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John’s Horror Corner: The Mutilator (1984; aka, Fall Break), an 80s slasher that’s maaaaybe just good enough to be worth your time.

July 26, 2020

MY CALL: I was really unimpressed with this. That said, it also wasn’t a regrettable viewing. There were so decent gore gags to be enjoyed. I’d just rank this very low among “worth a watch” 80s slashers since there are simply so many better ones. MORE MOVIES LIKE The Mutilator: Looking for more (and hopefully much better) early 80s slashers? I’d recommend Maniac (1980), Happy Birthday to Me (1981), The Prowler (1981), The Burning (1981) and Pieces (1982).

After a young boy accidentally kills his mother while playing with his father’s guns (I guess there’s a message here), the boy’s understandably upset father drags his dead wife into the den, pours himself some birthday whiskey, and becomes a disturbed alcoholic for the next ten years. Now in college, that boy has grown up and he has to clean up his father’s beach condo. So he invites his classmates to join him for the long weekend.

This movie makes no effort to keep secrets from its viewers. We know his father is the killer as soon as they arrive to the beach house. He skulks around with minimally convincing menace and has stashed weapons in the garage storage room where he hides out like the Black Christmas (1974) killer in the attic.

As was the style at the time (i.e., the early 80s slasher era), all of the kills needed to be very different. The death scenes start out weak, but build some inertia with every additional kill (not that they ever develop into anything impressive). The pool scene is stupid, with as boring a death scene (if you even call it that) as one could imagine. At least it’s quickly followed by a gory chainsaw death scene (even if we never see chainsaw meet flesh, the blood and wounds looked good). Next is a fence post stabbed to the face followed by a nice gory decapitation. Most memorable for me, however, was the fisherman’s gaff brutally hooked up a woman’s you-know-what as she watched!!! Knowing it was the father the whole time didn’t help the lame ending. But at least that final death had a sloppy gory de-torso-capitation.

I was worried this would be complete dribble. I guess, after a dreadfully slow and boring start, this was actually pleasantly surprising even if still not very good or easily recommendable. There are just too many better slashers from the early 80s one should watch before getting around to this for the sake of completeness (as was the case for me). Still, I didn’t exactly regret it. After all, there were some decent gory gags to be enjoyed.

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