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No worse than any other period slasher, “The Mutilator” could have found its way into a franchise if the killer was more of a character.

The Mutilator

Years after accidentally shooting his mother, Ed Jr. heads to his father’s island cabin for a vacation with his college friends, but Big Ed holds a bloody grudge. Let’s dig into 1984’s THE MUTILATOR, directed by Buddy Cooper and John Douglass!

As I See It

The setup is jarring.

A young boy plays with his dad’s gun and accidentally shoots his mom through a door. All grown up and in college, Ed Jr. is off to his dad’s island cabin at his old man’s behest.

He doesn’t know that his dad is planning long-steeping revenge on him and his friends.

That’s not a spoiler, as we see the killer pretty early on. It’s a tactic that takes the wind out of the terror’s sails and one that many slasher films had learned to avoid and instead pepper in a bevy of red herrings.

I’ve never seen a collection of more uptight teens. They definitely aren’t cut out for the woods, and this cabin getaway is a seaside resort at worst.

Big Ed collects his victims in gory fashion on a coat rack. The practical gore will satiate your blood thirst, but the skinny dipping scene is scored with what sounds like an eighties sitcom theme. Nothing screams sex and violence quite as inadequately as that.

You really could do a lot worse as far as formulaic slashers go than The Mutilator.

Famous Faces

Matt Mitler (Ed Jr.) played Arty in Basket Case 2, Willie in an earlier Dig Deadtime Stories, and had an uncredited bit part in Sean S. Cunningham’s (Friday the 13th) irreverent teen comedy Spring Break.

A couple of actors have roles in the 2023 sequel as themselves, including Bill Hitchcock (Ralph) and Ruth Martinez (Pam).

Of Gratuitous Nature

That opening boy, oof. Some of you may be old enough to remember the PSAs about kids playing with guns, but it was usually a friend they shot, not their mom.

We get one pair of bare breasts, but the filicide dream is really rough. There’s a reason so many rules were put into place about the depiction of violence against and by children — it’s really fucking hard to watch.

Heartthrob

The gore makes me feel at home. It reminds me of a simpler time when I understood nothing and was scared of everything.

Ripe for a Remake

With a sequel kicking the tires on distribution, there is no need.

Spawns

Forty years later, Buddy Cooper made a sequel! That sequel, starring Terry Kiser (Weekend at Bernie’s) and Damien Maffei (The Strangers 2, Haunt), is finished and has been screened for a few events but has yet to find distribution. You can catch the trailer for the meta sequel HERE.

Where to Watch

Arrow Video released a Blu-ray with a new scan and new features, such as a feature documentary. You can stream The Mutilator on Tubi, Screambox, Night Flight, Fandor, Midnight Pulp, and Arrow Player.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 2


THE DAILY DIG
The Daily Dig brings you hidden genre gems from the 1960s-00s you may have not yet discovered. You’ll get a brief rundown of everything you need to know, including where to watch each title for yourself. Come back each day, Mon-Fri, for new featured titles. CLICK HERE FOR A TIMELINE OF DAILY DIG COVERAGE.

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