seems that years ago, Brian lived in a halfway home for trouble teens run by Vic Mangino (Jeff Sibbach), a one-time professional wrestler known as Masked Mutilator whose career ended after he killed an opponent in the ring. It seems that the home had a troubled history of violence, which is where our first flashback begins…

    …so yeah, this big buy named Vic runs the place and it’s a bit of a dump. He and Carl the cook (Doug Yasinsky) are rough with the kids and when one of them named Rocker (Glenn Hetrick) gets out of line after someone touches his records, Vic manhandles him and tosses him in ‘the cell’ down in the basement. Introduced into this unhealthy mix of characters is Steve Carson (Brick Bronsky), a college boy also interested in bodybuilding and working out. He and Vic do not hit it off – Steve thinks his textbooks have the answer for everything while Vic has the experience to know better. Brian, who likes nunchucks but never actually uses them outside of showing off in one scene, hits it off with nice girl Leslie (Heidi Shelhamer), bravely fending off seduction attempts from slutty blonde Marcy (Amanda Kupchinsky), who does her best to bone every guy in the place. When Rocker turns up missing, we know he’s been murdered by someone in a wrestling mask even if the other characters do not. Has Vic finally snapped and put on his old mask to kill, or is there something else going on here? You won’t know, until you do, and when you do it’s because you’ve just watched that second flashback, the one that occurs within the cinematic confines of the first flashback.

    Masked Mutilator began as a 16mm production in 1994, shot in and around the Allentown and Bethlehem Pennsylvania area, but was shelved for two years. Production ramped up again in 1996 only to fall off once and sit in writer/co-producer Dale Schenk’s basement. Eventually they got Tom Taylor back, shot some bookends in HD set in the modern day and completed the production once and for all.

    Cast mostly with pretty girls and local wrestlers, the movie is pretty zany. It’s got a fair bit more nudity than you’d probably expect for a movie like this, and if the kills aren’t as bloody as some slasher fans might hope for the movie more than makes up for that with some top-notch living room wrestling matches (one of which even involves a folding chair!). Doesn’t really make sense from a logical point of view in terms of the narrative, but it does when you consider the casting. Brick Bronsky (aka Jeffrey Beltzner, the director of the film who is puzzlingly missing from the extras), who will be familiar to Troma fans for his appearances in Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. and Class Of Nuke’em High Parts II and III. He competed as Mr. Canada and appeared in Stu Hart's Stampede Wrestling regularly. Doug Yasinsky (a.k.a. Doug Flex) partnered up with Bronsky in the eighties, winning a few tagteam championship titles and in 2009 he and Jeff Sibbach launched the World Cage-fighting Championships. Tom Taylor has also been involved in wrestling and promotion, so yeah, there’s some legitimate ties to professional wrestling and MMA style sport scattered throughout the people who worked on the film both in front of and behind the camera.

    The seventy-six-minute feature wears its low budget on its sleeve but it is pretty quick with its pacing and delivers solid entertainment value. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the ‘twist’ toe the story but as predictable as it might be it’s a pretty fun watch.

    Masked Mutilator – Blu-ray Review:

    Intervision PIcture Corp. presents Masked Mutilator on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.78.1 widescreen on a 25GB disc with the feature taking up just over 20GBs of space. The 16mm footage is pretty grainy, as you might expect, while the newly shot bookend bits are crystal clear. There’s a little bit of print damage in the older material and a bit of color fading but nothing serious. As per the interviews on the disc, there’s some footage in here that’s also been culled from a tape as that reel was lost. Given the elements and the history of the film the transfer is fine, showing a reasonable amount of detail when you consider the movie’s journey to completion.

    The English language audio track, which is presented in 16-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo, is also fine. The dialogue can be a little muffled here and there but for the most part it’s clean, clear and intelligible. There aren’t any problems with hiss or distortion to note and the levels are well balanced. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    Extras start with a cast and crew commentary featuring Dale Schneck, Tom Taylor, Paul Sutt, Steve Mittman and Jim "The Tank" Dorsey. Schneck basically leads the track after introducing the rest of the participants. He talks about shooting the original footage in 1994, being unhappy with the ending, how the footage sat in his basement for two decades and then what was involved in finishing the film. From there, we get a lot of scene specific talk, covering locations (the home in the movie was actually a former funeral home that was about to be sold!), cast members, different connections the film has to the local wrestling scene, working with Bronsky and how he came to direct, the effects work in the film and how Sutt has continued in the industry since this movie was made, the importance of Scott Barkman’s cinematography, how some of the effects were accomplished, little comedic touches that are scattered throughout the movie, how Amanda Kupchinsky and Heidi Shelhamer actually got along very well during the set as did pretty much everyone in the cast and loads more.

    From there, dig into the featurettes starting with You See Me Sweatin'?, a seven-minute interview with actor Tom Taylor who talks about how he got asked to appear in the film after working on a TV show called Acapulco Heat. He liked the script and the character and so he took it. He then talks about his career in martial arts and his love of martial arts films, working with the cast and crew on the production, what it was like on set and how everything in the movie relates back to wrestling. Throughout the interview there’s some cool behind the scenes footage and stills from the shoot.

    After that, the seven-minute Slice The Pretty Boy interview with actor/FX artist Paul Sutt. He speaks here about how he read for a part, how he was originally reading for Rocker and Jake and how he liked Jake better, the influence of Crispin Glover on his performance, his background in FX work and how he came to handle this aspect of the production as well. Again, there’s some great behind the scenes material in here as well.

    Scissors, Tape & Paste is an eight-minute interview with co-writer/co-executive producer Ed Polgardy that starts with him talking about his relationship with Dale Schneck, collaborating on the screenplay with him, how they stuck with what they knew by incorporating wrestling into the script, how he went into writing comic books after having trouble getting some of his scripts made, how and why it took as long as it did to get the movie together, what it was like to work with Brick Bronsky and how he came to direct the picture, how they lost a reel of footage and how they wound up incorporating the wraparound into the released version. Again, some neat behind the scenes stuff is included in here too.

    Don't Believe That, Folks is a six-minute interview with co-writer/executive producer Dale Schneck who talks about starting the shoot in 1994, the challenges that arose on the shoot, trying to complete a film on a low budget, running out of money, how the film sat incomplete in his home for decades and how in 2016 he got a bunch of the cast and crew back together to have dinner and discuss finishing the picture. He then goes on to explain how he resurrected the film with some help from the theater and film department of the local university and how and why the bookend segments were created with some help from a client of his who had podcasting experience. Again, some cool behind the scenes footage is incorporated here.

    The disc also includes a quick three-minute piece where "Mean" Gene Okerlund interviews Tom Taylor at a convention table. It’s an amusing piece and a nice tribute to the late WWE announcer that’s done with a good sense of humor.

    Rounding out the extras are five-minutes’ of audition tapes, menus and chapter selection.

    Masked Mutilator – The Final Word:

    Masked Mutilator might be an odd choice for a special edition Blu-ray, but here we are and we should all be thankful. The movie is a whole lot of fun and the story behind it, which is very well documented in all of the extra features, genuinely interesting. This might not win over those who don’t already appreciate low budget genre oddities like this but if you’ve got a taste for that type of stuff, you’re going to get a kick out of this.

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

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. moviegeek86's Avatar
      moviegeek86 -
      "Brick Bronsky (aka Jeffrey Beltzner, the director of the film)" So Brick directed the movie?
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
    1. moviegeek86's Avatar
      moviegeek86 -
      Very cool.

      I'll have to check this out.