Bloody Moon (1981) Review

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BLOODY MOON

*** Out of 5

Tagline- Don’t Panic It Only Happens Once in a Bloody Moon

Release Date- March 27th, 1981

Running Time- 84-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Erich Tomek (as Rayo Casablanca)

Director- Jesùs Franco

Starring- Olivia Pascal, Christopher Brugger, Nadja Gerganoff, Alexander Waechter, Peter Exacoustos

Released in 1981 Bloody Moon was made to cash in on the growing popularity of the American slasher film and Bloody Moon also has some influence from the Italian Giallo, which are similar to slasher films with a slight difference in execution. However this far more plays up to slasher conventions and was directed by exploitation filmmaker Jesùs Franco and while I get the appeal of his work I can’t really say I’m a fan, but from time to time I will watch his films and I do enjoy some of his work. Going into a Jess Franco film you know you aren’t gonna see Martin Scorsese like quality, but his films were a little too sloppy and rough looking for my liking in general. Jess Franco died April 2nd, 2013 and according to the IMDb has 199 directing credits and when you make as many films as he did and under so many alias it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s done even more than that. With so many credits at some point you’re bound to get it right and will also have some truly terrible films, but like I said I never really cared for the bulk of Franco’s work with the exceptions being Female Vampire, which I didn’t love, but enjoyed it a bit more than most of his films, but my enjoyment had little to do with Franco and a lot more to do with Lina Romay (she was actually an assistant director on Bloody Moon under the name Rosa Almirail) and I also liked A Virgin Among the Living Dead.

Bloody Moon is quite different than the typical Franco film as here he was simply a director for hire with very little of his style on display since all the changes he wanted to make were shot down. He was also promised a lot of things on the film in terms of crew members and was even told Pink Floyd agreed to score the film of course this wasn’t true and Jess Franco wasn’t very pleased with being lied to, but all things considered Bloody Moon is in terms of production a step above most of his films and this looks a little more professional and is one of the few Jess Franco films I sort of enjoy. If you aren’t really a fan of his films you might still enjoy this since again very little of his style is on display and for better or worse doesn’t really feel like a Jess Franco film and if anything the best way to describe this is when an Indie filmmaker makes a film for a major studio.

After brutally murdering a woman with a pair of scissors, Miguel (Waechter) who has one half of his face disfigured is locked up in an insane asylum and after 5-years he’s released into the care of his sister Manuela (Gerganoff). Along with their aunt the two run a boarding school for women that teaches different languages. Not long after Miguel returns the murders start as someone is picking off the women at the school.

The screenplay was written by Erich Tomek under the name Rayo Casablanca who at the time was a production manager and was also the production manager on Bloody Moon. The script by Casablanca is weaker than most slasher films and the characters are among the most faceless victims ever seen in a slasher film, which wouldn’t be so bad if the film was action packed, but the middle sections Casablanca focuses more on characters and plot and this film had very little of both and therefore Bloody Moon can make for a frustrating viewing as you wait and wait for the action to start up again. All the characters are better off dead with the exception of the heroine Angela (Pascal) and even she can be a bit annoying at times. Characters can often do the dumbest things and rather than be fun its more frustrating and this is partly on Casablanca and Franco as well. There is also an incest subplot between Miguel and his sister Manuela, but overall yeah I know complaining about a screenplay in a slasher film might sound silly, but Casablanca’s script is one of the more shallow and lifeless slasher scripts and since he spends so much time focusing on the characters the film gets a bit boring. Perhaps Casablanca wanted to add more depth to his script rather than the typical stalk and slash, but he simply isn’t a good enough writer to do that.

More often than not in my opinion a lot of Jess Franco’s films can be a little rough looking visually and Bloody Moon isn’t exactly Dario Argento with the visual aspect, but it looks a lot better than a lot of Franco’s other films. Also in Franco’s films the editing can at times be choppy and when it comes to the editing even if Franco didn’t edit the movie as the director he does have involvement, but than again when you made as many films as Franco who could be very active at times, once it’s shot who knows how involved he was in the editing process. The editing in Bloody Moon can at times be choppy, but it’s better than what one might be used to seeing from a Jess Franco production. But hey this is is Jess Franco film after all and editing can be a little rough at times and from the visual side outside of the opening death, Bloody Moon looks more professional. The pacing of the film is a bit sloppy, but this has more to do with the writing as for a good portion of the middle the script focuses more on characters and seeing as they’re so bland and faceless not even the most talented director could get much out of these scenes. Franco does the best he can, but based on the script again there was very little he could do. The one thing that I did kind of find surprising is there is actually some decent moments of suspense. It’s not John Carpenter’s Halloween or anything, but Franco does entice a couple of scenes with a little bit of suspense and while its nothing really great or anything it’s not the typical Franco one might be used to.

The overall production is far better than the bulk of Franco’s films and while the film can be a little rough around the edges at times (again this is a Jess Franco film), but Bloody Moon while not greatly made is far more competent than I’m used to seeing from Franco. The biggest problem here again is the script and Franco who was simply a director for hire with very little say as as I stated before anything he wanted to change was shot down and he wasn’t happy with the production as he was promised certain things and none ended up happening, but Franco handles everything well and delivers a film better made than the good portion of his work and as I mentioned the suspense isn’t anything special, but there are some decent moments and this film doesn’t exactly change my mind on Franco if anything though Bloody Moon does show he can stage a decently made film (at least for low budget slashers). In the end the biggest downfall is the very subpar script and Franco actually manages to make a little more out of the film than there was, but in the end Bloody Moon still has too many flaws to rise above anything besides average at best.

The death scenes were fairly cool with one girl being stabbed in the back and the blade coming out of her nipple and we have a nasty decapitation from a circular saw and even though its clearly a dummy being used its still a really awesome death scene. Though with that said while Bloody Moon does feature a decent amount of gore I didn’t find it any gorier than the run of the mill 80s slasher film. I was expecting something more along the lines of Juan Piquer Simon’s Pieces, which for some reason this film is often compared to. I suppose both being set at a school and like J. Simon, Jess Franco is also from Spain, but these two films really are nothing a like, but I was expecting this to be an all out gore film and again while there is gore and some nasty death scenes I really didn’t find it as gory as its reputation.

Overall Bloody Moon is an entertaining slasher film and while by no means is it among the elite it does serve for a decent time killer. The middle sections when the film focuses on the characters is what in the end sinks the movie, but despite these problems I still think slasher fans will still get some enjoyment out of the movie. As I stated this isn’t exactly suspenseful, but Franco actually delivers a couple of decent moments. We got great looking women who are often naked or wearing see through clothing, some decent gore. This film is strictly for slasher fans and or fans of Jess Franco. Like I said even for those like myself that aren’t big fans of Jess Franco it really doesn’t feel like a Jess Franco film for the most part. Look for Jesùs Franco in a bit role as a Dr.

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