'Mutant Blast' Review: Like Astron-6 and a Young Peter Jackson Had a Kick-Ass Baby

We all win when French lobsters fight sword-wielding dolphins.

Mutant Blast

Toronto After Dark Film Festival runs October 17th through the 25th.

No film is for everyone, but some movies seem designed from the ground up to appeal to a very specific and usually small demographic. In this case, those movies are the likes of Bad Taste (1987) and Father’s Day (2011) — scrappy, gleefully gory, do-it-yourself indie films that embrace genre beats with creativity, enthusiasm, and a go-for-broke insanity. And now that fraternity of madness has a new member in Fernando Alle‘s ridiculously fun Mutant Blast.

Pedro (Pedro Barão Dias) awakes after a night of debauchery-fueled partying to discover a dick has been drawn on his face, but that’s really the least of his worries. A zombie apocalypse began while he slept, and now the world as he knew it is no more. Across town, Maria (Maria Leite) has just liberated a science project turned super soldier named TS-347 (Joaquim Guerreiro) and is on the run from military assassins. They all cross paths just in time for the madmen in charge to launch a nuclear strike in the hope of eradicating the zombies, but this being a world of fuck ups, the blast instead works to cause mutations in the survivors. Some grow an extra ear, others watch as their hands turn into rats, and maybe a lobster morphs into a well-dressed, bipedal Frenchman. It’s the apocalypse. Anything can happen.

Alle’s film is the latest from Troma Entertainment, home to the likes of Rabid Grannies (1988) and The Taint (2011), but don’t let that scare you off — Mutant Blast is a legitimate blast. It’s a silly, low-budget romp that takes its characters seriously even as their situations scream utter ridiculousness, and it delivers a fine balance between pure nonsense and smart execution. These are engaging, charismatic characters — yes, even the French lobster in a suit — and their fates become every bit as fascinating and compelling as those in far more serious apocalyptic fare.

The film is also surprisingly sweet given its production company and premise, and rather than go the route of aggressive nihilism or mean-spirited comedy Mutant Blast delivers characters, interactions, and a journey worth caring about. To be clear, don’t expect to shed any tears over the numerous deaths, maimings, and assaults on display, but you also won’t see female characters degraded or characters treated with cruel brutalities. Even with the bloody mayhem and madness on display the film retains a fun, lightweight feel that leaves viewers smiling and wanting more.

That mayhem is bloody, though, as heads are punched off and squished, flesh is gnawed on, and guts leave the safe confine of their human shells. Some CG blood is present early on, but the majority of the film’s violence is captured via practical effects work and high-pressure blood pumps. There’s a comical feel to most of it that doesn’t ascribe to biological realities, but that’s half the damn fun. It’s every bit in the vein of early Peter Jackson, Astron-5, and Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky (1991), and like those filmmakers and films it’s clear that every penny of their tiny budgets is up there on the screen to bring a magically ridiculous vision to life.

Leite and Dias manage a sweet and casual banter between them that brings warmth to the carnage, and both give performances that show them committing to the world of the film in all its lunacy. You buy their conviction and their connection, and it creates an unexpected calm amid the mayhem. Guerreiro has the simpler role that just sees him slaughtering those around him with abandon, but he deserves a shout out his presence and posturing alone — the man’s muscles are so jacked that his arms refuse to rest at his sides. The assumption is it’s a combination of performance and reality, but the effect is one that’s as humorous as it is memorable. He’s a beast.

Mutant Blast is glorious fun for viewers who can handle humor and nonsense in their genre fare. It hits familiar enough beats in its story but executes them with a personality all its own. If you have to wake up into a zombie apocalypse, trust me when I say this is the bonkers world you’d want to call home.

Toronto After Dark Film Festival runs October 17th through the 25th.

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