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MASKED MUTILATOR (2019)
Directed by Brick Bronsky (as Jeff Beltzner)
Written by Ed Polgardy, Dale Schneck
Starring Jeff Sibbach, Brick Bronsky, Tom Taylor, Jim ‘Tank’ Dorsey, Jack Hill, Jennifer Jones, Christine Appino, Chet Cole, James DeBello, Andrew Denzel, Glenn Hetrick, Amanda Kupchinsky, Steve Mittman, Mike Mittman, Russel Oister, Leida Queralt, Heidi Shelhamer, Paul Sutt, Doug Yasinsky
Find out more about this film here!!
Just last week, I reviewed WRESTLEMASSACRE and found it rough to get through. This week I took a gander at MASKED MUTILATOR and while this film isn’t great cinema by a long shot, it does have really good intentions and kept me entertained until the very end. File this one into the “So Bad It’s Good” section.
A radio show focusing on abuse in foster care interviews a pair of kids from a teenage residential home who survived a massacre years prior. The film is mostly told in flashback with the kids recounting the events leading up to the night the Masked Mutilator attacked. Former pro wrestler Vic Mangino (Jeff Sibbach) once killed a man in the ring wearing the Masked Mutilator mask, now he works as a strict house father for a home housing foster kids in their late teens. When a new intern Steve Carson (director/actor/bulky person Brick Bronsky) shows up, it throws the kids living at the residential home in a tizzy. Soon, bodies start piling up. Has Vic returned to his murderous ways he left behind in the ring? And what of the new transfer Brian (Tom Taylor) and his explosive kung fu? And how can no one see the blood stains everywhere left in the aftermath of the Masked Mutilator’s murders?
MASKED MUTILATOR seems to be a labor of love by its creators. The film was mostly made in 1994 which makes sense if you look at the horrendous clothing the cast is sporting throughout the film. It seems only the radio bumpers were created to fill in some of the holes missed by the amateur filmmaking. And I have to say, the film does a decent job of telling a pretty typical, yet undeniably fun slasher film. The acting, the pacing, the direction, and the narrative is all off kilter. There are scenes where the actors seem like they’ve said their lines and are just waiting and wondering when the director is going to call cut. All of the actors are way too old to be playing the teenage cast. Some of them have receding hairlines and beer bellies. Others are so bulked up that they look like He-Man figures. It is interesting that they brought back Tom Taylor after 25 years and seeing him as a kid and as an adult really does add some weight to the film.
Despite all of the low tier filmmaking going on, when it gets going, MASKED MUTILATOR really does dive deep into schlocky goodness as the Mutilator has a final battle in the middle of a living room that manages to be pretty epic. Taylor seems proficient in some form of martial art and the scenes where he doles out roundhouses, kicks, punches, and nunchaku twirling is the stuff of hokey action movies of the 80’s and 90’s. It helps that Taylor looks like a roided up William Zabka from THE KARATE KID. But the real fun is seeing Jeff Sibbach unleash hell with his wrestling moves. Again, the guy knows the craft of self defense and wrestling, but that doesn’t help it from being ludicrous as all get out as he treats the living room like his own cage match. Sibbach is actually one of the better actors of this group, which I something I can’t say about the wooden line delivery of Taylor, director/actor Bronsky, and the rest of the cast. Still, there is a hokiness to this film that makes me forgive all of the bad filmmaking and just enjoy the fun.
I was also surprised by the handling of the subject of foster homes, the issues many kids in foster care have, and the horrible conditions these kids must live in while in foster care. Having worked in this field for a number of years, the depictions of the relationships between the kids and their care workers and the crowded, hopeless environment they are stuffed into are sadly pretty as accurate now as they were in 1994. The film, while goofy as all get out, manages to humanize these kids and make each and every one of them unique with their own backstory and problems as highlighted in a montage of monologues at the end of the film. I was actually touched by the sensitive hand the film used with this subject and in between all of the grunting, sweating, and wrasslin’, there really is a big heart to MASKED MUTILATOR.
This is bad cinema all the way, and while the pacing is slow, the last half hour to forty five minutes of MASKED MUTILATOR is cheesy, goofy, jock-scratchingly good stuff that is bound to brainlessly entertain.