This comes emblazoned with the imprimatur of Troma Films. Though Lloyd Kaufman (who has one of his inevitable cameos) and Michael Herz get producer credits, it’s not one of the longstanding American indie’s surprisingly few in-house productions but an extended homage from Portuguese writer-director Fernado Alle (of the shorts Papa Wrestling and Banana Motherfucker). Troma’s buy-ins have always tended to be among their better product – but I should say I’ve always found their Toxic Avenger/Nuke ‘Em High mode of exploitation unappealing.
Scurrilous, inventive, irreverent and ludicrous, and not always in a bad way, Mutant Blast does make 85 minutes seem approximately as long as Once Upon a Time in … Hollywood. Just when you get fed up with a joke being trampled into the dirt, a fresher one comes along – only to be battered to death. A super-soldier mutant project goes awry, seeding a city with mutant freaks and former human beings the soundtrack bleeps whenever anyone calls zombies (a running joke that stumbles and dies well before the film gives up on it). Intense soldier chick Maria (Maria Leite) feuds with her mountainous ex-comrade TS-504 (Joaquin Guerreiro) in what little there is of a serious sci-fi action thread, but our lead character is Pedro (Pedro Barao Dias) who wakes up hungover after a party, with a moustache and a dick drawn on his face. In one of the best gags, he fragmentarily remembers the usual morning after stuff – a neighbour complaining about the noise, drinking games – before he recalls a zombie nurse bursting into the flat and biting people. Pedro and Maria get together, though she firmly says their kiss in a Leia and Luke one not a Leia and Han one, and both start mutating – Maria saws off an ear that sprouts on her neck, and Pedro starts to have a strange relationship with the puppet rat his hand turns into. They fall in with a few other mutants – a guy with many arms, a human lobster – and go on a trek to the beach, where there’s a fairly endless fight with the TS-504 and an evil human dolphin before a bunch of if-you-don’t-like-this-then-what-about-that? endings.
Oh, there are cutaways to the cabal of military-scientific plotters whose fault it all is … and a section of fantasy role-playing around a castle you can profitably take a nap during. Plus a giant rat creature shows up. And many more lumbering ‘and another thing’ elements are tossed in. If the film has a pulse, it’s down to Dias’ schlub everyman – who can’t even shoot a mutant at point blank range and has a seam of entitled incel fannishness that makes him a faintly uncomfortable identification figure – though the luckless character seems unlikely to get a happy ending. The effects are appealingly low-tech, with a lot of goofy mutations and gallons of gore, as much in the manner of Peter Jackson’s early, funny funny films as Troma’s base misanthropy.