Bloody Moon (1981)



What the hell? Two brother/sister incest subplots in as many days? However, thankfully that’s pretty much the only thing Bloody Moon (German: Die Sage Des Todes*) has in common with the woeful Creature, which is just one of those movies that I hate more and more as I think about it. No, Moon is the sort of movie I could eventually grow to love if I had time to re-watch it a few times; it’s not as endearingly batshit as Pieces, but it’s the same vein of slashers made by people who weren’t really concerned with logic. Also a fascination with tennis.

It does have one up on Pieces; as ridiculous as that one got they always kept track of its killer and red herrings. But in Bloody Moon (spoilers ahead), a seemingly retarded man quite clearly tries to kill our heroine, only to be saved by a red herring character with a huge scar on his face (this guy killed someone in the opening scene; he’s OK now, I guess). However the retarded guy subdues scarface and resumes his chase of the heroine... and then just disappears. As it turns out, there really isn’t a lot of reason for the real villain to be killing ALL of these girls, because he’s working with Scarface’s sister to screw the brother out of his share of an inheritance. I guess the plan is to blame him for the murders and have him sent off to jail or executed, and keep the entire inheritance themselves, which is fairly original for this sort of thing, but it doesn’t quite explain why they needed to kill so many of the girls, and it certainly doesn’t explain how the retarded handyman figured into things, or where the hell he went in the middle of the damn climax.

Otherwise I was kind of impressed with the mystery. It’s almost like there’s two plots going on and then at the end they tie together, Johnny Gossamer style. And I also like that it ultimately had nothing to do with the main girl – by this point in the slasher cycle we had gotten to the point where the Final Girls were often directly targeted by the killer (even if he usually killed everyone but her), but this goes back to something like Friday the 13th where the motive was more general and she just happened to be the last one left alive. But unlike Alice in F13, she’s very much the main character, so that it comes down to a plot that didn’t really have anything to do with her is almost sort of a cool non-twist twist. And the fact that this probably wasn’t intentional but the result of the typically slapdash plotting makes it equally amusing.

But for the most part, its charms are subdued; while I was enjoying it I rarely felt compelled to laugh out loud or applaud. I think with a big crowd this one could play like gangbusters, but it’s missing that certain something that makes a movie like Pieces or Things work just as well at home by myself as they would with a crowd. In fact I was only driven to an actual outburst twice; once for the hilariously awkward name of the school (“Europe’s International Youth-Club Boarding School Of Languages”), and another involving a kid who comes out of nowhere and witnesses a murder. I won’t spoil its pleasures, but if you think that it won’t get any better than the kid kicking the murderer in the shin and then running away, you’d be very very wrong.

It doesn’t help that the girls are a rather dull and interchangeable lot; apart from the main girl I had trouble telling them apart, which made their deaths – most of which had little build up – less interesting/exciting than they should be. Some of the stalking bits are pretty good (the one with the girl bringing back some beer in particular), and the “find the dead friends” sequence is well above par, but for the most part the kill sequences weren’t any more exciting than the talk scenes.

In fact I would even argue they were LESS exciting, because they were often low on dialogue – this movie has some of the strangest dubbing I’ve seen in a while. If I had to guess, I’d say that the dubbing folks were trying to match the lips of the actresses as close as they could, which meant that they were speaking very awkwardly, putting pauses in odd spots. Also, the lines often seemed to be longer than the native (German, I guess?), so people frequently spoke over one another or replied to inquiries that they couldn’t have possibly had time to formulate a response to. Added to the wannabe Pink Floyd score, and you have a film where the audio track provides more entertainment than the visual component (not that the obvious dummy head isn’t funny).

And now we come to the part of the review where I just rattle off a bunch of things that I didn’t think much of, but if I don’t mention them someone will leave a comment berating me for not mentioning them, as if my reviews were meant to be thorough, Wikipedia level entries about each film. So: Mickey Mouse killer mask, snake beheading, ugly ass sweater (one that appears due to continuity error to boot), old lady “on fire”, falling rock, girl pretending to have sex, and kid offering flowers. There, that should cover it. And note to those people – especially for movies like this, sometimes I like to leave some of the highlights for those folks who have never seen the movie and were inspired to do so after reading my review. So if you want to bring up a favorite/memorable part in your comment, I encourage it, but starting it off with “I can’t believe you didn’t mention ____” is somewhat obnoxious.

In addition to the trailer (which spoils a lot of the kills, of course), there’s a nice 20 minute interview with director Jess Franco, which begins with his wife (?) walking out of the house to do errands or something, at which point he immediately lights a cigarette – it’s quite amusing. It’s a very entertaining interview; he’s not as crass or candid as some of his peers (Umberto Lenzi, for example), but has a great memory and explains that he hates the music and how the producers forced him to put in things that they wanted to see in the movie. He doesn’t say much about the cast beyond leading lady Olivia Pascal, who is gorgeous and, I’m happy to see, still working regularly in her native Germany, but he does talk about the FX for a bit, and also explains that the movie is not supposed to be taken seriously, which is a shame. These things are way funnier if you’re under the impression that they weren’t aware of how ridiculous they were. I should also note that Severin’s disc is seemingly uncut, with gore shots obviously reinstated from a different source during a few of the kill scenes, though the run time is still a bit shorter than the IMDb reports (85 minutes, IMDb claims 90). Could be an error, I don’t know. But barring an entire character who was cut out (and killed), if there’s anything missing it doesn’t seem to be related to gore or nudity, so who cares?

What say you?

The Spanish title, on the other hand, is Raped College Girl, which is just all kinds of terrible. For starters, as Franco points out, the movie doesn't actually have any rape.

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