Bloody Moon (1981)
Don't Panic... it only happens once in a... Bloody Moon
Year of Release: 1981
Also Known As: Die Sage des Todes, The Saw of Death, The Bloody Moon Murders
Rated: Not Rated
Running Time: 84 minutes (1:24)
Director: Jesus Franco
Olivia Pascal ... Angela
Peter Exacoustos ... Antonio
Christoph Moosbrugger ... Alvaro
Nadja Gerganoff ... Manuela
Alexander Waechter ... Miguel
Jasmin Losensky ... Inga
Corinna Drews ... Laura
Ann-Beate Engelke ... Eva
Maria Rubio ... Countess Maria Gonzales
Jesus Franco ... Doctor (uncredited)
In a small village, everyone is celebrating the annual Festival of the Moon. Suddenly, without warning a tourist is attacked and murdered. The village is stunned. Who could the killer be?
Then later a girl's boarding school is terrorized with another brutal murder. Panic and hysteria grip the village. Superstition runs high, it is the Moon Festival.
The police are at a dead end. There are no clues. The killer seems to disappear in thin air. Is he real or a fantasy? It's in the climax that Bloody Moon lives up to its name.
Bloody Moon, remindin' us that people might take the U.N. a little more seriously if said nations ever actually communicated with each other. I mean, sure, it *sounds* funny not to tell Spain that disco died a coupla years back, but really it's just kinda mean. Seriously now, imagine if the mullet went outta style an nobody bothered to tell you. That'd be a damn embarrassin' thing to find out about from the other bridesmaids at your best friend's weddin', don'tcha think? An speakin' of dysfunctional social interaction, Billy Hilliard's Mama got 'im a date for Valentines with some gal from the coast cause she's terrified of dyin' before she can spoil a grandchild rotten an then complain about how entitled its entire generation is. Thing is, Billy don't date much, so he basically begged me to double with 'em so there'd be somebody around to cut 'im off if he started ramblin' on endlessly about how the town ain't been the same since they closed down the Grime Time Drive-In back in '88. Only I had an entire marathon of flicks with the word "massacre" in the title lined up an suggested he get Cleave Furguson to do it, but apparently Cleave's been workin' about 26 hours a day for the last two weeks over at Furry Mountain Stuffing. Evidently, every single photo studio in the continental United States thought it'd be a great idea to wait until the last minute to order bear skin rugs for their annual Valentines Day photo specials where the housewives of America make themselves presentable an strip down to their smiles to pose in front of fireplaces in an effort to hold onto their husbands for another year. Then I pivoted to not havin' a date, but he was ready for that one too an explained that B.J. Wilder (Billy's third cousin thrice removed) was willin' to join me. That's when I started gettin' a little sick, cause B.J.'s like a sister to me an this plan of his was startin' to sound like somethin' outta Real Stories of the West Virginia Child Protective Services department, but Billy said we could just pretend to be datin', an since it seemed pretty clear that he'd already cinched up all the loopholes I was gonna try escapin' through I gave up an agreed to help 'im.
So Billy, B.J. an I headed out to The Gutter Bowl to prepare, an the first thing Billy asks is "wah 'bow mah thung?" So I says "Billy, it's only you guys' first date, I'd worry about crossin' that bridge when...", cept that was about as far as I got before I hadda stop talkin' to dodge a package of grape jelly bein' hurled at my face at the speed of sound. "I men' mah speth, thupid!" Now, for those who may not know, Billy had half of his tongue bitten off by his ex-wife (Rolanda "remanded without bonda" Stubbins-Hilliard) a few years back when she caught 'im "flirting" with a waitress, an he's been talkin' like Tor Johnson ever since. None of us really notice anymore, but he seemed worried about it, so B.J. calmed 'im down by explainin' that if it was a problem; "the bitch wasn't good enough for 'im," an all that other crapola you tell somebody who's just lost their one shot at happiness. Then I suggested B.J. run 'im through what exactly it is a woman wants (which I was interested in hearin' too), but Billy said he already knew cause he'd talked to Sadie earlier that week an... well, I guess this is why I got invited, cause I hadda explain that Sadie Bonebreak prolly wasn't the best woman to get datin' advice from. What I actually said was: "Uh, Billy, Sadie's a little different from most women, what with 'er lesbian tendencies, an the fact that she once slowed the eyeball/splinter scene from Zombi 2 down to one eighth speed to try figurin' out what they used for eyeball fillin." This time he saw my point, so B.J. got 'im all straightened out about the negative levels of intrigue a woman would likely experience when it came to conversations about small engine repair, an the optimal caliber for shootin' whistle pigs. Fortunately, Billy's date turned out to be a pretty nice lady, so B.J. an I split once the cheese fries were gone an I'd received my customary "get lost, I got this" kick to the shin bone. From there, B.J. an I pretty much came home, packed away three boxes of Whitman's Samplers, an griped about what a phony, made-up holiday Valentines is durin' the commercial breaks in the Tales from the Crypt reruns. Some people're just pathetic when it comes to this Valentine's Day crap, ya know it?
Anyway, this week's flick comes to us from the Roger Corman of Spanish cinema, the late great Jess Franco. Jess was the kinda guy who'd try makin' a whole 'nother movie if he wrapped up shootin' on his current flick two days early, an like Roger Corman, pretty much never made anything that cost more'n about 75 peseta, or took more'n two weeks to complete. Jess passed away a coupla years ago at the age of 82, an even though he directed more movies over the course of his life than I've got dollars in my bank account at any given moment, it was a real bummer, because it feels like he still had a lot more to do. So in honor of what I feel is one of Jess's better flicks (an one of four that he directed to make the Video Nasties list) I'ma pass on a few things I learned so that each of us, in our own small way, can be as worldly an well rounded as Jess was. First, in stark contrast to the U.S., it's considered extremely embarrassin' to be thought of as a prude in Europe. This's why Europeans're 15% happier'n us on average, an why they need socialized health care. Second, the Spanish have a profound respect for tradition. Particularly, traditional Snidely Whiplash style cartoon villainy. So whatever you do, never allow a stranger in black to tie you up in a saw mill while visitin' Spain. An third, only Stephen King is allowed to let the child in the movie get run over an smeared all over the highway. Anyone else gets banned on video an sent to the BBFC's office for a whippin'.
My one gripe about this flick is just how unrealistic it is with regard to the clientele of the Spanish language camp for the visitin' tourist population. I mean, they can't really expect us to believe that the entire classroom is full of nothin' but attractive young women, can they? There really aughta be at least a coupla rich old white guys wearin' monocles in there tryin' to learn the language so they can figure out what their housekeepers're sayin' about 'em under their breath, wouldn't you think? An wouldn't it really make a whole lot more sense if the classroom was fulla fat, dumpy, desperate, middle-aged white women? You know what I'm talkin' about, right? Course you do. Just about anytime you hit Wal-Mart these days you'll prolly see some handsome young Hispanic guy in the prime of his life shoppin' for a Caterpillar brand lift kit for his '78 El Camino, with some enormous white broad draggin' an oxygen tank. You know the type; the ones whose breathin' sounds like a shop vac hose with a bag of marbles lodged inside? So you're thinkin' to yourself; well, maybe she's just his type, ain't really any of my business anyway. Cept then you pass two more couples that could be the identical long lost triplets of the first couple while you're walkin' from Auto Parts to Sporting Goods, an it becomes clear that this ain't an isolated incident. So you figure; well, heck, I'm prolly just bein' superficial, an besides, if I keep bringin' stuff like this up I'm gonna start gettin' robo calls from the Trump campaign. "Those folks can prolly just see the inner beauty that I'm missin'," you tell yourself. But your curiosity gets the better of you, so then you start lookin' around figurin' it's just a matter of time before you *also* start noticin' all the gorgeous senoritas hangin' all over 300lb men with skin the color of Elmer's glue, beards fulla Oreo crumbs, an shirts readin': "You can pry my gun from my cold dead hands, but the other 47 will be a lot trickier cause they're buried in the yard." So you look, an you look, an look some more, but all you can find is a serious case of eyestrain an disillusion. Eventually you've gotta face up to the fact that Sofia Vergara don't want nothin' to do with you, an that it's pretty much back to pickin' up whatever spandex coated, gum snappin', broadzilla with a cleavage tattoo you can get to go home with you. This has nothin' to do with Valentine's Day, by the way, I just think Franco maybe shoulda been a little more realistic when he held the castin' call for this movie, that's all. I mean, I could care less if that foxy Guatemalan babe who works the afternoon shift at Mack's Stacks of Manly Snacks would so much as stomp on my face if it caught on fire, cause I'm a secure individual. Although if she does happen to read this, I'd prolly be willin' to pack on an additional 80lbs if she's into that.
The movie begins at a Spanish pool party where everybody still loves the nightlife, even though the attending mortician got John Travolta to drop by an identify disco's body when it showed up in the morgue three years prior. Attendin' this party are Miguel an Manuela, who're siblins that grew up showin' each other a little bit too much southern hospitality, an when Miguel starts tryin' to play nekkid sister Twister with 'er she gets P.O.'d an tells 'im to get lost. Which is understandable, cause Miguel looks like Vigo the Carpathian from Ghostbusters II after havin' his face nuked in the microwave on High for ten minutes. So Miguel wanders off an grabs a Disney mask offa some guy who's slippin' some chick his Mickey an heads back to the party where he's snatched up by some broad with a flashin' "vacancy" sign hung over 'er crotch. She then takes 'im back to her place where they proceed to grab each other's gooey places, only when she eventually lifts the mask an sees the Phantom of the Glopra lookin' down at 'er she rescinds 'er offer of fornication. Miguel figures this must mean that she's a lesbo, so he gives 'er a good scissorin', but that just makes things worse. Five years later, Manuela's over at Casa de Nutjob talkin' with the engineer of the crazy train, an he tells 'er he ain't really sure if Miguel's sane or not, but he's releasin' 'im anyway cause anytime somebody sees 'im they get put offa pizza for life an it's really startin' to impact the local economy. Elsewhere, Manuela an Miguel's Aunt runs a language camp for disadvantaged stutterers, an once Manuela gets back from the asylum, Auntie gives 'er a raft of shit about how she's only hangin' around waitin' for 'er to kick off an that Miguel's gonna be the sole heir to the Rosarita Stone language software fortune, or somethin'. I think the old hag has Alzheimer's, cause every time she opens 'er mouth it's like the runnin' of the bull. It's not real important anyway, cause Manuela couldn't give less of a shit if she'd just eaten an entire brick of frozen Velveeta cheese. Unfortunately, Auntie Pizarro has now drawn the wrath of the natives, an later that evenin' somebody tosses a tiki torch into 'er room to see if puttin' a little heat back in the bedroom'll mellow 'er out a bit. This proves highly effective for wardin' off mosquitoes, but mostly just turns the old hag into a slice of fried bologna. The next day, the language instructor (Alvaro) gets started tryin' to educate all the American hippie free spirits who're travelin' Europe to find themselves, beginnin' with some of your more important phrases like: "Doesn't everybody shave those?" an "Which way to the abortion clinic?" Then everybody goes out to the pool to practice their synchronized bouncing, til we finally get somethin' resemblin' a protagonist (Angela). Angela's about three days late for class, but she's not too worried about it cause she's been studdyin' Spanish under the tutelage of Professor Speedy Gonzalez for the last coupla years, an so she goes to 'er dorm to unpack an scrub 'er maracas.
Naturally, just before she can get into the shower, that idiot Miguel shows up in the bathroom mirror an costs us some serious boobage. But fortunately for him, Angela forgets about havin' seen the sentient pepperoni pizza person pretty quickly, an buys a set of Salvador Dali candle holders from the door-to-door Spanish boy scout who's there to solicit donations for the Paul Naschy museum. Then Miguel goes up to Manuela's room to try gettin' into 'er hedge, cept she mostly just walks around in a see-through robe an gives 'im hardenin' of the artery while explainin' that their relationship just ain't gonna fly around here, an that she'll be damned if she's movin' to Arkansas for 'im. Elsewhere, Angela an all the girls from the language camp sorority house've gone out to el discoteca to fight over which one of 'em gets to sink the groundkeeper's galleon, til he (Antonio) realizes Angela's the only one not wavin' 'er red lace underpants in his face tryin' to get 'im to charge. So after he walks her home an she's safely in bed, somebody sneaks in an cuts the power like a S.W.A.T. team about to raid a booby trapped trailer house, but before the slasher can do any sorority house massacrin', one of Angela's friends with bimbonic plague (Eva) shows up to borrow a pullover that'll accentuate the fact that she doesn't own a bra. Only while Angela's fumblin' around in the closet for a mornin' after coat hanger, the man in the ironed mask stabs Eva right through the knob nozzle, an when Angela brings Antonio back to show 'im the wanton destruction of pristine hooters the body's gone. Angela decides to tough it out an go to class the next mornin', but she can't seem to conjugate 'er verbs worth a damn cause she can't get Eva's tit slit out of 'er brain, an besides that, now 'er Muzzy audio cassette's started threatenin' 'er life like an impotent Gamergater an Miguel's got his partial Krueger-face smooshed up against the window slobberin' like a bird dog. Course, when she tries showin' Alvero, Miguel's gone an the tape's gone back to proper enunciation protocol, so Angela pretty much just looks like Dr. Bellows at the conclusion of any given I Dream of Jeannie episode. Now Angela's not so sure whether the great tit split of 1981 was real or a hallucination, so she goes lookin' for Eva an just about gets crushed to death by one of the leftover styrofoam boulders from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Then she tries to get Antonio to help 'er look for Eva, cept Antonio's too busy tryin' to beat back a cheatgrass infestation, so she takes a seat next to the tree of knowledge where Satan slithers down an offers 'er a nice peach to go with 'er mangoes an pretty quick Antonio hasta come chop the snake's head off like a mohel with macular degeneration. Now Angela's gotten a great big whiff of the red herring an it smells like somebody forgot to pull it outta the trunk after last week's fishin' trip, so she takes off to find Alvero an tell 'im that Antonio's tryin' to shear off 'er irregular vowels.
Meanwhile, the other girls from Slamma Gi are outside Inga's (the names are less important than a Friday the 13th sequel, so there's not much reason to learn 'em) dorm listenin' to 'er make phony orgasmic noises cause she don't want 'em to know about 'er date gettin' scared off by whatever's growin' on 'er inner thighs. Then they open the window an start laughin' at 'er til she gets so P.O.'d that she storms off with the first guy she can find an vows to make it big in the phone sex industry regardless of what they think about 'er phony moanys. Unfortunately, sometimes when you take rides with guys wearin' ski masks in mid-July, their intentions can be somewhat suspect, which Inga discovers a little too late as the guy drives 'er out to the Slate Rock and Gravel Company quarry an ties 'er to a stone slab before runnin' 'er through a concrete saw while Fred Flintstone's out to lunch. Normally this wouldn't be a big deal, cept the little Spanish boy scout who sold Angela the Christopher Columbus paperweights earlier sees what's goin' on an starts headin' for town to tell el fuzz, only he doesn't have enough sense not to run down the center of the road an... well, let's just say that the killer's gonna find out whether it's possible to grill veal chops on a car's radiator screen. Anyhow, by this point Angela's gone pretty well loco en la casabas, an tries packin' up 'er psychological baggage so she can get the heck outta there. But when she tries to leave she runs into Antonio at the front door an Miguel at the back an has no choice but to barricade 'erself inside an be glad that even as bad as things are, the situation I just described is not a euphemism. Eventually she learns that the waiting is the hardest part an starts sneakin' around the house to see if the coast is clear, cept she ends up havin' to stab a mannequin to death for scarin' 'er into splittin' a turd with 'er g-string. I imagine it'd work just like one of those cheese slicers that utilize the little piece of piano wire to... nevermind, forget I said anything. Fortunately, even though she's gonna have to pay for this when the dry cleanin' bill comes, at least she don't gotta be lonely no more, cause about that time Laura (another bimbastic flophouse toy) shows up an listens to Angela's story before determinin' that she ain't nearly drunk enough for this an goes to grab some wine from Don Juan's All Nite Liquor. Course, on the way back, Laura runs into a maniac with a set of hedge clippers who decides to prune 'er limbs startin' at the trunk, an next thing you know it's time for Angela to head into the next room an find all 'er dead friends hangin' from the ceilin' like fly paper in an outhouse. Gonna cut it off here so as to not spoil the endin', despite the fact that I'm pretty sure even Mr. Magoo could see this one comin'.
Alrighty, well, sound a little like Friday the 13th? Really, other than a minor tweak in the settings and motivations of the killers, Jess Franco did an admirable job cloning it. Each movie has two red herring characters that you're supposed to think are the killers, but never are, they both have needless snake decapitations by the less insane of the two red herring characters, both flicks have the "nice" girl who never takes her top off, and they each feature the final girl finding all her dead friends within about eight seconds of each other, with at least a couple of the bodies hung from the ceiling for no reason. I think somebody oughta make a movie where the red herring actually turns out to be the killer, cause at this point, that'd actually be the most surprising twist of all. Might even let some of the remedial viewers feel smart for a change, ya know? People used to make these kinda movies as tax shelters all the time in the '70s and '80s, you could probably write off something like that as a charitable donation for the cinematically challenged. Anyway, what's there to say about Franco that hasn't been said before, and by people far more familiar with his work than I? Well, for one thing, of all the directors whose films made their way onto the Video Nasties list, I believe Franco ended up with more titles on the list than anyone else (four), and in fact, most of the guys who had multiple titles placed on it were European. That's not entirely surprising considering that European horror movies tended to linger on their gore a lot longer than movies made in America, and consequently, of the 72 originally banned titles on the Video Nasties list, 35 are European. Sadly, Franco passed away in 2013, which really sucks considering how few career exploitation filmmakers we have left these days. And the total number shrinks significantly when you consider how many exploitation guys there are left who had really prolific careers. In the last 20 years we've lost Fulci, D'Amato, Margheriti, Mattei, and now Franco. Most of the big name American trash cinema legends are still with us at least, guys like Corman, Kaufman, and Fred Olen Ray, but things are starting to get bleak out there. Still, as far as actual directing credits, Franco blows them all out of the water, having directed 203 titles over the span of his career (Corman has *produced* over 400, however). Something else I'll say for this one, many times when European directors try to make movies in an American style, they turn out lousy. But Bloody Moon mimics the mainstream slasher subgenre far better than most, and other than pretending the majority of its female cast is American (they're actually German, for the most part), the movie at least never intends for you to believe it's set in the United States. It always bugs me when the director tries to make it seem like the movie isn't European, but then again, given how isolationist the U.S. has become over the last few decades, I suppose you can't blame them.
Okay, let's inspect that jug popper and find out if there was any heart inside this thing's torso, or if it was nothin' more than silicone. The plot is more or less typical, with the usual whodunit aspect inherent to most giallo movies. However, this one includes an incest angle to help set it apart from most of the other slasher titles. I think it would've been a good idea to spend a few seconds explaining why Miguel's face looks like a pizza that had all its cheese slide off, but that's a choice they chose not to make. Really wouldn't have even taken that long to do either, for instance, if you've ever seen Visiting Hours, the director includes a little bitty scene about thirty seconds in length that explains why Michael Ironside is so P.O.'d about life, and something like that would've been helpful here. I also think they shouldn't have shown the Aunt getting charbroiled so early on in the movie, as it pretty well ruins the Psycho-esque reveal during the climax. The acting isn't too bad, although there is some pretty goofy dialog sprinkled throughout. I think the best exchange is probably where the two drunk party guests wander off to boff in the woods. The guy says "I'd like to make love with you." To which the girl responds "So would I." Maybe it's just me, but the way I read that, the girl's gonna ditch the guy and go masturbate, but then I suppose English is my first language. Really though, the only performance that stands out is the one given by Maria Rubio as the bitchy aunt, and she gets wiped out pretty early, so the acting is kinda inconsequential. Here's who matters and why (not including Franco, cause I'm not typing out an enormous list that encompasses all his cameos): Christina von Blanc (A Virgin Among the Living Dead, A Bell from Hell, The Dead Are Alive). Olivia Pascal also played Lizzy Berger in the German TV series SOKO 5113.
The special effects are hit and miss, and in actuality, the movie is a little skimpy in terms of its body count. The best looking scene in the movie is probably where Eva gets stabbed through the back and the knife exits her breast, although there should be a hell of a lot more blood given that it was on her left side and the knife would have just passed through her heart. That shot was probably the point where the BBFC censors started seriously considering banning it, and once Jess had the villain run over that kid with the Mercedes it was pretty much all over. The most famous scene in the movie is, of course, the one that's depicted in the cover art. In fact, the German title for the movie takes its name from that one scene; "Die Sage des Todes" or, The Saw of Death. Kinda weird that they'd call it that, given how the saw only comes into play in the one shot, but they must've really liked it. In reality, the severed head in that scene is only fair, but certainly on par with a severed head from a Friday the 13th movie. I should also point out that another version of the severed head shows up near the climax, and that second head looks quite a bit better. The only other kill (aside from the opening scene where little is shown) involves a pair of garden shears slicing into a neck, but you never really see anything beyond blood gushing out. That's another thing they got right though; all their blood looks good. The shooting locations don't add a great deal to this one, despite being perfectly adequate. A little strange that a language school would have a pool and generally resemble a resort in Miami, Florida, but then I've never been to Italy, so what do I know? The rock quarry with the concrete saw is kinda interesting, but in general this really isn't one of those movies where you get the beautiful panoramic views of the countryside. The cinematography is very direct and to the point, and doesn't allow for the inclusion of any shots that aren't 100% necessary to the plot. The soundtrack is interesting, as it features a couple pseudo-songs that somewhat resemble "I Love the Night Life" and "Rock Around the Clock" during the disco scenes, and a more serious instrumental composition for the rest of the movie. The composer, an Austrian by the name of Gerhard Heinz, did a pretty decent job of creating a soundtrack that generates atmosphere, but that also has a more Americanized sound to it. I couldn't tell you whether this was something he was asked to do or not, but because the plot is based so strongly on the American slasher film, this American style soundtrack does a good job of syncing up the music with the mood and the visuals. The movie certainly didn't have to be fashioned after American horror, but once you've made that decision, having a blatantly European sounding track usually doesn't work. I mean, unless you're Goblin. Goblin can do whatever they want and the audience will love it no matter what. Overall, Bloody Moon, while slightly less polished, is no more ridiculous than most North American slasher films, and can be easily recommended to fans of the slasher subgenre. Check it out.