With a title like The Mutilator we can dispense with any notions this will be a film about a humble inner city school teacher looking for love in the big city. The Mutilator has practically everything that came to be associated with slasher films of the 80s:
A one line plot description: A group of young people go close up a beachfront condo for the winter and are picked off one by one.
Period references: “I’m gonna set a new high score on video machine!”
Location: An island in the middle of nowhere.
Backstory for lead character: “What happened to his mother?”
“When he was a little boy, Ed accidentally shot her.”
Hook: “[Dad] wants me to close up his condo for winter.”
“How come we didn’t know you had a condo at the beach?”
[Group of cute girls to their boyfriends] “What do you say, four days of r ‘n’ r at the beach?”
“Somethin’ doesn’t look right!”
“Why am I whisperin?’, There’s nobody on the island but us!”
(and most tellingly)
“Dad used to tell me, he used to hunt everything but man!”
Homage to better films: The reference to great white hunting, plus a very obvious soundtrack rip off of Jaws.
Potential Red Herrings: “Why don’t we call the cops.”
“There are no cops.”
Clichés: “This is the mask of a Mayan rain god.”
“Priests wore them during ritual sacrifices!”
Sexual innuendo: (virgin jokes for the above)
“Need any help lightin’ your fire!”
(re: fishing equipment) “Your rubbers are too big!”
“That’s the first time you ever said that!”
Sounds of the 80s:
Casio keyboard playing “Happy Birthday.”
“I wonder where Mike and Linda are?” “Where are Mike and Linda?” “We have to go find Mike and Linda!”
Peter Yellen & The Breakers’ awful tune Fall Break.
80s cultural sensitivity:
Trickster Ralph is immediately unsympathetic because of his sweater tied jauntily around his neck. While on a beer run, he tells a black shopkeeper a 10% senior citizen discount is “discrimination.” Those crazy college kids, with hairlines that make them look older than your average grad student!
“That’s a skate’s egg, sometimes called a devil’s pocketbook.”
Outboard motor to the chest, pitchfork to the neck, hook to the groin. That’s one mean ol’ man.
The Mutilator is all slow-burn…a rocky start but a terrific conclusion and some great killings put this marginally ahead of its period brethren.
*** (out of 5)