Judge Gordon Sullivan likes atmosphere. It's easier to breathe than a vacuum.
Our review of Bloody Moon (1981) (Blu-ray), published June 20th, 2014, is also available.
A cavalcade of depravity that includes incest, voyeurism, and roller disco!
Jess Franco gets a lot of latitude from me for making Vampyros Lesbos. That Eurosleaze gem is so surreal, so odd that I'm willing to give any of his other projects the benefit of the doubt. Although Vampyros Lesbos may be one of the director's most famous films, he's perhaps more famous for being a bit of a chameleon behind the camera, including multiple stabs at women in prison films, lesbian vampires, and adaptations of the Marquis de Sade. Bloody Moon is Franco's entry into the '80s-style slasher. With buckets of blood, interesting kills, and a host of unfortunate fashion decisions, Bloody Moon offers a lot of bang for the genre buck.
The story of Bloody Moon centers on the "International Youth School Of Languages Boarding House" (which I think might be my new band name). It seems that several years ago, a disfigured young man named Miguel (Alexander Waechter)—who has an incestuous relationship with his sister—kills a young woman for scorning him. Several years later, he's released and takes up residence near the boarding house again. Naturally, a group of young female language students starts dying in hideous ways. Suspicion immediately falls on Miguel, but all is not as it seems at the language school.
Bloody Moon is the kind of flick that Joe Bob Briggs was born to review. We've got death by knife through the breast, attack with garden shears, and (as the film's German title says) an infamous saw of death. There's also an actual decapitation of a snake, which is unfortunate for the animal-loving members of the audience. We also get a number of nude and scantily clad women, at least one of whom is involved in an incestuous moment with Miguel.
So the movie's got gore and nudity; it should be a hit, right? Almost. For many slasher fans the film's more European style might prove unsatisfying. Slashers aren't known for their rigorous story logic, but much of Bloody Moon makes no sense. Also, in contrast to many hack 'n' slash flicks from the '80s, Bloody Moon isn't afraid to take a break from the killings to soak up some atmosphere. Luckily, both of these traits leave plenty of time for MST3K-like comments on the atrocious hair and clothing styles sported by pretty much everyone in the film. There are sweaters that would make Jackson Pollock jealous, and the main teacher at the language school is trying desperately to be Don Johnson with the rolled-up sleeves of his sport coat.
Perhaps the best thing about Bloody Moon is that it can introduce slasher fans to the wider world of European cult cinema. Bloody Moon allows viewers to be introduced to some of the cult elements, like the lack of logic and heavy atmosphere, while still allowing them to cling to the gore and nudity of more mainstream (American) slasher films. I feel like Bloody Moon is a great film to transition someone who has only ever seen American slashers like Friday the 13th or The Burning to more eclectic European fare like the work of Mario Bava or Dario Argento.
Severin gives us Franco's film in a decent, if slight, digital package. The film looks surprisingly good given its age and budget. There's grain, softness, and a little bit of print damage, but this is probably as good as its going to get for Franco fans. The audio distorts a little, and, in keeping with Continental practice, the whole film is dubbed. For extras we get a theatrical trailer, and an 18-minute interview with Franco himself, where he discusses the making of the film.
Bloody Moon is a surefire proposition for horror fans. If you enjoy the film's atmosphere and gore, then you've found another good film. If you don't, then there's plenty here to lampoon, which will certainly keep you busy.
Bloody Moon is not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Severin Films
• Theatrical Trailer
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