The Mutilator is an often overlooked, obscure little gem from golden era of 80s slasher movies. So I was more than overjoyed when I heard that Arrow films were adding it to their catalogue and giving it the special edition treatment, which is released on both UK and US shores this month.
A group of teenagers head on out to a remote beach house, belonging to their friend Ed (Matt Mittler), who’s been asked to lock the place up for the winter by his estranged father.
Loading up with beer and supplies, they intend spending a few days partying there before heading back. But it seems the quiet coastal resort isn't as deserted as they thought. As darkness falls, and each one ends up meeting an exceptionally grisly demise by someone nasty, lurking nearby.
Also known as “Fall Break”, the film was shot on an exceptionally low budget in and around Atlantic Beach in North Carolina. To be fair, it isn’t quite in the same calibre as Friday the 13th, owing to the hammy acting and cheesy intro theme. But it’s still hugely enjoyable, not to mention exceptionally gory in places.
Death by outboard motor, decapitation by machete, impalement by garden fork and one unfortunate girl even getting a boat hook between the legs, make up some of the gorier highlights, and is most definitely a guilty pleasure of mine.
Originally heavily cut for its US theatrical release and similarly cut for UK video, the only available disc releases so far have been a long out of print UK DVD, which was more complete than the previous version, but still missed out several snippets of gore, and a German DVD, which was uncut, but full screen, and had some scenes spliced back in from a VHS source (neither of these releases were apparently officially licensed for release in any case).
This release though is of the full uncut version of the film, which has been officially sanctioned by the director and comes with the following special features…
Audio commentaries – Arguably the best feature on this, you get not one but TWO running audio commentaries that accompany the main feature. One with Director Buddy Cooper, co-director John Cooper, special effects artist Ed Ferrel and lead actor Matt Mittler. The second also features director Buddy Cooper, but this time joined by lead actress Ruth Martinez, who played Pam in the film. Both commentaries are moderated by Arrow films producer Ewan Cant.
Fall Breakers (1hr:15) - A brand new making of documentary, featuring interviews with the director Buddy Cooper and members of the cast and crew, including lead actor Matt Mittler.
Mutilator Memories (15mins) - Interview with special effects artist Mark Shostrom about his time on set.
Tunes for the Dunes (8 mins) - Composer Michael Minard discusses how the films “unique” soundtrack came about.
Behind the Scenes reel (16mins) - Rare behind the scenes video footage, showing how they shot some of the special effects.
Screen tests (13mins) - A collection of footage showing several of the cast members rehearsing some of the scenes.
Opening scene storyboards (4mins) - An image gallery showing the story board artwork for the films prologue.
Trailers and TV spots – A collection of various trailers, under the both the Mutilator and alternate Fall Break titles.
Alternate opening titles (4mins) - These are essentially the same as the main titles, but displaying the original title “The Mutilator” on screen (the title on the main feature using the alternate title Fall Break)
Songs – 2 versions of the main title “Fall Break”, one with lyrics, the other instrumental, for those who want to listen to the cheesy intro song uninterrupted.
Image gallery (8mins) – A collection of behind the scene stills, which play to the films main theme song.
The Mutilator has long been overdue for an uncut special edition release, so was very pleased to see this film finally getting the special edition treatment it deserved. I particularly liked the audio commentary tracks and the inclusion of the films theatrical trailers, which I always enjoy viewing.
The film is released in a BD and DVD combo pack and is being released both in the UK and US with the same extras on. The version I was given to review was the UK BD and quality wise, is an enormous improvement over the previous DVD versions (certainly puts my full screen German disc to shame). However, it seems it was struck from an uncut theatrical print, as the original negatives have apparently gone missing. So whilst the quality is extremely good, its perhaps not as good as it might have been, had they been able to take a scan of the original negatives.
To summarise, if you love tacky 80's slasher B-movies, you'll definitely want to pick this up. Its highly enjoyable popcorn fodder, and the wealth of special features on here just make it all the more appealing.
Arrow are also releasing this in the US, which is available from Amazon.com