As any Eurotrash enthu­si­ast knows, Jess Franco rou­tine­ly knocked out more films in one year than any­one else did dur­ing an entire decade.  He wasn’t above tak­ing “for the mon­ey” gigs to keep his plat­ter full and the­se assign­ment gigs some­times result­ed in work that was screwier than his reg­u­lar bill of Eurotrash fare.  Case in point: Bloody Moon, a thor­ough­ly dement­ed attempt to emu­late the slash­er films of the ear­ly ‘80s that is spiked with Franco’s own style of per­verse weird­ness.

The plot of Bloody Moon is both char­ac­ter-free and ridicu­lous­ly over­plot­ted all at once.  It begins with a cus­tom­ary “tragedy from years past” scene in which scar-faced perv Miguel (Alexander Waechter) uses a mask to seduce a girl.  When she unmasks him and freaks out, he stabs her to death.  Years lat­er, his sis­ter Manuela (Nadja Gerganoff) brings him home when he is released from an insti­tu­tion.  It is revealed they both live with their cranky aunt (Maria Rubios), who is deter­mined to cut Manuela out of her will and give every­thing to Miguel.BloodyM-blu

And that’s just part of the plot: the actu­al hero­ine of the film is Angela (Olivia Pascal), a young wom­an who comes to study at a lan­guage school oper­at­ed on the grounds of the Countess’ com­pound by Alvaro (Christopher Brugger).  She imme­di­ate­ly notices Miguel stalk­ing her but her bub­ble-head­ed fel­low stu­dents shrug it off, most of them fight­ing over the sex­u­al favors of ten­nis pro/gardener Antonio (Peter Exacoustos).  However, some­one starts bump­ing off coeds in short order as Angela tries to fig­ure out who the killer is, cul­mi­nat­ing in a daft, twist-hap­py finale that plays like a weird mix of gial­lo and soap opera.

Bloody Moon super­fi­cial­ly ful­fills the clichés of the slash­er film: sex is equat­ed with death, many nubile vic­tims are killed in cre­ative ways, there’s lot of stalk­ing sce­nes with P.O.V. cam­er­a­work, fake scares and a bar­rage of dopey but enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly deployed plot twists dur­ing the finale.  Unlike a lot of Franco’s oth­er hor­ror films, there’s a hand­ful of sur­pris­ing­ly elab­o­rate gore effects here, too: the high­light is a stone-saw decap­i­ta­tion sequence that Pedro Almodovar liked enough to show on a t.v. dur­ing the open­ing moments of Matador.

However, Franco’s direc­tion makes Bloody Moon some­thing else alto­geth­er.  His trade­mark cam­er­a­work zooms to and fro, giv­ing it the fever­ish, hasti­ly impro­vised mood that is often asso­ci­at­ed with his films. The wall-to-wall musi­cal score mix­es and match­es all sorts of strange moods, from trashy dis­co to lounge-ish soft rock to some­thing that sounds like an oom-pah band ver­sion of the Jaws the­me.  He crams in gra­tu­itous nudi­ty and sex­u­al obses­sion wherever he can, par­tic­u­lar­ly in a creepy sub­plot deal­ing with Manuel and Manuela’s inces­tu­ous past.

BloodyM-posThe results nev­er con­vince as a slash­er movie, despite the pro­fu­sion of blood and boobs — but it’s fair­ly inter­est­ing as a weirdo Eurotrash arti­fact.  Bloody Moon remains  inter­est­ing to the trash-flick enthu­si­ast because of this ten­sion between Franco’s jazz-improv approach to film­mak­ing and the rigid struc­ture of the slash­er film.  Your mileage will vary depend­ing on your inter­est in Franco’s style but it’s bizarre enough to rate at least one view­ing with schlock-cin­e­ma curios­i­ty seek­ers.

Blu-Ray Notes: Six years after their DVD release of this title, Severin has given the film a nice upgrade to blu-ray.  It offers the same trans­fer in its prop­er HD incar­na­tion and the qual­i­ty is pret­ty impres­sive, with vivid col­ors and details that real­ly pop.

There are also two extras car­ried over from the DVD.  The first is the the­atri­cal trail­er, which com­press­es the film’s delir­i­um into a short, action-packed burst of mad­ness.  The oth­er is a 20-min­ute inter­view with Franco, who talks about how he tried to inject humor into the pro­ceed­ings, had to work with a script by a real­ly defen­sive first time screen­writer and the many bro­ken promis­es made by his pro­duc­ers (most inter­est­ing­ly, they promised to have Pink Floyd score the film!).  Franco has a relaxed irrev­er­ence that makes this seg­ment fun to watch — and thank­ful­ly, there are sub­ti­tles to com­pen­sate for his mum­ble-y deliv­ery.