Plot: Harry Trent (Matt Mitler) battled the alien scourge and not only survived, but triumphed and saved the world in the process. But while his actions solved the alien concern, he also caused some new problems, including a rampant mutant presence that has turned violent. As if the mutants weren’t enough to deal with, some of the survivors have also started slave operations, capturing isolated people and forcing them into servitude. When Harry meets a young woman whose family was taken, he learns about Reinhart Rex (Cameron Mitchell), the kingpin of the local slave trade and a real classic asshole. Rex specializes in enslaving young women and turning them into breeding machines. Harry agrees to lend a hand and help the girl’s family, but can even he take on both the mutants and Rex’s forces?
Entertainment Value: This sequel to Battle for the Lost Planet brings back hero Harry Trent and some connections to that movie, but it feels like a tweaked version of that story over again, rather than a traditional continuation. I had fun with Battle for the Lost Planet, as it was a wacky ride with strong b movie vibes, but Mutant War feels muted in comparison and not as much fun. The focus is shifted over the monsters and special effects, which are a fun element, but the silly dialogue and over the top characters are much less prominent here. And without those b movie threads, the movie just stalls at times and in truth, the sheer ambition that was evident in the previous film is gone here, save for the creature creations. The monsters are the lone draw this time, but they look cool and have some creative touches, so while the rest of the movie is iffy, at least the creatures look neat. In the end however, the monsters aren’t enough to carry Mutant War and it winds up being a pretty mediocre sequel, compared to the fun, ambitious Battle for the Lost Planet.
The performances here are a step down from the previous movie, mostly due to the lack of chances to shine in the material. The humorous, over the top efforts are more toned down here, while the material evades the b movie campiness for the most part, which is a shame. Matt Mitler is back and while he was fun to watch the first time around, here he just isn’t given the same kind of wacky moments to play around with. So he has a few highlights here and there, but the material simply isn’t up to snuff and as a result, his performance suffers. On the plus side, Cameron Mitchell is here this time and as always, he is an interesting presence. His role isn’t a super prominent one, but also not a cameo, so he has some decent screen time. I don’t think he seems too interested in the material, but he is fun to watch as usual. The cast also includes Deborah Quayle and Kristine Waterman, as well as the assorted monster creations.
The Disc: Mutant War arrives on Blu-ray as part of a double feature with Battle for the Lost Planet, from Vinegar Syndrome. A new 2k scan has been crafted from the original camera negatives, giving us likely the best possible presentation and one that surpasses all expectations. The print looks clean and signs of age are minimal, so the image is clear and shows remarkable depth. The detail level is sharp and lets even the finest of touches come through, for a terrific looking treatment. Brett Piper provides an introduction and film’s trailer is also included, while an extensive interview with him sheds some light on the production of both pictures.
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