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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

BLOODY MOON -- Blu-ray review by porfle

If nothing else, Jess Franco was a prolific director who dabbled mainly in the genres of horror and porn. Despite his popularity, the films I've seen from him so far (THE HOT NIGHTS OF LINDA, THE SINISTER EYES OF DR. ORLOFF, and especially the awful PAULA PAULA) have yet to convince me that his work is worth seeking out unless you're just looking for some "so bad it's okay" action.

My most recent Franco film, 1981's BLOODY MOON, while being a somewhat lively horror flick with lots of bad gore effects, also falls short of converting me into a Franco-phile. I do, however, admire his ability to take a low budget and limited resources and churn out theatrical product that also manages to endear itself to his numerous fans.

Maybe it's his crudely-executed enthusiasm for the filmmaking process that they find so fascinating. There isn't much else to recommend in this particular outing, which takes place in a Spanish boarding school for young women that's menaced by an unknown killer.

The film opens with the facially-disfigured Miguel (Alexander Waechter) raping and stabbing one of the students during a masquerade party while wearing a Mickey Mouse mask. Five years later, his sister Manuela (Nadja Gerganoff) succeeds in getting him released from the booby hatch in her custody, whereupon they return to the school which is owned by their tyrannical aunt, the Countess (MarĂ­a Rubio), who suspects them of wanting her out of the way so they can inherit her fortune.

We're shown a few cursory scenes of the female students during a language class but the place is actually more of a resort hotel with luxurious cabins and a swimming pool. So when they aren't reciting moron-level Spanish lessons, they're either disco dancing in the local club, swimming, or bumping uglies. Or getting murdered.

It all comes off like a poor man's Argento flick but with unlikable characters yakking some really bad (and badly dubbed) dialogue. There's a mentally-challenged mute handyman (Otto Retzer) who may be the killer, a handsome young chick-magnet gardener named Antonio (Peter Exacoustos) who may be the killer, a suave, sex-crazed school dean who may be the killer (Christoph Moosbrugger), and a final girl named Angela (Olivia Pascal) who may get killed and can't convince anyone that she just saw her best friend murdered by a pair of scissors through the chest in her own bedroom. Top this off with a bunch of unfunny comedy-relief dumb blondes running around, not to mention the incestuous Miguel and Manuela (who may be the killers), and you've got a sure recipe for apathy.

Franco, it must be said, didn't care much for the script but wasn't allowed to make changes. He was also promised a Pink Floyd score but got an ear-bending musical cacophony by some unknown Dutch guy instead. The film brims with bad acting and crude production values which we can almost sense Franco struggling to overcome with his own limited abilities. And while he manages a certain amount of suspense here and there, it mostly falls flat and is never actually "scary."

The main effect he achieves here is to work up sort of a jittery, frantic anxiety. Angela's nerve-wracking screams assault us as she flails around in bug-eyed terror when the mysterious killer goes after her. And it isn't just Angela--I don't think I've ever heard more unrestrained wall-to-wall screaming from the cast of a movie. The gore effects, simple as they are, contribute to what little unease the film is able to elicit, especially the centerpiece buzzsaw-beheading of what looks like a storefront mannequin. Animal lovers, on the other hand, will find the actual beheading of a live snake to be the most disturbing shot in the film.

The blu-ray disc from Severin Films is in 1080p full HD resolution widescreen with Dolby English mono sound. No subtitles. Extras consist of a trailer and an interesting interview with Franco about the making of the film.

While BLOODY MOON falls short of what I'd qualify as a "good" movie, there's enough entertainment value to save it from being a total bore, including lots of violence and a hefty amount of nudity. But scares, not so much.

Buy it at


This title will be released on July 8, 2014.


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