Mutilator, The (1985)

The Mutilator (1985)

By pick, by axe, by sword, bye bye!

A boy accidentally shot and killed his mother whilst he was cleaning his dad’s shotguns. Now he’s a teenager and with a group of friends, goes and stay at his father’s beach condo for the weekend. But his now-crazy father is lying in wait and ready to take out his bloody revenge for the murder of his wife. With a variety of weapons at his disposal, it doesn’t look good for the visiting teens.

 

Sporting arguably one of the greatest horror tag lines of all time, you would hope that the rest of this mid-80s slasher would show as much creativity and originality. The Mutilator is strictly a bargain basement splatter slasher with a nasty edge. It wears its low budget on its sleeve and all you’ll get is a film which sticks closely to the rules and knows its target audience. Thankfully this target audience was bloodthirsty back in the day The Mutilator delivers the goods wear it hurts.

The first half is woeful. We get the slasher MacGuffin in the opening scene to give one of the characters a reason to kill. Then after that it seems like an eternity before any true mutilating is done. Pacing is definitely a big issue as no one seems to do anything. There’s hardly any story except for the fact that the group of teenagers are partying within easy reach of a homicidal killer. I guess you don’t need it after the opening scene of matricide but I’m sure there’d have been easier ways for the father to take his revenge than wait for his little boy to grow up and kill him.

There’s little sign of ‘the mutilator’ in any form during this time and it’s a good halfway through the film before the crazy father finally starts living up to the tag line. The cast are appalling and none of them could act their way out of a wet paper bag. They deserve to get slaughtered for the most part so it’s almost ironic that the most entertaining character is one of the first to die, leaving behind a vacuum of humanity waiting to be infiltrated. There’s no murder mystery to be had as we know who the killer is right from the moment the little boy blows his mother’s head in the opening scene. So once he does get down to business, at least we’re spared the clichéd “it was me all along” moment where the killer confesses all. The film is also extremely dark and the lighting guy must have been on strike or something. You just can’t see what’s going on in a lot of the scenes of the characters wandering around the dim basement and garage areas. It’s not so much of a problem at first but when it gets hard to distinguish what is going on, it gets annoying.

There’s a solid slasher waiting to leap out here and moments such as the game of ‘Blind Man’s Buff’ are nice touches. I’ll at least credit The Mutilator with living up to its title in the most gruesome ways possible. He kills one of the girls by slamming a hook between her legs and gutting her like a fish. Another dude gets an outboard motor rammed into his chest. There’s a cool decapitation too as well as a pitchfork to the neck. The body count is pretty low but the manner in which they’re all dispatched is at least memorable enough. Like the earlier scenes, a lot of the time it’s pretty dark and you can’t get a good view at what looks to be some awesome make-up effects. However I’ve since come to learn that these scenes are only darkened in the R-rated version. Anyone who watches the uncut version will find them come to life in their splendidly gory glory.

In terms of cult status, gore hounds usually look to the likes of Intruder, The Prowler, The Burning and Maniac for their fix of 80s splatter but there’s plenty in The Mutilator which seems to go unnoticed because the rest of the film is so poor. Throw in some nudity and there’s also a synthesised music score which adds a little bit of eeriness and suspense when it has no right to do.

 

Make sure you track down the uncut version to enjoy the gory delights the way they were meant to be enjoyed. The Mutilator may not enjoy the same publicity as its more famous 80s slashers but deserves a lot more credit. It’s not art, it’s not pretty and it will test your patience a lot but stick with it and you’ll get a fantastic slice of 80s slasher action.

 

 ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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