Bud Cooper is a visionary director known for his compelling storytelling and innovative cinematic techniques. Most notable as the writer/director of the cult classic 1984 slasher horror, The Mutilator, Bud’s addition of unique elements to the formulaic nature of slashers, in addition to the incredibly gory kill sequences, became beloved by audiences–leaving a lasting mark in the genre.

We were lucky enough to get the chance to sit down with Bud to chat about the film, some happens behind the scenes, as well as his future projects.

Bud Cooper at Salt City Horror Fest ’17

Q. What was your first job on a film set, Bud?

A. John, my first job on a film set was Director of The Mutilator.

Q. Did you make short films?

I was familiar with how films were made. My dad took a lot of home movies. He used sixteen millimeter. I watched him cut and splice and he taught me how to do that and how to load and run his projector, but aside from his and my own home movies later, I did not make short films. When I was a boy, a friend of the family gave a Micky Mouse cartoon to me. It was in sixteen and I was allowed to run it on my dad’s projector. One day while I was home with the measles or something, I reedited that little cartoon. In it a house caught fire and an end table flapped its leaves and flew out the window. I recut that part and reversed it so that the table flew into the burning house. I thought it was funny. That’s about the extent of my short film making.

Q. Could you tell us how the original Mutilator began? Who was the screenwriter on that one?

A. By began I guess you mean where did the concept come from and how did it proceed from there. I was walking on the beach with a friend on the Tuesday after Labor Day in 1981. The Labor Day weekend is a big, crowded weekend here at the beach, but on the day after Labor Day the beach is deserted–or at least it was that day. My friend and I were walking on the beach and there was no one in sight for a mile or two in either direction. It occurred to me then that the beach, which is also an island, would make a nice isolated spot for a slasher movie–isolation being part of the formula for slashers at the time. Then, since we were at the beach, I decided that the killer should use nautical implements to do in his victims. The movie grew from that germ of an idea.

I wrote the screenplay.

Q. Were you able to make the kind of film that you wanted to make?

A. Yes. I wanted to make a low-budget horror picture and while the budget got out of hand during production, it still qualified as low-budget–certainly as compared to the average Hollywood budget. Compared to those budgets it was a shoe-string budget. The story, the acting, the special effects, the cinematography and the score all came together to make the movie I had hoped for.

Q. What was the feeling on the set of The Mutilator among the crew and actors?

A. The feeling on the set of The Mutilator was generally an upbeat, happy, we’re-having-fun sort of feeling. The cast and crew members all got along with each other very well. A few romances took place and one marriage resulted. The mood of the set all along was good spirited. We all had fun and many say it shows on the screen.

Q. Any favorite horror film directors?

A. Ridley Scott. (Alien)

Bud on set of The Mutilator in an unused special effects suit

Q. What is your opinion of films that came later like Friday the 13th?

A. Well, John, actually Friday the Thirteenth came before The Mutilator. It was released in 1980. And Halloween, the movie that started the ball rolling came out in 1978. Nevertheless, my opinion of those movies is that they were fun–and scary–and well made. I was the movie reviewer for the local paper during that period and I got to see all of those horror movies. I liked them all.

Q. What was it like making the sequel to The Mutilator, Mutilator 2?

A. Making Mutilator 2 was also fun. During both shoots there were mishaps and problems and disappointments along the way, but both were filled with and propelled by teamwork and camaraderie. We all worked well together.

Q. What was it like making the film Silent Night, Bloody Night 3?

A. I did not make SNBN3. One of the actors from Mutilator 2, Carl Grasso, was in that movie. Carl had performed so wonderfully in M2 (one reviewer, Rob Freeze, said that Carl “stole the show”) that I wanted to support the picture he was working on. I merely contributed a small amount of money to the company and in appreciation they gave me a producer credit.

Q. Did you want to try to make Mutilator 2 and Silent Night different from the original films?

A. With regard to M2, I did not particularly want to make it different from The Mutilator, no.

Q. Did you think that The Mutilator would become a gore classic in later years?

A. No, I did not think that The Mutilator would become a gore classic. It never crossed my mind. I was happy that we had a complete feature with a beginning, middle and end and that the thing worked. We were all fairly proud of the result of our efforts and glad that people liked the movie.

Grimoire of Horror would like to thank Bud Cooper for his time. This interview was provided to Grimoire of Horror by John Wisniewski.

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