The Mutilator (1985)

Now here is one of those slashers that drifts between bland and the potential for greatness. At times it hits every major trope and doesn’t feel like much of an improvement on anything. Could it be The Prowler? Could it be Final Exam? And then it has moments of shocking brilliance that make you hurt in body parts you don’t even have. If you’ve seen this movie, it’s the gaff scene. If you haven’t seen this movie, I’ll get to it.

The Mutilator is about a bunch of college kids who go to the beach condo of one of their fathers. What they don’t realize is that Dad is more than a little psycho; he’s just been on a bender, he’s way into hunting, and his wife was accidentally shot by their son, which comes up like twice and then never does again. But that’s ok, because college co-eds o their fall break are far more concerned with two things: boozing and sex. So they drink and try to have sex until Dad shows up to kill them.

I say try, because nobody ever actually has sex in this movie. Dad kills them before they get the chance. Hell, they even often get naked or in sleepwear and then change back into their clothes before getting murdered, so if you’re here for the hanky panky, best keep moving. But at least there is humor, with a practical joker who easily slips between entertaining and annoying all through the film. He even argues to a black man that this white college kid is being discriminated against because there is a senior discount on beer. You can see the look on the shopkeeper’s face, like, “Please, white guy, tell me about discrimination.” And then he leaves, and the shopkeeper makes fun of him. I’m glad we got to know that everyone finds the clown to be full of shit.

There is also an upbeat theme song all about having sex during the fall break. Ok, it’s supposed to be more about some kind of romance, but let’s face it, we know what the song is about. It’s way more catchy and happy than it should be, considering the last time we hear it, we’ve just seen a guy get cut in half with his entrails hanging out, which in itself is done in a way that’s kinda funny.

What’s not funny is the gaff kill. This is the only scene in the movie where I felt repulsed. It involves one particular college co-ed, who we know will probably get killed because she just made the stupid mistake of going off alone, and she gets grabbed and put on the killer’s desk of tools. And then he takes a gaff, which is that massive fishing hook on a pole you see up there in the movie poster. And then he hooks her through the groin. Oh yeah, it went inside, and up, and through, and all I can think about is how sexualized violence is wrong as I’m watching this poor girl scream and paw weakly at this big bloody hook sticking outta the front of her pelvis. Yeah, that’s staying with me for a bit.

And then we’re back to forgettable slasher tropes. Yay. It turns out the crew were all film students. It shows, but they had heart too. I gotta give them credit. I’d have said they have cajones as well, but, well, gaffs. Just saying.

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