Aliens have traveled light-years to earth from some unknown planet. Unfortunately for the citizens in a small farming community, they didn't come here for peace, they came here looking for something to eat. After crash landing their spaceship, a trapped college professor and his students will be in for the fight of their lives as the aliens have their sights set on them.
Every now and again, a movie comes along that defies all expectations. A movie where on the outside it doesn't appear to differ itself any from it's genre predecessors and will be nothing more than another redundant watch. However, once you get into the movie you realize it has much more to offer than the same old thing. It shatters the barriers of expectations and excels where others have come up short. My friends, that movie is not "Mutilations". Oh no, in fact "Mutilations" is exactly what you think it is and a bag of chips. That is if the bag of chips were your third brand of choice because the store was out of your other favorites.
"Mutilations" is a classic tale that has been told time and time again. A college professor, Dr. MacFarland, takes his students, who oddly enough happen to look as old as he does, but Dr. MacFarland has a beard so he is clearly much older than everyone else.. anyways, he takes his students on a field trip up to a farming community to investigate supposed reports of UFO activity, and... Wait for it... Mutilations. Animal mutilations to be more specific; though they never refer to it as such, instead they only say, "Mutilations" (followed by a dramatic music cue.) Naturally, when they arrive at where ever it is that they go to, they find the mutilated remains of animals and burnt up fields. In which, while they are nothing more than students, are able to determine that it's signs of a UFO, only after asking the important questions, "why?" and "what?". Throw in a dramatic car chase with a van full of bad actors....err....students and a animated (stop-motion) spacecraft that is poorly blended in. After that, they end up at the house of a crazy old man who knows what's really going on but no one listens to because he's crazy. The aliens, being the hungry-viscous creatures that they are, join the party after crashing their spaceship because it was struck by lightning. Since apparently ships that are capable of traveling through the universe are susceptible to high voltage electrical discharges in the atmosphere. Who knew? The aliens go wild and start mutilating the students. Never actually eating them, just kind of killing and mutilating them.
Well, maybe they are draining the students of their fluids or life force with something that's in their arms. I don't know for sure since it's never actually explained, which isn't necessarily a bad thing considering the fact they are students and the entire movie takes place in the span of a single day and night. So in reality, the characters wouldn't actually know, and there really isn't a logical way to have the aliens and their biology explained to the audience.
Unfortunately I do have some bad news to give; "Mutilations" belongs to the ever shunned group of shot-on-video horror movies. I'm no expert when it comes to knowing all, or in my case, partially all of the titles that fall under the SOV banner. I do know enough and have seen enough to appreciate the aliens and overall Sci-Fi element in the movie. Clearly, with it being shot-on-video we aren't talking about a big budget flick here, so the director, Lawrence Thomas, was met with the difficult task of making a movie that features spaceships and bad ass aliens without the proper spending money. In all honesty, I have to give him and the art department crew an A for effort; while watching "Mutilations" you can tell they tried damn hard to make this work. Unfortunately though, I think this project was a bit too ambitious for them and they ended up getting in way over their heads.
In general most of the scenes involving the aliens only featured an arm or a leg rather than full body, since a full bodied costume would have cost some serious bucks to make. Instead any of the scenes that called for the aliens to be completely in frame, or their spaceship, and any mutilated farm animals, stop motion was used. They attempted to blend in the animated footage in with the live action footage, via Ray Harryhausen, and they failed miserably. What it looks like is that they recorded the live action footage off of a screen, and did the animation right in front of the camera. So instead of creating a seamless blend of the two mediums, they made a perfect example of what not to do. Oh sure, this will provide much amusement for the bad movie lovers, and allow you to rip on the movie relentlessly. Oddly enough though, while the animation sequences were utter failures, the movie does have surprisingly and amazingly well done cinematography. It certainly isn't the most exciting stuff you'll see, but compared to most SOV flicks where the camera is just stuck on a tripod, this was some quality work. Using panning, dolly, and tracking shots. I think I even saw a dutch-angle. *gasp*
It probably doesn't come as a surprise that the movie has some of the worst wooden acting you'll see with every actor delivering their lines in a constant monotone level and a blank-emotionless face. Terrified. Panicking. Upset. Angry. It's all done in the same tone of voice and sounds like they're reading it straight off a cue card. Except for that bastard Eugene; he just had to go and be over-the-top and overplay every one of his scenes, instead of underplaying them like his co-stars. Dick. Why no one slapped him, I don't know. Since he was shrieking and freaking-out in the movie about every 5 or so minutes, so he had it coming and the hysterical characters always get slapped. Guess "Mutilations" was too good to use an old Hollywood cliché.
The one thing that left a bitter taste in my mouth is that this whole movie seemed like it was intended to be viewed by a religious, or rather a Mormon audience. Why Mormons? Good question. Well, when our characters visit the crazy old man, he gives a long winded speech tying in the invading aliens to a specific text from the Book of Mormon. Not to mention the fact that earlier in the movie when the Professor and his students were discussing aliens, they too made biblical references by mentioning how aliens have a place in religious beliefs. Not to mention while being chased by the aliens in a cave (Yes, in the movie they go from a house to a system of caves and tunnels), everyone stops to get in a circle to talk about how evil and violent the human race is, so it shouldn't be surprising that aliens are too. Granted this all could have been to give the story a little more meat to it, but it just seems odd that they brought in the religious aspect. This is not uncommon but the context of how it’s used, in this case to make a commentary on violence and evil, is.
In the end, "Mutilations" is truly an awful movie but one that I thoroughly enjoyed because the major faults in the flick are what allowed it to be so entertaining. Be warned, this is not a movie for your flight-by-night b-movie patrons. No. This movie should, I repeat, should only be watched by bad movie veterans, SOV aficionados, or masochists. Although I'm sure most of you won't watch it anyways because this is a title that is a bitch to find.