Mutant Hunt (1987) – Junkie robots get junked

This is quite the cracker here. Mutant Hunt is pure, kitschy, low budget Sci-fi, featuring a totally unoriginal story, soundtracked to cheap perfection, and packed full of woeful action. Everything from Blade Runner to The Terminator has been unashamedly ripped off and stuffed with an impressive amount of meaningless and confusing narrative offal. While I don’t want to spoil anything, I feel I should warn you that the mutants in question are actually cyborgs, wacked out on futuristic narcotic “Euphoron” – which is taken by ear hole, of course. The action is plentiful, yet I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen a collection of fight sequences this awful, which only serves to make it more entertaining. It comes from the unconventional mind of writer and director Tim Kincaid, who started out as something of a pioneer in gay porn. This lands right in the middle of his attempt to break into Hollywood with fantastic trash-fests like Breeders and Robot Holocaust – check out those posters when you get a chance – while simultaneously raising a family. Surprisingly the success never came, and he returned to the adult scene – once the kids had grown up that is.

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From the first shots it is made very clear that something sinister is happening at the labs of Inteltrax, standing in for the Tyrell Corporation. The introductory scenes actually kick some arse, whilst managing to be insanely tacky, dropping us straight into the carnage and fostering a little mystery and confusion. Never fear though, the exposition comes directly after, as we meet some lady talking in a thick Queens accent to her cyborg buddy through a wall, or a floor, or something. Inteltrax boss Z has a grand plan that involves getting his new and improved cyborgs on the aforementioned space-crack. The lady, wait for it, Domina, isn’t too happy as she has a similar plan, and some kind of sordid history with this Z guy. Good thing there’s a nice scientist who sends his sister to seek the help of a legendary mercenary, Matt Riker. This seems to be the catalyst for the junkie cyborgs to go on a psychosexual rampage. I know that doesn’t make much sense, but Kincaid uses the word a bunch to rationalise the bizarre events, it’s all psychosexual, just trust the man. So marks the beginning of an hour or so of wanton destruction – of bodies, cyborgs, and small concrete blocks – as well as some of the most adrenaline pumping non-action you’ve ever seen.

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It would be remiss of me not to mention the painstaking effort put into character back stories and unimportant side plots, which help so much to create an enthralling story world. Helping Riker is a stripper who keeps her clothes on, I guess because she’s an undercover agent, Elaine, and a cable guy with sweet roundhouse kicks, Felix. There is, of course, some hot, torrid past between Riker and Elaine which is revisited, despite Felix being the one putting in all the work. There’s also a butch punk who’s henchmen look vaguely like Journey members, and who for some reason tries to roll our heroes at every opportunity. There’s also a bit of a Roy Batty style redemption for a partially damaged cyborg, joining the merry band along the way. If none of that makes sense, that’s because it doesn’t, at least not in terms of anything meaningful. It is genuinely impressive, however, that Kincaid fits this much overly complicated yet insubstantial story into the relentlessly plodding action.

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For a movie filled with fight scenes, these are some of the worst you’ll see, ever. The action is so slow, choreographed and delivered worse than any student project I was involved in. Perhaps it was a lack of time and tape, or just poorly trained actors. Maybe a bit of both. It sounds awful, yet it is really quite fun to watch the supposedly brutal, killer cyborgs stumble around awkwardly, getting beaten by all manner of household objects. Almost all of the action is hand to hand too, once again probably due to budget constraints, making everything seem so non-threatening until the fatalities come out of nowhere to end each sequence.

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The excitement is always delightfully backed by a sweet, video-game-style soundtrack, featuring hypnotic synth and wailing guitar, and the occasional bit of game show music. Even better is that it comes from a man named Don Great, a regular collaborator of Kincaid’s, probably not a real name though as he was also previously from the porn world. I dare say any money the production actually had was blown on explosions, hah, and plenty of body props, including a sweet Inspector Gadget arm. Yeah, it looks as dumb as it sounds. I dare say there was also a little splurging on the computer graphics, which pop up throughout and may have looked kind of cool at the time. There is, though, one rather impressive piece of The Terminator style make-up, for that redeemed cyborg I mentioned. The rest of the time the cyborgs look like members of a German New Wave band filming a clip.

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Perhaps I shouldn’t delve into the cast too much, or perhaps I’m being too harsh. Main man Riker is played by the handsome Rick Gianasi, funnily enough a regular lead of Kincaid’s – in his Hollywood period though, I should stress. He actually does a pretty bang up job, and his trash talk during fights is hilariously bad, “you’re gonna be steamed cyborg.” He also has an extensive fight scene in his underwear, the old Y-fronts and everything else on show. I know I’ve said that a few times about a movie, but never about a male character, so colour me impressed. Mind you, if ever there was a director to do it. The rest of the troupe seem to be first timers or extreme bit-parters. That said, I’m really not buying the name Stormy Spill, though you can’t blame her. Taunie Vrenon is Elaine, and she holds herself pretty well, though struggles with the action. Luckily one of her character’s skills is tying elaborate rope harnesses in order to scale heights, which keeps her out of the action for part of the climax, for no reason. Conversely, Ron Reynaldi thrives on the fighting as Felix, really only providing comic relief elsewhere, something entirely unnecessary but not unwelcome. “Cut her some slack,” he says to a cyborg about to Gorilla Press Slam Elaine.

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For all the fumbling action, silly special effects, and confused narrative, Kincaid does manage to nail the occasional shot composition and set combination.  As a whole, Mutant Hunt actually looks pretty good, hell I’d say really good at certain times, at least in that warm, fuzzy, low budget way. Perhaps we have first time cinematographer Thomas Murphy to thank for that instead. Whatever the case, the occasional stroke of stylistic genius – and the apparent effort, if misguided, gone into creating a vivid story world – make this movie stand out from the crowd. So too does the total incompetence exhibited in the lengthy and numerous action segments. For a simple, dirt cheap, Sci-fi knock job, Kincaid has outdone himself and created something very entertaining in a multitude of ways – mostly trashy. And no, I’m not even going to touch the question of whether they are in fact cyborgs or androids, but I think it has something to do with what they dream of.

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