Worst Father’s Day Ever: The Mutilator (1985)

The more I think about it, Father’s Day would perhaps be a better title for this film. While there certainly is some mutilation, it’s not the theme, nor the unique selling point, in fact aside from being one step away from the most generic horror title I’ve ever seen (I mean, it’s only one ring above calling a film ‘The Killer’ or ‘The Murderer’) even its alternate title, ‘Fall Break’ is much more fitting, even though that’s also generic as hell.

But the reason I’d push for Father’s Day is simply because it would tie into what is the actual theme of this film – no not father’s day, but a killer father going after his own son (I know it may not be the most clever, forward thinking title, and it would be slightly misleading if it wasn’t centred around the holiday, but it’s the best I’ve got). This is by far a unique selling point because it’s very rare that you see a film that involves family members going after each other, especially so boldly as it’s not exactly a spoiler that the main character’s father is the killer, but what should be its greatest asset becomes its downfall and sadly, The Mutilator sinks like a boulder into the sea of generic 80’s slasher films.

The Mutilator poster
The poster is cool af though.

So where does it go wrong? Well, when you’ve got a film which opens with a little boy accidentally shooting and killing his own mother, driving his father insane as a result, it should make way for a semi-Shakespearean tragedy/horror blend which is built on the emotions and passions of the characters, I mean the emotional impact alone that accidentally killing your mother must have on a person, but to then, years later when you yourself have gotten over it, have your own father stalk and kill your friends in the intent to exact his revenge, you’ve got a storm to play with.

Yet, throughout most the film, it seems both the writers and the director had forgotten what they were making, and what their film is about which happens in weird little intervals. For instance, the opening scene just cuts right to it without any fluff: kid looks at gun, shoots gun, mum dead, dad sad, cut to the black. Great. Fine. Next scene is the kid all grown up sharing some of the dullest banter between a group of friends that when his back it turned slyly chuckle at his past. I’m not saying we have to make these blade food nice people, but I’ve yet to meet anyone in real life so douchey.

And this is mainly what the film is actually about, these 5 air heads living it up in a very dingy beach house sharing absolutely no vital or plot driven aspects of themselves, with the occasional murder thrown in. They attempt to have some friendly aspects to their personalities sometimes, and they’re certainly not the most awful group of horny white people to grace the b movie screen, but they just don’t shut up. This, plus the fact Ed, the kid with the itchy trigger finger, never really addresses his past, nor has any reaction to anything, really makes it hard to sympathise with their plight.

The Mutilator death
Especially this guy. Urgh.

Speaking of their plight, here is another area that’s quite odd. For a film entitled the mutilator, the deaths are as followed: drowned, beheaded, disembowelled and pitchforked through the throat (there’s more than 4 in terms of body count but they’re similar so), ultimately though, no-one is really mutilated – well not enough to warrant such a specific title anyway.

Little side note about the deaths quickly: one thing that struck me was at first I thought the film was swimming against the tide of 80’s gore fests in terms of its violence toward women (the first female death is a drowning which is not even the slightest bit graphic) and it wants to send a message throughout the genre but then a woman has a big fish hook inserted up her and pulled out through her belly, that idealistic and hopeful view is thrown completely out the window.

The Mutilator hook
She won’t be smiling at this later…

Going back to the main disappointment here, the let down at the centre is just how inconsistent the killer is. So we have a father wanting to murder his son for killing his mum as a child 17 years after the event actually occured – thoughts:

  1. Why has Ed Sr waited so long to exact his revenge?
  2. Ed says multiple times his Dad is unhinged, but we know nothing about his dad and judging by his graphically murderous streak, I’d say he’s more than unhinged plus Ed talks about fond memories of being raised by his Dad, so bit of a 180 there daddio, no?
  3. I get that the wound of his wife’s death might not have healed, but it’s hard to imagine someone plotting one murder based on passionate and raw emotions jumping into becoming a full fledged serial killer who takes pleasure in hurting others straight away.
  4. Why does he hate a girl he’s never met more than anyone else as she gets a truly cruel death?
The Mutilator killer
Looks fine to me!

All these thoughts are obviously none that went through the creators minds which is a shame because this little sub-genre of the horror world could really use some good, solid films to bolster its ranks. What I mean to say is, that there are so many films about evil children, but rarely any about evil parents, which when you think about it, is kind of odd considering how unfortunate that ratio is in real life (maybe I just answered my own question?).

I definitely wouldn’t say stay clear of this one if you’re looking for another 80’s slasher with a nice synth score to boot, but it’s lacking in the areas which it shouldn’t be as after all, if it was just trying to be another generic slasher film, who would care? But it isn’t, and in its attempted escape of the generic confines, it only drags itself down further.

Also, the opening credits sequence is just ridiculous.

Author: diagnosedcinephile

Film critique is love. Film critique is life.

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