Zombie cannibals and claymation aliens in the 1980s

Doctor Butcher, M.D. and Mutilations—the titles go together better than the content, but at least it made for a double feature with some 80s variety.

DOCTOR BUTCHER, M.D. (aka: Zombie Holocaust) (1980)

doctor butcher md cover copy

This classic cannibal zombie gorefest is better known as Zombie Holocaust (European cut title), but was reissued on Blu-ray as Doctor Butcher, M.D. (American cut title) with both versions of the film included.

The first major difference between the two versions is the music—a synth score is used in the US version, which at times drastically helps with the scare-free atmosphere of the original film. At other times, it’s overkill and just annoying. The other big difference is a cool but ludicrously unrelated intro scene in the US version—zombies coming out of graves in a cemetery. Um…this is a movie about a mad scientist on a remote island performing surgery on primitives to make them into zombies.

zombie holocaust attack

With or without that scene, the story starts off at a hospital rocked by mystery and mayhem. Someone is coming in and cutting up corpses, so naturally, our main characters head to—a primitive island! Before long, they are being torn apart and devoured by tribal cannibals.

zombie holocaust eyes

By today’s standards, most of the mutilation (by hand) looks absurdly exaggerated, there’s no suspense or tension, and there is no intensity to the cannibal attacks. The movie is painfully bland and fails to create any feeling of dread.

zombie holocaust attack

The non-eating zombies don’t help matters. See, once the mad scientist fucks with the brains of the cannibal primitives, they become zombies (pretty much guys with mud masks on their faces) that just stand in the jungle looking ominous. Talk about a failed experiment. This dude can’t even turn a flesh craving human into a zombie with an appetite.

zombie holocaust zombie

It seems like nothing happens in Doctor Butcher, M.D. because nothing exciting happens. The sequences are so amateurish that there’s never a sense of urgency for the survivors to get to the rescue crew that is supposedly coming for them.

zombie holocaust head

We’re talking about a movie in which we finally get to the mad scientist’s lab so can deliver a melodramatic monologue explaining his evil plot while pointing a gun at our heroes. Groan. Considering Zombie Holocaust came out the same year as Cannibal Holocaust, it may as well have been a movie of the week on primetime television.

MUTILATIONS (1986)

mutilations cover smaller

Mutilations is the ultimate recipe for cult trash. It’s so utterly bad but so perfectly watchable—and so amazingly 80s.

mutilations monster

A class field trip takes an unexpected turn when the teacher and his students find themselves in the center of an alien invasion. Turns out these aliens are mutilating then mutating cattle. We actually get to see one of these dead/mutating cows—a big lump of claymation. WTF?

mutilations cattle

It only gets better from there. The movie is drenched in 80s neon horror lights as the class goes to meet an old crazy guy who says he’s seen aliens. Then—a (toy) spaceship crashes into the house! Out come big claymation monsters. The special effects are hilariously 1960s, the best being the total mutation of one of the students.

mutilations face mutate

The class ends up battling the aliens in underground catacombs until a redneck posse shows up to save the day. It’s only in the final act of the film that it seems to know it’s a comedy and stops taking itself so seriously.

mutilations character
No, it’s not Adrienne Barbeau in
Creepshow.

Horrible acting, horrible special effects, weak story, way too much terrible dialogue. Mutilations is the worst the 1980s had to offer—and what made it the best decade ever.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES.

I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.

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