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When two brothers, Josh and Mike, go to a small southern town for a vacation, they find most of the residents either dead or missing. When Mike himself goes missing, Josh teams up with the local sheriff and an attractive school teacher to find him until Josh discovers that the whole town and most of its people have been infected by a form of toxic waste, and they have all turned into toxic vampires whom prowl the streets at night for human blood! Written by
Wings Hauser, star of many a straight-to video movie in the 80s, stars in this decidedly silly, but enjoyably unpretentious slab of sci-fi/horror tosh.
With a script constructed from a hotchpotch of well-worn genre clichés, Mutant's director, John 'Bud' Cardos opts to play things straight where others may have aimed for a more tongue in cheek approach; the result is a fun filled B-movie which, despite its hackneyed script and cheesy plot structure, works extremely well.
After being run off the road by truck-driving rednecks, brothers Josh and Mike Cameron (Wings Hauser and Lee Montgomery) set off on foot for the nearest town. Unfortunately for them, the nearest town is infected with toxic waste (being dumped by an unscrupulous chemicals company) that is turning the residents into acid-secreting mutants.
Josh, along with pretty schoolteacher Holly (Jody Medford), battles for survival, while trying to convince boozy sheriff Will Stewart (Bo Hopkins) that the town is under threat from a horde of killer mutants.
Director Cardos perfectly captures the B-movie vibe and his likable cast throw themselves into their roles with gusto, giving some decent performances. Bo Hopkins is particularly good as the alcoholic cop and he shares some nice scenes with Jennifer Warren, who plays small town doctor, Myra Tate.
Cardos, obviously no stranger to the genre (his mutants closely resemble the zombies from Romero's Dawn of the Dead) has the good sense to kill off characters that you would lay money on to survive in most horror films; this means that, with the gloves off, Cardos can have fun playing with the audiences expectations.
In an exciting finale, in which Josh and Holly are surrounded by mutants, Cardos toys with the possibility of a downbeat ending, before the good sheriff and his men arrive to save the day.
The make-up FX are simple yet effective; the mutants are blueish in hue, with some yucky 'splits' in their palms from which they secrete corrosive yellow gunk. When the infected turn into mutants, we get some impressive examples of that mainstay of 80s horror movies, the 'bladder effect'. Skin undulates and veins pulsate to nauseating effect.
If you're after an undemanding and fun viewing experience, you could do a lot worse than to pop Mutant into your DVD player.
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