Reviews

Shriek of the Mutilated (1974)

Bigfoot has always been an excessive person.

In The Capture of Bigfoot, he threw a snowmobile at someone’s head. In Night of the Demon, he removed a man’s penis and threw it at a tree. But in Shriek of the Mutilated, Bigfoot reaches his full potential as a hell-bent master of death. Probably because he’s wearing Adidas sneakers.

Dr. Prell is obsessed with tracking down Bigfoot, who is reportedly on-the-loose in upstate New York. Prell has a history of “getting people killed” on his missions, but that doesn’t deter a group of students from traveling with him to the woods during the dead of winter. Fear! Death! Severed limbs in backyards! A giant “Native American” named Laughing Crow who is really just a tall Italian dude who grunts a lot! All of this means that people will die, someone will play a Yeti-themed piano-pop song, and things may not be what they seem.

Whenever I sit down with Shriek of the Mutilated, it’s like I’m watching for the first time. The hairs on my neck stand up. I feel exhilarated. And in perfect conjunction with those feelings, I want to tell everyone I know about what it is that I’m experiencing, so that they, too, may experience it for themselves. This is a dirt-cheap, surreal gore movie directed, photographed, and edited by scum wizards Michael and Roberta Findlay (The Flesh Trilogy, Snuff) and written and produced by Ed Adlum and Ed Kelleher (Invasion of the Blood Farmers). In other words, this thing is the REEL DEEL — a veritable mountain of sleazy-yet-quaint ridiculousness.

Shriek of the Mutilated feels like a juncture between Ed Wood’s Night Of The Ghouls and Wes Craven’s Last House On The Left. Granted, Shriek‘s subject matter has little in common with either of those films. There are no Criswell ghosts or David Hess-ified violence. But there is a certain intonation, a chance grouping of elements that serve as a reference point between two eras of trash significance — one happy and giddy, one gloomy and gritty. To illustrate this point, I hand the mic to Dr. Karl Werner, who shares this cultivated Bigfoot observation after discovering a severed leg in his backyard:

“Bigfoot is more raucous than a moose.”

This movie is heightened in every way possible. The Findlays plaster the film with public domain symphonies from scratchy LPs, caffeinated edits, and their comforting brand of rough ingenuity. The minor gore is never extreme, though it always feels extreme — chalk that up to the foggy, Kodak Instamatic-esque photography. And how about the surprise ending? The one which is less surprising for its actual surprise and more surprising because it’s just people sitting around a table and talking for 10 minutes? Yep. That’s pretty amazing too.

Really, that’s how the Findlays and the two Eds pull it off. There’s a million and one things going on in Shriek of the Mutilated and it’s all reminiscent of a million and one things that you and I love about trash-horror films. This includes a Yeti who looks and acts like an epileptic Shih Tzu puppy.

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