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Masked Mutilator (2019)
Blu-ray Disc Released: 5/14/2019
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/8/2019
Decades ago, filmgoers would go to the movies and enjoy a film, but that was basically the extent of their interaction with Hollywood. Oh sure, gossip magazines would provide stories about the stars (you’ve seen LA Confidential), but most people knew very little about how movies were made or what went on behind the scenes. Over the years, this began to change, as fanzines and making-of specials crept into the public’s awareness. Now, thanks to the extra features found on home-video releases, we know more than ever about what goes in to making a movie. And, sometimes, those tales are more interesting than the movies themselves. Case in point, the wrestling-based oddity, Masked Mutilator.
Vic (Jeff Sibbach) is a former professional wrestler who runs a foster home. He had to leave the “sport” after he killed someone in the ring. Vic tries hard to keep the “kids” in the home under control, but they are filled with sass and attitude, and they don’t like his hardass style. One day, Brian (Tom Taylor) comes to live at the house, and has to adjust to the frigid welcome he gets from the other tenants. Meanwhile, college student Steve Carson (Brick Bronsky) has also come to live in the house, as part of an internship. As if these new arrivals weren’t disruptive enough, someone in a wrestling mask starts killing people in the house. It appears that the pressure of the changes has caused Vic to snap.
Masked Mutilator is a weird movie, but, more on that in a moment. First, let’s explore the film’s production history. In 1994, talent manager Dale Schneck decided that he wanted to make a movie. So, along with Ed Polgardy, he co-wrote Masked Mutilator and then got a group of wrestlers together to act in the film. The movie was shot in Pennsylvania and then nothing was done with it. The negative sat in Schneck’s office for nearly 25 years. Then, he decided that something should be done with it. So a new bookend segment was shot in which Tom Taylor reprises his role as Brian, appearing on a podcast in order to tell his story as a flashback. Despite the wildly different video styles, this approach actually feels organic.
But, that doesn’t change the fact that this is a weird movie. The opening podcast segment gives the impression that this is going to be a serious look at the issues with foster homes. Then, we get into the story itself and realize that this is a somewhat lackluster slasher film. The thing which makes it standout is the unusually high number of muscle-bound guys in the movie. It’s just weird that all of these jacked dudes just happen to be tied to this foster home. The weirdness is amplified with the seemingly casual conversations about lifting weights. We then get some stiffly choreographed, complete with low-caliber martial arts. Oh yeah, did I mention that there is a muder-mystery happening during all of this?
For 1994, Masked Mutilator was a very, very late entry into the slasher cycle. When viewed in that framework, the movie is mediocre at best, as it includes the usual tropes of a masked killer, some brief T&A, mild gore, and a wealth of unlikeable characters. But, as mentioned above, what sets this film apart is the whole wrestling angle. And this isn’t like a WWE presentation where the wrestling tie-in is explicit. This wants to be a normal movie which just happens to contain a lot of buff people. This fact makes Masked Mutilator a true oddity and those who feel that they’ve seen it all when it comes to slashers may want to seek this one out.
Masked Mutilator offers some of the worst cheated kitchen table shots that you’ve ever seen on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Intervision. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 35 Mbps. Given the various elements utilized here, the video quality varies. The wraparound segments were clearly shot on modern HD equipment, so the image is very sharp and clear. The rest of the movie was shot on 16mm film, which has been restored. However, the image does show mild grain (which is common for 16mm) and the picture is notably soft at times. There are also some mild defects to the image. The colors are good (which is common for 16mm) and the picture is never overly dark or bright. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.6 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Being a mono track, we don’t get any exciting effects here, but the actors are always audible, and they aren’t overpowered by the music.
The Masked Mutilator Blu-ray Disc contains an assortment of extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Dale Schneck, Tom Taylor, Paul Sutt, Steve Mittman, and Jim “The Tank” Dorsey. “You See Me Sweatin’?” (7 minutes) is a modern-day interview with actor Tom Taylor, who describes how he got involved with the movie and what the production was like. “Slice the Pretty Boy” (7 minutes) allows actor/FX artist Paul Sutt to discuss his work on the movie, including his interesting approach to his role and how he got to do the gore effects. “Scissors, Tape & Paste” (8 minutes) has Co-Writer/Co-Executive Producer Ed Polgardy telling us how he was involved in the film from the outset, while also giving an overview of the film’s production history. Co-Writer /Producer Dale Schneck, who is mentioned throughout, finally appears in “Don’t Believe That, Folks” (6 minutes) where he talks about how Masked Mutilator was finally brought out of the vault to be finished. We get a 5-minute reel of AUDITIONS from 1994. “’Mean’ Gene Okerlund Interviews Tom Taylor” (3 minutes) delivers a modern-day talk with the wrestling commentator legend and the actor.
Review Copyright 2019 by Mike Long