Vic Mangino (Jeff Sibbach) was a professional wrestler under the name Masked Mutilator…until he accidentally killed a man in the ring. These days he finds himself working as a house parent at a group home for troubled youths. It’s probably not the first job most would peg a wrestler for, but it actually works out pretty well for Vic. The youths in this house are all teens that come from problematic homes and they need an authority figure that can instill discipline while helping to steer them on the right track. Vic fits this mold perfectly.
The group home, already suffering from a lack of funds and support from the state, gets even worse when a masked man shows up and starts brutally butchering the teens one-by-one. Has Vic finally been pushed over the edge? Perhaps one of the young teens is more troubled than anyone thought? The mystery unfolds as the bodies pile up.
Masked Mutilator is a low-budget horror film and it shows in the film’s best and worst moments. The performances across the board feel like they’re coming from first-time actors. I wouldn’t call them bad, but you can tell that these are actors still trying to get their feet wet. Or in other words, low budget film actors.
Pacing is a bit wonky. It’s a short film, coming in at just over 70 minutes, and it results in things feeling a bit rushed. There’s a relationship that builds between two of the teens — Brian (Tom Taylor) and Leslie (Heidi Shelhamer) — and they get from point A to point B rather quickly. I’m not even sure I would say this actually qualifies as a problem in a film like this. More than anything it’s just sort of funny and to be fair, a movie that zooms along like this one is much better than one that drags.
The movie succeeds in being wildly entertaining. The premise is wrestling meets a slasher and that’s exactly what the film delivers on. There is blood, gore, nudity, and an all-time great nunchuck scene. It’s rough around the edges, but you can’t help but smile while watching.
The characters are just off-the-wall bonkers. Tom Taylor’s Brian is all about his fighting skills and is convinced he’ll be a star. The house cook, played by former pro-wrestler Doug Yasinsky, does not look like someone you want cooking. He has a moment with a chicken that definitely isn’t sanitary. The film’s director (and another former pro-wrestler), Brick Bronsky, plays Steve Carson, a college kid assigned to assist Vic at the group home. He’s obsessed with working out.
Masked Mutilator’s best moments come with the actual wrestling. The film’s climax features a wonderful in-house wrestling scene that feels like it was pulled out of the early ’90s WWE. Bronsky and Sibbach use their history with wrestling really well to deliver a moment that makes you want to stand up and cheer. If I had one complaint about the wrestling, it’s that I wanted more of it.
Whether intentional or not, the film does touch base on the state of group/foster homes in America. The kids are put in these homes are sent there because they need guidance, help and have nowhere else to go. But the homes go underfunded, understaffed and the kids are left with no hope of a real future. People look down on these kids and write them off before giving them a chance. The message that these kids are a stain on society is what the killer using to justify his actions once his identity is revealed. Again, perhaps it wasn’t intended and I’m sure many wouldn’t expect it, but there is a message within these low budget horror film about wrestling.
Masked Mutilator was recently released on Blu-ray by InterVision Pictures and it’s exactly the type of film that I love to see get a release. It’s essentially a lost film that was recently discovered and now is widely available for the masses in the best format possible. The majority of the film was shot on 16mm in the early ’90s and does look fairly grainy, with slight instances of color fading from print materials that were damaged, but all told it looks really good. Other segments of the film were shot more recently in HD and they look crystal clear.
You See Me Sweatin’?
This brief interview with Tom Taylor has the actor talking abut how he got involved with the film and his love for martial arts. The best part about this is that Taylor seems to have a very real and genuine love for the movie and is extremely proud of it.
Slice the Pretty Boy
Actor and FX artist Paul Sutt recalls auditioning for the film. As he recalls he read for two parts before eventually deciding on which one he liked more. An interesting tidbit he throws out is that he used Crispin Glover for inspiration. I didn’t catch this while watching the film, but after hearing him mention it it’s easy to see that influence. Sutt also shares details about he ended up working on the special effects for the film.
Scissors, Tape, and Paste
Co-writer/co-producer Ed Polgardy shares his experiences with Masked Mutilator, starting with his relationship with fellow writer and producer, Dale Schneck. He also gives a little insight as to what he’s been up to since.
Don’t Believe That, Folks
Dale Schneck discusses the complications that come with low budget filmmaking and the work that went into getting Masked Mutilator completed after 20+ years.
Mean Gene Okerlund Interviews Tom Taylor
This short interview with Mean Gene and Taylor looks to have taken place at some sort of convention. It’s clearly an attempt to riff on the sort of promo interviews Mean Gene was known for during his days with WWE and WCW. While it didn’t quite work for me, it’s a fun addition.
Audition tapes for most of the cast are included. Paul Sutt delivers the most of the auditions, but seeing a young James DeBello is also worth a watch.
Commentary track includes Dale Schneck, Tom Taylor, Paul Sutt, Steve Mittman and Jim “The Tank” Dorsey.
Masked Mutilator is loads of fun and I would recommend it. It’s not without its flaws, but fans of wrestling and low budget horror (think Troma) are sure to have a good time with it. It’s not the sort of film most people would expect to see land on Blu-ray, but InterVision did us all a solid by getting this one out there.