Bloody Moon (1981)
By: Mr Intolerance on November 18, 2008  | 
Severin (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 84 minutes
The Movie
Director: Jess Franco
Starring: Olivia Pascal, Christopher Moosbrugger, Nadja Gerganhoff, Alexander Waechter
Screenplay: Rayo Casablanca
Country: West Germany
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A masquerade disco party is being stalked by a slasher. Lots of couples are running off into the undergrowth in an effort to get off with each other. Trouble is, there's a dude with a scarred face (I was reminded of the scene in The Cable Guy where Jim Carrey has the fried chicken skin on his face – it's about that believable a special effect) who obviously isn't getting any hangin' around, and maybe he's the killer, and maybe he's not. Regardless, the music at the party is awful.

Our first murder occurs (and our first boobs are seen), and it's not as bloody and horrible as this film's reputation would have you believe. The boobs are quite nice though. Turns out that Fried-Chicken-Skin-Face-man – okay, his name is Miguel – has been locked up in a loony bin for some time after this murder, and would therefore be somewhat socially maladjusted. He's been released into his rather pert young sister Manuela's care, rather ill-advisedly by yet another Franco cameo, and therefore the carnage can continue.

Manuela and Miguel's insane wheelchair-bound aunt Maria dominates their lives – she's the kind of character you see in horror films who you want to see dead from the word go. Mrs Bates for the new decade, basically. And then there's a new teacher at the International School of Languages the family helps to fund, who is rubbish, but manages to throw in a new red herring, alongside Paco, the retarded groundsman. Has Miguel taken up his earlier murderous ways again, or is it someone else from the equally ill-acting cast? That's the question we should be answering.

As with most stalk-and-slash films, the protagonists main concerns seem to be rooting, rooting and more rooting. Oh, and if the opportunity turns up, they're all up for a bit of dirty talk and/or sexual innuendo. Don't these fools realise that this kind of thing will get them killed? Apparently not.

Turns out that Miguel and Manuela are a little closer than the average brother and sister – that's right, folks, incest – a game the whole family can play. Aunt Maria's hostility towards Manuela suddenly seems a little more understandable, although her condemnation of Manuela in favour of Miguel is a little ridiculous; after all, it takes too to tango – ol' fried chicken skin face can't be entirely without blame. Manuela won't fuck Miguel anymore, despite the fact he now has five years worth of blue balls to work out of his system, and also despite the fact that she kinda sorta seems to want to fuck him. Is she simply being a cock-tease? Could be. This, of course may lead to sundry folks being slain.

At this point, a couple of things become apparent. Firstly, Countess Maria must really have been hated, as she's been dead for a day (with a flaming torch to the face) and no fucker seems to have noticed. Secondly, Eva, one of the many faceless nubile young things who populate this film, is stabbed to death in a rather improbable fashion – the knife entering her back and exiting via her nipple. Leave it to Jess Franco to give us sex and death in such a fashion.

Angela, our rather obvious Final Girl, has some serious threats to deal with, delivered while learning Spanish (well, at least that's new, even if nothing else in the script is). She has nice cowboy boots, by the way. Everyone thinks she's a nutcase, of course. Including the coppers she runs into after nearly being crushed to death by a random falling boulder. You read that correctly. Outta nowhere, a boulder comes falling towards her. This could be seen by the average viewer as kind of silly.

Angela is trying to get people to believe that Eva is dead, has been murdered (she was killed in Angela's flat), but no-one is having a bar of it. Especially not our resident blunt instrument Antonio – he's a right cunt and the kind of self-loving Lothario that folks like you and I would kick to the kerb without a second's thought. He thinks he's God's gift to women, but really he's just a cowardly twat with no more character than the average cactus. The standard kind of alpha-male to populate a Franco film, or any kind of stalk'n'slash, really.

And so we reach the film's most notorious set piece, where Angela's mate Inga is beheaded via an industrial rotary saw. Again, the footage changes quality as an uncut print is inserted into the film – but hey, we get the fully uncut scene, so I'm not complaining. The effects aren't the best, as a matter of fact, they're close to laughable, but it's a fuck's sight more gruesome than any of the Friday The 13th wannabes around at the time. And it's followed up with a visceral piece of child slaughter that I'm sure was one of the reasons why the BBFC had this on the "Video Nasty" list.

Angela wants to tip the fuck outta there, with a level of intelligence and prescience that you normally don't find in stalk'n'slash heroines, but you just know that something is going to prevent that – after all, our Final Girl hasn't had her showdown with the killer yet. Yes, I'm aware that I'm reducing this to a formula, but isn't that what all of these films do? Teens want to have sex, teens die one by one, the assailant is unseen until the very end when facing off against the Final Girl (and it's always a girl) – this is nothing new, has the same level of red herrings as you'd expect, and atmosphere of a kind Franco can produce, even when not on his A game, which he certainly isn't here. This film has a certain amount of cache with slasher fans, but personally I don't rate it too highly. To me, this is one of Franco's most un-Franco films. It doesn't have the level of personal attachment that his best work does (say, his adaptations of de Sade, or Female Vampire), and really just apes the clichés of the Halloween, Friday the 13th, Prom Night and The Prowler kind of films that it's trying to exploit the success of.

By the time we hit the end of the film, when Angela has barricaded herself in the bungalow, her plan to leave foiled by the bad guy, we're left with a bit of a feeling of "meh". Oh, there's a great and gory series of reveals, which I won't spoil for you, and the inevitable face-off between Slasher and Final Girl (not to mention a good false ending), but ultimately, while it's a pretty good and quite satisfying B-grade slasher film, it's not an A-grade Franco film, and that is what killed it for me.
The 16:9 enhanced 1.78:1 transfer is pristine. It's clear and razor-sharp, and yet there are moments that look like inserts that seem to have been sourced from alternate prints. I guess that given the film's dubious legality in a number of countries, there must be a range of different cuts, and that Severin have tried to provide us with the most complete one possible. Prepare yourself for varying quality of film, but generally it's a good one.
A serviceable English dubbed mono track which doesn't hold any surprises.
Extra Features
Again, in this interview, as per Severin's Devil Hunter interview, Franco is incredibly candid, talking about how he was promised a lot and received little – apparently Pink Floyd were offered to him as the soundtrack, but that very obviously never occurred. I actually would've liked to have heard that. Like with Devil Hunter, the sound is embarrassingly subtitled. Franco's grasp of English is more than equal to the chore, so this just makes me cringe. Definitely worth watching, though. There's also the original theatrical trailer, if you need something like this, having just watched the film.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
If there's a lesson to be learnt from this film, it's don't judge a book by its cover. Also, if you're going to make a slasher-flick, try, like this one, to make it original and hold a few surprises. The identity of the killer is nearly impossible to pick, given the amount of red herrings we're given, so be on your toes while you're watching Bloody Moon. While I wasn't particularly engaged while watching the movie, I did have to recognise that in terms of the stalk 'n' slash genre, this bad boy is up there. I didn't find Franco's visual stamp on it, and that let me down, but if late 70s/early 80s stalk 'n 'slash films are your bag, this is the ticket for you. And can I just say again, if you can predict the ending of this film, you must be fucking psychic.

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