The Mutations

The Mutations
The Mutations

Movie Details

The Mutation
Director-Jack Cardiff
Cast-Donald PleasenceTom BakerBrad Harris
Movie type- Horror Sci fi Thriller
Producers-Robert D. Weinbach
Release date 25 th September 1974
IMDB Rating-5.2
Duration-1 Hour 32 Minutes



After forty years of working in the premier film league, Jack Cardiff ended his directorial career with a production that belonged to campy, class B cinema.

At first glance, Professor Nolter is an exemplary citizen: a balanced man, a respected biologist and academic lecturer. In fact, he is a madman who wants to create a human-plant hybrid. He believes that this will accelerate the evolution of the human species, but will also solve the problem of hunger, because plants will be able to move independently in search of better living conditions, and people will gain the ability to photosynthesize. To this end, a mad scientist crosses the genes of a Venus flytrap with those of college students who are kidnapped by the disfigured Lynch. When the experiment fails, the mutants go to an amusement park as an attraction in a freak show. Eventually, the monsters rebel against their creator.

Jack Cardiff was a respected British director, photographer and cinematographer, cinematographer of, among others, to such films as Black Narcissus (1947) by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, Under the Capricorn (1949) by Alfred Hitchcock and The African Queen (1951) by John Huston. In parallel to his career as a cinematographer, he dabbled in directing, and his most famous (or at least titled) film is Sons and Lovers (1960) – a drama based on the novel by DH Lawrence, nominated for seven Oscars, four Golden Globes, the Palme d’Or and many other awards. Cardiff made a total of fourteen feature-length films (including his unfinished debut The Story of William Tell ), and Mutations was his last film as a director.

If it weren’t for the director’s name in the credits, Mutations could be mistaken for a lost film by Ed Wood, rather than the work of a recognized and award-winning filmmaker: a low budget, a B-movie plot and poor acting from not-so-good actors, including Donald Pleasence as Nolter ( (who was initially supposed to be played by Vincent Price) and Tom Baker (one of the actors of Doctor Who) as Lynch. Moreover, Cardiff’s film (also known as The Freakmaker ) is a kind of variation on Tod Browning’s Freaks (1932). Just like there, here too there were people with real disabilities and genetic defects (Rubber Man, Crocodile Lady, Monkey Woman, etc.). The Battersea Fun Fair amusement park in London served as the outdoor setting.

I saw Mutations for the first time as a child, thanks to the kindness of a friendly owner of a video rental store, who – regardless of my adolescent age – gave me every movie I asked for (that’s how it was in the 90s!). I will remember for the rest of my life the terrifying chase and kidnapping scene in the park and the excellent, disturbing atmosphere of the whole thing. The second viewing after almost three decades exposed all the weaknesses of this bizarre film, especially the absurd starting point and the exploitative nature of the involvement of disabled people. But there are a few scenes here that are still very impressive today, including a stop-motion sequence of “reviving” a moldy orange and feeding a Venus flytrap to a rabbit. Unfortunately, it is not known whether the rabbit really suffered.

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