(A.k.a. DIE SAGE DES TODES)
The opening pre-credits scene of this 1981 German/Spanish co-production sees disfigured Miguel (Alexander Waechter) getting lucky at a fancy dress disco with a young lady. Taking her back to an empty bedroom, the two get it on - until she removes his mask and freaks out at the 'Dick Smith-for-beginners' facial scar before her.
Miguel, ever the sensitive type, responds by reaching for the nearest pair of scissors and ramming them repeatedly into the unfortunate babe's stomach. Above the girl's blood-spattered face, the title DIE SAGE DES TODES flashes in yellow.
Five years later, Miguel's sister Manuela (Nadja Gerganoff) picks him up from the asylum that's been containing him - look out for director Jess Franco in a cameo as the doctor - and takes him home to their aunt's luxury Spanish villa. Their aunt just happens to be a rich Countess (Maria Rubio) with a huge estate ripe for inheriting. It's hardly surprising, then, that moments later she has been burned to death in her bed...
The villa is situated on the estate, neighboured to a Spanish language school which appears to be available exclusively to pretty, sexually proactive female teens. It's not long after Miguel arrives on the estate that strange things start to happen. Students from the language school go missing, Spanish-training language tapes are tampered with to include murderous threats, and - would you credit it? - young women are chased, scared, impaled, lacerated, slashed and even decapitated. Miguel, a psycho from the opening frames, and later revealed to be both infatuated with lead student Angela (Olivia Pascal) and incestuously linked to his sister, is of course the prime suspect as the murders continue.
But with a total lack of evidence (didn't they have forensics in the 80s?), it would appear that the law aren't worth calling in ... and in true Euroshlock fashion, once the murderer's identity is revealed their nearest and dearest would rather sort out the mess themselves than unnecessarily involve the police.
I've reviewed BLOODY MOON for this site before and claimed it to be rubbish. True, its pacing is clunky, the dialogue is jaw-droppingly stupid and the characters are written so thinly that it hardly matters when the acting is so incredibly wooden. The disco soundtrack is irritating, while the English dubbing makes no attempt at being in synch with the lips of its European cast. Even the FX are strictly of the bargain-basement variety, the only realistic one being the genuine - and thoroughly unnecessary - beheading of a live snake. But all of these qualities conspire to make BLOODY MOON a guilty pleasure. It's seedy, it's sleazy and it wallows in moments of incest, chain saw murder and blades being forced through breasts (just don't dwell too much on the continuity errors that follow this particular slaying). In many ways, given its mean-spirited tone and general ineptitude, it remains the archetypal "video nasty".
In so much as the last statement may be true, it's fair to say that a large part of BLOODY MOON's appeal lies in nostalgia. If you're coming to it fresh, you'll no doubt be faced with a plodding and predictable exercise in sub-standard slasher cliches - the splatter highpoint of which is a patently fake-looking decapitation by buzzsaw that was gory in its time, but which audiences raised on the likes of today's extreme underground splatter atrocities will no doubt simply shrug off.
What endures over repeated viewings is the fact that the film is never dull, its screenplay filled with moments of sleaze and/or terror throughout. Also, it has to be said that it's stood the test of time as a very handsome-looking proposition (in no small way is this fact helped by the scenic Spanish locations).
BLOODY MOON comes to UK blu-ray with very little fanfare, courtesy of Severin Films. Honestly, this should be a big deal: a key video nasty title, and one of Franco's most accessible films, makes its way to the UK in HD - that's cool.
The film is presented uncut - 85 minutes long exactly - in 1080p HD, and in its original 1.85:1 ratio. The 16x9 transfer is the same one Severin released on US blu-ray a short while ago. It's a strong, natural and filmic proposition by and large. Taken from a clean print and presented as an MPEG4-AVC file, colours are strong and true while detail is much improved over old DVD releases. Blacks are solid throughout; noise is absent.
The source of the bulk of this print is clearly that of a censored cut of the film. However, Severin have taken the trouble to reintegrate the uncensored moments of gore into their rightful places. These brief snippets do undeniably originate from an inferior source, but it's not too distracting - and it's better to have the film in all its uncut glory, right?
English dubbed audio is given the uncompressed 2.0 treatment and sounds extremely good throughout. The pulsating electronic score has never been so effective, while dialogue is clean and evenly balanced for the duration of playback.
The disc opens to a static main menu page. From there, pop-up menus include a scene selection menu allowing access to the film via 16 chapters.
Extras are limited to an interview with Franco, and the film's original trailer.
The interview, entitled "Franco Moon", is just under 19 minutes long. It's in English but, due to Franco's broken delivery, burned-in English subtitles are also provided. Franco chain-smokes and shakes throughout, while he recalls how the producers lied through their teeth to get him to direct their film (they promised him Pink Floyd for the soundtrack!).
He tells how they wanted a horror film with no less than 50 fear moments, and how the original Spanish title was RAPED COLLEGE GIRLS. As Franco points out though, no-one is raped in the film! The last couple of minutes of this interview move on to cover Franco's LINDA, which suggests this featurette was originally intended for Tartan UK's abandoned BLOODY MOON/LINDA double-bill DVD of several years back.
The trailer runs for 99 seconds and is an enjoyable 1.66:1 romp with English audio and voiceover. It actually boasts louder audio than the main feature, and carries the title BLOODY MOON (as stated earlier in the review, the film itself opens with the title DIE SAGE DES TODES).
BLOODY MOON remains great fun, either despite of or because of its shortcomings - dependent upon your stance on the matter. It looks and sounds better than ever now, standing the test of time as an unexpectedly stylish proposition too.
It's great to see this revered video nasty hit UK blu-ray in all its uncut glory. Well done, Severin.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by Severin Films|
|see main review|