While the packaging for Killer's Moon plays up on the sex and violence that the film contains, the simple fact of the matter is that this picture is pretty goofy stuff despite a couple of moments of inspired nastiness.
The movie follows a busload of British schoolgirls on their way to perform as a choir group somewhere out in the remote and serene English countryside. Their bus breaks down and they bunk down at a nearby lodge for the night. Meanwhile, a dopey looking guy is in a tent making out with an attractive and well endowed woman. Their session is interrupted when a three legged Doberman sporting a giant diamond studded collar runs into the tent. After examining the dog, the dopey looking guy decides that some sinister fiend must have lopped the poor pooch's leg off on purpose. Stick with it, it starts to make some sense in a little while, honest.
Bringing everything together is a group of four nut-jobs who have just escaped from a nearby insane asylum where they were undergoing some sort of insane dream therapy program. Well, the program must have sucked because these four guys are nuttier than fruitcakes and since finish the treatment they think that everything happening around them must be part of the collective dream(s) they're all experiencing. At any rate, dressed in clothing incredibly similar to that worn by the Droogs in A Clockwork Orange, one of them rapes the attractive and well endowed woman from the tent scene and then they head towards the bed and breakfast where the singing schoolgirls are hanging out. With the plot now in motion, the schoolgirls now in peril and the rape crazy maniacs now on the prowl, the rest of the film winds up a strange mix of Straw Dogs and Delinquent Schoolgirls.
Let's get one thing straight - Killer's Moon really takes a bit of time to get moving and those who want instant gratification from their horror films might not find this one quick enough for their liking - at least not to start with. In the first half hour of the film, very little of interest happens. Sure, the attractive and well endowed woman shows off her sweater puppies and a three legged doggie diva pops in for a visit but nothing remotely horrific occurs in the first half of the picture. That said, once the lunatics are out doing their thing, the movie definitely picks up in terms of pacing and shock value. A few inspired gore scenes and a couple of unpleasant rape scenes bombard us with the requisite amount of required exploitative content while this incredibly bizarre streak of black comedy runs rampant throughout the picture.
It's hard to take any of this too seriously, as the film is just way too goofy for its own good, but Killer's Moon is at least zany enough in its last half to work, even if it's hard to explain exactly how. The completely unnecessary blue tint applied to the later part of the picture gives everything a strange tone but it's the slapstick style comedy and humor that come out of nowhere that really make this film as strange as it is. It leaves you wondering if you're supposed to be frightened by what's happening or amused by it, and the shifts in tone are frequent enough that you kind of get the feeling it's the later, the strange instrumental score in the background of most of this chaos only reinforcing that feeling. That said, the three legged dog in the diamond studded collar steals the show during her random appearances, highlighted by one of the best (and by best I mean completely ridiculous) animal attack sequences ever shot. Interesting that this ridiculous film, often associated with the 'Video Nasty' craze, was slapped with an X certificate by the BBFC when it was first released back in 1978. There was far stronger stuff available then and the sex and violence in the film seems nothing but comical by today's standards, particularly when you take note of the background music used in the picture.
Kino offers up the film in AVC encoded 1080p high definition in the film's original aspect ratio of 1.85.1 in a transfer that the packaging states is taken from the original negative. Things look a little rough when the movie starts, there's a fair bit of damage noticeable but soon enough it starts to clear up a bit even if it never goes away entirely. Detail and texture are improved over the past DVD release that came out a couple of years back and colors look bolder and more natural without any oversaturation evident. Skin tones look nice and natural and there are no issues with noise reduction, compression artifacts or edge enhancement. Some might be put off that more work wasn't done to clean this one up for Blu-ray, and there's some legitimacy to that gripe, but
The only audio option on the disc is an English language Linear PCM 2.0 track that generally sounds pretty good. Dialogue manages to stay clean, clear and well balanced and the score as well. There aren't any obvious problems with hiss or distortion to note and considering that this is an older, low budget film, the audio sounds fine. No alternate language or subtitle options have been provided.
The biggest and best of the extra features on this release (all of which are carried over from the previous DVD release) comes in the form of an excellent audio commentary track from director Alan Birkinshaw and actress JoAnne Good who played one of the schoolgirls. This track does a great job of setting the scene for the making of the film as it not only details the strange production history of this specific picture but it provides some very welcome information on the state of the British film industry and the British horror film industry specifically. Birkinshaw had some serious budgetary issues with the film and he talks about these as well as the locations and casting while Good covers her work in front of the camera and provides an actresses perspective on the making of the picture.
Birkinshaw also shows up in an interesting on camera interview that begins by discussing his first film, Confessions Of A Sex Maniac, that he explains was really made as a way to test out the system and see if he could make a profitable film. From there he talks about Killer's Moon and goes into some detail about the casting of the film, including the three legged dog featured in the film and how they found her through placing an advertisement. Apparently she was a dog named Hannah who actually lost her leg by saving her owner from a gunman!
JoAnne Good also pops up for an interview, and she discusses how the young schoolgirls were cast for the film. While she may have looked young, she was actually a married 23 year old woman when she made the movie. She talks about how the actresses bonded over the making of the film and how none of them really knew of the difficulties that Birkinshaw was dealing with while the film was being made, noting that many of the actresses were more concerned with the fact that there was only one phone available in the hotel they were staying at during the shoot. Her thoughts on how the film holds up today are also rather amusing.
Rounding out the extra features are the X-rated trailer for the film, a still gallery and trailers included for a few Jean Rollin titles also available on Blu-ray and DVD from Kino - The Nude Vampire, Fascination, The Iron Rose, The Shiver Of The Vampires and Lips Of Blood. Menus and chapter stops are also included.
While Killer's Moon isn't nearly as sadistic as the packaging makes it out to be, there's still enough sex and violence in the last half of he picture to make this one worth noting. It takes a while to get moving but once the picture picks up the pace, it turns out to be a pretty enjoyable stalk and slash film with some odd comedic elements. The Blu-ray release from Kino/Redemption isn't reference quality but it does carry over all of the extras from the previous DVD release and offer improved audio and video quality. Recommended for fans of oddball horror pictures.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.