The Mutations (1974)

We all have dreams but Professor Nolter’s (Donald Pleasence) is to get to the next level of evolution by crossbreeding Venus flytraps with students from his class, which seems like the worst of ideas but hey, I don’t have tenure. When he’s done with them, he sells them as freaks to Mr. Lynch (a pre-Dr. Who Tom Baker) who has quite the collection in his sideshow, including real acts Willie “Popeye” Ingram, “Pretzel Boy” Hugh Baily, Félix Duarte the frog boy, Alligator Girl Esther Blackmon and Wild Wild West star Michael Dunn.

Jack Cardiff was mostly known for his work as a cinematogapher but as a directed he was nominated for Best Director for 1960s Sons and Lovers and also made Girl On a Motorcycle. Here, he combines strange time lapse sequences, stop motion, interesting practical effects and a fantastic color scheme to great effect, taking what could be a one-note rehash of Freaks and making something if not good then definitely interesting.

Brad Harris, the star of this movie, mostly worked in Italian movies, such as playing Capt. Tom Rowland in the Kommisar X series, as well as appearing as King Augeias in Luigi Cozzi’s Hercules. Former Penthouse Pet Julie Ege was in The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Finally, Jill Haworth was in Tower of Evil and the TV movie freakout Home for the Holidays.

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