?Mutants equal entertainment. When B-movies were all the rage in the 1950s, mutants became the cinematic monsters du jour because they physically embodied society’s fears about the atomic age. As the years went on, mutants were used on screen in a variety of different capacities from stand-ins for outsiders and the downtrodden to subtext-free creatures who just wanted to eat you in the most gruesome way imaginable. Of all of these, the most fun mutants are those who have their lives forever altered after encountering the usual mutagen agents — toxic waste, space radiation, environmental dumping , Ronny Cox, etc. Because comic book superheroes like the X-Men and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles get all the limelight, the time has come to celebrate Hollywood’s greatest unnaturally mutated film characters. After all, mutants are people too… except when they are murderous bears or the leader of a snake-based terrorist outfit. Okay, let’s get this mutant party started!
7) Snakeman Cobra Commander
What film is the mutant from? 1987’s G.I. Joe: The Movie. What caused its mutation? Some insane scriptwriting/Cobra-La spores. Why is this abomination of nature so great? G.I. Joe purists need to lighten up a bit. This is especially true in regards to the shithouse bonkers 1987 animated movie. Many Joe fans felt betrayed when the film revealed the secret origins of Cobra Commander (i.e. he was a deformed member of an ancient civilization that would make huge bugs and scream “la la la la la” a lot) because this didn’t jive with the background created by comic scribe Larry Hama. Instead of being “the most dangerous man alive,” he was now the lackey of a pink reptilian dude who loved showing off his six-pack (trivia: the original Retro Fitness franchise was in Cobra-La). This take on the character wasn’t all bad though. Awesomely enough, the filmmakers decided to transform Cobra Commander into a full-on Dreamscape-style snakeman. If you are still up in arms over this, here’s something for you to ponder. What’s better, this?
?Okay, I guess it’s pretty much a draw. Moving on…
What film is the mutant from? John Frankenheimer’s heavy-handed 1979 ecological horror film Prophecy. Katahdin is the name given by Native Americans to a murderous bear creature whose kill scenes are too hilarious to actually be anything even remotely scary (see the above clip). What caused its mutation? Fucking greedy owners of a paper mill who had no problem dumping mercury into the waters of Maine. As a result, the area became overrun by huge tadpoles, horny raccoons that attempt to violate Adrian Balboa and our murderous ursine pal here. Why is this abomination of nature so great? I think the way monstrobear dispatched of the kid in the sleeping bag pretty much says it all.
What film is the mutant from?Total Recall. What caused its mutation? Cosmic rays and, indirectly, Ronny Cox. Why is this abomination of nature so great? Kuato is the wisest cinematic sage this side of Yoda. Thanks to some beautiful design work from Rob Bottin (a man whose mind must be a terrifying place), Kuato pops out of his brother during Total Recall’s third act to shed some light on just what the hell is going on. Of course, some of you are going to be upset that I didn’t put the three-breasted whore from the flick on this list. Perverts, the lot of you.
What film is the mutant from?Matinee. What caused its mutation? A man and an ant being exposed to radiation simultaneously!
Why is this abomination of nature so great? As evidenced by its continuing unavailability on DVD, Matinee is the most underappreciated film in Joe Dante’s filmography (with apologies to those fans of The ‘burbs out there). It pays tribute to schlockmeister William Castle and atomic terror films a la Them! and somehow finds time to comment on the impact that the Cuban Missile Crisis had upon America’s youth. The mutated title creature from the movie’s film-within-a-film, Mant, has developed a cult following of his own. So if Grindhouse‘s Machete character can get his own spin-off, why can’t he?
3) The Toxic Avenger
What film is this mutant from?The Toxic Avenger, The Toxic Avenger Part II, The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie, Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV.
What caused its mutation? Bullies followed by a toxic waste chaser. Why is this abomination of nature so great? As if being “the first superhero from New Jersey” wasn’t enough of a distinguished pedigree, Toxie also helped establish Troma Films as the best B-Movie production house of the 1980s and ’90s. Much like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, he spawned a merchandising frenzy that resulted in action figures, comic books and the Toxic Crusaders animated series. The character is currently enjoying off-Broadway success as the star of The Toxic Avenger Musical, so he won’t be done saving the residents of Tromaville anytime soon.
What film is the mutant from? David Cronenberg’s The Fly. What caused its mutation? Science gone horribly wrong. Jealousy, too. If Geena Davis hadn’t gone to visit that slimy Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead guy, Brundle would have never gotten into the telepod that night. C’est la vie. Why is this abomination of nature so great? The Fly is such a perfect movie that it is baffling that Cronenberg intends to remake it (seriously, can we get an injunction against this?) The ground-breaking effects aside, what makes Brundlefly so significant is Jeff Goldblum’s performance. Covered in latex, he brings the character’s rapidly fading humanity to the forefront. Go back and watch his heartbreaking speech about “insect politics” again and you’ll realize how he was screwed out of an Oscar.
1) Emil Antonowsky
What film is the mutant from?Robocop. What caused its mutation? When his truck crashed into a toxic waste silo, all-around bad guy Emil Antonowsky was instantly turned into a hideous monster and outcast that no one wanted to be around. This hits uncomfortably close to home for some of us here at Topless Robot. Why is this abomination of nature so great? Emil was an asshole. We all know assholes. But rarely do we get to watch these assholes become horribly disfigured before meeting a swift and painful end. Hooray for wish fulfillment!
Chris Cummins is a pop culture writer and Archie comics historian who has contributed to The Robot's Voice, Den of Geek US, Philebrity, Geekadelphia, Uproxx, and Unicorn Booty. He is the co-producer and co-host of Nerd Nite Philadelphia, and is regularly involved in producing and hosting New York Super Week events. In 2014, Chris began Sci-Fi Explosion, a mix of live performance, trivia and funny clips celebrating the weirdest in science fiction that regularly travels around the United States. He wrote the introductions to the compilations Archie's Favorite Comics From The Vault and (with Paul Castiglia) Archie's Favorite High School Stories. You can find Chris on Twitter at @bionicbigfoot and @scifiexplosion.