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Jess Franco's Bloody Moon starts off interestingly enough with its odd disco party opening. A foxy blonde makes out with her boyfriend pleading 'Please take me Ralph, I've been waiting so long' while he sports a Mickey Mouse mask. They head back to a room to get it on but when the mask comes off, the horror begins as the man in the mask stabs blondie to death with a pair of scissors. It turns out this guy is a disfigured named Miguel and that he's got some issues. Cut to an unnamed time in the future and Miguel has been released from the psychiatric ward into the care of his sister.
From there we head to the 'International Youth School Of Languages Boarding House' where the people in charge are trying to figure out how to pay the bills. Miguel's sister, Manuella, figures this would be a good place to bring her deranged brother. The woman who runs the school has to deal with Manuella and Miguel's cranky Aunt Maria who owns the property and assumes everyone is plotting against her. That night, an unseen murderer burns the cranky old woman to death in her bedroom. No one seems too concerned with that, at least initially, as it's time for tennis and topless sunbathing at the poolside. It turns out that this school is the same building where the opening murder scene took place some years ago. The hunky tennis instructor/gardener, Antonio, is running around banging the students (all of whom look to be in their late 20s/early 30s) but someone is up to considerably more sinister activities as the student and faculty soon learn when the bodies start piling up on and around the school grounds. Is Miguel up to his own tricks or is he too distracted by his sister's incestuous on again/off again desires? The only one who seems at all concerned by what's going on is Angela, but no one takes her seriously as she 'reads too many murder stories'...
Firmly entrenched in the styles and sounds of the eighties - listen for the weird "whoop whoop whoop" sound effects that make up much of the score or note that at one point a character can be seen wearing a Grace Jones shirt - Bloody Moon is a decent enough slasher film. A roller skating-sock hop-disco dance, plenty of outfits involving leotards, mom jeans and pastel colored leisure wear also age the film considerably but the film is not without its quirky charm. Considerably more polished and linear than a lot of Jess Franco's films, Bloody Moon is, in many ways, fairly accomplished. The murder scenes are grisly and effective and the cinematography effectively captures the mood and helps build suspense. A couple of superfluous subplots really serve to do little more than simply pad the film but the core storyline is interesting enough.
The gore scenes in the film are fairly memorable - a woman has a knife shoved through her breast from behind, an unlucky (and very real) snake gets its head cut off by garden sheers, and in the movie's most famous scene a woman has her head cut off by a giant buzzsaw - and they have stood the test of time well. There are logic gaps aplenty throughout the movie and you'll probably wonder how so many people wind up in one room during a key scene or how the giant boulder managed to fly off the cliff, but these add to the picture's fun.
Severin's anamorphic 1.85.1 widescreen transfer looks very nice even if it does appear that a couple of seconds of a gore scene were taken from a slightly inferior source than the rest of the movie. Color reproduction looks nice and lifelike and black levels stay strong. There aren't any problems with edge enhancement or mpeg compression at all and any print damage that does appear is minor - just some small specks and the odd little scratch. There's a healthy coat of film grain evident but it's not overpowering or distracting at all and the detail levels in both the foreground and the background of the picture are nice and strong.
The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sound mix is of pretty decent quality. There aren't any problems with hiss or distortion and the levels are always properly balanced. The score sounds good and the dubbed English dialogue is easy enough to understand. The range is limited and the sound design shows its age but at least it is presented here in a crisp and clean sounding presentation.
The main supplement on this release is a featurette entitled Franco's Moon (18:49) in which the director talks about making the picture. He talks about how the film was put together with Olivia Pascal predetermined to play the lead and how the music of Pink Floyd was a big inspiration on the film's noticeably bizarre soundtrack. In fact, Franco mentions that originally Pink Floyd was supposed to work on the film but instead he wound up with a Dutch composer who he was less than impressed with. Franco talks about how the writer kept interfering and about working with the effects technician on the film before going on to making comparisons between making a horror film and making a porno film and the reasons why the effects sequences should be kept on the shorter side. Interesting stuff, delivered with Jess' usual 'no bullshit' approach to talking about his work and his career.
Aside from that, look for the film's original theatrical trailer (1:39, anamorphic widescreen), some fun animated menus, and chapter selection for the feature.
Franco fans already know they want this but the film will also appeal to Euro-trash connoisseurs and slasher aficionados alike, particularly those with an affinity for eighties material. Severin presents the film completely uncut with a very nice transfer and while the extras aren't overflowing here, the interview with Franco is a very enjoyable one. Recommended.
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.