The Mutilator

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The Mutilator
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBuddy Cooper
John S. Douglass
Produced byBuddy Cooper
Written byBuddy Cooper
StarringMatt Mitler
Bill Hitchcock
Ruth Martinez
Connie Rogers
Morey Lampley
Frances Raines
Music byMichael Minard
CinematographyPeter Schnall
Edited byStephen Mack
OK Productions
Distributed byOcean King Releasing
Release date
  • January 4, 1985 (1985-01-04) (New York City)[1]
  • September 27, 1985 (1985-09-27)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budgetest. $1 million[1]

The Mutilator (originally titled Fall Break)[2] is a 1985 American slasher film written, directed and produced by Buddy Cooper, and co-directed by John S. Douglass. The plot follows a group of college coeds who travel to an island property during an autumn break, and are stalked and murdered by a man, who has a connection to one of the kids.


While cleaning one of his father's rifles as a birthday surprise, young Ed Jr. accidentally shoots his mother. Ed never forgives his son for this, and the two become estranged. Years later, while Ed and his friends are trying to think of something to do for their college's fall break, Big Ed calls, and demands Ed come to his beachfront condominium, and close it up for the winter. Ed's friends convince him to accept the job, and take them with him, so it will be finished quicker, and they can spend the rest of their break hanging around the condo.

Ed's group arrives at the condo, which Big Ed is passed out drunk in the basement of, having dreams about killing his son. After dinner, everyone goes for a walk on the beach, and Mike and Linda go skinny dipping in the pool. Big Ed discovers the two, drowns Linda, and uses a trail of her and Mike's discarded clothes to lure Mike back to the condo, where he kills him with an outboard motor. A police officer stationed on the beach then stops by the condo, and is killed when Big Ed decapitates him with an axe.

The others return to the condo, and as his friends get ready for bed, Ralph searches for Mike and Linda, and is killed when Big Ed impales him through the throat with a pitchfork. When Ralph does not return, Sue goes looking for him, and is caught by Big Ed, who stabs her in the crotch with a fishing gaff, and chops her head off. Ed and Pam find Sue's mutilated remains, and the bodies of the other victims, in the basement, and are attacked by Big Ed. The two incapacitate Big Ed and try to drive away, but Big Ed jumps onto the car, and tries attacking them through the roof. Pam puts the car into reverse, and backs into a wall, crushing Big Ed into it, and cutting him in half at the waist. When a police car arrives, one of the deputies goes to inspect Big Ed's body, and has one of his legs sliced off when Big Ed springs to life. As Ed and Pam look on in horror, Big Ed finally dies laughing maniacally.


  • Matt Mitler as Ed Jr.
  • Ruth Martinez as Pam
  • Bill Hitchcock as Ralph
  • Connie Rogers as Sue
  • Frances Raines as Linda
  • Morey Lampley as Mike
  • Jack Chatham as Ed Sr.
  • Bennie Moore as Cop
  • Trace Cooper as Young Ed Jr.
  • Pamela Weddle Cooper as Mother


Theatrical distribution[edit]

The film was originally titled Fall Break. According to writer and co-director Cooper, the MPAA originally wanted to assign the film an X-rating, which the filmmakers rejected due to its association with pornography. The Mutilator was initially released to theaters in big cities in its uncut format in January 1985,[i] but when the distributor tried to book screenings in middle American theaters they were unable to secure advertising or screenings because it did not have an R-rating. At this point, Cooper relented and edited the film to the MPAA's specifications. It was released theatrically later in the year on September 27, 1985.[1]

Home media[edit]

It was released in 1985 on VHS and Betamax by Vestron Video in both R-rated and unrated versions. Code Red had been working on a DVD release of the film; however, information on the film surfaced that Code Red planned for the unauthorized release of the film.[citation needed]

VIPCO released the film on DVD in the United Kingdom, although cut by seven seconds, and Dragon Entertainment released the film uncut in Germany. Director Buddy Cooper has stated that these releases are unauthorized.[citation needed]

Arrow Video announced that they would release the film on Blu-ray in both the U.K. and the U.S. on September 29, 2015, which would mark the first legitimate high definition release in both territories.[4] In November 2015, the company announced they had delayed the release after they found a fully uncut 35 mm print of the film held at the U.S. Library of Congress. It was released on February 16, 2016.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

Patrick Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times criticized the film upon its theatrical release, deeming it "a dull, amateurish shocker whose most striking characteristic is its complete lack of any ideas good or otherwise."[6] Variety called it "a boring horror film, designed strictly for fans of explicit gore."[7]

Jeremy Wheeler of AllMovie praised The Mutilator's level of gore but criticized every other aspect of it, noting: "With effects echoing early Tom Savini, the killings in The Mutilator are not only gratuitous, but sickeningly ingenious in that blood red sort of way. It hearkens back to a time when the real stars of horror cinema were the effects, with each kill representing a new creative challenge for the makeup maestros. Yes, the acting is horrible and no, it does nothing to further the genre, but those should be the last reasons to catch this flick."[8]

Similar sentiments are shared by Hysteria Lives![9] Oh, the Horror! stated that, despite the amateurishness of the production, The Mutilator is "one of those slashers that works despite itself" and "falls right in line with other slashers who unwittingly mix inanity and violence in a manner that impossibly works."[10] TV Guide awarded the film one out of five stars, noting that the performances are "all substandard, even for this sort of trash."[11]

In a retrospective, Chris Coffel of Bloody Disgusting praised the film, writing: "The Mutilator contains all the classic slasher tropes. A group of horny, drunk college kids head out for a booze filled weekend of sex. Instead of a cabin in the woods they go to a condo on a beach. Despite this, the film has something very fresh and original to it."[5] Film scholar Jim Harper notes in his book Legacy of Blood: A Comprehensive Guide to Slasher Movies: "Although not a gore classic, The Mutilator is bloodthirsty enough to keep gorehounds happy, and just interesting enough to keep hold of viewers through the slow parts."[12]


  1. ^ Publications such as New York Magazine list showtimes for the film beginning the weekend of Friday, January 4, 1985.[3]


  1. ^ a b c "The Mutilator". American Film Institute Catalog. Retrieved March 4, 2018.
  2. ^ Albright 2012, p. 277.
  3. ^ "Movies". New York Magazine: 77–80 – via Google Books. open access
  4. ^ "Arrow Brings The Mutilator to Blu -". June 10, 2015. Retrieved October 23, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Coffel, Chris (February 25, 2016). "[Blu-ray Review] 'The Mutilator' Is the Definitive Slasher". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved March 4, 2018.
  6. ^ Goldstein, Patrick (October 1, 1985). "Review: The Mutilator". Los Angeles Times. p. 86 – via
  7. ^ Bowker, R.R. (1988). "The Mutilator". Variety Film Reviews. Garland Publishing. 19. n.p. – via Google Books.
  8. ^ Wheeler, Jeremy. "The Mutilator (1985)". AllMovie. Retrieved March 3, 2018. 1/5 stars
  9. ^ Kerswell, J.A. "The Mutilator". Hysteria Lives!. Retrieved May 2, 2013.
  10. ^ Gallman, Brett (September 21, 2012). "Mutilator, The (1985)". Oh, the Horror!. Retrieved May 2, 2013.
  11. ^ TV Guide Staff. "The Mutilator - Review". TV Guide. Retrieved March 4, 2018. 1/5 stars
  12. ^ Harper 2004, p. 127.

Works cited[edit]

  • Albright, Brian (2012). Regional Horror Films, 1958–1990: A State-by-State Guide with Interviews. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. ISBN 978-1-476-60042-0.
  • Harper, Jim (2004). Legacy of Blood: A Comprehensive Guide to Slasher Movies. London: Critical Vision. ISBN 978-1-900-48639-2.

External links[edit]