Mike Sutton reviews the Severin Films Region 1 DVD release of Jess Franco’s insane slasher film
Having temporarily exhausted the creative possibilities of the lesbian vampire film and the women’s prison genre, Jess Franco took it into his head to make a contribution to the early eighties slasher cycle. Now, as admirers of the demented Spaniard will know, he does nothing by halves and Bloody Moon is just as engagingly over the top as might be expected. Self-respecting cineastes, and anyone with any standards of taste or decency, will dismiss it as a right load of old toss but fans of sleaze will soon note that there are numerous points of interest.
Set in a girls’ language school on the Costa Del Sol, Bloody Moon is basically a series of gory murders connected by a vaguely interesting whodunnit plot in which the red-herrings pile up like mad. Principal amongst these is Miguel, a disfigured young man who, some years before, had an unfortunate incident with a screaming girl and a pair of scissors in Cabin 13. Now, Miguel having been released from the loony bin to be with his lustful sister – “Miguel, I’m your sister… don’t look at me that way!” – the murders start again. Needless to say, Miguel is the number one suspect, largely because of his habit of stalking girls in the dark and turning up in their bathrooms to leer at them in the mirror. But he’s not the only possible killer. There’s Paco the mute handyman who has voyeuristic tendencies and seems incapable of doing a simple task like putting a sign up straight. Then there’s Antonio, the gardener and local gigolo who plays the girls off against each other and dresses like Jimmy Saville.
The identity of the real killer isn’t too hard to spot which leaves plenty of time to enjoy the gory set-pieces which offer a demonstration that Franco does have some talent, even though he does his best to hide it. The opening murder is satisfyingly bloody in an Argento sort of way and things progress nicely from there. One girl gets a knife through the nipple while another is decapitated in a saw mill, having unwisely agreed to be tied up by the killer. “It’s a little perverse but I’ll try anything… as they say, suffering is good for pleasure,” she says, although one suspects that this wasn’t what she had in mind. A young child gets run over by a car and a man gets a chainsaw in the chest. Having no taste whatsoever, Franco doesn’t know when to stop and that adds a genuine sense of unhinged menace which makes the film unlike the American slasher films of the period. His gore scenes are so much better directed than the rest of the film that it soon becomes clear that they are the only thing which really interests him.
Bloody Moon is pretty terrible on just about every level – the special effects make up in quantity for what they lack in quality – but it’s also enormously entertaining as long as you know what you’re letting yourself in for. It rips off so many films that I don’t know where to start listing them – Halloween and Psycho are two obvious ones – but from the opening scenes of a zoom in to an out of focus moon, you know that this is all Jess Franco’s own work.
Severin Films’ Region 1 DVD of Bloody Moon is the first time that the film has been available uncut in the USA. In the UK, the film was on the banned list and has never been given an uncut release – although it’s not inconceivable that it might in the near future. Severin’s DVD offeres a very nice anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer with strong colours and plenty of detail. The only thing that mars the visuals is some occasional print damage. The English Dolby 2.0 soundtrack is absolutely fine, give or take the appalling dubbing, and offers a good presentation of the astonishingly eclectic music score.
The extras are confined to a 15 minute interview with Jess Franco and a theatrical trailer.
It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…
Continue the conversation over on The Digital Fix Forum