When Ed was a young boy, he accidentally shot and killed his mother while trying to clean his father’s (Big Ed) gun. Now an adult, Ed and five of his college friends head to his father’s condo at the beach to close up the place for the winter. But that horrible incident from years ago has driven Big Ed crazy, and he begins to take his rage out on the kids one by one–“by sword, by pick, by axe, bye bye”!
The Mutilator fits in well with the other slasher movies of the 80s by following a similar formula, yet it still manages to stand out on its own by going in unexpected directions. The brutality of the kills that come later in the movie are quite surprising, considering the tone of earlier scenes. After the opening where Ed kills his mother, things make a dramatic shift into almost comedic territory. The famous “Fall Break” theme song that plays over the opening montage makes you wonder if you are actually watching a slasher film or a cheesy comedy. Even the font and color of the main titles are more in line with the latter.
One aspect of The Mutilator that makes it stand out from the pack is its killer. You know right from the start that Big Ed is the man responsible for the carnage, and the filmmakers never hide this fact from the viewer. The idea that a father would so actively and so brutally go after his own son–and kill anyone else who gets in the way–is a pretty twisted concept and almost taboo. It gives the movie a very serious undertone that is never really addressed head-on, but it is always there.
While Ed looks at his relationship with his father as estranged, Big Ed has obviously not forgiven his son for what he did. There are some disturbing sequences that show the father fantasizing about killing his son as a young boy. I only wish that there had been at least one good scene of the two of them confronting each other at the end to really give this plot point the impact it needed.
Arrow Video has given The Mutilator a fantastic Blu-Ray treatment. Though I had never seen the movie before this release, I can only imagine what it looked like, and how much better the Blu-Ray transfer is. There are still some pops and scratches in the film, but they are barely noticeable, and the movie is otherwise pristine. The special features are extensive, and include new interviews and commentaries, as well as original screen tests and behind-the-scenes footage. The first feature on the menu, “Fall Breakers,” is a 75-minute long documentary that has the cast and crew reminiscing about the making of the movie. “Mutilator Memories” and “Tunes for the Dunes” are two shorter features that focus on the special effects and music, respectively. There are also two separate commentaries with different cast and crew members, including writer-director Buddy Cooper, and actors Matt Mitler and Ruth Martinez. And if you couldn’t get enough of that “Fall Break” song, it plays continuously over the menu to ensure that you won’t forget it.
The Mutilator is truly a slasher gem that is ready to be discovered or rediscovered thanks to this new release. It’s a very entertaining and surprisingly gory film that will keep taking you by surprise until the very end. The Mutilator has never been available on DVD or Blu in the US before, so this is definitely one that fans will want to add to their collection.
Director(s): Buddy Cooper, John Douglass
Writer: Buddy Cooper
Stars: Matt Mitler, Ruth Martinez, Bill Hitchcock, Jack Chatham
Release: February 16, 2016 Blu-Ray
Studio/ Production Co: Arrow Video
Length: 86 Minutes