Friday, January 20, 2023

eggs and baker.

Scarily both Dame David Lynch and Sir Tom of Baker have their birthdays today so what better way to celebrate than with a film where the aforementioned ex-Time Lord plays a character called Mr Lynch?

The Mutations (AKA Doctor of Evil, The Freakmaker, The Mutation. 1974).
Dir: Jack Cardiff.
Donald Pleasence, Tom Baker, Brad Harris, Julie Ege, Michael Dunn, Scott Antony, Jill Haworth, Olga Anthony, Esther Blackmon, Hugh Bailey, Felix Duarte and Willie Ingram the pop eyed man.

Professor Nick Nolter (Pleasence, looking not unlike a egg dipped in treacle) is just your average everyday science lecturer at some nameless English polytechnic splitting his time between teaching over forties who want to get better qualifications to get back into work (well from the look of the cast this seems to be the case) and conducting frankly bonkers experiments in an attempt to create a human/plant hybrid.

As you do.

But the professor needs a fresh supply of people to work on, so to this end he employs the fucked of face, scraggy haired Mr. Lynch (A pre-Doctor Who Dame Tom of Baker), a stinky ne'er do well who just happens to co-own the local carnival, to help him out.

Lynch happily obtains young men and women for Nolter's mad experiments on the understanding that one day the professor will fix his face for him.

Sounds legit.

Anyway with the basic plot out of the way it's back to the Restart classes where three trendy 'young' students; blonde buxom Hedi (Ege from shitloads of stuff including your granddads bed), luscious Lauren (the bobble headed beauty Haworth star of Tower of Evil) and Tony (Antony, from Ken Russell's Savage Messiah) have decided to have a word with the visiting scholar - and token American hunk - Dr. Brian Redford (B movie lunk Harris from The Mad Butcher amongst other classics) regarding the rumours they've heard about Nolter’s research.

Being a nosy bugger Redford agrees to look into it.

"Shite in mah....oh, someone already has".

Meanwhile back at the carnival the employees are a wee bit unhappy.

And not just because they all smell of cabbage.

Nope, it seems that they're getting a tad suspicious at the amount of new freaks suddenly appearing.

Lynch's partner, a pre-Simpsons Mr. Burns (Dunn, who sadly died at the age of 38 during production not long after completing all his scenes. As a plus point it did mean that he didn't have to sit thru' it) tries to calm his regular workers by saying he put an ad in the paper and an entire family from Cradley Heath turned up for the job.

Could he be lying?

All this talk of bearded ladies and tiny men in hats is beginning to annoy Lynch tho' who vents his frustration on the tent pole before stomping off in a club-footed rage.

A wee bit like your Auntie Jean used to after a few sherries at Christmas.

Deciding that what Lynch needs is a surprise party to show how well liked he is his co-workers throw up some tinsel (not literally mind tho' with hindsight that would be worth seeing), organize a kiddy friendly - as opposed to kiddy fiddling - DeeJay and bake him a cake.

Unfortunately this act of kindness sends him into a violent (and dribbly) rage that can only be sated by a visit to a dirty, baby doll nightie clad lady of the night who lives by the fish market.

What your dad gets up to at camera club.

Meanwhile back at the main plot our trendy tecs have decided to take a break from their investigations to spend an evening at the local fairground.

As over 30's often do.

After a few rides on the waltzers and eating their own body weight in candyfloss the groovy group spy the freak show tent huddled in a dark corner of the park so decide that half an hour taking the absolute cunt out of those less fortunate than themselves would be the perfect way to end the night.

And before you go all PC and huffy on me remember this, dear reader, is the reason we're watching.

Well it's the reason I'm watching, I mean you're not actually watching it are you?

You're reading this.

Tho' to be honest you could be doing both - how would I know?

I'm not your mum.

For one thing I've never caught chlamydia off your uncle Paul.

And you wonder why her and your dad have separate rooms.

But I digress.

See her? That's your mum that is.

Upon entering the tent our merry band - and the viewer - are confronted by some of the strangest sights known to man.

There's an old lady with a hairy face, a woman with really bad exzema dubbed The Lizard Woman (Blackmon), a boy with no bones in his legs (no, really) non-sensationally named Terry the Frog Boy (Duarte), the bendy backed Human Pretzel (Bailey), a scarily sexy Monkey Woman and everyone's favourite, the fantastic Popeyed Jeff (Willie Ingram - but probably not this one) a man who can make his eyeballs pop out from their sockets.

"Eye son".

Now part of me wants to say that exploiting those born differently for cheap entertainment is distasteful and somewhat sickening in this more aware climate.*

But screw that, this guy can actually make his eyeballs bulge out of his skull!

How fucking cool is that?

Tunnel or funnel?

Anyway, as you can probably guess Nolter's experiments get more and more freaky climaxing with poor Tony getting turned into a hideous Venus flytrap/human/vagina hybrid with a taste for tramps and blondes (and trampy blondes) whilst the Professor makes a speech arguing the case for the creation of a race of super-humans and poor old Lynch is hunted down by a gang of dwarves using attack dogs.

Oh yeah and Ege gets her kit off and is touched up by a tree-type thing**.

There's no denying that The Mutations is a bona fide classic of British exploitation cinema, what should be a crass and tasteless excuse to show differently-abled folk for cheap enjoyment is surprisingly entertaining and almost apologetic when it comes to it's subject matter.

It's almost as if it wants to channel the sympathetic edge of the Tod Browning classic Freaks with it's "Who are the real monsters?" message but kinda drops the ball as soon as Scott Antony stumbles into shot dressed as a giant fanny tho'.

But fair play for trying.

"Look dad! I'm from Sedgley!"

Saying that tho' the films mad mix of gore, girls, gritty social commentary and gro-bag induced terrors adds a totally schizophrenic feel to the whole thing that kinda works in it's favour tho' at times the heavy-handed plotline plight of the carnival folk and their abuse at the hands of the loutish Lynch does feel a wee bit  at odds in a story about man eating plants and a saliva slopping bloke with a potato stuck to his face.

But despite (or because) of all this The Mutations is both utterly brilliant and totally crap in equal measures.

Jeremy Corbyn, up the casino, Blackpool, 1978.

Scarily tho' the movie was directed by an honest to goodness Oscar winner, Jack Cardiff (who won best cinematographer for 1948 movie Black Narcissus), showing that he had either a secret love of shlock horror or the onset of Alzheimer's - it's your choice, and it's this unsure style, coupled with his almost erotic obsession with time-lapse footage of plants growing, topless dolly birds and the real life freak show performances at the movies half way point that makes this the cinematic equivalent of drunkenly shagging your best mates mum.

It might be great at the time but with hindsight you end up feeling slightly guilty and even a wee bit itchy from enjoying it so much.

Worth watching, but only if you're alone.

Or just very lonely.

Hopefully I'll pick something a wee bit less controversial next time.

If I can be arsed that is.

*Let's be honest here, I'm just pissed off that I'm the only Autistic person in the world who can't count cards, is rubbish at maths and never wins owt in the casino.....Imagine how shit it is to not even do Autism properly.

**Which seems to be a running theme in films of this era.....look here if you don't believe me.

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