The Zombie Rights Campaign Blog

ZRC Review: ‘Mutant’ (Rifftrax Edition)

The Zombie Rights Campaign is getting back into reviewing Zombie (or more generally, Anti-Zombie) media products this summer, and first up is the 1984, ahem, classic ‘Mutant’ starring Wings Hauser and Bo Hopkins.

This review also doubles as a review of the Riff of the same film, as we purchased and totes-legit downloaded our copy of ‘Mutant’ from the guys at Rifftrax (whose past record on Zombie Rights has been mixed, certainly).

First-up, the film. ‘Mutant’ is a story about two.. sort of generic 80s yuppies… who are trying to escape the stress of Capital City (really) by driving out into the deepest part of what is apparently Redneck Country.

Needless to say, they quickly find trouble.

To be fair to the rednecks, this was after our heroes nearly caused a fatal car accident through their own stupidity.

They are sort-of-rescued by yet another redneck, Mel.

Mel eventually gets them to town, and, in a roundabout way, the actual ‘plot’, with a very weak-sauce environmental message to boot.

And even more eventually, our heroes encounter.. the Zombies. Err… ‘mutants’.

But sitting through ‘Mutant’, with its countless redneck stereotypes/minor characters, it’s not clear if the audience is really supposed to be fearing a Zombie Apocalypse or a second Whiskey Rebellion.

In fact, a viewer could be forgiven for assuming there are three apocalypses in this film. First, a mysterious depletion in the world’s supply of shirts:

Second, a rampant upsurge in child neglect, as evidenced by the film’s sole, very unfortunate Living child, Billy:

(Billy actually reminds us here at the ZRC a bit of our own Zombie Spokeschild, Tim. There’s a certain resemblance.)

Tim at least has a happier social life than Billy.

The Third ‘apocalypse’ would of course be of the Zombie variety. ‘Mutant’ is one of those Anti-Zombie films that hates to use the Z-word, but we all know what’s going on here:

‘Mutant’ Zombies have some special characteristics that set them slightly apart from the Differently Animated you see persecuted more generally. They’re sunlight averse, and seem to crave blood, which makes them feel a bit vampire-adjacent to the ZRC.

Then there’s the stigmata… no really:

The ZRC staff doesn’t quite know what to make of the acid/virus/whatever oozing wounds suffered by these poor Undead characters. If this was an Italian Zombie movie, something by Fulci maybe, it would probably be elaborate and possibly incomprehensible religious symbolism. If it was Spanish, perhaps something by de Ossorio, it might be just plain religious.

But likely, we shouldn’t read too much into ‘Mutant’. ‘Mutant’s Zombies probably suffer hand wounds so they can give acid-death grips, which I will admit would have sounded very cool to my younger self looking at a VHS copy of ‘Mutant’ in the rental place down the street.

I was a troubled child.

This is a troubled film! Sluggishly paced, full of unlikable characters like narcissistic yuppies, violent rednecks and child neglecting teachers, ‘Mutant’ will definitely have you rooting for the Zombies, even if you’re not a Zombie Rights activist.

We rate ‘Mutant’ as Living Supremacist.

For shame, Wings. For shame.

‘Mutant’ Film Rating

The Riff of Mutant is a bit more positive! The Rifftrax gang make a lot of jokes, but most are at the expense of Wings Hauser, the Confederate flag loving townsfolk, or, oddly, Nick Nolte.

In fact, the art director and I consulted on this, and we concluded that the Riff of ‘Mutant’ deserves at least a Zombie Tolerant rating. Good job!

‘Mutant’ Riff Rating

Which is fortunate, as Rifftrax has quite a few more Zombie films we can review, including a reunion of Wings Hauser and Bo Hopkins called ‘Nightmare at Noon’.

We are gluttons for punishment.

About The Author

The role of 'Administrator' will be played tonight by John Sears, currently serving as President of The Zombie Rights Campaign.


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