1985 happened 30 years ago and so did I. Now I’m looking back at the films from the year of my birth. Join me, won’t you?

mutilator_poster_01The Mutilator (dir. Buddy Cooper) 86 min

Release Date: January 1st, 1985

Cast: Matt Mitler, Ruth Martinez, Bill Hitchcock, Connie Rogers, Frances Raines, Morey Lampley

Writer(s): Buddy Cooper

Synopsis: Six college students go to a beach house to clean up after an alcoholic hunter and end up getting stalked and killed by said hunter.

Review: A film that opens with the accidental shooting of a mother by her child (on his father’s birthday, no less) and ends with the bifurcated corpse of the killer rising from the dead to claim one last victim. In between is a whole lot of obnoxious, stock, pre-dead-kids shit. They drink, they make bad jokes and they threaten to fuck each other—which some of them actually get around to doing—all while vacationing in the beachfront condo of an alcoholic hunter who is secretly trying to kill them. With at least four years of better examples preceding this, director Buddy Cooper (his only film) has a grasp on the format, but none of the skill required to make this any fun outside of a few kills. The prosthetic effects are better than average and absolutely the best part of the film. Machetes get buried in faces, heads get chopped off, etc. Standard as far as kills go, but like I said, it all looks pretty good.

There are brief moments of unintentional humor too, like when Mike (the jock) mistakes a cardboard cutout of a cartoon prospector for his girlfriend. Or how that same character dies, hacked to death by a boat motor, one hand daintily flapping at his side as he screams and stands bleeding to death a little longer than he should. There’s also a scene where the soon-to-be-victims obliviously inventory all the clues and murder weapons that’ll soon be used against them, noting the mask of a Mayan rain god used in ritual sacrifice in particular. You also have the main character Ed bragging about his dad’s alcoholism amidst a house full of his empties, pointing out the spot where his pops drunkenly threw things into the wall (and framed them). Ed is also the kid who accidentally killed his mom in the opening scene, just so you know.  We’re supposed to like him. We’re supposed to like all of these “people.”

The only other thing worth mentioning here is the theme song. The Mutilator was originally shot under the title, “Fall Break” and like Madman before it, the composer cooked up a titular theme song. In both name and tone it’s completely out of place in a movie where two thirds of the cast wind up dead by the closing credits. It’s full of finger snaps, jazz sax, bouncy piano and the line, “when you fall into my arms, I’ll break into your heart.” Yup.

As slasher films go, this is low tier, with just enough to recommend for completists.

Better Off Dead or The Sure Thing?: Better off dead.

Next Up: Too Scared To Scream