Sunday, 7 February 2016

The Mutilator (1984)

“Exhaustively good value for money”

Sounding like a film about an especially aggressive American wrestler, Buddy Cooper’s FALL BREAK comes to UK Blu-ray and DVD in a splendid package that contains more extras than you can shake an unfeasibly huge boathook at.
We kick off with little Ed deciding to surprise his father for the man’s birthday by cleaning his gun collection. Unfortunately all does not go as planned, and by accident Ed shoots his mother through the chest, providing a warning for gun lovers everywhere, and the only (and presumably unintended) subtext in this film. Dad arrives home, drags his wife’s body over to the drinks cabinet and offers the dead woman a sip of Jack Daniels.

Not a murder weapon, unfortunately
Now it's ten years later, possibly - it’s not terribly clear. What is clear is that while Ed has grown into a man in his early twenties (at least he looks as if he is) the fashions in the area of North Carolina where THE MUTILATOR is set have changed not one iota. Who knows? Perhaps they’re still walking around over there with their sweaters casually knotted around their necks right at this moment.
         Ed receives a phone call to say that his father has had a bit of a funny turn. Ed and his friends decide to spend their fall break vacation at his father’s beach house. Dad's hiding there, has gone completely mad, and starts bumping them off one by one, using the kind of items one might keep in a holiday home such as an antique battle axe and a massive boat hook.

Definitely murder weapons
        THE MUTILATOR arrived at the end of the first wave of American slasher movies that had been kickstarted by John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN and Sean Cunningham’s FRIDAY THE 13TH, and it’s unapologetically in the same mode as all the imitators that followed. So if you love PROM NIGHT, MY BLOODY VALENTINE, FINAL EXAM and all the others you’ll love this one too. If you’re unfamiliar with the slasher subgenre, then a better description for this is probably the one coined by Leslie Halliwell for any number of horror movies he didn’t like, namely ‘short sharp shocks punctuate slabs of tedium’. Admittedly THE MUTILATOR does get going in its final act, but don’t expect too much of it.

Murder weapon in use
Arrow’s Blu-ray and DVD offers so many extras that this has to be one of the best value for money packages of the month. As well as two commentary tracks there’s a feature-length making of, which means if you’re an 80s slasher fan with the film itself as well you’ve already got six hours of entertainment right there. But that’s not all. You also get a charming little introduction from Mr Cooper and friend, a new piece featuring Mark Shostrom whose effects work on this is really very good indeed, a short interview with composer Michael Minard (again a lot of fun), a behind the scenes reel, trailers, the full length theme song to the film (with instrumental!) and the screenplay on DVD-ROM, making the entire MUTILATOR package exhaustively good value for money. 

Arrow are releasing Buddy Cooper's THE MUTILATOR aka
FALL BREAK on dual format Blu-ray and DVD on 
15th February 2016

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