What is Mutant Reviewers?
“It’s like sitting in your basement, watching those weird movies with your friends.”
This was the original vision for Mutant Reviewers. Since 1997, our crack staff of writers have put themselves through a gauntlet of some of the best and worst cult flicks in the world, all for the sake of research, entertainment and bragging rights. On this site you’ll find a treasure trove of reviews, viewings (think “written commentaries”), articles, lists, trailers, news, and so much more relating to cult TV, movies, and comic books.
This is our story.
1996: Believer Haven University
In 1996, the internet was starting to take off in a big way, and college student Justin was fascinated with the idea of creating his own space on the world wide web. Through the free option of a GeoCities web site, Justin created Believer Haven University, a portal to various geek interests in his life.
Through BHU, Justin came in contact with Kym, a Texan who also appreciated cult cinema. The two collaborated to create “Revenge of the Mutant Reviewers From Hell Part IX,” later shortened to Mutant Reviewers From Hell (MRFH). The initial idea was for the two of them to watch the same movies and post counterpoint reviews to each other. Some of the earliest films covered were Clerks, Army of Darkness, Hudson Hawk, and PCU.
The site was very basic and, in typical GeoCities fashion, quite gaudy. Yes, there were animated gifs. Yes, there was a MIDI jukebox. Yes, there was a guestbook. But there was also seeds of something greater — a project that would soon explode.
1997: The team expands
Details are a little fuzzy when this happened, but around 1997-98, Kym and Justin decided to open up the project to involve other cult movie lovers. Early team writers such as Kyle, PoolMan, DnaError, Andie, and Clare hopped on board and the review roster began to swell.
Back in these days, the entire site was done via HTML. A review page took around 30 minutes to code and tweak, even with a template, but that was a labor of love that was worth doing. Movies, articles, annual voter awards, and even comic strips started gracing the site. The look began to change, too, going from a grey background to black with a wavy red stripe.
While everyone and their grandmother is a movie critic these days, you have to remember that in the late 90s, online film critics (and online anything) was somewhat of a novelty. MRFH got a few mentions by publications such as the LA Times, Premiere Magazine, and USA Today for its cult coverage.
2000: Changes and growth
As many of the team graduated college and Kym left MRFH, the core group began to get really close. MRFH built up for itself a good reputation as the “go to” spot for cult films and the love was infectious. The site got forums (which went through a few iterations) and kept tweaking the look of both the front page and the individual review pages.
It was around 2000 that Justin and PoolMan had the first “Mutant Summit” — a trip to meet each other and hang out. These summits became tradition for a while between the two and other Mutants, and even today it is not unknown for a couple of the members of the team to make a journey to watch a film together.
Of course, change in inevitable. The team shrank as writers left and grew as new ones came on board. The 80s became “classic” and the 90s started receeding into the rear-view mirror.
2007: Transition from website to blog
By the mid-2000s, the website format was beginning to become more of a burden than a blessing. The site had amassed thousands of review and feature pages, and it all required Justin to manually handle any additions or changes. Another big decision was made, this time to transition the site to a blog format that all of the writers could have equal access to and contribute their works without having to email it in.
Initially, this change was done with an automated process that took the HTML pages and supposedly turned them into blog posts. However, MRFH 2.0 didn’t function as well as it should have: The pages weren’t all looking alike and the site took far, far too long to load for both visitors and readers.
Thus, an even bigger decision had to be made to start fresh on a WordPress blog and bring over all of the old content, one piece at a time. Since 2008, we have been doing this with an ever-changing crew, adding back in “classic” content while adding in new reviews. It’s a monumental task, but the team was game for the challenge.
Today: Still trucking
Mutant Reviewers — we lost the “From Hell” a while back — may not look as it did in 1999, but it has the same spirit and passion for cult cinema that we’ve always had. Currently the site strives to update at least five times a week with classic and new content on top of cult news and trailers.
The team has changed a lot since the original group and aged up a bit as well. We’re no longer single college or high school kids, but adults with marriages, kids, mortgages, and very big TVs. Still, Mutant Reviewers remains a labor of love because we get a thrill out of sharing these movies with you, no matter what age you or we may be.
In 2017, Mutant Reviewers will hit its 20th anniversary, and we couldn’t have done it without our friends, our writers, and our loyal readers. Thanks for visiting and being part of the Mutant Reviewers legacy!