Girls are going missing at a Spanish language school, and it is feared that they have come to a grisly end. Could there be murder afoot or are the “victims” all correctly assumed to just be off blowing the local hot dude on campus? Is the creepy faced guy still banging his sister? She could do way better.
Oh fuck yes. Admittedly I am hesitant to call this Franco’s best film; since I think it really does the man a disservice considering it’s so much different than the rest of his body of work, but it is absolutely one of his greatest efforts overall and is a stalwart entry into the early 80s euro-slasher oeuvre.
What made Franco so great (I’m still not used to referring to him in past tense, RIP) was his style. His bizarre insistence on raping everything with the zoom lens, his proclivity for having a cameo in many (if not most) of his earlier films, and his ability to coax absolutely any slut in his film to take off her clothes without question were mainstays in his bag of tricks.Franco’s catalog was vast indeed, but like many filmmakers they aren’t all exquisite works of art by any stretch of the imagination. Even still there’s always something to tantalize the seasoned Franco voyeur. You KNOW sluts will get naked, you KNOW there will be at least one WTF moment involving the zoom lens, and you KNOW there will be an awesome soundtrack to kick back to (often the same goddamn soundtrack as four of his other films, but that’s beside the point); everything else is essentially just filler. I always look forward to the cameo by Franco, eagerly anticipating it and always terribly disappointed the few times it never happened. It’s kind of like playing Where’s Waldo except you’re looking for this greasy little Spanish dude to pop up out of nowhere.
Also something to keep in mind is the fact that he transcended genre barriers quite often. His films are often a twisted amalgam of eroticism, horror, exploitation, acid trip, action, mystery… he really just rolled it all together. There have been a few titles that were off the beaten path, such as his “Red Lips” films (which are sleazy disjointed spy action/comedies), and his hardcore porn endeavors, but all of it still is very distinctly Franco; few directors managed to corrupt the lens so exquisitely. Watching a Franco film isn’t just being entertained by a few moving pictures, it’s an experience. He certainly had a unique perspective and it was one of the many things I loved about him. That being said, Bloody Moon is quite a bit different from Franco’s usual fare, which is why it’s impossible to claim this as anything more than a worthy pseudo slasher due to it lacking Franco’s trademark eccentricities.
So basically we have this creepy disfigured dude who tries to fuck this slut by disguising himself as someone else from the costume party they are attending. When that doesn’t work out (she flips out when she sees it’s not the guy she actually wanted to lay! The nerve of some women!) he brutally murders her with a pair of scissors and is put away in an asylum, only to be released a few years later into the care of his sister (who we find out that he’s been banging – FUCK YES). They live with their filthy-rich but cantankerous Aunt who owns like this whole island or some shit which is part resort and part boarding school for people who want to learn languages by hanging out in a classroom and listening to lessons on tape (there’s money well spent LOL). This is of course the highly regarded “Europe’s International Youth-Club Boarding School of Languages”, as we’re told by the ratty sign above the entrance consisting of a piece of plywood with those cheap black and gold stick-on letters denoting the school’s prestigious designation.
Anyway, the student body consists of mostly slutty girls who like to hang around the pool topless when they aren’t sporting some truly heinous 80s fashion and wandering home alone in the dark. The sluts start getting bumped off, but only the one chick in the terrible sweater has seen any of it; so naturally nobody believes her and the bodies keep disappearing (sound familiar?). We are promptly introduced to an assload of red herrings with oodles of motive and every one of the characters is sketchy as fuck, including a freakish mute who jumps around like a mongoloid (yet another Franco trapping).
A significant deviation from the Franco formula is the amount of violence and gore thrown into this. This is a body count movie there’s no question, and it doesn’t pretend to be anything but; it’s beyond gratuitous and every attempt was made to make the kills look believable and more brutal than the last. Typically Franco’s films have plenty of blood and death, but nothing near as dark or extreme as Bloody Moon; it will definitely make violent love to your retinas. Some of the delights that await? A woman getting stabbed from behind with the knife bursting through her nipple, the infamous saw of death (which incidentally was the original title of the film in German) in which a girl is beheaded in graphic fashion by a humongous lumber saw, and some stupid kid getting plowed down by a speeding car. Intrigued yet?
Also included (and this is disappointing, in my opinion) is a small amount of animal bullshit in the form of a real snake being beheaded by a pair of garden shears. Franco sadly was no stranger into this sort of thing with his attempts to entice the same audiences that went wild for the Italian cannibal movies a few years prior (Last Cannibal World, Cannibal Holocaust) with his films White Cannibal Queen and Diamonds of Kilimanjaro, but generally speaking this sort of garbage is thankfully not present in the majority of his films. I wouldn’t say they are films to avoid (White Cannibal Queen is otherwise laughably bad and Diamonds is actually pretty solid), just be prepared.
I know I told you about Franco’s amazing soundtracks – sadly with Bloody Moon he eschews his usually catchy score in favor of some seriously heinous auditory abuse. All you will be treated to here is some bad disco music; there’s even a scene in a club with some patrons on roller skates. You’ll certainly have no problem discerning the disco from the rest of the settings because thoughtfully Franco has included yet another well-crafted sign in a handy arrow shape that has “Disco-Club” on it in those same cheap black and gold letter stickers (see, it’s shit like this that really makes almost any Franco film worthwhile).
Lacking a lot of his typical stylized quirks, this is certainly Franco’s most straightforward and accessible film. I guess this is why Nom called it his “gateway” film as it contains many of the usual subtleties (and some not so subtle) that Francophiles will surely pick up on and appreciate, yet straightforward enough for the unversed to enjoy the fuck out of, without having to wonder why they’re staring at a zoomed-in potted plant. I would recommend this for slasher and gore fans, and with any luck some of you will be intrigued enough to delve deeper into the wonderful world of Jess Franco. I’ll meet you in the deep end.
Official COSDS Nunspank Rating:
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Duane co-founded The Church of Splatter-Day Saints in 2005. When not immersed in film he's enjoying good whiskey, smoking meat in the backyard or thinking about sluts. He makes a damn fine habanero fire sauce.