Year of Release: 1986
Genre: Horror/Science Fiction
Rated: Not Rated
Running Time: 70 minutes (1:10)
Director: Lawrence Thomas
Al Baker ... Prof. Jim McFarland
Katherine Hutson ... Ann Bennett
Shelly Creel ... Libby Jones
Matthew Hixenbaugh ... Roger Clayton
William Jerrick ... Eugene Kendall
Pamela Michaels ... Connie Hamilton
Jackie Shook ... Fran Stevens
Richard Taylor ... Jerry Newland
John Bliss ... Oliver Matson
Bill Buckner ... Buck Jenson
Harvey Shell ... Charley Hill
Professor Jim McFarland has been noticing a string of cattle mutilations that have been tormenting a small southern town. He goes with his students to investigate these bizarre happenings. What they discover is worse than any of them could of possibly imagined.
Will Professor McFarland and his students escape alive when they are faced with violent invaders from another planet?!
Mutilations, remindin' us that the University of Oklahoma's prolly not the best collegiate environment for anybody bankin' on a career that don't involve showerin' with 40+ nekkid men on Sundays.
An speakin' of guys who could stand to bathe once a week, we got Skunky Hernandez' pond all filled up with creek water an fish in time for his big unveilin' in the next coupla weeks. Course that involved gettin' Sheriff Hardassian to come supervise the completion of the pipeline to make sure Delbert Biddle didn't do anything drastic, like go Rambo an amputate Skunky's hired hands, or sit in the creek so nothin' could live in there for the next 30 years. I refused to go back out there, cause I seem to remember Delbert's granddad helped build the railroad passin' through town years back, an I'm pretty sure Delbert's got at least one case of dynamite that went missin' after the project got finished up. Tetnis, Billy Hilliard an me flat told Skunky that if he wanted his pipeline finished he'd better call up President Trump or his cousins from Snoochflunk an get them to come finish that last stretch of pipe, cause we weren't about to get blown up for his bottom line. Instead, the three of us packed up our tackle an headed for Lake Gunkamucka to secure Skunky's catfish, which took about nine hours on account of havin' to drive 10mph on the highway in Tetnis' '71 Dodge Dude so's the water wouldn't slosh outta the truck bed. We only lost one cat on the way back; really scared the crap outta some geek from California after he started tailgatin' us an the fish caught sight of his bright yellow smiley-faced antenna ball though. I'll wager that jackass never sticks his head out the window to yell at another driver the rest of his life. Like I was sayin' though, we borrowed Cleave Furguson's Aroliner an got ourselves out there about 11am an... well, it was plum spooky to tell ya the truth - not a single rig around the entire lake, cept one; Duke Tankersley's. I hadn't really seen much of Duke since he came stumblin' into town about a month ago after bein' attacked an nearly eaten by Crudfin, so it was good to see he'd gotten back on the horse an gone fishin' again. Cept about that time we pulled up next to his truck an noticed the front driver's side tire was still flat from where Crudfin'd sank his teeth into it, an that's about when the pieces started fallin' into place; the whole gott-danged town was *afraid* of the place. An when you get right down to it, that's completely understandable, cause if Duke Tankersley's afraid to be out there, there's somethin' terrible scary goin' on. I remember this one time Duke came home from work an found Gank (his ole hound dog) just about to get into it with this slatherin', rabid raccoon, an Duke jumped right in between 'em an twisted the raccoon's head off with his bare hands before it could bite his dog.
*That* guy was afraid to be here, an there we were, roundin' up fish for an overambitious cattle rancher who wouldn't even appreciate it two months later. I was startin' to think we shoulda just taken our chances with Delbert, but the truck was fulla water, the hooks were baited, an the boat really needed to be dipped, so there was no turnin' back. Least not without havin' the whole town think we were a buncha chickens, which is not an option when you do the kinda work that Tetnis does for a livin'. So for the next several hours we watched the tips of our poles with one eye an the lake with the other, sittin' back to back like paranoid soldiers in a fox hole, periodically dumpin' a fish into the livewell an takin' 'em back to the truck every hour or so to keep 'em from fightin' to the death in that little space, an after awhile we actually started thinkin' everything'd gotten back to normal. Maybe Crudfin'd succumbed to the beatin' Duke gave 'im with that bat after all... but 48 fish into our trip, right about dusk, somethin' rose from the bottom of the lake, floated to the surface, an just sat there, completely motionless, like it was *watching* us. Musta been as big as the rear tire on Skunky's '74 Hesston tractor. We all prayed it was just the lake blob from Creepshow 2, at least that way our untimely deaths would be swift, but then the thing started slowly swimmin' its way on over to us, like a one-armed man paddlin' an inner tube, an when it got right up beside us it poked its head above the surface, squinted at us with its one remainin' eye, an sank back to the bottom without incident. I'm convinced now that it was lookin' for Duke, but that didn't stop us from crankin' up the motor an gettin' the hell outta there two fish short of our quota. I dunno how I'm gonna break this to Duke, or even IF I'm gonna, but one thing's for sure - there's some seriously screwed up Jaws: The Revenge type stuff goin' on out there, an I dunno what the heck the City Council's gonna do about the annual Crappie Tournament with Crudfin skulkin' around out there ready to snap at any moment. I mean, unless Marmaduke Wetherell's still alive an kickin' an up for another monster hunt.
I'll tell ya one thing; Skunky better institute a catch-and-release policy in his pond, cause if he thinks I'm goin' back to that lake in a boat again without evidence of Crudfin's demise, he's one misguided Mexican. In the meantime though, we got us a flick about cattle mutilations an steel-plated outer space tentacle critters that's one of the best kept cinematic secrets ever to come outta Tulsa. Matter of fact, this thing's yet to crack 100 ratins on the IMDB, which is why it's REAL important we treat it with the dignity an respect befittin' of a movie that features the line: "Fran, I'm afraid this is all that's left of Eugene," otherwise people might get the fool notion that maybe there's a REASON it hadn't been screened anywhere other'n Chickasha public access cable. Now a lotta folks, they believe there's no reason to go dredgin' up this movie after all this time. The Tulsa Chamber of Commerce BEGGED me not to, but that's how a lotta rural people are; modest. They know Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was just released in theaters an they don't wanna cut into the box office receipts by reinvigoratin' the legend of Mutilations at such an inopportune moment, but I'm a firm believer in givin' credit where credit's due, so let's all have a look at a few of the things that make this flick as memorable as it is, an when we're done here, do be sure to fire off an email to the Oklahoma Film Commission to let 'em know just how much you enjoyed their down-home fixins. First, in Oklahoma you can talk about inside out cows durin' the lunch rush an not offend a single person. Second, it can be pretty danged embarrassin' to have aliens invade your house an start flappin' the cupboard doors open like window shutters in a hurricane, only to have your company notice you've got no tableware or any of the other amenities that separate us from the animal kingdom an fraternities. An third, any astronomy teacher who dedicates an entire wall of his classroom to a map of the world is probably gonna have a rough time gettin' his students to comprehend the vastness of the universe.
Butcha know what? I think I finally figured out why there's been such a statistically improbable number of U.F.O. crashes on this planet. Seriously, how many have there been? You gotcher Tunguska, Aurora, Roswell, Kecksburg, Rendlesham, an a bunch more from places I can't pronounce without soundin' racist, all in the span of 150 years. What're the odds? I mean, these aliens can't ALL be intergalactic alcoholics, can they? There's just not enough evidence to support that theory. I can see *one* alien wrappin' his ship around a barn after he pounded a little too much Gin & Betelgeuse from Lunation's Libations on the ride over, but there's gotta be a dozen or more of these crashes. Nah, I know what's goin' on here, an it ain't cool: Earth's been declared the offical driver's ed trainin' course for the Milky Way Galaxy, that's the only explanation. We got little zit-covered gray guys flyin' dad's ship for the first time, sittin' nervously next to the cranky old instructor who only ended up stuck with this job after bein' drummed outta the Practical Applications for Wormhole Physics department for his radical take on String Theory, an next thing you know the little guy spots Southwest Flight 5498 from O'Hare into Pheonix comin' right straight at his windshield, causin' 'im to panic an bury his nose-cone into some leather-skinned cattle rancher's rangeland. Makes perfect sense. Now you see why these movies're so important? After awhile you start zonin' out an accidentally stumble upon the answers to some of life's great mysteries. Just *try* achievin' an epiphany like that with Beaches on your TV set an see where THAT gets ya.
The movie begins with this wobbly newsreel camera operator tryin' to hold steady while he records a buncha stills taken by the Hubble telescope before his spinal cord finally snaps an he ends up bent over like one of those Swami contortionists from Ripley's Believe It or Not, at which point we head outside an listen to the Professor of Astronomy from the Oklahoma Institute of Sparkly Thangs in the Night Sky (Professor Jim McFarland) talk about the infinitude of outer space, an go completely unfazed by the sight of a flamin' pink marshmallow the size of Australia whizzin' overhead. But not too far away's a hobo encampment fulla guys who dropped outta kindergarten to sweep chimneys before they fully understood the concept of a metaphor, an so they decide to go find the thing an literally reach for the stars, only by then the nuclear s'more's turned into the Planet Express ship from Futurama, an when the straggler in the group finally gets over there this knock-kneed alien comes waddlin' out an rams its big nasty fingergnarls into his throat an turns 'im into Freddy the Meatloafer. The next mornin', the professor heads into class to speculate about extraterrestrial life with his students (Libby, Connie, Eugene, Roger, Fran an Jerry) an... well, this happens: "Something bothers me professor. What are these life forms be like? Could they be not human?" You might expect me to make fun of the girl who talks like Tor Johnson, but I won't, because I think volunteerin' to teach Remedial Astronomy is a damn noble use of a man's time. Anyway, then the class goes on a field trip an Eugene (who looks like somebody accidentally combined the genes of Austin Powers an Stephen Root in a test tube) shows McFarland a newspaper talkin' about the nearby cattle mutilations an flyin' bug zappers an landin' marks that look like somebody tried containin' a bonfire with a tractor tire. If he were capable of conveyin' emotion, this is prolly where the professor's jaw'd gape open like Pac Man comin' home an findin' his wife gettin' 'er crotch vacuumed by Q*Bert, but despite his presumed alarm, he tells the kids that they're gonna continue as planned cause he's got this grant from the Erich Von Danikan Coalition of Historical Quackery he's gotta use up or else the IRS'll give 'im a severe audit an come repo his tweed jacket elbow patches.
Then they find this inside-out claymation cow floppin' around in the road like a squirrel that took a glancin' blow to the head from a passin' semi an the doc points his astronomy Geiger counter at it while it writhes in agony an makes noises like a water buffalo passin' a Chipolte combo platter. The idea of bein' turned into a rejected Celebrity Deathmatch sculpture an bein' left in the sun to rot don't really appeal so they take off in their van, cept then outer space Jesus takes the wheel an forces 'em to drive to this greasy spoon diner where the aliens get a commission on burger sales. Then they shoot the breeze with the locals an find out that ole Knock-Kneed Martian's been testin' top secret spacecraft in the vicinity an anal probin' antelopes an what not, an that if they're interested they might wanna take a drive up to see this loony hermit (Oliver) who lives out in the sticks past the old possum renderin' plant an claims the aliens from Hell're tryin' to harvest his semen so's they can engineer a master race of hillbillies. This sounds like a solid lead to McFarland, so they head out to Oliver's place where he takes an instant dislike to 'em after the aerosol products in the girls' hair starts causin' adverse reactions to his head lice farm, but about that time the weather starts gettin' nastier'n the merchandise at an Ozark Mountain strip club an so he lets 'em in. Then Oliver tells everybody about the time the aliens shot 'im in the face with an interstellar stun gun an how God created life all over the universe, only most of it resented evolvin' into sentient engine sludge an got so P.O.'d about God's favoritism towards us that they decided to develop hyperdrives an fly to Earth to sabotage the cattle industry to get back at us. Unfortunately, Oliver's skin ain't the only thing that seems to be bugged, cause about that time the aliens plant the nose of their spaceship into the ground like a Japanese fighter pilot until it goes plowin' into home sweet home like Pete Rose on a suicide squeeze, effectively puttin' an end to Oliver's specist rant an causin' thousands of cents in damages to the house.
It also causes parta the roof to collapse on Connie, the sight of which makes Eugene go throw up in Oliver's sink until the kitchen starts lightin' up like the ghosts from Poltergeist're havin' a rave, an pretty quick this ten-foot long tentacostal creature appendage grabs 'im by the neck an sucks all the fillin' out of his head like a Hostess Twinkie an leaves 'im layin' on the floor lookin' like a stewed prune. Then Fran an Jerry see this guy who looks like Gamera got assimilated by the Borg peekin' in through one of the windows an everybody goes to hide in the basement. But when it comes poundin' on the door tryin' to find some WD-40 to loosen up the seized knee joint in its leg armor an it finds out what a crock Southern hospitality is it gets so mad that it punches a hole through the door an Fran's gut bucket an proceeds to feel 'er up with 'er own intestines. Losin' one student on a field trip's already damn tough to come back from, but there's a good chance that even Oklahoma's gonna pull your teachin' license after you've lost three on the same trip, an once Professor Jim's professional career finishes flashin' before his eyes he goes apeshit an chops the thing's arm off before leadin' everybody down into some old bootlegger tunnels to brood. Course, now the aliens're really P.O.'d cause Oklahoma refused to expand Medicaid under Obamacare an they know they're gonna end up payin' through the nose to get their limbs reattached at the Baptist Medical Center. So they suck Roger's brains out through his eye sockets an attack the others like a troop of escaped fat camp inmates invadin' a McDonald's until Libby shines a flashlight in their eyes an blinds 'em like a coupla winos in a NYC alley, while Jim an Jerry plunge harpoons into 'em like Japanese porpoise hunters. Eventually they're able to find a tunnel leadin' back to the surface, but by now the remainin' stop-motion menaces're so cranky they don't even care if their meals on heels get burnt to a crisp, an they start firin' laser beams through the tunnels an snarlin' like Worf after another Klingon snuck up on 'im an started sniffin' his hinder. Think I'll cut it off here since we're startin' to bump up against the endin' an I dunno how I'd live with myself if I spoiled it, but you're prolly gonna wanna check it out just to watch the professor's assistant foreshadow that King of the Hill episode where Lou Ann professes her love for Lucky to Hank. She even *sounds* like Brittany Murphy.
Alrighty, there ya are, Mutilations... good grief where to begin. Let me just start by saying the production values on this movie are hovering around Plan 9 From Outer Space. Troll 2 is superior to this flick on a technical level, and the dialog (although probably not the *delivery* of said dialog) is even more asinine than that of Tommy Wiseau's incomparable The Room. The flick was shot on the cheap around Tulsa, Oklahoma by a guy named Lawrence Thomas, whom the IMDB claims is, or was, a salesman, although the IMDB also estimates the budget of this movie at around $95,000, and I personally refuse to believe it ever cracked $50,000 after having watched it, so take that as you will. So far as I can tell, this is the only movie he ever made that was actually released (he made another film not too long after called "The Change" that's never seen the light of day), and, well... he personally seems satisfied with the finished product. How he's reached that point as the guy in charge I have no idea, but it's very easy to see why fans of bad movies love it, because it's got a whole hell of a lot going for it in terms of unintentional humor. It can't compete with the big boys like Plan 9 or Troll 2, whose directors were unwavering in their certainty that they were producing the next modern masterpieces of their respective eras, but it fails just as hard as those aforementioned centerpieces of bad movie history, at least in certain respects. It's hard to reach Ed Wood levels of incompetence with a movie as humble as Mutilations, because while its creators no doubt worked very hard on it, they weren't the raving film fanatics that Wood was. Thomas' inspirations for his movie are pretty clear, as he shows a particular fondness for Ray Harryhausen's special effects, as well as blockbuster science fiction titles of the 1950s like The War of the Worlds, and while Mutilations certainly draws some of its inspiration from those movies, the special effects team didn't have one tenth the talent Harryhausen did, and Thomas' writing ability is nowhere close to that of H.G. Wells. I really don't feel good about myself for saying all this, because despite its problems, it's a damn watchable movie. Nine times out of ten if you were to ask me whether I'd rather watch Mutilations or *any* movie currently playing in theaters, Mutilations wins without a second thought, because whatever else may be wrong with it, it sure as hell ain't boring. It's kinda funny; initially I started to wonder if the Mystery Science Theater gang ever considered riffing this one, but by the end of it I came to the conclusion that it's somehow *too* bad to work as an MST3K experiment, because no matter how hard you try there's no way you can cover everything. I wrote down quite a few particularly egregious lines of dialog thinking they'd be anomalies that just slipped through, or maybe the actor actually got the line wrong and nobody noticed, but two minutes later there'd be another line even more ridiculous than the one before and eventually I had to stop because it felt like I was beating a dead horse. Or perhaps, a dead cow. I guess what I'm trying to say is - we're clearly in the hands of an accidental genius with this flick, and I'll certainly be recommending it.
Now then, I suppose it's time to hook up the intergalactic vacuum tentacle, turn this thing inside out, and see if we can't project some of its inner beauty. The plot is pretty similar to those classic alien invasion titles of the '50s, and shares a lot in common when it comes to faulty reasoning as a result of budgetary constraints. For instance, the aliens have lasers attached to their forearms, yet never use them at moments that would prove difficult to animate, nor do they ever destroy something the crew couldn't afford to replace (the basement door, for example). You've also got the scene where the spaceship (disguised as a meteor) passes through the sky overhead, and the Professor of Astronomy is so utterly unimpressed that he can't be bothered to give it more than a second's worth of attention. Obviously it goes without saying that it's a little unlikely for a flying saucer to come randomly crashin' down from the heavens and plow into this particular old coot's house (and addressing the unlikelihood of it in the movie doesn't buy any leniency on this) at the precise moment that he happens to have company for the first time in 30 years, so I'm callin' bull on most of the smaller details in this story. The acting is... my goodness, okay; it's not as bad as Troll 2, but ONLY because nobody in the movie is capable of putting any passion into their dialog. That said, it's delivered at least as awkwardly (with seemingly random pauses and emphasis), and there are a LOT of instances where someone just flubs their line and no one seems to notice because it may not have been obvious at the time that they'd done so. Examples: "many millennium ago," "Charlie over there! There's a coupla more of 'em!", "Something bothers me professor. What are these life forms be like?" To be fair, these words wouldn't sound any better coming out of the mouths of my favorite genre actors, but between the extremely stiff and awkward dialog, the amazingly botched delivery, and the periodic accidental improv, we're talking a perfect storm of hilarity. Here's who matters and why: John Bliss (Revenge 1986, The Thing with Two Heads). Yup, one guy went on to do anything else that was even *remotely* interesting. Shocking, I know.
The special effects are akin to those claymation bumpers Nickelodeon used to air in the '80s and early '90s, and while it may sound cruel to say this, we have been given the rare opportunity to develop an understanding of the difference between good stop-motion, and bad stop-motion. Most people'll tell you it all stinks, but even if you do think that way, the reality is that not all stop-motion was created equal, and this flick may well feature the worst I've ever seen. At the very least it's the worst I've seen in any movie made post-1960s, because I do recall the effects from Equinox being *almost* this bad... but then Equinox was made in 1970. Let it also be noted that much of the stop-motion involves composition shots wherein the creatures do battle with human actors filmed separately, and if you can watch more than three seconds of this with a straight face, you should probably seek help for your debilitating depression. Additionally, there's the conventional effects, which include a pretty lengthy tentacle made from latex (the claws look soft enough to sleep on comfortably), a set of legs that were obviously individual pieces with no moving joints, and a little blood here and there (too bright, but decent consistency). The tour de force scene in Mutilations, as far as the conventional effects, is probably the shot where the tentacle bursts through the door and out an actress's chest, and it's at least okay. They did the Friday the 13th Kevin Bacon deal where only her neck was poking through the door and everything below was a dummy packed with guts, and all things considered, it's probably their crowning achievement. The shooting locations are a bit pitiful, but the true humiliation comes from the set constructed to resemble the bootlegger tunnel, as it's about half a step up from a carnival spookhouse. The walls almost look like cloth, but I'm assuming it was styrofoam spray-painted to resemble rock. Either way, it's really chintzy. The old house interiors and exteriors are pretty good, but the diner and classroom sets lack even the slightest bit of authenticity, and were obviously thrown together pretty hastily. The soundtrack is easily the best thing about the movie; cheesily synthesized tracks with a little science fiction flavor, classic 1980s. Even manages to inject a very small degree of atmosphere into the flick, particularly during the scene where John Bliss is rattlin' off that gibberish from The Book of Mormon about God tryin' to keep us separated from the nasty aliens. The problem comes when you start getting tired of it and expect it to take a break. Spoilers: it *never* takes a break. I'd estimate that of the movie's 70 minute runtime, there's probably 61 minutes where the soundtrack's going, and even though the music is decent, there comes a point where you'd really like for it to stop. Overall, this flick fails hard, and I do mean HARD, on a technical level... but its entertainment value is undeniable. It moves along at a steady clip, doesn't overstay its welcome, and all the myriad flaws coalesce nicely into a flick tailor-made for a pizza party. Highly recommended to fans of the "so bad its good" class of film, check it out.