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.
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.
The 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.