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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Double Feature: Uninvited / Mutant
Double Feature: Uninvited / Mutant
Liberation Entertainment // R // June 29, 2009
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Kurt Dahlke | posted November 5, 2009 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
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A D V I C E
Recommended
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Mutants and Monsters Double Feature: Uninvited/Mutant:
Greydon Clark's eighties schlockfest Uninvited mostly earns its titular status, as after a while you'll wish you'd never let it into your DVD player. But, like a vampire, once you've invited it in, it's free to do as it chooses, and in this case Uninvited, like a vampire, sucks. It's no small blessing then, that Uninvited is so monumentally off its nut that it's quite enjoyable - in a forehead-slapping kind of way.

Combining those age-old horror tropes - Wall Street criminals trying to shelter funds, and a poisonous mutant cat - Clark wins the prize for most coked-up horror concept of 1987 - not that I'm in any way trying to imply drugs were involved in this production. It's just the surfeit of pink-and-black polka-dotted bikinis, Lacoste shirts, yachts and so on have me strongly flashing back to Miami Vice.

Using every plot point carefully to set up or justify proceedings, Uninvited commences with a little feline mutant-serum injection before landing us with a pair of freeloading wenches cruising Miami for a little mutant-serum injection of their own, if you get my drift. They just so happen to attract the attention of both an evil financier on the run from "the boys from the SEC" and a pair of dippy yuppie-wannabe bohunks. After careful consideration the girls invite the boys for a weekend party on Mr. Big's yacht. He's not too keen on the idea, but wait! The yacht crew has mutinied, so our heroes are reluctantly conscripted to fill in, just as the mutant cat (in cuddly 'normal' form) jumps into the girls' arms, and everyone sets sail for the Caymans. This thing has more subplots than a cheap cemetery.

With everyone game to dig into either bland or over-the-top roles, the likes of George Kennedy and Clu Gulager curse their mortgages before throwing caution and dignity to the wind. Terrible faux '80s pop plays while the girls lusciously party or exercise in nice bikinis - hardbodies and overdone hair glistening - and every so often the evil mutant cat makes its appearance by wrenching itself from the mouth of the cuddly cat before quickly ballooning to almost twice its host's size. Ol' mutie rips some throats out on the sly, desperation and confusion descend, and Kennedy's chest and ankle begin oozing and pulsating.

Despite a few latex-enhanced gashes, Uninvited's brief gore scenes are of the splashed-on blood variety, while any non-existent hopes of tension and fear are further eradicated by the sheer ridiculousness of 'the cat' - a mewling, shaggy, paralytic hand-puppet waggled around in futility. The thing ain't scary, it's hilarious. Further ruining the vibe is that gauzy, sunset air of everything-is-solved-by-a-pop-music-montage. Yet even this haphazard stylish inclusion betrays no hint that Uninvited isn't supposed to be a legitimate horror movie, but the producer who might have pronounced this silly affair DOA was apparently ... uninvited.

Mutant certainly stretches the definition of the word, but it doesn't matter a bit, as this forgotten '80s shocker, doing everything right, takes viewers by surprise. OK, maybe it's not a masterpiece, but for a genre effort even I don't remember seeing on the shelves of my video store, this little one is most definitely worth the effort. Under the assured, workmanlike hands of director John 'Bud' Cardos, (Kingdom Of The Spiders) Mutant takes more time than the average exploitationer (you'll begrudge none of those extra minutes) to toss about plenty of naturalistic performances, tense set-pieces, creepy monsters laying siege and other fun stuff.

An element of surprise is instrumental in generating fascination with Mutant, so we'll leave most plot details behind the door. Suffice it to say healthy dollops of genre juice are sprinkled about; city slickers trapped in a rural nightmare, chemical conspiracies, pus-oozing killer mutants and a drunken sheriff - it's a can't miss combination! Yet we've seen all of these things squandered by lesser technicians, rendered into annoying, insulting slop by sloth and contempt for the viewer. Cardos won't have any of that, doing his own thing with total lack of pretension while tweaking each element enough to make it seem fresh even decades after the fact.

It's not a perfect film, with a few too many distractions that take you out of the illusion. A boom shadow intrudes during a pivotal emotional scene, and sticks around for a good while. Our heroine Holly (Jody Medford) manages to drive a car, turning wide corners without her hands touching the wheel (I'm really not sure why they didn't notice this, or why Medford did it in the first place). Corny writing leads to stories about little schoolgirls secretly leaving a single red rose on a teacher's desk every day - until she was fried by the mutants that is - and plot-holes exist, and the school is way too big. Yet it's mostly immaterial to this type of pulp, as luckily, from the first reel, a sense of real danger intrudes. Impetuous Josh (Wings Hauser) and his brother piss off a bunch of rednecks that promptly run them off the road. Wouldn't mean much if Hauser and Lee Montgomery (brother Mike) didn't contribute natural, straight ahead performances; it's easy to put yourself in their place, and begin fearing for your life.

On their subsequent benighted journey through rural hell drunken sheriff Will (Bo Hopkins) provides little help - at first. Nicely, Hopkins lends genuine, gritty pathos to his role. Super-hot Medford pulls her weight too, pretty much everyone does a great job, including Cardos at the helm. His meat-and-potatoes direction (Cardos has done pretty much everything in the film world) sells the action with true economy. And as fans of Kingdom Of The Spiders know, Cardos can bring the tension. Fear set-ups suddenly launch into uncomfortable camera-work, uneasy takes stretch to the breaking point, and even though methodically-paced shock scenes unfold a bit slowly in the first hour, the final 30 minutes pile on the scary imagery and mutant attacks (evil kids in a restroom!) before turning into a big-old mutant duck shoot.

Mutant makeups aren't the best, (though at times deliver a scary Carnival Of Souls vibe) the somewhat silly chemical-mutant explanation probably should have simply been left out, and these guys really aren't mutants anyway - they make Mutant a de facto 'fast zombie' movie. Yet none of it matters, Cardos' mutants represent the perfect storm of low-budget, forgotten horror. Good performances, solid pacing and effective scenes of tension take what could have been a standard derivative dud, mutating it into something special.

The DVD

Video:
Both features are presented in full-frame, 1.33:1 ratio (these guys weren't working in Scope) and look their respective ages. Images are fairly sharp, colors are decent but not spectacular, and detail levels are average. Both films are somewhat grainy; neither has too much in the way of damage. These are essentially a few steps above VHS, but since the two movies are planted on a single budget disc, high-definition isn't really on the table.

Sound:
Both movies come with English Dolby Digital 2.0 Audio tracks, which are similarly OK - elements reside in proper balance, music not conflicting, dialog intelligible, and little to no source damage is present. Stereo separation is unremarkable; overall audio is adequate.

Extras:
The truly old-school extra known as Scene Selections and Trailers for the two movies.

Final Thoughts:
This gutbucket release - two movies, no backtalk - is for a certain type of horror collector. Not really the ones into steelcases, but the ones eager to load their shelves with any and everything. What they'll get is one hilarious dud - Uninvited and one really fun forgotten shocker - Mutant. The first features a ridiculous slimy hand puppet, the second a bunch of speedy, pasty-faced zombies. One is silly, one actually a bit scary, but both are fun, and lowbrow horror fans will watch each more than once, meaning this offering is cautiously Recommended.

- Kurt Dahlke

~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com

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