Plot: What’s it about?
Brothers Josh (Wings Hauser of “Vice Squad,” “Nightmare At Noon” & “Tales From The Hood”) and Mike (Lee Montgomery) are on vacation and taking a peaceful drive through the country until Josh horses around and nearly runs a truck full of rednecks off the road. This of course pisses them off and they run Josh and Mike off the road into a creek. The two brothers hitch a ride into a small southern town to find a tow truck to get their car out of the creek. When they get there, Mike discovers a dead body in an alley. The two go into the bar to try find the sheriff when they come across the rednecks that ran them off the road. A fight ensues which is eventually broken up by Sheriff Stewart (Bo Hopkins of “From Dusk ‘Till Dawn 2,” “Sweet 16,” & “Nightmare At Noon.”) Mike tells the Sheriff of the dead body he and Josh found in the alley. When they get there the body is gone and there is a drunk man lying there in its place. The sheriff doesn’t believe Mike and tells the two that they need to get their car fixed and get out of town. The two decide to stay the night in a boarding house and take care of the car in the morning. When morning arrives Mike has disappeared and Josh goes looking for him and a tow truck for the car. Josh goes back to the bar for information and meets the owners’ niece Holly (Jody Medford). He has no luck finding his brother but Holly agrees to take him to a service station that is on the way to the school where she teaches. When arriving at the school, the two hear noises from the basement. Josh goes down to check it out and a dead girl falls on top of him. One of the rednecks from the bar shows up and blames Josh for killing the girl. The two get in another fight but Josh gets away before the police arrive. He hides in Holly’s car and convinces her that he is innocent and needs to find his brother. The dead girl’s body is examined by Dr. Myra Tate (Jennifer Warren) who finds some unusual chemicals in her body. The sheriff discovers some more dead bodies but isn’t sure of what is going on. Josh and Holly find out that many of the towns people are turning into Zombies and must prove to the sheriff this unbelievable story.
“Mutant” was directed by John “Bud” Cardos who also directed the films “The Dark” with William Devane, “Kingdom Of The Spiders,” and “Skeleton Coast” with Ernest Borgnine. With this film Cardos provides suspense through the foggy nighttime atmosphere. There are several moments during the film that made me jump. The film spends about the first 50 minutes to an hour developing the characters and building up the story. There are a few things that happen during this time but the meat of the movie is after that time where most of the thrills and action take place. While there is action and suspense, the movie is a little light on the gore. In fact you don’t see blood and people being torn apart. Most of it is left to the viewers imagination. What you see is yellow ooze coming out of the Zombies chest when they are shot. I think that this film could pass with a “PG-13” Rating instead of an “R.” While this didn’t offer much gore and took a while for the major action to happen, I still enjoyed it because of the atmosphere and the performances of most of the cast (Especially Hauser & Hopkins who are both underrated). The fact that the action took a while to happen gave me a chance to know the characters better and care about them more once all hell broke loose.
Elite presents “Mutant” in a remastered 16×9 widescreen (1.85) version that is either a two channel mono or stereo track (not listed on the box). One reviewer at another site said that this was a mono track but the end credits of the movie listed that the audio was recorded in stereo. Well, either way the audio sounds fine. Elite has done a good job with this presentation considering that there is probably not a huge following for this movie. This and other “B” movies of its type would probably not see the light of day on DVD in such good quality if it weren’t for the likes of Elite, Synapse, Anchor Bay and Image. While Elite has not been releasing as many DVD’s as Anchor Bay their presentations have been good on such DVD’s as this, “Tower Of Evil” and “Eaten Alive.” I can’t wait to see that “House On Sorority Row” disc. Enough of my rambling, lets get on to the video and audio quality of this disc.
Video: How does it look?
As I said before “Mutant” is presented in a 16×9 Widescreen (1.85) and looks good. The flesh tones look accurate and the colors look right on target. The picture is pretty sharp but there is some grain during some nighttime and daytime scenes but nothing distracting. This is a huge improvement over the old Vestron cassette that this was released on in the early 80’s. The nighttime scenes in that were so dark that you could hardly see what was going on. It was pretty much unwatchable. In the Elite version the nighttime scenes are much brighter and you can see clearly what is going on (especially those cool looking mutants attacking). I compared the widescreen version with some of the fullscreen footage from the disc’s trailer and didn’t notice any extra picture information on the left and right side of the screen. Oh well, that’s all right what matters is the picture quality and it will probably not look any better than this disc.
Audio: How does it sound?
Like I said before, it is either 2 channel mono or stereo and is nothing too explosive. However, the balance between the dialogue and sound effects/music is good. The audio is a little scratchy during a scene involving some heavy gunfire but nothing too extreme. Overall the tracks sounds good for what it is.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Not much here but a fullscreen trailer that doesn’t look remastered. At least its there. While there is not much in the extra’s department the film is given a fine video and audio presentation. As for the movie itself, it has good performances from the cast and a creepy atmosphere despite its lack of onscreen gore and slow pace. Those two things might drive away some horror fans looking for a lot of action and gore. However, it doesn’t hurt to at least give it a rent and see if it is your cup of tea.