Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Mutations (1974)

Just time for a quick 'Random Movie Trailer' today.  Back in the seventies, as the British film industry began to collapse and established studios like Hammer, Amicus and Tigon relinquished their grip on the horror genre in the UK, a number of independent producers started to put out some decidedly off-beat horror flicks.  Eschewing Hammer's elaborate period gothics, or Amicus' generally insipid anthology films, this new wave of low budget shockers generally featured contemporary settings and non-supernatural threats.  The Mutations is interesting as, despite its new-fangled nudity and violence, it represents an attempt to resurrect the traditional mad scientist movie,also  incorporating elements of Tod Browning's 1932 Freaks

Unfortunately, as I've yet to track down a complete copy of the film, I have to rely upon trailers, excerpts and contemporary critics to get some idea of what The Mutations was like as a movie.  Plot-wise, it is pretty straightforward: mad scientist Donald Pleasance is using his students as guinea pigs in his experiments to combine humans with plants.  The less than successful results are hidden in a carnival freak show run by Tom Baker (virtually unrecognisable under layers of prosthetics), who also kidnaps the students for Pleasance.  Naturally, one of his creations - a sort of venus fly-trap man - runs amok and, well, you can probably fill in the rest yourself.  Like Freaks, it uses actual carnival 'freaks', raising the same questions of taste as the earlier film had.  All-in-all, it sounds agreeably bonkers and features a suitably rickety-looking seventies monster.  Directed by acclaimed cinematographer Jack Cardiff, (who, like his contemporary Freddie Francis, took the director's chair for a fair few genre pictures in the sixties and seventies), you can guarantee that it will at least be nicely shot.  Sadly, like many British genre films of its era, The Mutations seems to have undeservedly slipped into obscurity, not even turning up on obscure digital movie channels.  Which is a pity as, based on what I've seen and read of it, the film appears a lot more entertaining than some of the better known studio product which still gets regular TV outings.



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