Day 5- 31 Days of Halloween- The Mutilator (1984)

Day 5- 31 Days of Halloween- The Mutilator (1984)

This movie was on my ‘must see but haven’t got round to yet’ list for the longest time. But whilst other titles on said list turned out to be great (take a bow Pieces and Madman) can the same be said for The Mutilator? Can a movie with such a great poster and tagline live up to expectations?

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The poster for the movie- wayyy better than the actual film

This was originally released as Fall Break. The MPAA found the film so violent that they were ready to slap an X rating on it. Whilst there was no problems with the film’s distributors booking the movie into theaters in the big cities those in Middle America refused due to the X. Hence the movie was re-edited and rereleased as The Mutilator.

Skip forward to the ever great Arrow Video finding an uncut print when it was called Fall Break and releasing it with a wealth of extras.

The plot concerns a young boy accidentally killing his mother as he cleans one of this hunting obsessed father’s guns. Years later we see the young man now at college and going to his father’s beach condo (I’m taking it that the obligatory cabin in the woods was already booked) for some R&R. But someone is watching them and picks them off one by one.

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Even hideous fashions can’t save this film

It’s all pretty generic- even to the point that it’s so routine that it almost feels like it’s a spoof or send-up.

Even gory kills don’t make up for a massive lack of suspense and innovation.

In the words of Simon Cowell- distinctly average.

1/5 out of 5 stars

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Day 4- 31 Days of Halloween- The Witch Who Came From The Sea (1976)

Day 4- 31 Days of Halloween- The Witch Who Came From The Sea (1976)

A far-out and thoroughly groovy tale of the swinging scene of 1970’s California. But also a disturbing tale of childhood abuse. Molly has fantasies of tying up men that also involves the use of razors. Two American Football stars are found butchered. Could Molly be responsible? Have her fantasises started to overlap with reality?

The great thing about the Video Nasties list was that it contained low-key gems that were truly left-field like this movie.

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The film doesn’t really make much sense but it doesn’t have to. The Drive-In and 42nd Street crowd would have been watching this film with their friend Mary Jane in attendance. And its possibly much more of a mind-expanding experience that way. But either way this is a very enjoyable piece of off-kilter 70’s goodness.

The film also looks unexpectedly gorgeous. And so it should as the Director of Photography was a young Dean Cundey. He shot this just two years before Halloween.

4 out of 5 stars

Day 3- 31 Days of Halloween- Something Evil (1972)

Day 3- 31 Days of Halloween- Something Evil (1972)

This early Spielberg directed TV movie features a TV advertising exec (Darren McGavin) move into a country farm with his hippy drippy New Age wife (Sandy Dennis). But strange things start to occur shortly afterwards.

I first saw this when it aired on UK television in the early 80’s. It scared the pants off me. Is it still scary to a cynical old man of 44?

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The simple answer is YES! It still packs a punch and the tone and direction are flawless.

Theres a creeping, building sense of malevolence that runs through the whole movie that is palpable and builds to a genuinely terrifying ending.

I love the fact that Spielberg gently sends up the fashionable pop-psychology and oh so self aware mysticism that was so hip in the 70’s.

There are plenty of scares to be had- the sound of a child crying at night, the demonic jam-jars (yes, really) that are discovered in the barn, the presence of something genuinely malevolent in the house that changes not only the young son but Mrs ‘Move To The Country’ herself as in one scene we see her beat her son for disobeying her orders.

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This is wayyy too unsettling for what should have been a pretty bland and pedestrian romp made for network television. Spielberg was obviously on a roll when he directed this as he had just made the masterpiece Duel.

I hope whatever limbo this title is in disappears so that we get a great Blu ray release sometime soon.

4 out of 5 stars

Day 2- 31 Days of Halloween- The Horrifying Experiments of the SS Last Days (1977)

Day 2- 31 Days of Halloween- The Horrifying Experiments of the SS Last Days (1977)

Is this-

a) A beautifully acted, nuanced and sensitive portrayal of the horror of the Nazis and those unlucky enough to have crossed paths with them?

or b) A badly acted slice of exploitation resplendent with terrible dubbing and almost no budget?

I’ll give you a clue- look at the film’s name! This is also known as The Beast in Heat (it’s on the UK Video Nasties list under that title) and Gestapo’s Last Orgy.

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I’d love to give you a summary of the plot but I don’t want to be banned from this platform.

Be sure to run a bath before watching this. You’ll need it.

But when you know exactly what you’re letting yourself in for this movie ticks all of the depraved boxes regarding lurid and boundary pushing schlock filmmaking. Imagine watching this back in the day on 42nd Street or on VHS in the early 80’s in the UK. Your mind would have been well and truly blown.

And by a weird turn of fate it’s uncut on YouTube! Enjoy (if thats the word).

4 out of 5 stars

Day 1- 31 Days of Halloween- Night of the Juggler (1980)

Day 1- 31 Days of Halloween- Night of the Juggler (1980)

We’re off to a flying start. This lurid slice of exploitation truly delivers. It’s fast, frantic and batshit crazy!

A young girl thought to be the daughter of a very prominent and stinking rich businessman is kidnapped for a $1m ransom. But the wrong girl is snatched and her father is James Brolin. Bad move.

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Insane poster for an insane movie

This really is one of the great New York movies with the city being portrayed as it really was in 1980- down at heel, dangerous and jam packed full of ‘characters’. Witness the scenes that take place on 42nd Street. The Deuce has never looked so wild and utterly alluring. The scene in the strip joint is worth the price of admission alone.

Brolin is at his Amityville Horror best resplendent with the same long hair and beard as in that previous movie. His performance is kinetic, untamed and unpredictable to say the least.

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Never go ‘full feral’. Never go ‘full Brolin’.

The kidnapper is played by Cliff Gorman and is just as off-kilter and feral. You want to see what a great actor Gorman was? Compare his portrayal here to his turn in William Friedkin’s masterpiece The Boys In The Band. A brilliant and very underrated actor.

This movie is as grimy and wired as the city it takes place in at that timepoint. And I loved every part of it. Now, can we have a Blu ray release please?

4/5 out of 5 stars

31 Days of Halloween 2019- The List

31 Days of Halloween 2019- The List
  1. Night of the Juggler (1980)
  2. Horrifying Experiments of the SS Last Days (1977)
  3. Something Evil (1972)
  4. The Witch Who Came From The Sea (1976)
  5. The Mutilator (1985)
  6. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
  7. Island of Death (1976)
  8. Last Stop on the Night Train (1975)
  9. Play Misty For Me (1971)
  10. The Burning (1981)
  11. Don’t Go In The House (1979)
  12. Mikey (1992)
  13. The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (1975)
  14. Inferno (1980)
  15. Unhinged (1982)
  16. Contamination (1980)
  17. Basket Case (1982)
  18. The Forest (1982)
  19. I’m Nancy (2011)
  20. The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)
  21. Cujo (1983)
  22. Look Whats Happened to Rosemary’s Baby (1976)
  23. Duel (1971)
  24. Psychic Killer (1975)
  25. Snowbeast (1977)
  26. Watcher in the Woods (1980)
  27. Terror in the Aisles (1984)
  28. Repulsion (1965)
  29. The Prey (1983)
  30. Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies (1964)
  31. Tentacles (1977)

‘Run, Nancy!’- A Nightmare on Elm Street Expanded Edition Available on iTunes NOW!

‘Run, Nancy!’- A Nightmare on Elm Street Expanded Edition Available on iTunes NOW!

I was superexcited but equally perplexed when I heard a few years ago that there was to be a new boxset of the soundtracks of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. The soundtracks were remastered and with bonus tracks and demos.

Alas, the CD’s weren’t being sold individually- it was the boxset or nothing. But whilst this was great news as I love the first film and it’s music, I had no desire to have to buy the soundtracks for the other films (OK, maybe I’d buy the soundtracks for Parts 2 and 3).

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The Nightmare soundtrack box set
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The box set has it’s own dirty striped jumper! An awesome touch.

However, I’m happy to report that as with the boxset of the Friday the 13th soundtracks that was released a while ago wherein the soundtracks started to be released individually, the same seems to be happening with the Nightmare soundtracks. I checked on iTunes and the expanded soundtrack for the first film is up on there now.

On downloading and listening to this album I can tell you that it greatly expands on the original soundtrack that I bought back in 1989 that was a composite of the soundtracks for the first two films.

The CD I bought in 1989 was actually in a bargain bin at a record store in York called Track Records.

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The album I bought back in the day- 1989 to be precise.

The extra tracks are actual different pieces of music that played integral and important parts within the first film. Quite a few expanded editions of soundtracks pad out their tracklistings with repetitive pieces of music that are slightly different from other tracks but not massively. In some cases it feels like a rip off.

On this expanded edition the remastering has also brought out extra layers of nuance and detail in the music. This unconventional score sounds even fresher and more brilliant to 2019 ears.

Also, some of the new added tracks show just how innovative composer Charles Bernstein was. Check out the isolated track of some of the stingers he wrote for the film and how unusual and innovatory they are. Just as Wes Craven was redefining the horror genre with the film, Bernstein was redefining the possibilities for the horror soundtrack.

It’s also great to see that the camp side of A Nightmare on Elm Street was so evident within the film’s production and what we see on the screen that it actually permeated onto the film’s soundtrack. The album has a track called ‘Run, Nancy!’ for Christsake!

This gem of a soundtrack is available on iTunes and all the other usual places.