Plot: What’s it about?
Arrow Video recently sent me a copy of the cult film The Mutilator. I never really know what to expect when Arrow Video sends me something, so i am always excited to check it out. In this case it was a low-budget independently financed slasher film from 1985. The movie was written, directed, and produced by some guy from North Carolina named Buddy Cooper who would go on to produce, write, and direct nothing else ever. This was his sole output.
The plot of the film begins with a young boy attempting to clean his father’s gun collection on his father’s birthday. Unfortunately, the gun goes off and kills his mother who was making the birthday cake in the kitchen as the father pulls up in his car. This causes the father to resent his son and temporarily lose it. Years later, that young boy has grown into a college student named Ed. When Ed gets a phone call from his father to lock up the condo that they own at the beach, all of his college buddies decide to tag along for Fall Break (the original title of the film before release on video.) For awhile it is all fun and shenanigans with a hilariously bombastic soundtrack that sounds strangely upbeat. They drink beer. They talk about sleeping with one another. They tells stories. What they don’t know is that Big Ed is having a “spell” and about to kill them one by one using all of his sportsman skills.
Overall, The Mutilator is a decent to good slasher flick from this period. It has some unique gore effects that will stand out due to Make Up Effects by Mark Shostrom. The acting and campiness add to the appeal of the movie. That said, it is not anything overly impressive or unique. Out of the library of Arrow titles, this one doesn’t have a lot of the staying power of the other movies. That said, now that I have had a few days to think about it, I like it pretty well. While not the best in their catalog, it is still pretty fun.
Video: How’s it look?
Arrow Video did a solid job on the transfer of the film using an MPEG 4 AVC codec of a new 2K restoration. Clarity for the most part is solid with only a couple scenes suffering from lack of focus. This video transfer is not on the same level as some of their other releases, but I feel confident that this is BY FAR the best the film has ever looked. I would say that this video transfer looks most similar to Vamp in levels of how the visuals appear.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The audio treatment of The Mutilator was very good for what it is. Since it is an LPCM Mono track, dynamic range is pretty limited. The hilarious and off-putting soundtrack by Michael Minard has never sounded better. I felt pleased overall with the treatment that was given to the track, even though it is nothing earth-shattering.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Audio Commentary with Cooper, Ferrell, co-director John Douglass and star Matt Mitler – an enjoyable commentary track with the key players.
- Audio Commentary with Buddy Cooper and star Ruth Martinez Tutterow – another good track for the completist.
- Introduction – (1080p, 1:08) – the filmmakers explain that the movie was restored from the best elements possible to make an unrated cut as close as possible to the original cut.
- Fall Breakers: The Story of The Mutilator: (1080p, 1:15:01) – this brand new feature-length documentary on the making of the movie was actually so well done that I adjusted my rating for the entire package. Featuring interviews with Cooper, Douglass, Ferrell, Mitler, actors Bill Hitchcock, Jack Chatham and more, it goes through the entire history of how the movie was made and numerous anecdotes. This feature is exhaustive and definitive.
- Mutilator Memories – (1080p, 15:57) special make-up effects artist Mark Shostrom discusses his effects on the movie. Mark went on to a very successful career with films like Evil Dead 2, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Dick Tracy. A solid piece.
- Tunes for the Dunes – (1080p, 8:13) a short but sweet piece where composer Michael Minard reveals how he scored The Mutilator. This piece is great because it reveals why the theme song was so upbeat.
- Behind the Scenes Footage – (1080i, 16:31)
- Screen Tests – (1080i, 13:03)
- Alternate Opening Titles (1080p, 4:32)
- Trailers and TV Spots
- Fall Break Theme Song (Original and Instrumental Versions)
- Opening Sequence Storyboards (1080p, 4:32)
- Motion Stills Gallery
The Bottom Line
The Mutilator is an enjoyable little slasher flick from the Eighties. It is not on the same level as some of the other films in Arrow’s collection in my opinion, but I was blown away by Arrow’s commitment to making their special editions special. This one has an incredible amount of features including a full length documentary on the filming THA I actually enjoyed as much as the movie. That feature earned this movie a recommendation as long as your expectations are firmly in check.