Saturday, 18 June 2011

Video Nasty #8 - Bloody Moon

Given the roster of European Cult film makers on the Nasties list, something would be amiss if Jess Franco was not included in the DPP's line-up. In fact, two Franco titles secured a place on the list - The Devil Hunter, and this German production from 1981.


The first time I saw Bloody Moon - my first Jess Franco film, I wondered where were all the zooms - such was Franco's reputation for his trigger happy use of this much maligned film making aesthetic. Bloody Moon actually makes little use of the zoom and appropriately enough is a rather anonymous Franco film. The story is set in an isolated Spanish boarding school for young women. A maniac is loose on campus and is killing off the girls. One of the murders is witness by the slightly nervous Angela but none of her fellow students believe her and the bodies are beginning to pile up...

As slasher films go, Bloody Moon is a decent enough effort - Franco's producer obviously had Halloween and Friday the 13th in mind, and the film bears something of a giallo streak as well with its black gloved killer and the denouement of the story having to do with greed and an inheritance (shades of Bava's Blood Bath). The kills are gory as the unfortunate students meet with various sharp objects, including a particularly memorable decapitation by circular saw, but Bloody Moon, one of Franco's more polished films has a whiff of desperation to it. The film has a number of red herrings involving various characters who may or may not be the killer (one of them a ridiculous Igor type retard) and a scene where a brother and sister reminisce about their incestuous relationship, an intriguing idea, is casually tossed aside 1.


The film also has it's fare share of implausible moments. At one stage Angela is almost killed by a falling boulder, and the boneheaded blonde who allows herself to be tied to a slab by an anonymous masked stranger only to be fed to the spinning saw. Even more absurd that a disfigured man with a complex about his looks, seen in the opening sequence stabbing a girl, would choose to live in a school full of beautiful young women. Worth mentioning also the score for the film, a meld of cheapskate electronica and bizarre Pink Floyd pastiche 2. All told, Bloody Moon is by no means a bad film, but one best appreciated by Franco completest only.

Ladies, strangers wearing masks and wielding circular saws are generally to be avoided

Severin's DVD, available in the US and UK in identical editions is the definitive release of this Franco film. The 1.85 anamorphic transfer is a stunner, very sharp and sporting some very vivid colors. The print used was from the German release - the actual onscreen title is Die Säge des Todes (literally, The Saw of Death) - and some very fleeting additions were imported from a lesser quality source but overall this is a very fine effort. Audio is offered in English only and the track is perfectly adequate. Extras include the English-language trailer and a very good 18-min interview with Franco about the film. Franco looks rather frail and aged but his memory is good and reveals some interesting facts about the production. The interview is conducted in English, and rather helpfully Franco's comments delivered in a thick accent are subtitled in English.
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Notes
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1. It's strange that the incest angle was not exploited in the film considering Bloody Moon's producer Wolf C. Hartwig was responsible for the Schoolgirl Report films, which often dealt with the taboo, sometimes explicitly so.

2. In the accompanying interview with Franco, the director reveals that part of his reason for agreeing to do the film was that Pink Floyd had been commissioned to do the soundtrack and that they would be on the set. Needless to say this never happened and no mention of Bloody Moon exits in any Pink Floyd biographies.

8 comments:

  1. I did see this one Wes, way back when but I can't remember anything about it other than the saw part, even after reading your review it hasn't come back to me. (that isn't a reflection on the review!) I may give this another go just out of curiosity.

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  2. I'm not surprised you don't remember this one Mart, I have to say it's pretty forgettable... Maybe you're remembering the saw mill scene from Almodovar's 1986 film Matador - there's a moment in that film where a guy is watching Bloody Moon on TV and whacking off to the saw sequence...

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  3. I haven't seen this one but I have to say that the video sleeves are bringing back some happy memories. I must have looked over so many of these titles in my local video shop back in the early eighties. Incredible how the distributors used the promise of explicit gore to sell these films. The 'gorenography' of the covers probably contributed as much to the ensuing ban as the films themselves!

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  4. Absolutely Jon, case in point VIPCO's outrageous (and beautiful) sleeve for Driller Killer and GO Video's artwork for SS Experiment Camp. It's a huge part of the romance of the Video Nasties. I always loved the UK sleeve for Last House on the Left - that stark, austere design.

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  5. And the lurid ad-lines "The blood runs in rivers...as the drill tears through flesh and bone!"

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  6. Oh for sure, incredible stuff ! Enoch Powell would be proud !

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  7. I have seen very little Jess Franco - but I would definitely check this one out if I get the chance!

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  8. ...and this would be a good starting point to ease yourself into the whirlpool of Franco Cinema. The Spaniard has clocked up somewhere in the region of well over 200 films but a final definitive audit might be near impossible, given the amount of alternative versions his films exist as. Nightmare USA author Steve Thrower's new Franco book, Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema of Jesus Franco due in early 2015 should help...

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