The 13th Floor

Slashback! 1981’s BLOODY MOON Gives New Meaning to “Senseless Violence”

When Euro-horror fans remember the late, great Jesús “Jess” Franco, their minds likely go straight to the surreal and erotic imagery of his cult classics VAMPYROS LESBOS or FEMALE VAMPIRE. But as you may know, Spain’s gone-but-not-forgotten cinematic sleazemeister dabbled in just about every film genre that ever existed (and probably made up a few of his own, just to keep audiences on their toes).

With that said, Franco only ventured once into the domain of slasher cinema. But you can be damn sure he put his inimitable stamp on it… and as you might also imagine, the result was totally bug-ass bonkers, and landed the film on UK censors’ notorious “Video Nasties” list.

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Released during the absolute peak of the slasher boom, German production BLOODY MOON contains nearly all the tropes typically employed by that genre — a masked stalker; a school filled with young, attractive, sex-crazed coeds; inventive kills employing a variety of weapons; tons of nudity; “spring-loaded cat” scares; disco music; dated fashions; a resourceful “Final Girl” (played by German soft-porn star Olivia Pascal); multiple red herrings; and gallons of blood. But the way in which Franco seems to have assembled these elements suggests he’d never actually seen a slasher film before… which is probably an accurate assessment.

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Make no mistake, BLOODY MOON may be one of the goofiest slasher movies ever made, but it’s also one of the most entertaining. The story, such as it is, involves a group of mostly female students boarding at a Spanish language academy, systematically slain by a masked interloper who may or may not be a former mental patient (Alexander Waechter) who once committed a murder on the premises, whose face is half-obscured by horrific burns, and who may have a… well, questionable relationship with his sister. The execution of this plot is pretty clunky (par for Franco’s course, really) and propelled forward by completely moronic decisions from most of the characters.

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The most hilarious example of the so-called “idiot plot” also provides the film’s most outrageous kill sequence, in which a loony sex-starved student lets a masked stranger tie her to a granite block — in plain view of a huge stone-cutting saw — under the delusional assumption that her “date” is just a bit kinky. Franco, as expected, takes this scene to the ultimate extreme: we witness the victim’s slow and inevitable slide into the whirring blade, at which point he cuts to a laughable rubber dummy for the “money shot.” (Fans of director Pedro Almodovar will recognize this scene, which he borrowed for the opening of his 1986 film MATADOR.)

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Despite all of Franco’s wacko trademarks — outlandish leaps in story logic, rampant misogyny, laughably bad dubbing and rabid use of the zoom lens — BLOODY MOON is a surprisingly stylish and intense slasher romp with a spicy giallo flavor, hitting all the proper beats and never dragging for a second.

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Serious Francophiles and Euro-slasher completists can finally add BLOODY MOON to their collection; after a fairly standard DVD release, Severin Films has recently lavished more attention on the Blu-ray, with a crisp 1080p transfer that accentuates the film’s vivid color palette (on the flipside, it also exposes the limitations of the makeup effects).

As dated as the fashions and music may be, the overall sheen of the film is surprisingly fresh and modern when viewed in HD. I recommend pairing this one up with Arrow’s new PIECES Blu-ray for a goofy, splatterific Euro-slash blowout you’ll never forget.

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As always, I have some trivia to send you out with: at an early stage of development, Franco was actually told by the project’s German financiers that legendary rockers Pink Floyd had been approached to score the film. Whether that was true or not (Franco himself called bullshit on it), there are indeed some vaguely Floyd-ian art rock musical motifs sprinkled throughout the score — which is credited to prolific composer Gerhard Heinz, but is predominantly a selection of off-the-rack library cues.

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