Mankind's deadliest threat will not come from the skies.
Hello, hello, and welcome to Judge Patrick Naugle's "Make a Monster Movie" recipe hour! Today we're going to put together a little flick I like to call Mutant. Here is what you're going to need: take five full cups of Night Of The Living Dead tossing in just a dash of C.H.U.D. II: Bud The CHUD. After that, slice off a piece of Friday The 13th and throw it on in (keeping your stove going at a medium boil). Finally, just for good measure, throw in equal parts Dawn Of The Dead and Prophecy. Now stir, beat, and finish off with a garnish of your choice (preferably a little Return Of The Living Dead or some extract of Gremlins). Presto! You're all done and should have a hearty casserole of the 1984 zombie-rama flick Mutant! (Serves 4)
Facts of the Case
Strange things are afoot at in Anytown, USA. After a couple of rednecks run brothers Josh (Wings Hauser, six million B-movies) and Mike (Lee Montgomery, The Midnight Hour) off the road, the two men trek into town to see if they can get fixed up and back on their way ASAP. Little to they know that what awaits them in town is far worse than any car repair bill they'll run into! As Josh and Mike snoop around town they find that people seem to be dying off at an alarming rate (this is like the horror version of ER). However, these deaths don't seem to be normal—instead of just croaking, the victims are turning a gangly purple zombies and attacking anyone that get in their way! How could this happen? Let's all say it together: Evil Industrial Toxic Waste!! With the help of a local alcoholic sheriff (Bo Hopkins, South Of Heaven, West Of Hell) and a sultry looking elementary school teacher (Jody Medford, Chained Heat), Josh and Mike are going to try to end this mystery…before it ends them!
I think that my childhood home was located under power lines. Or, possibly my parents used to spoon feed me helpings of Draino for breakfast. How else can I account for my insatiable appetite for movies about zombies, monsters, and grisly mayhem? Thankfully, Mutant has all of these elements in one cute lil' old package.
It's not as if I had a burning desire to see Mutant. There's sometimes a reason why certain horror movies are not well known, even by aficionados like myself. Only eight people in total (three of them being mentally incapacitated) have seen A Night To Dismember, and for one single solitary reason: it sucks. Obviously you can see where my hesitation came from when I popped Mutant into my DVD player.
Well, wasn't I just tickled purple to find out that Mutant is a decent run-of-the-mill zombie movie that features A.) Wings Hauser as the weirdest male lead I've ever seen (overbite! overbite! overbite!), B.) raging zombies derived from hazardous toxic waste, and C.) a woman wearing a shirt that actually conforms to hear yazumbos. As soon as I noticed all three of these things, I realized that my horror checklist was complete and I sat back to enjoy the show.
The cast is a very odd cornucopia of actors, headed by the slack jawed Wings Hauser. Sporting a bouffant afro and a set of choppers that could grind down granite, Hauser is a strange duck with a creepy stare. His advances towards Holly (Medford) border on sleazy. Bo Hopkins as the sheriff plays his character with as much backwoods essence as the guys who played the hillbillies in John Boorman's Deliverance. As for the rest of the cast, it's comprised mainly of zombies, townsfolk, and a single child who talks like he came out of a German bread commercial.
After reading all that, I guess you're looking for the answer to one crucial question: is Mutant worth seeing? Well, let's put it this way: if you have to ask after reading all that, then the answer is no.
Mutant is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. While this certainly isn't a perfect looking picture, it is very evenly rendered and better than expected. Some softness permeates the picture during a few scenes. Even so, this is a good looking image with bright colors and deep black levels. Some grain is also evident, though it's never intrusive to the picture. Overall, Elite Entertainment has done a very good job of restoring this print to whatever glory it originally had.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 in English. I was fairly impressed with how good this audio track sounded, since the production costs were probably around six dollars and some change. The bulk of this soundtrack stems from the center speaker, though composer Richard Band's music score tends to seep through a few of the side speakers. Overall, there is no distortion present in any of the dialogue, music of effects. No subtitles or alternate soundtracks are available on this disc.
The only extra feature available on this disc is a humorous theatrical trailer for the film.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Now hold yer' horses. This isn't to say that Mutant is a perfect movie. Sure, it has its good points, but it also has its faults. The beginning is poorly paced, the acting is often times amateurish, and the make-up effects, while fun, aren't all that impressive. Better zombie movies have been made, including anything by George A. Romero and Stuart Gordon's hyper kinetic splatterfest Re-Animator.
And then there are the continuity errors. Holy mutant mucus, this movie has so many plot holes it makes Swiss cheese look like the densest food on the planet. The zombies can melt their way through car windows, yet can't get past wooden doors or walls? Some zombies affect people while others don't? And by the end of the movie, so many zombies come out of the woodwork that you have to wonder if there wasn't maybe some strip bar or breakfast buffet that was tying them up during the first part of the film.
Okay, one more thing…why in the name of my grandfather's underwear was this movie titled "Mutant?" There are no mutants in this movie. No slobbering man-beasts or aliens from outer space. Its original title was "Night Shadows," but apparently that fell by the wayside. I guess that "Eco-Zombie" or "The Toxic Dead" didn't go over very well with studio executives. Such is life.
But I digress…
Zombies. Hard drinkin' sheriffs. Rednecks. Wings Hauser. A small boy getting attacked and eaten by the living dead. Ta-tas. Lots o' gooey toxic waste. More ta-tas. Mutant isn't a great movie, but at least it as all the ingredients that usually make a great movie. Elite Entertainment has done a decent job on this disc, though personally I'd have loved to have heard a commentary track by the director or star Wings Hauser.
I know I'm going to regret this, but Mutant is free to go…
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Elite Entertainment
• Theatrical Trailer
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