“The Mutilator” (1985). Directed by Buddy Cooper. Ed Jr. (Matt Mitler) killed his mom in a bizarre gun cleaning accident on his dad’s birthday. Fast forward to present day 1985, where Ed is visiting his dad’s beach house with some friends. While they are working to tidy up the place, his dad shows up to really clean house and is soon mopping up the floor with the blood of Ed’s friends.
The following is not for the faint of heart. Keep telling yourself it’s just a review.
Filmed in 1984 in North Carolina, this mid-80’s slasher flick is now mostly known for its classic mix of goofball inanity and gruesome violence.
In the unforgettable opening scene of “The Mutilator,” a young boy named Ed is cleaning his father Big Ed’s gun collection as a birthday surprise. One of the rifles discharges, blowing a hole through Ed’s mother as she prepares a birthday cake. When Big Ed comes home, he drags his wife’s body into his study, has a tumbler of scotch and reflects on life.
A decade or so passes, and Big Ed asks his son to clean out and close up his beach house. Along with virginal girlfriend Pam, prankster Ralph and his girl Sue, and the lovebirds Mike and Linda, mom-killing Ed goes on a sweet road trip complete with upbeat tunes. He hopes to play a few board games, have a few drinks and then relieve Pam of that pesky virginity thing. Down at the shore, the kids find the beach house door wide open and the joint filled with empty bottles of booze. Also, Big Ed’s prized battle-axe is missing from the wall of weapons in the living room.
Did I forget to mention the place is packed with trophies and instruments of death? Oops. My bad!
“The Mutilator” is an impossible flick to spoil, because there are no twists or turns or mystery. You aren’t left to wonder at the identity of the maniac. Big Ed is shown hiding out in the garage, having crazy-guy thoughts about slaughtering his son as a boy while laying on top of his battle-axe. Normal dad stuff, yeah?
I call his dark and greasy lair The Doom Garage.
During this roughly 30 minute section of the film where the kids clean the house, start a fire and party, the pace of the movie becomes sluggish. Big Ed is doing nothing but breathing heavy and sweating in the darkness of the ground floor garage. This goes on way too long, but when the terror begins, it doesn’t stop.
Buddy Cooper’s slasher opus breaks from formula in a couple of ways. The killer isn’t costumed or deformed. In fact, he isn’t even threatening except when he’s ramming a chainsaw into your chest. One of the deaths is particularly graphic and bizarre and probably what the film is most known for. But despite the deviations, two classic rules still apply: virgins have power over maniacs and when you think the killer is dead, he isn’t.
Despite being a human being not helped along by supernatural forces, Big Ed takes a licking and keeps coming.
So how gory is that body count?
- A woman is shot to death.
- A woman is drowned in a swimming pool.
- A man is repeatedly gouged in the torso with a chainsaw.
- A man is stabbed in the face, then decapitated with a machete.
- A man is impaled on a pitchfork through the neck.
- A woman has a huge steel hook (called a gaffe) rammed into her crotch and out her stomach, then is decapitated.
- A man is hit in the chest and head with steel darts, stabbed in the chest with a huge knife, burnt by a cigarette lighter and crushed into two halves between a moving car and a concrete sea wall.
- A man has both legs sliced off with an axe.
If you can suffer through Ralph’s lame one liners and the early doldrums of the teens setting up shop in the beach house, you’ll be rewarded with bloody, lengthy deaths where the camera doesn’t cut away and great gore effects. It isn’t Savini, but it’ll work.