The Mutilator (1984)
Back of the box...
“The spine-tingling chiller is the harrowing tale of five high-school students whose dream vacation of a fun-filled holiday at the beach becomes a nighmare when they are stalked by The Mutilator.
Ed, a likeable high school student, busily discusses vacation plans with his friends when he receives a message from his father asking that he close up the summer house at the beach. While his friends feel that it’s the perfect opportunity for a vacation, Ed is uneasy about the request, as his father has never quite forgiven him for the accidental shooting of his mother.
When the group arrives at the summer house they discover Ed’s father’s collection of bizarre weapons. To add to their anxieties there is the ever-present feeling that they are being watched. Suddenly, Ed’s house guests begin to meet bizarre deaths, each one more grisly than the next, but The Mutilator is saving the best last...the best for Ed.”
Director: Buddy Cooper
Starring: Matt Mitler, Ruth Martinez, Bill Hitchcock
Watch the Trailer
Drunk and horny teenagers deliver cheesy lines as they wait to meet their violent, gory deaths. The 80’s slasher formula seems simple enough but can be like catching lightning in a bottle to get it just right. Try as they might, nobody will ever capture the blood soaked magic that drips from the celluloid of classics like The Mutilator!
Looking to score some quick cash, gore fan Buddy Cooper jumped on the 80’s slasher bandwagon after reading in Variety magazine that 30% of ticket sales in the US were going to horror films. He assembled a ragtag crew of family, friends, and random locals to shoot Fall Break (later renamed The Mutilator) at his family owned resort motel in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. Initially, the film did well in major cities although Cooper released it unrated. He was afraid the X rating that the MPAA wanted to give the film would create an unwanted association with porn and hurt his financial return. When later attempting to expand into theaters elsewhere in the country (including that dreaded middle area), it’s unrated status presented problems and Cooper was forced to edit out some blood. Turns out that sticky blood was holding the picture together and the R rated cut flopped! Like the boyfriend who grudgingly pulls on his jeans to go downstairs and “see what that weird sound was”, Cooper’s money was never seen again.
After an opening reminiscent of 1982’s Pieces, The Mutilator jumps forward ten years to find a group of college buds trying to decide what to do over fall break (the better question being, what the fuck is fall break?). After receiving a call from his dad asking him to close down the family beach condo for the winter, Ed reluctantly agrees and brings the rest of the gang along with him. The teens feel uneasy as they arrive to find the place trashed and get their first glimpses at the Ed’s dad’s trophy animals and weapons mounted on the walls. Despite the death surrounding them, they settle in and get the party started. As they stretch out their two six packs of beer (nobody in movies ever buys enough beer) and do everything but have sex, including play Monopoly, the teens are killed off one by one.
Every slasher spends some time introducing us to the people we’re going to watch die, but The Mutilator’s “get to know your doomed coeds” section feels a little different. With the Fall Break original title and the wacky college humor vibe in the first act, you’ll think you put on the wrong movie. We suspect the reason for this is the movie’s ridiculous theme song! You have to hear it to believe it. Not since the Wild Wild West by Will Smith have we heard a more painfully literal theme song. The “Fall Break Theme” plays about 30 times in the first ten minutes and yeah, that’s an exaggeration but not by much. Pressed onto 45’s and sent to radio stations to promote the film, we can’t help wonder if that’s why nobody went to see it.
Enough talk about the soundtrack, the only thing that matters in an 80’s slasher are the characters and the deaths and The Mutilator excels at both! The benchmark of success is when the only thing you love more than watching the character’s zany antics is watching them die horrible deaths. The antics role falls squarely on Ralph—the cad and the card of the film—who is rarely not saying something cheesy and the horrible deaths are so horrible that one scene had a boom operator running off set! Of course, the scene we’re speaking of is the fishing gaff in the va-jay-jay scene. Having seen the movie before, we knew when the infamous death was coming and the anxiety and dread we felt reminded us of when Fisher Stevens and friends are paddling up to the seemingly empty canoe in The Burning. That shit gets us every time! The gore effects, we should mention, were done by Mark Shostrom (A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Evil Dead 2) and do not disappoint.
If you’re a fan of 80’s slashers or B-movie gore, The Mutilator is a must watch. The fun that was had making the film comes across on screen and it’s infectious. If you’re not into gore and slashers maybe you like beach front resorts? Pay Buddy a visit at his Oceanana Family Resort in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina (http://www.oceanana.com/)! Take a short walk down the beach to the condo where the movie was filmed! Maybe you could go on your next fall break? Seriously though, is fall break a real thing?