[31 Days of Horror: Resurrection] Day 21 – Bloody Moon (1981)

Director: Jesus Franco
Cast: Olivia Pascal, Christoph Moosbrugger, Nadja Gerganoff, Jasmin Losensky
Screenplay: Erich Tomek
90 mins. Not Rated.

About a year ago, I came across the complete Video Nasty list, a compilation of all the films censored, prosecuted, or banned in the UK due to inappropriate conduct. This was all in the past, of course, even though a number of these films still have bans or alternate cuts decades later, oftentimes due to violence or sexual themes. There are over 160 films that have been considered Video Nasties in some way, and I made it a goal to try and catch them all, a difficult quest. Sure, you have the first two Friday the 13th Films and Dawn of the Dead, but you also have Cannibal Holocaust and The New York Ripper. Many of the titles were international releases with multiple titles, and some can only be found on YouTube in heavy edits. But I was vigilant, and I still am, as today I was able to knock another off the list with Bloody Moon. Is there a moon in the film and does it require stitches? Let’s find out together.

Miguel, a sexual deviant, has been released from the asylum into the care of his sister, Manuela (Nadja Gerganoff). Manuela works at a boarding school that specializes in language arts in Costa Del Sol, a Spanish resort. Upon arrival, Miguel becomes enamored with the young student, Angela (Olivia Pascal, Behind Convent Walls, Vanessa). At the same time, bodies are piling up in the area surrounding the school, and all signs point to Miguel’s fragile psyche. Is he back to his killing ways or is there a new killer in Costa Del Sol?

For director Jesus Franco (Vampyros Lesbos, Venus in Furs), I’d only ever seen one of his films, the notorious Oasis of the Zombies, so I didn’t have a lot of faith going in. Bloody Moon ended up being an improvement over Oasis, while still being very messy. Being a slasher film in 1981 didn’t help to get this film any notice, as the period of horror from 1980-82 was mostly slashers trying to break in after the success of Halloween. Some survived, and some slipped into obscurity. In fact, had it not become a Video Nasty, Bloody Moon could have completely disappeared from the conversation. Hell, that’s why I sought it out.

All that being said, the movie isn’t all that good. There are several ideas at play here in the screenplay from Erich Tomek (Real Men Don’t Eat Gummi Bears, Three Man and a Half), but the narrative gets so lost in introducing stock characters at a frenetic pace that it’s hard to distinguish who is who as the movie chugs along. At times, it felt like two movies, one of them a standard slasher with a group of fun and goofy teens getting picked off one-by-one, and a weird family drama. They rarely felt like they crossed over, so it depended on both halves of the film to lift each other up, and they didn’t really.

That doesn’t stop the movie from being entertaining, occasionally in a so-bad-it’s-good kind of way. There are a number of unusual character interactions, and a number of truly memorable sequences of violence that elevate the material above the poorly constructed. Is it enough to make a great movie? No, but scenes like the iconic saw blade sequence work well as tension builders. Franco also conveys the themes of judgment and reformation well enough by asking us if the convicted and former criminals are guilty by reason of association or if we can move our judgment away from Miguel to see another potential threat, or are the dangerous people in our society immovable? His movie doesn’t answer the question in a tied-up bow, but he’s asking us to look inward, and I found that to be powerful, albeit in a somewhat clunky narrative.

Bloody Moon is a strange movie, yet for all its faults, I’m glad I saw it. It was an exciting enough film if you’re into low-budget messy horror, and while it’s a movie I can’t fully recommend, it does have an audience, and for those willing to go on the journey, there’s fun to be had here.

-Kyle A. Goethe

  • For my review of Jesus Franco’s Oasis of the Zombies, click here.

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