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Mutant (1984) - Blu-ray review

3 beers

When I was a kid, it was this stupid movie that gave me a prolonged buzz.  In one quick scene a small child gets destroyed by a bunch of zombies in a bathroom.  It’s not grotesque; it’s implied as a horde of zombies gather round him to feast.  In another, a doctor verbally hypothesizes what it would take for a person to be become a zombie while another doctor, maybe 10 feet behind her, turns into one.  She doesn’t even notice the cavorting and grunting.  The campy moment is turned on its head when he actually goes after her.

And that’s why Mutant (aka Night Shadows), now appreciating a 4K restored release (scanned straight from the original camera negative) in HD thanks to the work of Code Red, still works its midnight magic. 

“You ain’t from around here, are you?”  It’s a simple question and it seems harmless enough.  It isn’t, though.  There’s really no “safe” answer to it.  None.  You could be frank about it and state a forceful reply.  Not that you would, but you could.  If you are traveling in a 68 Camaro through a slow-moving town in the Deep South – like brothers Josh (Wings Hauser of Vice Squad and Deadly Force) and Mike (Lee Montgomery from Ben and Burnt Offerings) are in the opening moments of Mutant – it’s the last thing you want to hear out of the toothless mouths of the locals.

Especially if they just forced you off the road and into a river.  

Directed by John "Bud" Cardos (Kingdom of the Spiders) and operating like a made-for-television flick, Mutant is the spooky (and stubbornly silly) narrative about how an entire town’s backwoods inhabitants became mindless zombies.  Michael Jones and John C. Kruize originally wrote the initial script.  I don’t blame them for the absurdities of this flick.  It seems that a third party, one Peter Z. Orton, might be responsible for some of the unintended hilarity that, ultimately, drowns this b-movie in some heavily polluted waters.

Co-starring Bo Hopkins (from 1973’s White Lightning with Burt Reynolds) as the town’s drunk sheriff and Jennifer Warren (who was featured in Slap Shot with Paul Newman) as the town’s ill-equipped doctor, Mutant begins with a slew of bizarre events as night descends.  A body is discovered after a zombie (somehow) "steams" the poor fellow to death.  I’m not kidding.  Maybe it’s radioactive.  Maybe.  Regardless, the single touch causes a burning steam that kills him.  That same body is later replaced with a living man.  Weird.

Fishing themselves out of the river, John and Mike – after running into the crazed rednecks again which causes a massive bar fight – eventually take refuge for the night with an elderly woman.  It’s been a long day and they feel safe with her.  This is the last thing they should feel and, rather quickly, Josh wakes up to discover that he is on his own.  Not for long, though. 

He teams up with the local barmaid/teacher and two of them get in over their heads with a toxic waste mystery that, apparently, can be beaten back with cloth handkerchiefs held over the face as a mask while the rest of the town breathes in the toxic funk and turn into white-faced, sunken-eyed zombies.  If that’s not enough to sell you on this flick, though, consider Richard Band’s beautifully lyrical score, which gets more complicated as the movie soldiers on.

No one is safe from these mutant motherfuckers.  No one.  Not even the audience.    Turns out there really are monsters under the bed…


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Mutant (1984) - Blu-ray review

MPAA Rating: R.
99 mins
: John 'Bud' Cardos
Michael Jones
Wings Hauser, Bo Hopkins, Jody Medford
: Horror
Mankind's Deadliest Threat Will Not Come From The Skies.
Memorable Movie Quote:
Theatrical Distributor:
Film Ventures International
Official Site:
Release Date:
August, 1984
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
September 13, 2016.
Synopsis: A hideous town secret is waiting for two vacationing brothers (Wings Hauser, Vice Squad, Deadly Force, Tough Guys Don't Dance, and Lee Montgomery, Ben, Girls Just Want To Have Fun, Burnt Offerings) who team up with a local sheriff (Bo Hopkins, The Fifth Floor, Tentacles, Sweet Sixteen) to uncover the grisly threat to the entire population.


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Mutant (1984) - Blu-ray review


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Code Red DVD
Available on Blu-ray
- September 13, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: None
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Region A

Code Red’s 4K restoration of Mutant is to be applauded.  There have been many long and tired complaints of how dark the film has been.  That’s is taken care of with their 1080p release of Mutant.  The film might be soft looking in some parts of the film, but this release is EASILY the best the movie has ever looked before.  Black levels are relatively even and colors are appropriately saturated.  The film has never been met with the safest of conditions, but this presentation (with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio) is pretty easy on the eyes.  The DTS-HD MA English audio keeps Band’s score lively and services the dialogue well. 



  • Moderated by Jeff McKay and featuring Cardos, Montgomery, and producer Igo Kantor, the commentary is both fun and informative and gives rather frank details about the production company and its collapse shortly after the movie was released. 

Special Features:

With two new interviews from two of its cast members, we get some extra special rumination on the film, zombies in general, and on Wings Hauser’s on-set behavior.

  • Lee Montgomery Interview (15 min)
  • Bo Hopkins Interview (11 min)
  • Original Trailer


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Mutant (1984) - Blu-ray review