The Mutations (1974) – Jack Cardiff

DK Canada’s Monsters in the Movies continues to bring me atomic mutations. This offering is a little odd, and features some recognisable actors in a rather bad film called The Mutations, but also known as The Freakmaker.

Donald Pleasance plays Professor Nolter, a scientist who is fascinated by the combination of animal and plant as exhibited in some species in nature wants to conduct some experimentation of his own, and ends up doing so on his own students.

He is aided in his work by the deformed (but still recognisable if you know what to see and listen to) Lynch (Tom Baker), who is hoping that the professor will be able to cure him of his affliction.

Lynch earns a few extra bob by working in a touring freak show overseen by Burns (another familiar face in Micheal Dunn). The touring show actually features some poor souls suffering unusual afflictions, but how it fits into the actual story is questionable.


As Lynch abducts subjects for Nolter, he works his way through the class but pulls one too many, and some including a visiting American scientist, Brian Redford (Brad Harris) begin to get suspicious, though they aren’t quite ready for what Nolter is up to.

Happily the film is all about the practical effects and makeup, though the designs are a little questionable. The plant pieces that Nolter incorporates into his victims through grafting and radiation are a little questionable, and seemed more appropriate for Doctor Who stories at the same time.

The film is severely unbalanced as the balance between the touring show and the experiments angle is poorly explored, and only has a tenuous connection because of Lynch. One that is used to set up a payoff for the character during the climax of the film.

I love the fact that Pleasance and Baker did a film together, and the added bonus of Dunn is brilliant. But this film wasn’t interested in doing a good story, they wanted some silly scares, and a lot of bare breasts, and the film succeeds at that.

This is definitely an odd one, and I can’t quite tell what the director and production company was attempting. It doesn’t quite feel like a b-movie, creature feature or even an exploitation film, it’s well… odd.

It’s also a film I had never heard of until I dove into DK Books’ wonderful Monsters in the Movies. Coming across films you didn’t know, and whether you completely enjoy them, or simply file them as curiosities, that is one of the things I love about exploring cinema, and working my way through movie books like this.

So pick one up for yourself and find something monstrous to watch tonight!




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