Certified critic on Rotten Tomatoes. Member of the Houston Film Critics Society. Also writes for Bounding Into Comics and GeeksHaveGame.
Alex da la Iglesia’s (The Last Circus, Witching and Bitching) 1993 sci-fi black comedy Accion Mutante, also known as Mutant Action, is receiving a 4K Restoration from Severin Films sometime this year (official release date is unconfirmed as of this writing). For a film that is nearly 30 years old, this new 4K transfer shown at the Fantasia International Film Festival is gorgeous and sounds amazing.
In the film, a group of a handicapped mutant terrorist gang known as Mutant Action has begun targeting good looking celebrities, public health institutions, and sperm banks; basically any sort of gathering with handsome, beautiful, or healthy people. The group consists of Siamese twins Alex (Alex Angulo) and Juan Abadie (Juan Vladas), Cesar Ravenstein (Saturnino Garcia) also known as “Quimicefa” who has five kilos of dynamite permanently strapped to his chest, the mechanic named Jose Oscar Telleria (Karra Elejalde) or “Handyman,” the deaf and dumb but super strong Amancio Gonzalez (Alfonso Martinez) or “M.A.,” a hunchback dwarf named Jose Montero also known as “Hump,” and leader Ramon Yarritu (Antonio Resines).
The daughter of industrial tycoon Jose Maria Orujo is getting married, so Mutant Action decides to kidnap her. Losing two of his men in the operation, Ramon decides to hold Patricia Orujo for a 100 million ECUs (European Currency Unit, the currency for Europe before it became the Euro in 2002) ransom but tells the rest of Mutant Action that it’s only for 10 million. Agreeing to meet up on planet Axturias to collect the ransom, Mutant Action begins killing each other off one by one due to greed and before they realize Axturias is a planet filled with only men.
As a comedy, Accion Mutante isn’t very funny. The jokes are few and far between and it’s surprising the film revolves around a group of handicapped mutant terrorists and yet doesn’t really exploit them. The film jumps all over the place as far as genre is concerned. The newscast segments and commercials (Tripis – every breakfast is a trip) are reminiscent of RoboCop, the spaceship seems to borrow heavily from Alien, the desert planet of Axturias loaded with marauders reminds you of Mad Max, and The Lost Mine bar sequence at the end of the film seems to be homage to Total Recall.
The film is peculiar from a storytelling standpoint. Accion Mutante tends to kill off characters almost as soon as they’re introduced. You don’t feel any sort of emotional attachment to anyone as the Mutant Action group itself is full of backstabbing dudes that just want to backstab each other to make more money.
There are also a few intriguing special effects and camera techniques that are impressive even today. Quimicefa is missing the lower half of his body and floats around in this little mini flying saucer type of device. How they executed this effect is a mystery since it seems to be before the use of green screen and expensive CGI doesn’t seem likely since the budget for Accion Mutante is an estimated $1.5 million.
It seems as though writers Alex de la Iglesia and Jorge Guerricaechevarría didn’t know what to do with the Patricia Orujo (Frédérique Feder) character. She begins as a damsel in distress, seems to have a mutual connection with one half of the Siamese twins, almost gets raped by junkyard hillbillies, claims to fall in love with the man who kidnapped her, and then acts like she wants to be in on the kidnapping, get a piece of the ransom, and knows how to suddenly handle a gun. You can’t get a read on if she could actually take care of herself the whole time or just kind of became competent thanks to the trauma her character has been through.
Even for an Alex de la Iglesia film, Accion Mutante is bizarre. It’s bloody and volatile with a finale that is nothing but people shooting bulky and unrealistic guns at one another. The film is gritty and grainy while having this Evil Dead kind of low budget classic quality to it. Accion Mutante is a messy and chaotic sci-fi film and an even sloppier comedy, but it’s worth checking out for its ridiculously aggressive and amalgamated "futuristic" mayhem.
© 2022 Chris Sawin