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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Mutilator aka "Fall Break" [Blu-ray]


(Buddy Cooper, John Douglass, 1984)




Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Ocean King Releasing

Video: Arrow Video



Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:26:18.423

Disc Size: 47,260,097,661 bytes

Feature Size: 25,648,538,112 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.03 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: February 15th-16th, 2016



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps



English (SDH), none



Introduction to the film with writer-director Buddy Cooper and assistant special make-up effects artist/assistant editor Edmund Ferrell (1:08)
Audio Commentary with Cooper, Ferrell, co-director John Douglass and star Matt Mitler
Audio Commentary with Buddy Cooper and star Ruth Martinez Tutterow
Fall Breakers: The Story of The Mutilator brand new feature-length documentary on the making of the splatter classic featuring interviews with Cooper, Douglass, Ferrell, Mitler, actors Bill Hitchcock, Jack Chatham and more (1:15:01)
Mutilator Memories special make-up effects artist Mark Shostrom looks back at one of his earliest projects (15:57)
Tunes for the Dunes composer Michael Minard reveals how The Mutilator s unique score was created (8:13)
Behind-the-Scenes Reel (16:31)
Screen Tests (13:03)
Alternate Opening Titles (4:32)
Trailers and TV Spots
Fall Break Theme Song (Original - 3:30 and Instrumental Versions - 3:30)
Opening Sequence Storyboards (4;27)
Motion Stills Gallery (8:49)
Original Fall Break Screenplay (BD/DVD-ROM content)
Reversible sleeve featuring two original artworks

DVD of the feature

Two Easter Eggs (Thanks Eric!) - If you arrow right on the "music" and "gallery" options you get 1) an extension of the director's introduction and 2) the lead actress reading some excerpts from her copy of the script.





Description: Although the slasher film was in decline by the mid-1980s, there were still some grisly delights to be had... and they don t come much grislier than writer-director Buddy Cooper s sickening stalk-and-slash classic The Mutilator!

When Ed receives a message from his father asking him to go and lock up the family s beach condo for the winter, it seems like the perfect excuse for an alcohol-fuelled few days away with his friends. After all, his dad has forgiven him for accidentally blowing mom away with a shotgun several years ago... hasn t he? But no sooner are the teens on the island than they find themselves stalked by a figure with an axe (and a hook, and an onboard motor) to grind...

Originally entitled Fall Break (watch out for the incongruous theme song of the same name!), The Mutilator has earned a reputation amongst horror fans as one of the holy grails of 80s splatter mayhem due to its highly inventive (and not to say, decidedly gruesome) kill sequences, courtesy of FX wizard Mark Shostrom (Videodrome, Evil Dead II). Finally making its long-awaited bow in High-Definition, The Mutilator has returned to terrorise a whole new generation of horror fans!



The Film:

Sure, there is little to nothing as far as plot goes that separates this slice-'em and dice-'em entry from the endless amounts of other slashers out there, but when you're dealing with pure gore levels, The Mutilator is one bloody flick that does not disappoint! Fans of the red stuff beware -- this gem might put you in a coma. 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. See it for the boat motor blood spray scene, or the should-be-infamous fish hook scene -- a truly vile and gruesome moment that needs to be seen to be believed. In the long line of '80s slashers, somehow The Mutilator got left in the dust, which is a shame because it really delivers where others wimp out. Helped out by a truly unnerving and eerie score by Michael Minard, this is one to hunt down and be shared by like-minded horror nuts. Be sure and seek out the unrated version too, as it's really the only way to see this malicious and insane little flick.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE


This undistinguished horror film by Buddy Cooper focuses in some detail on the blood and gore surrounding the gradual massacre of a group of teens but does not endow the storyline with the same careful attention. The premise is that a father becomes homicidal a good decade after his son accidentally kills his mother while cleaning a gun -- and what happened during those 10+ years or why insanity comes as a rather delayed reaction are not explained. When the son (Matt Mitler) is away at college, he decides to bring along several friends to spend their fall break (the alternate title of this film) taking care of his father's condo at the seashore. Little does the son know that his deranged father is lying in wait to wreak vengeance for the long-ago death of his wife.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.


This is the another Arrow Blu-ray release that is being simultaneously released in both region 'A' (US) and 'B' (UK). It is the exact same package on both sides of the pond to the best of our knowledge.


NOTE: As Michael Brooke informs us on Facebook in regards to Day of Anger: 'As the producer of Arrow's release, I can confirm first hand that the UK and US discs are absolutely identical: we only paid for one master, so there's no doubt about this at all! Which means that no matter which package you buy, the discs will play in any Region A or B setup (or Region 1 or 2 for DVD - and in the latter case the video standard is NTSC, to maximise compatibility). The booklets are also identical, but there are minor cosmetic differences on the disc labels and sleeve to do with differing copyright info and barcodes, and the US release doesn't have BBFC logos.' The Mutilator is the same situation.


The Mutilator (aka "Fall Break") gets another of Arrow's impressive max'ed out transfers to Blu-ray.  It is dual-layered. This is both a brand new 2K restoration of the unrated version from original vault materials and is also 'director-approved'. Colors are notably rich and there is some wonderfully consistent textures supporting the, original 35mm, presentation looking very film-like. The 1080P reproduces solid contrast exhibiting healthy, black levels and some pleasing depth in the 1.85:1 frame. many scenes are very dark but I saw no noise.  It's very clean and this Blu-ray probably looks like exactly the original 'unrated' version of the film. It provides an impressive video presentation.


















Audio :

It linear PCM mono at 1152 kbps (24-bit) for the audio. Effects are a bit sluggish but surely accurate to the original production. The unusual and creepy score is credited to Michael Minard but the film's music is centered around the Fall Break Theme - which tends to grow on you, then becomes annoying - written by Minard and Arthur Resnick and performed by Peter Yellen and The Breakers (Sanchie Bobrow, Buddy Cooper, Marty Fogel, Anthony Franklin, John Hill, Matthew Hill, Gregg Hollister, Gary Solomon, Abe Speller, Neil B. Whitford.) Everything sounds flat and clean with a modicum of depth for the 'thrills'. No complaints. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE.


Extras :

Arrow, once again go extensive with the supplements - most produced by themselves. I required this to embolden my appreciation for The Mutilator and it worked. There is a brief introduction to the film with writer-director Buddy Cooper and assistant special make-up effects artist/assistant editor Edmund Ferrell and we also get two optional commentaries - a first with Cooper, Ferrell, co-director John Douglass and star Matt Mitler and a second with Buddy Cooper and star Ruth Martinez Tutterow. They are light and fun - with amusing details on production. There is a brand new 1 1/4 hour feature-length documentary entitled Fall Breakers: The Story of The Mutilator on the making of the film featuring interviews with Cooper, Douglass, Ferrell, Mitler, actors Bill Hitchcock, Jack Chatham and it seemed like a fun outing for the production and nice to see so many happy faces as they reflect back. Mutilator Memories runs 15-minutes and has special make-up effects artist Mark Shostrom looking back at one of his earliest projects. Tunes for the Dunes spends 8-minutes with composer Michael Minard revealing how The Mutilator's unique score was created. We also get a lengthy Behind-the-Scenes Reel, Screen tests, the alternate opening titles (The Mutilator), Trailers and TV Spots, the audio only Fall Break Theme Song (Original and Instrumental versions - both 3:30) and some opening sequence storyboards as well as a motion stills gallery. On the disc, through a computer, you can access the screenplay and the package has a reversible sleeve featuring two original artworks.




As I said, the extras helped me turn the corner with my appreciation of the film. I, generally, like the honesty. It captured that timeframe where exploitation slasher flics were more commonplace and it was mostly done for the experience and fun - if they made some money - all the better. No one thought this would be some big stepping stone in their careers - filmmakers or performers. And in that spirit - it's not the worst of the genre, IMO. With budgetary limitations they tried and, on some - but not all - levels, it showed some effective thrills.  The Arrow Blu-ray provides another definitive package for the film - it won't get any more complete for The Mutilator for home theater enjoyment. Those keen on the splatter genre and the innocence - should have some fun with it. Recommended! 

Gary Tooze

February 9th, 2016


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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