Bloody Moon Blu-ray Review
Directed by Jess Franco
Written by Erich Tomek
1981, Region A, 90 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on July 8th, 2014
Olivia Pascal as Angela
Alexander Waechter as Miguel
Nadja Gerganoff as Manuela
Christopher Brugger as Alvaro
Jasmin Losensky as Inga
Ann-Beate Engelke as Eva
Corinna Gillwald as Laura
Peter Exacoustos as Antonio
Antonia Garcia as Elvira
Maria Rubio as Countess Maria Gonzales
Miguel is both horny and misunderstood. His facial disfigurement leaves him unattractive to the ladies, but since they insist on running around topless or in skimpy clothing, it's apparent that they must secretly desire him. When one vixen scorns his advances at a party, he punishes her with a pair of scissors to the chest. A few years later, Miguel is deemed restored to sanity and released from the asylum into the custody of his family, who reside at the same location where his crime occurred. No one is concerned about this, nor is it a problem that their estate is also the site of the “International Youth School of Languages Boarding School” where there are even more tempting young women in attendance.
Angela is a new student hoping to learn Spanish, but is in the minority, as the rest of the girls are more interested in partying, playing tennis with boys and topless sunbathing. Everyone has heard the stories about the murder, but when people start disappearing from class, only Angela is concerned. She spends a lot of time running around searching for people and bothering everyone except the police. Her fears are soon realized when she discovers a corpse in her bed, but when she brings in someone to help, the body is gone and she is dismissed as a paranoid girl who reads too many books about “murder stories”. Can Angela figure out what is going on in time to survive the semester? Is Miguel back to his old blood-stained habits again, or is something else going on here?
Euro-Horror of the 1970s and '80s comes with a series of clichés and trappings that are instantly recognizable and somewhat charming. A lot of these pictures are more style over substance, as lesser directors tried to capitalize on the giallo subgenre and copy the works of Italian masters Mario Bava and Dario Argento. Some recognizable elements of these knockoffs include the “unnecessary zoom”, where the camera whips into a close-up on something relatively inconsequential. There is also the international cast where not every actor speaks the same language on set, but everyone is dubbed for the country of release, meaning that even those speaking English receive the voice-over treatment when it plays in the United States.
Director Jess Franco (Vampyros Lesbos, Faceless) was a master at exploiting clichés and also had a knack for convincing gorgeous women to run around naked in his films. Franco shows some restraint here as he emulates the American slasher formula, but with mixed results that includes such tripe as the jump scare, the offscreen cat toss and an abundance of red herrings. He retains a misogynist streak in the murders, as one girl is stabbed through the breast, while another is tied down and pushed through an industrial circular saw. The latter is the infamous centerpiece of the film and is presented here uncut for the first time. While the effects are dated, Franco earns additional exploitation points in this sequence for including a child witness to the crime.
Olivia Pascal (Vanessa) stars as Angela, the observant good girl just trying to be an 'A' student. She holds her own even when placed in bizarre situations involving falling boulders or the death of an actual live snake via garden shears for shock value. Pascal is gorgeous and does her best with the material, but the script isn't doing anyone any favors. One of her more awkward scenes involves the murder of a classmate late one night in Angela's apartment. As she tries to report the crime, three suspects happen by within minutes of each other and the crime itself, despite the lateness of the hour. This is only one of several heavy-handed clumsy grabs at suspense.
Alexander Waechter is the disfigured Miguel, who has returned to the grounds after a brief stay at an asylum. We are never really told why it is a good idea to have him residing back at the scene of the crime, surrounded by more beautiful women to scorn his lustful heart. He may only be a red herring, but Miguel has the best motive for the killings, as his sister Manuela has promised to go back to fucking him if only all the judgmental people around them were dead. He spends a lot of time lurking in the bushes, but may only be a Peeping Tom, as there are plenty of suspicious characters on the property.
Bloody Moon (aka Die Säge des Todes) is not a particularly good film, but it has a few standout moments that were censored from enough earlier versions that this uncut edition is worth a look for nothing else than to see what was deemed too mature for fans of the genre. While it legitimately delivers gorgeous scenic locations and ample nudity and violence, there is still a flat aftertaste to the content that will leave most viewers with a shrug of indifference as the closing credits roll. This is far from Franco's worst film effort, but neither does it fairly represent what the man was capable of. Behind-the-scenes problems hindered the finished product, but there are still a few set pieces that are strong enough to earn the film a guarded recommendation.
Video and Audio:
Bloody Moon receives an impressive video transfer that, while not perfect, is the best this title is likely ever going to look. Presented in a solid 1.78:1 aspect ratio, colors are strong and black levels are rich. There are some compression issues in the darker scenes and minor print damage here and there, but this transfer is a vast improvement over the original video presentations.
The LPCM 2.0 mono audio mix is a bit thin, but appears faithful to the original presentation. Dialogue remains clean and clear while the ludicrous score remains free from distortion in all of its four-note awesomeness.
Franco's Moon (19 minutes) is a conversation with the legendary director who reflects honestly on the many failures of the picture. His stories are revealing and entertaining, particularly the initial promise of having Pink Floyd provide the soundtrack. Franco does not appear to be much of a fan of the finished film and doesn't mind sharing his thoughts in this conversation.
The only other supplement is the original theatrical trailer.