‘Man’s deadliest threat will not come from the skies’
Mutant is a 1984 horror film about two brothers that discover that the residents of a small town are being infected by toxic waste… turning them into blood-ravenous zombies. Initially known as Night Shadows
Directed by John ‘Bud’ Cardos (Kingdom of the Spiders) and Mark Rosman (The House on Sorority Row) from a screenplay co-written by Michael Jones, John C. Kruize and Peter Z. Orton, based on a story by Jones and Kruize. Produced by Dick Clark [uncredited] and Igo Kantor.
“Starting off on a high note, the flick briefly segues into a Southern Gothic Macon County Line (1974) thriller before returning to horror, then action horror for the final thirty minutes […] It’s silly fun, if slow in spots. Mutant is reminiscent of those lower-tier 50s SciFi’ers and about as memorable.” Cool @ass Cinema
“It’s made with a certain amount of competence, the characters don’t annoy me, and the music isn’t a turn-off, and, in general, I find the movie watchable enough. There’s a few script problems, to be sure, and there are times where the characters don’t always act with much in the way of intelligence. The primary problem with the movie is that it’s pretty derivative…” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings
” …it is the slow, creepy, buildup, the gradual accumulation of facts, the eerie absence of more and more sick people, and the school with only a single boy who came to class. This builds into a nicely creepy film, and the final explosion of zombie violence (you knew that was coming) is handled quite well, even if it isn’t as bloody as some of its competitors.” Rivets on the Poster
“While it takes a little while to get moving, Mutant […] reaches a pretty satisfying conclusion and makes up for its slow start with a well-paced and effective final third act. The character development is nothing to write home about but the zombie make-up is neat and there are some pretty cool sequences towards the end. The film’s low budget is painfully obvious in spots…” Rock! Shock! Pop!
“Mutant has too many subplots, but some explain how the disease started spreading and it involves toxic waste. It adds to a complex mythos. We also learn that light hurts the zombies’ eyes, and, come to think of it, these guys are akin to vampires.” Tales of Terror
“Wings Hauser (remember him as the villain from Vice Squad?) and Lee Montgomery are completely believable as the siblings here, and director Cardos does a fine job of conveying the small town sensibility. Marred slightly by the inferior make-up and an all too obvious boom mike shadow on the walls in some sequences.” The Terror Trap
“The movie takes its sweet time, taking forever to get to both explaining what we early on guessed, and start delivering some serious zombie action. We have to wait until the last third of the movie before the movie gets down to business. Before this happens, we have to wade through countless scenes that are either not necessary to the plot […] or play out twice as long as it should play out.” The Unknown Movies
” …fairly humorless and uncomplicated zombie invasion exercise […] derivative and unnecessary” Peter Dendle, The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia
Plot [contains spoilers]:
Brothers Josh and Mike are enjoying a vacation in the South when they are run off the road by Al and a few of his friends after Josh caused them to swerve by irresponsibly veering onto their side of the highway. The pair eventually make it to a small town whose inhabitants are getting sick and even disappearing. They meet Sheriff Will who takes them to a bed and breakfast to stay for the night. As they’re sleeping, something comes from under Mike’s bed and drags him down.
Josh begins looking through town to find his brother. He meets a schoolteacher named Holly who agrees to help. As they leave the school, they hear strange noises in a storage room. As Josh checks it out, a body of a decomposed schoolgirl falls on him. Al (who is a custodian) accuses him of murder and chases him off, leaving with Holly to her uncle’s place where he recovers from the toxic reaction from the girl. As Will is about to take the body to the coroner, he’s convinced by Dr Myra to let her get the body for a night, hoping that she can find out what is causing the sicknesses and other strange happenings.
Will goes to the schoolgirl’s residence, where he sees the lightbulbs removed and all the red meat sucked dry. He then finds the dying father. As the Captain makes his way to the house, the body is suddenly gone. Believing that he’s been drinking again, the Captain fires Will. As Dr Myra begins recording her autopsy, her assistant suddenly becomes a mutant and attacks Dr Myra.
The next morning Josh and Holly head out to a plant that some chemical company just opened a few weeks ago, thinking that this could be the cause of the sickness. Josh discovers them dumping toxic waste. Holly is able to drive into the building, causing the distraction, allowing Josh and Holly to escape. Will is reluctant to believe their story, but when he sees Holly’s uncle become a mutant, they formulate a plan to get the girl’s body and take it to the capital to get back up.
Josh heads back to search for Mike and ends up finding his dead body in the basement. As he’s being attacked by the owner’s mutant daughter, Josh is able to break out of the basement and throw her mother down there. As Will and Holly enter Dr Myra’s office, they are attacked by mutants. Holly is able to escape, while Will barricades himself in a room where he sees the deceased Dr Myra. Holly goes to the school to chase down a student named Billy.
As they try to leave, a large group of mutant children corner them in a bathroom stall. The mutants kill Billy, but Josh would come in and save Holly. They head back to Dr Myra’s office to look for Will, but they can only find his hat and gun. As they try to leave, they are surrounded by mutants and are forced to hide inside a gas station.
Josh and Holly start making Molotov cocktails so they can make an escape. However, Al was hiding in there as well and attacks Holly. This causes Josh and Al to fight, allowing the mutants to hear them and attack. They kill Al while Josh and Holly are forced into a corner.
Suddenly, a large group of state police cars surround the gas station shining their lights. The mutants become blinded and confused, allowing the police to kill them. Will appears telling them how he got the girl’s body to the capital as well as getting confessions from the chemical plant employees.
A news story appears on the radio detailing the incident in town. They also mention the chemical company starting a new facility somewhere else…
It was initially released theatrically as Night Shadows, but it premiered on video with the title Mutant, which it has retained for all subsequent releases.
This film was the last to be released by Film Ventures International (FVI). Edward L. Montoro, president of FVI, disappeared shortly afterwards, taking $1 million from the company’s coffers with him. Nothing has been heard from him since.
Cast and characters:
Wings Hauser … Josh Cameron
Bo Hopkins … Sheriff Will Stewart
Jody Medford … Holly Pierce
Lee Montgomery … Mike Cameron
Marc Clement … Albert Hogue
Cary Guffey … Billy
Jennifer Warren … Doctor Myra Tate
Danny Nelson … Jack
Mary Nell Santacroce … Mrs Mapes
Stuart Culpepper … Mel
Johnny Popwell Sr … Captain Tom Dawson
Ralph Redpath … Vic
Larry Quackenbush … Harve
Ralph Pace … Art
Wallace Wilkinson … Mr Mitchell
Charles Franzen … E.P.A. Man
Lit Connah … Mrs Miller
Elijah Perry … Albert’s Gang
Chester Clark … Albert’s Gang
Joshua Lee Patton … Albert’s Gang
Pat Moss … Penelope Mapes
Tina Kincaid … Judy Ann
1 hour 39 minutes
Audio: Dolby Stereo
Free Full film available to watch online in 1080p HD: