John “Bud” Cardos’ underrated eco-ghoul film still packs a punch
The dawn of the 1980s saw more than its share of eco-minded, human monster movies, a sub-genre spawned most likely by the one-two-punch of George A. Romeros ghoul virus 1978 masterpiece DAWN OF THE DEAD and James Bridges shattering and successful 1979 thriller THE CHINA SYNDROME. Films like director Graham Baker’s Meg Tilly and Tim Matheson vs.Freudian-zombie vehicle IMPULSE (itself somewhat reminiscent of David Cronenbergs 1975 breakthrough exploitation film SHIVERS) and Hal Barwood’s underrated 1985 toxic-zombie chiller WARNING SIGN; movies that mixed corporate cover-ups with sacrificial small-town paranoia, usually dealing with some sort of spill that mutates average people, causing them to do terrible things to any non-infected person within biting distance.
One of the best of this lot is KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS helmer John Bud Cardos lean and mean horror gem NIGHT SHADOWS, widely released on home video and cable in the 1980s as MUTANT, a title it retains to this day.
Its a shame its distributor decided to slap that moniker on such an eerie, urgent and earthy horror film; MUTANT is the alternate title for Roger Cormans ALIEN ripoff FORBIDDEN WORLD and the packaging for Cardos film had that handle displayed, widely-spaced letters a la ALIEN and even featured a Giger-like fanged face on the front. In some European markets it was even released as MUTANT II.
Those looking for a deep-space shocker in line with Ridley Scott, were bound to be bummed.
MUTANT does have a dose of science-fiction at its core, but its the maddest kind of science, spawned by man, not the stars. Rather, the movie is an atmospheric, unpretentious down-home horror flick that, more often than not, feels like Meth-fueled remake of Tobe Hoopers 1979 TV movie adaptation of Stephen Kings SALEM’S LOT.Continue reading “On MUTANT”