(Release Date: August 1984)
Yes, Yes, in spite of the name, Mutant is a Zombie Flick. That means that all of you out there who just tracked down Pryde of the X-Men, Generation X and the complete series of Mutant X can go ahead and skip this one without fear of fan-boy mockery at your lack of a complete collection. Those of you who are looking for a good, solid Zombie Flick... well, you might want to skip this one too. Oh, it's not so bad... but "not so bad" is about the highest praise I can muster here.
On the other hand, it's possible that after 1979's The Dark there was such an enormous clammoring for Dick and Bud to team up again on another Zombie Flick that Mutant was, quite simply, in demand. They also did three films together in 1968, by the way, which makes me wonder... what made ol' D.C. go uncredited on this one?
Mutant is the somewhat by-the-numbers tale of the two Cameron brothers taking a cross-country jaunt through "Burning Cross" country in their convertible. Lee Montgomery's Mike (who looks like he should be wearing a "Pac-Man Fever" T-Shirt) is smarting over a recent breakup (not specifically explained to be because of his hair), while Wings Hauser's Josh (who would look right at home in one of those Disco Skating Rinks) attempts to keep his mind off of it all with some good, old fashioned sibling endangerment. But when their horsing around attracts the interests of the local Deliverance-like Hillbilly Goon Squad, they end up (convertible and all) in the bed of a local creek (as opposed to the local Disco Skating Rink playing Ms. Pac-Man).
So, with some dubious help from another woodland weirdo, the Cameron Boys stagger into the nearby town protected by Bo Hopkins' Sheriff Will Stewart. Unfortunately for the formerly hard-drinking Sheriff, his boss Captain Tom Dawson (Johnny Popwell, Sr.) is right on the edge of firing his theoretically inebriated ass. Unfortunately for everybody else (especially the Cameron Kids), this little town on the Prairie is about to find itself completely overrun by Zombies with a real thirst for human blood.
Okay, so once again... city folk passing through the Rural South run afoul of some redneck weirdoes who force them into horrors beyond imagination. What the hell do Hollywood Producers think goes on in small Southern Towns? If these guys are to be believed everything below the Mason-Dixon line is divided between Leatherface's Family, Voodoo practitioners, Zombies and breeders of exotic, psychotic animals. Who draws these boundaries, man?
I'll go ask Dick and Bud after Bandstand.
Any-dastardly-way, once the symptoms of the local townsfolk start to turn into tell-tale signs of Zombism, the Yellow Blood hits the fan and the Sheriff must turn to the only person who can help him... namely the local Country Doctor he's sweet on Jennifer Warren's Dr. Myra Tate. Oh and don't worry, before the Joshinator has to go from Roller Rink Romeo to Action Hero, he meets up with a love interest of his own in the form of the hot, braless (yet sadly never nude) Bartender/ School Teacher Holly Pierce (the really quite hot Jody Medford).
Anyone who has paid attention this far can figure the rest of the movie out as easily as a quantum physicist can answer a first grade, open book, multiple choice arithmetic quiz on which CALCULATORS are permitted. The film's remainder dutifully exposes every expected plot point in the exact order one would expect it to. A forest of Zombie Arms break through a wall here, a good-guy goes zombified there, a conspiracy is revealed here, the lead guy gets with the hot chick there... while it's not so bad, it's also not very original.
Even the ending, while not so bad, isn't terribly surprising or memorable. Again, "not so bad" rears its ugly, mutated head again... and that's the sum of the parts of Mutant. It's somewhat akin to being in the mood for a fine steak at a highly rated chophouse, but instead finding yourself sharing a Big Kid's Meal at Burger King. Is the meal you got poisonous or otherwise regurgitation-inducing? No... but it sure as hell doesn't beat what you could have had... and you still want that steak afterward. That's how I feel about Mutant and that's why Mutant gets Two Stars out of Five. Picture me as Farmer Hogget, looking down at this DVD and saying "That'll do, Mutant! That'll do!" But only just. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a few questions for Dick "Rockin'" Clark. Yes, folks, I'll be chasing him down with camera and microphone, a la Bowling for Columbine... wish me luck. But first... I need to get through this here Our Gang marathon. Ah, yes...
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