A chemical created by Nazi experimentation is discovered in modern-day Germany. Once released, it causes all sorts of horrific bloodshed, mutation, and madness.
Adding the element of Nazis to a horror movie is a long standing tradition with varying rates of success. From the exploitation sleaze of Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS and SS Hell Camp to undead Nazi zombies of Dead Snow and Shock Waves, and everything in between, the underlying shock and horror of the swastika still holds its strength. There are enough examples throughout the years, predominantly in the 1970’s, to carve out an entire subgenre entitled Nazisploitation. And there are plenty of atrocities and legends to draw inspiration from to keep the trend going for years to come. Timo Rose and Mark Fehse’s combined directorial effort, Mutation, attempts to dip into the same pool, but unfortunately slips into the deep end and drowns.
The film starts with a fake documentary entitled “Hitler’s Miraculous Weapons,” a show that delves into the legend of K7B and hopes to answer the question: myth or reality? K7B was allegedly a serum created by the Nazis in hopes of producing super humans. Early tests showed that it made people very strong for a short period of time, then killed them. It was never perfected before the Allies destroyed the laboratory in which it was being developed. But the creator escaped with some samples and his research. This fake documentary goes on for nearly twenty minutes, extending a potential three to five minute backstory into a very slow moving intro, complete with stock footage and interviews. As if to make up for the early drag, the film then moves at rapid fire speed, introducing every character to us at once. Some guy sits surrounded by candles in an attic (very Hellraiser looking), a hitman shoots a guy in the middle of the desert, another guy sits in a hot tub with two women. There is a massacre at a restaurant, complete with decent effects but horrible CGI, in which K7B is handed off from an old man (former Nazi maybe?) to another guy. And then the opening credits roll, a full thirty minutes into the movie.
Granted, this is Timo Rose’s directorial debut, and we now know that there are two sequels to Mutation as well as the countless other films he has since made (Unrated: The Movie and Karl the Butcher Vs. Axe being some of his more recent), but this one is tough to get through. It almost seems as though Rose and co-director Fehse bit off more than they could chew and tried to fit too big of a story into ninety minutes. The results come off confusing and rushed, as if we are only getting pieces of the story.
This K7B is something that apparently all of the crime bosses know about and want. A guy named Steve Taylor ends up with it, and decides to try it for himself. He kills a lot of people and makes some of them his zombies by dripping the serum from his suddenly appeared stigmata wounds. Steve’s brother, Nick (the hitman from earlier), shows up at Steve’s house and gets worried about him. Cut away from this to a scene at a restaurant where the staff are all zombies and they start killing everyone. Now cut to some random kid sitting on a bench and getting attacked by a zombie. Then cut to Nick and another guy going into some building and searching for Steve, killing all the zombies around in a scene reminiscent of the intro to the original Dawn of the Dead, a scene that, in my opinion, is one of the highlights of this otherwise disappointing movie. Then cut to Steve laying Pookie-style in a bathroom, naked and convulsing, then slicing open his arm and dripping in the K7B. Confused yet?
I feel like there was a lot of potential in this story that was not fulfilled. The action scenes are pretty good, especially when they stick with makeup and special effects and leave out the CGI. The acting isn’t fantastic, but it’s good enough, and there is even a special appearance by good ol’ Andreas Schnaas (director of Goblet of Gore, Violent S*hit, and co-director with Timo Rose of numerous others). But the story seems to go in too many directions all at once, causing the movie to fall flat. And there are so many questions left unanswered. I haven’t seen the sequels, so there is still hope that the story can be righted and that it all works out better in the end. But this one, standing alone, is a missed opportunity.