By Sword. By Pick. By Axe. Bye-Bye!

Posted on Jul 16, 2012 in 80's Horror, All Reviews, Hardcore Gore | 2 comments

The Mutilator (1985)


As a hardcore horror fanatic (I built a horror bar, what more evidence do you need?), I have seen far more horror movies than most people. Even the moderate horror fan hasn’t delved the murky depths of underground fright films the way I have. It takes a special kind of dementia to hunt down The Burning Moon and Killer Workout. My list of films I am still searching for is long and plentiful, filled with titles I remember seeing on the shelves of the family owned video stores of my youth as well as the strange curios I’ve read about on the web and within the pages of Rue Morgue.

The Mutilator is just such a flick. I remember the amazing hand-drawn cover with the hook-wielding maniac just as well as I remember the gloriously cheesy tag-line: by sword, by pick, by axe, bye-bye! Ah, the sordid memories of an 80’s child who mutated into a horrorhound.

I waited a long time for this one. It fell into obscurity before finally being put out in a limited DVD release. You won’t find this one for rent. I didn’t. My good friend and fellow bad movie aficionado Dr. Diesel hooked me up with it. For this, he is an honorary bartender here at the Tavern of Terror… or at the very least a regular, a Barney to my Moe.

Was The Mutilator worth years of salivating anticipation? Well, kind of.

Let me first clarify that this is indeed a bad movie. This is no unsung horror gem. If you want an 80’s horror movie that really delivers the frights I would send you off to find my beloved Dead and Buried or Dario Argento’s insane masterpiece PhenomenaThe Mutilator, however, is almost everything a mid-eighties slasher movie should be, even if it fails us in the hooter department, and therefore I hail it as a “must see” for any die-hard gore goblin like myself.

The film begins with a decent blood-splattering gunshot and some horrendously bad acting. A small boy named Ed Junior decides to clean his Dad’s guns for his birthday. In doing so, the little shit accidentally shoots and kills his mother. Ed Senior comes home and is horrified by what he sees ,to the point that it apparently cracks his sanity. Like a real man, he turns to bourbon to make it all better.

Flash forward. Ed Junior is a college boy now and he and his five loser friends are preparing for a loser winter break. Their loser plans entail watching each other play video games. Losers. All this changes when Ed’s Dad calls on him to house sit his beach house. Of course, Ed and his loser friends decide to loser it up there instead, and your most basic possible slasher plot unfolds from here on out.

The opening credits give us some sort of Randy Newman style song instead of a jarring synth score, to the film’s discredit, but we do get to the scene of the crimes quickly. The kids get to the beach house after scoring two six packs (twelve beers for six fucking people. Ooohh, par-tay!).  We learn very early on that Dad is still lurking somewhere and that he is going to provide us with all the bloodshed. I am not spoiling anything by telling you this. This film is not a whodunnit, it is a cookie cutter hack n’ slash. Right away we see Ed Senior hiding and fantasizing about killing Junior. In these fantasies, Ed Junior is still a child for some reason. It’s a wonder why Ed Senior waited this long. But these daydreams are violent and unfriendly viewing. Remember the scene in Assault on Precinct 13 when the kid gets his chest blown out? Yeah, it’s like that. Nice. Real nice. But enjoy that, because the movie takes its sweet ass time getting to the actual mutilating.

For a while we just watch the teens be lame. Losers. The girls aren’t even that fun to look at. They are all fully dressed in long pants and sweaters, their hair pulled back in sensible ponytails instead rocking the Kelly Bundy metal-slut hair that was so rad at the time. Most of these girls like playing Monopoly and staying chaste. One beer is enough to dizzy them. They’re not exactly Camp Crystal Lake material. There’s a little grab-ass going on, but no sex.

However, based upon one fine moment of grab-ass in this movie, I did come up with a tip for young men: when you are about to play grab ass in a pool with a young lady, don’t say that the chlorine is good to prevent catching herpes. Idiot.

The films drag for a while and has too many cheap BOO scares that go nowhere for my liking. It contains long sequences of the teens wandering around looking for each other, including a pointless game of blind man’s bluff that offers nothing. Is this supposed to be suspenseful? It isn’t.

But at the forty minute mark, just when we begin to get aggravated with this virtually bloodless, sexless snoozefest of a slasher, the flick charges forward with a bad-ass buzz saw kill that is as gory as any Savini masterpiece. From here on, the deaths are over the top, gloriously gruesome, and all shown to us. None of that cut-away kill shit that we all loathe with bubbling venom.

That’s what saves the flick. It is exactly what we hardcore fans of retro slasher films crave and appreciate: gore galore and wacky kills that must have inspired Victor Crowley.  You have to endure said dull lulls, as well as the cornball antics of Ralph who you just can’t wait to get what you know is coming to his douchy ginger ass, but it is all worth it when Ed Senior goes a huntin’.


How awesome is it that I watched this on Father’s Day weekend? Hell, this could have jumped on the 80’s bandwagon of holiday themed horror by calling this Father’s Day. Kind of surprised that they didn’t, actually. It would have been easy to do if they just changed the time of year to June. The film’s strong point is its wild and even nostalgic kills from the bygone slasher craze era. It fails in all other creative aspects though. The plot is weak and lazy. It would have been easy to have a small twist and maybe make Ed Junior in on it the whole time. But no. The Mutilator has just a cheap slasher storyline. Plot is not really important to it, and in the end, that’s not what we’re watching it for anyway.

  • RATING: 3 out of 5. Not interesting enough to be really good, but a solid throwback to glory gory days of slasher mania. It’s an absolute need for true slasher fans, but pass if you aren’t as hardcore.
  • CHICK OF THE LITTER: Meh. Not the movie for this. Linda is okay, I guess. At least she has the decency to skinny dip and give us the film’s one shot of nudity.


Red State BourbonAs your bartender I think you should honor your old man with this one. Get yourself some bourbon to sip along with Ed Senior. I suggest one of my current favorites, a new one on the market called Red State. While no single barrel piece of art, this whiskey is incredibly smooth and resonates with its warm after taste. It also has some novelty to it, with its elephant label driving home its right-wing motif.  And our friend Ed Senior had to be republican. He had way too many guns not to be. This same company produces one called Blue State but I have yet to try that one. Just as well. It probably hates freedom.

For a beer backer, do what Pop would do and go cheap. Throw back a true classic like Pabst. I find that Red Sate bourbon, and all bourbon really, pairs rather well with Yuengling. You can even go with Yuengling Light, so Mom won’t pester you about your ever expanding gut.

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  1. Man i remember being bored to tears watching this and then all of a sudden it erupts into an insane gorefest! only seen it the once, wouldn’t mind tracking it down for my collection. I had forgotten all about it..Great job on the review!

  2. Exactly, dude! All snores and then it goes fuckin’ apeshit with gore! Thanks for the feedback!


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