Bloody Moon (US - DVD)
Gabe Powers actually enjoys a Jess Franco movie...I know, I'm scared too...
A group of college girls on vacation in Spain are terrorized by a masked killer. The suspects include a local pervert with a nasty facial scar, a local playboy, and a woman looking for her proper inheritance. Between murders there is sex and nudity.
The difference between a Giallo and a Slasher is always up for debate. The general rule of thumb is to question the identity of the killer—if the identity is a secret to be solved, it’s usually a Giallo, if the identity is known (or entirely incongruent), it’s usually a Slasher. Another clue is the motivation of the murders—if the killer is killing for some kind of profit, it’s usually a Giallo, if he or she is killing because his or her only character motivation is killing people, it’s usually a Slasher. There are exceptions to the rule all over the place, and Franco’s film twists between the two genres pretty constantly. I’d stick Bloody Moon somewhere in the no man’s land of Giallo/Slasher blends like Juan Piquer Simón’s Pieces and Lucio Fulci’s New York Ripper.
Strangely there aren’t many cues to point obviously towards Bloody Moon being a Jesus Franco film. With the exception of some of his dreamier sexy vampire films, Franco has normally aspired to make his movies look and act like other, more popular films, but he always manages to fill the screen with his own brand of soft-focus and unnecessary zooms. This is possibly the first film I’ve seen from the director that succeeds in looking like the films it emulates. There is one clever bit where a large and scary shadow is revealed to be a small child, but for the most part Franco just takes his stalk and slash from other Slasher and Giallo stand-bys, including black gloves caressing knives, and sexy women preparing to shower.
Despite his usual aversion to particularly nasty violence, Franco isn’t afraid to cut loose with the film’s gore (which is surprisingly believably executed, comparatively speaking, and still banned in the UK), and in the absence of an intriguing plot (honestly I couldn’t make sense of the majority of the film’s story, besides the fact that it was constantly ripping off Bava’s Bay of Blood), or an original stylistic voice, graphic violence is usually all a Slasher movie has going for itself. That and nudity, and Franco’s eye for sexy naked girls is set to its usual 20/20 clarity. The only area where the director realistically disappoints, and thus fails to make an entirely compelling little movie, is suspense. After years of sitting through scenes that last entire minutes longer then they should, this is the one time I actually wanted Franco to hold on to something, and he refuses. The masked murderer’s extremely unassuming frame doesn’t help.
Severin’s Devil Hunter disc had some kind of mastering error, but I’m happy to report that things are back on track for Bloody Moon, which may be the studio’s most impressive release to date. I haven’t had the pleasure of watching any other copy of the film on DVD, but from what I gather this represents its first widescreen presentation ever, and unlike the Cannibal Terror disc, the framing seems perfect. The print is a bit on the dark side, and the colours are perhaps a tiny bit dulled, but overall this is a surprisingly clean and detailed presentation. You will notice some low level noise in the darkest warm colours, but overall compression isn’t any more invasive than most new release genre work. There are three or four spots where the film quality drops noticeably, and is suddenly plagued with artefacts, scratches and track lines. This happens during moments of particularly graphic violence, leading this reviewer to believe that the scene had been previously cut from earlier prints.
Beyond a few minor hisses on the dialogue track, this discs solo mono English track is very clean. Mono doesn’t allow for a lot of depth, but in comparison to similar tracks from similar films this track features some decent ambiance, and a well balanced sense of dialogue, effects, and music. The track is obviously dubbed (though Franco is Spanish the film is German in origin), but even if the lip-sync doesn’t add up the general volume levels do. Gerhard Heinz’s musical score is limited to only a handful of tracks, but what they lack in variety they more than make up for in inappropriateness. There’s a few pretty good John Carpenter and Morricone inspired tracks, but the most used song is a lonesome guitar medley worthy of Top Gun.
Once again we’re treated to a grandfatherly storytelling from the man himself, Jesus Franco, sitting in the same chair and smoking more cigarettes. It’s clear from the first few minutes of the interview that Franco did this one for the money (as he often did, the guy’s made over two hundred movies after all), and that the production had some pretty big hurdles, or as Franco calls them, ‘false promises’. One of the strangest ‘false promises’ was the promise of Pink Floyd’s involvement with the film. In some alternate universe Pink Floyd said ‘yes’ to Jesus Franco, and became the poor man’s version of Goblin, rather than the other way around (though I personally prefer Goblin’s music, I cannot deny their standing). Consistently honest about his films (not to mention great about remembering specifics for a seventy-two year old that has made more than two hundred films), Franco doesn’t lie about the film’s quality, but seems happy with his ‘restrained’ gore scenes, and his sense of humour (though I hadn’t realized it was a joke myself). Also included on the disc is a spoiler heavy US trailer.
Well, it ain’t an art film, or a good film, or even a well made film, but damn if I didn’t enjoy watching the utter silliness and graphic bloodshed of Jesus Franco’s most straightforward attempt at Slasher and Giallo filmmaking. Hell, I plan on watching it again, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of the original Video Nasties. If you’re a fan of bloody murder on film, or just enjoy a generally entertaining bad horror movies you might want to find a copy of Bloody Moon. This represents the film’s first ever uncut release in the US, and the first widescreen release anywhere, so there’s no time like the present. May I recommend a triple feature with Juan Piquer Simón’s Pieces and Lucio Fulci’s New York Ripper?
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 28th October 2008
Disc Type: Single side, single layer
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono English
Extras: Director's Commentary, Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Jesus Franco
Cast: Olivia Pascal, Christopher Brugger, Alexander Waechter
Length: 81 minutes