Frightfest 2019: Mutant Blast review

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Troma has a new film out – and here’s our review of Mutant Blast.

Certificate: n/a
Director: Fernando Alle
Cast: Pedro Barão Dias, Maria Leite, Joaquim Guerreiro, João Vilas
Release Date: TBC
Reviewer: Matt Edwards

Of all of the things I’d anticipated Mutant Blast being, sweetly good natured wasn’t among them.

The latest release from Troma, the trash kings of independent cinema, Mutant Blast is about a hapless survivor attempting to make it through a zombie uprising, a subsequent apocalyptic explosion and the mutated wasteland that then follows.

Mutant Blast opens with a heavily muscled, mutated man who appears to be in constant state of flexing escaping from a research facility. He walks strangely because all of his muscles are tense all the time. He looks uncomfortable, like he can’t exhale. It’s played straight, of course, which makes it all the more ridiculous.

The film quickly moves on to a flashback sequence that starts as a drunken night returning to our hungover lead, with fractured moments of boozed up partying giving way to flashes of the zombie attack that did for all of his guests. The whole sequence plays out as a half-asleep Pedro urinates for an impossibly long period of time. It’s a very funny sequence, evocative of Shaun Of The Dead.

This being Troma, the team behind the Toxic Avenger series and Poultrygeist: Night Of The Chicken Dead, your expectation might be that Mutant Blast will have the offensive and extreme turned up to 11. However, while this is no doubt an over-the-top, outrageous and splattery offering, it misses a lot of the more mean-spirited elements of some later Troma efforts. There’s no PC-baiting here, just madcap storytelling.

Mutant Blast does share Troma’s trademark ramshackle, DIY approach to production. This is the feature debut of director Fernando Alle, with the Portuguese production stretching their budget with all sorts of ‘I reckon we can get away with that’ shortcuts. They use a pink haze over the image to create the look of a wasteland and to mask the look of everything else.

Then there’s the mutant supersoldier sent after the hero and the other survivors he’s banded together with. The supersoldier’s design seems kind of neat, but the execution is so rickety you end up with something approximating Boba Fett by way of the petty cash tin. Yet, that’s the charm of the film.

Whenever a trashy movie ends up enjoyable we get told it’s so bad it’s good. That is nonsense. Mutant Blast is a realisation of what it was designed to be. It’s meant to be entertaining and trashy and silly and fun, and it is all of those things. It’s not so bad it’s good, it’s so trashy it’s entertaining. There’s nothing bad about that.

It’s a genre savvy work, too. The tradition of not calling the undead zombies is sent up, with the z word beeped out. There’s also a fun send up of the evil corporation trope, with the company behind the zombie outbreak meeting as a James Bond style boardroom gathering of villains. There’s even a fun new spin on the chair-tipping-back you-have-failed-me death. Sure, there isn’t a great deal to the story, the runtime instead filled out with bizarre and entertaining diversions. But they really go all out, ending up some distance from the beaten track. It’s all quite pleasant, too. The characters are nice and the film is gory and outrageous without needing to be obnoxious or punching down. It’s trash without the exploitation.

There’s so much invention and craziness, but to go any further would be to venture into spoiler territory.

A pleasant surprise and a total gas from start to finish. Mutant Blast is a trashy delight.

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