Movie Review – The Mutilator (1984)

The Mutilator
(aka Fall Break)
Directed by Buddy Cooper
Courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution
Original Year of Release: 1984
Blu-ray Release Date: February 16, 2016

the mutilator

Ah…the good ol’ 80s slasher flick. Does cinema get much better? Well, of course it does. But you can’t deny the fun these throwback films offer up regardless. THE MUTILATOR is one of these obscure treasures, and it was recently given a Blu-ray release by the fine folks at Arrow Video and MVD Distribution. If you’ve never visited this film before, now is the time to do so. Chocked full of typical teenage hijinks and some very nice gore, this is one 80s slasher every horror fan needs to own.

If you are not familiar with THE MUTILATOR, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Arrow Video:

BY SWORD. BY PICK. BY AXE. BYE BYE. Although the slasher film was in decline by the mid-1980s, there were still some grisly delights to be had… and they don’t come much grislier than writer-director Buddy Cooper’s sickening stalk-and-slash classic The Mutilator! When Ed receives a message from his father asking him to go and lock up the family’s beach condo for the winter, it seems like the perfect excuse for an alcohol-fueled few days away with his friends. After all, his dad has forgiven him for accidentally blowing mom away with a shotgun several years ago… hasn’t he? But no sooner are the teens on the island than they find themselves stalked by a figure with an axe (and a hook, and an onboard motor) to grind… Originally entitled Fall Break (watch out for the incongruous theme song of the same name!), The Mutilator has earned a reputation amongst horror fans as one of the ‘holy grails’ of 80s splatter mayhem due to its highly inventive (and not to say, decidedly gruesome) kill sequences, courtesy of FX wizard Mark Shostrom (Videodrome, Evil Dead II). Finally making its long-awaited bow in High-Definition, The Mutilator has returned to terrorize a whole new generation of horror fans!

I was very surprised to discover this film was the only movie director Buddy Cooper ever did. From what I can see onscreen, the man had talent as a filmmaker, and I’m curious as to why he never did anything else.

THE MUTILATOR is shot well (for a slasher) and looks good overall. The 2K restoration looks amazing, and once again helps preserve an aging classic for later generations to enjoy. Likewise, the audio is crisp and clear. Unfortunately, this means the viewer has to endure the horrid opening theme song in stereo. I say this lightly, because the quality of the song sounds great…it’s just the song itself that is atrocious. This might not make sense, but once you hear the song, you’ll know what I mean.

The acting in the film is typical lower-budget slasher fare. This is not a negative, but I will say none of the cast will win any awards with their roles. Part of this is due to a clunky script. But the other part is thanks to wooden, cardboard performances.

The special effects in THE MUTILATOR are excellent for the most part. They are realistic and vibrant. Blood spurts in crimson fountains and appendages fly. But the sole negative in regard to the gore is a single scene where young Ed. Jr. gets his throat slashed; the special effects are very poor in this shot, and it is obvious they are fake. Otherwise, the carnage is top notch.

Overall, I give THE MUTILATOR a big thumbs up, and I highly recommend it. Arrow Video and MVD Distribution once again deliver exactly what horror fans want. In addition to the film, the Blu-ray comes with a host of nice extras, including:

* Brand new 2K restoration of the unrated version from original vault materials
* High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
* Original mono 1.0 audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray
* Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
* Introduction to the film with writer-director Buddy Cooper and assistant special make-up effects artist/assistant editor Edmund Ferrell
* Audio Commentary with Cooper, Ferrell, co-director John Douglass and star Matt Mitler
* Audio Commentary with Buddy Cooper and star Ruth Martinez Tutterow
* Fall Breakers: The Story of The Mutilator – brand new feature-length documentary on the making of the splatter classic featuring interviews with Cooper, Douglass, Ferrell, Mitler, actors Bill Hitchcock, Jack Chatham and more
* Mutilator Memories – special make-up effects artist Mark Shostrom looks back at one of his earliest projects
* Tunes for the Dunes – composer Michael Minard reveals how The Mutilator’s unique score was created
* Behind-the-Scenes Reel
* Screen Tests
* Alternate Opening Titles
* Trailers and TV Spots
* ’Fall Break’ Theme Song (Original and Instrumental Versions)
* Opening Sequence Storyboards
* Motion Stills Gallery
* Original Fall Break Screenplay (BD/DVD-ROM content)
* Reversible sleeve featuring two original artworks

The film is available now, so grab your copy quick!


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