One has to give the makers of this film a little credit for changing the title from the very lacklustre Fall Pass to the very polarising The Mutilator. If it had remained as Fall Pass, it is most likely that very few would have ever ended up going to see the movie and those who did might have thought it something else other than what it was. As it turns out, The Mutilator was very on the nose as the villain of the piece does just that to his victims. Once it gets going, the film is a brutal one, the murders extremely graphic and with a title such as it is, if the killings were anything but, the movie would have been a disappointment.
As it is, if one is looking for blood and gore, The Mutilator delivers in spades, so much so that it nearly received an X rating for the level of violence throughout. That being said, compared to movies that would be released in the years to come, it would end up being fairly tame, though seeing people getting their throats cut and heads removed among other things is still horrific enough to rattle the senses. But why would a person want to do such a thing? What would drive a man to act out and kill those around him in such a violent fashion? Aside from psychotic tendencies, the film offers up trauma as an explanation, the loss of a wife by the man’s son who accidentally killed his mom with a gun. So it is that years later, the son returns home to close up the family condo with some friends and his father ends up stalking and killing them all until it is down to just father, son and his potential girlfriend.
Matt Mitler stars as Ed, Jr. while Jack Chatham ends up as his crazed father, a man who dreams of killing his own flesh and blood for an accident that happened by an unknowing child. The acting by all of those involved is not the greatest, some of it being chalked up to script, most of it to the talent. Chatham is the best of the bunch for the simple fact that he has no lines and only has to go around acting like a mad man, killing as many teenagers as he can get his hands on. As bad as some of the players might be, the film would not be as good as it is without them as one expects them to be bad, to give the picture a little bit of hokiness and essentially keep the audience from liking the characters overly much so that when they are murdered, there is no emotional attachment to be had in the slightest.
As far as slashers go, the great thing about The Mutilator was that it was not a ‘by the numbers’ picture. Its villain was damaged on a deeper level than most, the violence was a little bloodier and a bit more extreme for the time than many were used to and for any faults that it might have had, it still managed to keep one glued to the screen, wondering just how the son would survive his father’s madness, it at all. For the most part, The Mutilator is a great example of how to do things right despite using a few of the same clichés the genre tended to generate.
3.5 out of 5