Stream to Scream: “MUTANT SPECIES”Fearful Features,Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
As many fright fans already know, FANGORIA offers a great selection of gruesome movies, old and new, for free at our Hulu channel. To give you a better idea of what’s available, FANGORIA is taking in-depth looks at some of the channel’s terrifying titles with Stream to Scream. Today: David A. Prior’s action horror MUTANT SPECIES.
Putting together an effective genre hybrid is no easy task. Between nailing the tonal balance and meeting the expectations of fans of either genre, mash-up films are often daunting even for experienced filmmakers. On the flip side of the coin, an imaginative and ambitious hybrid gone wrong can nevertheless yield considerable entertainment value.
In the case of MUTANT SPECIES, there is no definable “right” or “wrong”; there is only fun. Part action, part horror and part sci-fi, MUTANT SPECIES is the campy, low-budget alternative to PREDATOR, rich with what is supposed to be political allegory. Yet MUTANT SPECIES is also technically impressive, with interesting visual choices and SFX. In fact, the film even has enough understanding of its silly concept to subvert expectations and create some truly unforgettable moments of absurdity.
As previously noted, MUTANT SPECIES starts as a poor man’s PREDATOR, including both a rock-and-roll fueled helicopter sequence and a squadron of quip-trading commandos. Around a third of the way in, the film takes an unexpected turn, gradually descending further into horror territory until MUTANT SPECIES becomes an outright creature feature. All the while, MUTANT SPECIES injects in a political conspiracy subplot which breaks up the action and justifies the addition of extra slaughter fodder.
The film also includes one of the most unique and over-the-top creatures ever seen in a contemporary B-movie. A concoction of dog, man, snake and sasquatch, the monster of MUTANT SPECIES lumbers through set pieces, with the audience occasionally seeing through it’s warped, red-hued vision right before fleeting gore moments. Nevertheless, the creature from MUTANT SPECIES is never taken too seriously throughout, especially given its goofy turn within the final minutes of the film.
MUTANT SPECIES comes from director David A. Prior, an unsung hero of the modern B-movie who already boasted a decade of experience with campy genre fare before it. Despite the often illogical screenplay co-written by Prior and William S. Vigil, the filmmaker embraces both the action and horror aesthetics and contributes a surprisingly focused technical prowess towards each. And while the film is never intense or scary, Prior ensures MUTANT SPECIES is consistently entertaining, especially considering the gimmick-laden cinematography and editing from Carlos Gonzalez and Tony Malanowski, respectively.
The technical skill on display only goes as far as the cast of the film, many of who embrace their role within the B-movie universe of MUTANT SPECIES. While HALLOWEEN II actor Leo Rossi gets top billing as the soldier who turns into the creature, the true lead is Prior’s brother and frequent collaborator Ted, who is actually impressive in his commitment to the character. Denise Crosby and Grant Gelt both seem to be having fun in their blue collar roles, especially the latter who gets to deliver more in the way of comedy and action. Perhaps the most surprising appearances come from a scenery-chewing Powers Boothe as the human antagonist and a sleepwalking Wilford Brimley as a sympathetic military man, although casual horror fans might get a kick out of THE WALKING DEAD’s Melissa McBride in a small role.
MUTANT SPECIES is far too fun to be dismissed, especially once the exceptionally designed creature finally hits the screen. Director David A. Prior runs with the material right into bizarre, silly and bloody monster movie territory, with the cast seemingly along for every step of the way. So for FANGORIA readers looking for low-rent thrills and high-concept fun, get to our Hulu page and seek out MUTANT SPECIES immediately.