Horror Movie Review: The Mutilator (1984)

The Mutilator (originally titled Fall Break) is a 1984 American slasher film. Written, directed and produced by Buddy Cooper, and co-directed by John S. Douglass.

A mother prepares a cake for her husband Big Ed’s birthday. In the adjacent room, their son Ed attempts to clean his father’s hunting rifle to surprise him but accidentally fires it. The bullet passes through the wall, striking and killing Ed’s mother. Upon returning home, Big Ed discovers his wife’s body, causing him to suffer a break from reality. His relationship with his son is permanently soured.

Years later, Ed, now in college, is asked by his father to close up the family’s beachfront condominium in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. Primarily used by the latter as something of a clubhouse for himself and his hunting partners. Ed’s friends, Linda, Mike, Ralph, Sue, and Pam, eager for something to do over fall break, accompany him. Unbeknownst to the group, Big Ed is waiting for them in the basement of the condominium and plans to kill his son. Ed and his friends soon arrive.

Over the course of the night, Big Ed attacks Ed’s friends one by one…

Can Ed and his friends escape or are they destined to be another trophy in Big Ed’s collection? Watch and find out.

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I’ve had The Mutilator on my watch list for a long time and boy, am I glad I finally got around to watching it. At first glance you may think that you’re about to watch an average slasher flick but you’d be wrong. Sure, there’s all the components of one, however they give it enough of a spin for it to feel fresh.

I loved the set up and the whole opening. Big Ed and Ed’s relationship really had me thinking throughout but the only answers you get lie within Big Ed’s listless gaze. Truly, the mark of a great actor is being able to convey an entire story and character without saying a single word.

Although the film definitely feels more 70s than 80s, with corny dialogue in places, the gore effects were surprisingly fantastic. Really high quality gore with creative kills.

The soundtrack builds tension throughout. Apart from when they’re having a smashing time during their travel montage.

The acting was great and I felt the reactions were some of the most realistic I’ve seen in horror. It’s interesting that most of the cast didn’t do anything else because they clearly have a knack for it.

Overall, The Mutilator is a film we’d all be lucky to catch late at night on a random channel. It’s a crime this isn’t a well known classic because I had a thoroughly good time. So, if you’re looking for your next slasher flick or want to dip back into the late 70s, grab your pals and head to the beach to enjoy your Fall Break


  • Sally Powell

    Editor/Writer - Stay at home mum educating the horror minds of tomorrow. If it's got vampires or Nicolas Cage in it, I'm sold. Found cleaning bums or kicking ass in an RPG. (And occasionally here reviewing all things horror and gaming related!)

The Mutilator
  • The Final Score - 8/10
User Review
10/10 (1 vote)