BR: Bloody Moon / Die Säge des Todes (1981)

July 26, 2014 | By


BloodyMoon_BRFilm: Very Good

Transfer:  Excellent

Extras: Good

Label: Severin Films

Region: All

Released:  August 5, 2014

Genre:  Horror / Slasher

Synopsis: When a scarred boy convicted of a brutal murder is released, students at a summer Spanish language academy are brutally killed.

Special Features:  “Franco Moon: Interview with Director Jess Franco” / Theatrical Trailer.




Although promised by German producers he’d have a top American special effects whiz and a score by Pink Floyd (!), after agreeing to make Bloody Moon, Jess Franco discovered the only truth in their sales pitch was the casting of actress Olivia Pascal, which was a plus, since the relatively talented actress was able to transcend the idiotic script concocted by production manager Erich Tomek.

Tomek’s story is a mish-mash of ideas with a scene cobbled from Psycho (there’s a granny who may not be among the living anymore…), but the gist involves the release of a murderer from a mental institution, and a new wave of coed killings of which he may be responsible, or perhaps sister Manuela (Nadja Gerganoff), out to claim the family estate bequeathed by her invalid mother to brother Miguel (Alexander Waechter).

Manuela soon reveals herself to be a schemer, a moonlight exhibitionist, and the lover of her brother, whereas Miguel, future benefactor of the estate and its coastal language school, just kind of wanders around the grounds, snooping in women’s cabins and scaring them with his half-burned face. The level of creepy male behaviour is often shrugged aside by the dimwit students, and when not learning Spanish, they’re often man-hunting at the local disco.

Although the girls do talk a lot about getting laid, Tomek’s script has few men onscreen; besides Miguel and language teacher Alvar (Christopher Moonsbrugger), there’s the mentally delayed / googly-eyed helper who may be a bigger creep than Miguel, and local stud Antonio (Peter Exacoustos) with a girl for every arm.

The reasons for the killings are irrelevant (it’s ultimately about money) because Bloody Moon, one of the original Video Nasties in Britain, offers high-quality murders; they’re wholly ridiculous, but being strangled with clamps, gutted with scissors, pierced through a boobie, or decapitated by a masonry saw are definitely novel, with the saw-kill really delivering the goods through rubber prosthetics and dribbly blood.

Franco’s direction is above-average (one scene in which Angela opens the door to confront a large shadowy figure is brilliantly humorous), but there are moments of laziness which result in lapses of logic and continuity: the placement of the boobie stab varies in later shots of the cadaver, Angela barricades the cabin’s main entrance with furniture even though it opens outward, and her outfit changes in two connected scenes from nightgown to fully clothed. Franco and his camera crew are clearly visible in the glass fronts of the classroom cubicles, and many scene transitions (including music cuts) are edits as coarse and jarring as getting sawed in the chest with a hedge trimmer (it happens).

In the interview featurette, originally produced for Severin’s 2006 similarly uncut DVD, Franco also discusses his hatred of Gerhard Heinz’ music (which is quite awful) that’s recycled throughout the film, although the cheap synthetic blub-blub sounds are appropriately cheesy signifiers of the killer’s looming presence.

Genuine surprise: in the opening kill scene where Miguel lures a coed away from a pool party, he wears a Mickey Mouse mask, which Disney would likely quibble over today. The use of the mask is suitable for a disturbed character wanting to reach out and touch boobies through camouflage, but the opening sequence does evoke the masked young Michael Myers in John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) and the masked killer at the beginning of Michael Laughlin’s Strange Behavior / Dead Kids (1981).

Severin’s Blu-ray features a gorgeous transfer from near-pristine elements, bringing out sharp details and the rich colours of the film’s Alicante, Spain locations. The restored gore shots are overtly grainy and high contrast, but they’re also the least offensive moments in a kill, often consisting of drooling blood. (Franco’s slasher logic seems to mandate any bodily piercing causes a bleeding nose and mouth.)

Only downside: pity there wasn’t an available German dub track; the English dialogue is deliciously awful, but the film’s fromage factor would’ve been significantly boosted by heavy German accents, especially from the lesser talents playing oversexed bubbleheads.

Franco’s deal with the producers included a second film, Linda / The Story of Linda / Orgy of the Nymphomaniacs (1981), also scripted by Tromek, who would go to write many more B-films. The three stars – Pascal, Moonsbrugger, and Waechter – managed to establish careers in film and TV in Germany. Pascal’s prior credits include a series of erotic misadventures  – Casanova & Co. (1977), Vanessa (1977), and Behind Convent Walls (1978).



© 2014 Mark R. Hasan



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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review

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