HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Monday, May 6, 2019

MASKED MUTILATOR -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle

I didn't quite know what I was getting into at first with the no-budget wrestling/horror flick MASKED MUTILATOR (Intervision, 2019), but once this brawny little cinematic engine that could gets chugging you can really smell what the hardy filmmakers behind it are cooking.

Fact is, it's been simmering in the executive producer's basement for 25 years, until finally he decided to take the 16mm elements and make a finished movie out of them. And it's a good thing too, because not only does the result look really good, it's also a real hoot for both horror and wrestling fans.

Jeff Sibbach (WCW, NWA) plays Vic Mangino, the ex-wrestler who was known as the "Masked Mutilator" until he viciously snapped an opponent's neck in the ring and then quit the sport out of guilt.  Now the head guy at a home for troubled teens, he uses his brawn and tough attitude to help keep the often violent and combative 20-something teens in line.

Trouble comes with a new addition to his staff, the more lenient, progressive Steve Carson (played by director Jeff Beltzner, who under the name of "Brick Bronsky" is a WWE and Stampede veteran whose film credits include SGT. KABUKIMAN N.Y.P.D., CLASS OF NUKE ‘EM HIGH 2 & 3).

As Vic and Steve clash over their handling of these unruly, emotionally-volatile kids, somebody wearing Vic's old "Masked Mutilator" mask is killing them off one by one with vicious wrestling holds and disposing of them in various splattery, gore-movie ways.

Is it Vic? Or is someone else getting some kind of twisted revenge against these kids?  It's a mystery that's just easy enough to figure out in about one minute but fun enough to keep us interested until the final reveal.

Meanwhile, we get to know the "kids" just enough to be glad when some of them get theirs and scared for the ones we actually like, including a boy and his sister who are constantly bullied by the big, mean guys and the slutty girl who enjoys seducing anything wearing pants just to prove that she can.

All of this is way more entertaining than it has a right to be, because the script by Ed Polgardy and Dale Schneck is tight, well-written, and bristling with good dialogue which is delivered beautifully by a talented, appealing cast.  The film is very well-paced with nary any padding--every scene counts--and the murder scenes and other action are expertly staged and shot.

It all leads up to a main event with the brawniest characters grappling and kick-boxing to the death right there in the livingroom, and here Beltzner/Bronsky's direction is at its best along with razor-sharp camerawork, editing, and some of the best fight choreography you'll see in any movie. (There's even some folding chair action!)

A newly-filmed wraparound segment ties the story together, with actor Tom Taylor--who plays young good-guy teen Brian in the 1994 footage--returning after 25 years to follow up on his character as he tells the horrifying tale during a podcast.  A final twist ends this modern segment on a satisfying note.

It's a real pleasure to see these musclebound wrestling stars (fans of the sport will probably recognize some of the other supporting players) lending their considerable "weight" to these vivid characters and spectacular no-holds-barred fighting action, in addition to delivering one of the most entertaining no-budget horror efforts you could ask for. 

Order it from Severin Films

Street date: May 14, 2019

Special Features:
    Audio Commentary with Cast & Crew (Dale Schneck, Tom Taylor, Paul Sutt, Steve Mittman and Jim “The Tank” Dorsey)
    You See Me Sweatin’? – Interview with Actor Tom Taylor
    Slice the Pretty Boy – Interview with Actor/FX Artist Paul Sutt
    Scissors, Tape & Paste – Interview with Co-Writer/Co-Executive Producer Ed Polgardy
    Don’t Believe That, Folks – Interview with Co-Writer/Executive Producer Dale Schneck
    Audition Tapes
    Mean Gene Okerlund Interviews Tom Taylor


No comments: