19 October, 2008

BLOODY MOON: Severin DVD


International Boarding School of Languages, Alicante: During a dance at the language school for young women the facially deformed Miguel (Alexander Waechter) steals a Mickey Mouse mask and stalks an attractive student, brutally stabbing her to death in bungalow #13 to stop her horrified screams when she discovers his grotesque features. Several years later Dr. Domingo Aunous (another cameo by Uncle Jess) releases Miguel from psychiatric confinement into the care of his sister Manuela (Nadja Gerganhoff), the lover of Alvaro, the language school's director who is trying to cover up his financial mismangement. The couple are mistrusted by the elderly Countess, who controls the family fortune and intends to disinherit niece Manuela, leaving Miguel set to inherit the Countess' considerable estate.

But Miguel will become a key suspect when several of the new batch of female students are found murdered in cursed bungalow #13. Is this all a plot by Manuela and Alvaro to set up Miguel? You bet. In the meantime the frantic imagination of the recently arrived Angela (Olivia Pascal), looking more like a runway model than a student, becomes overstimulated as the killer begins to leave body parts in her room like ritual offerings.



Depite the presence of the Franco's familiar Toxic Family Syndrome this attempt at a HALLOWEEN/FRIDAY THE 13TH type slasher film borrows many plot points, characters and images from those films as well as Mario Bava's superior 1971 template, BAY OF BLOOD, Hitchcock's PSYCHO and the 1970s output of Brain De Palma. One of the director's most impersonal works, he winks at the material by casting himself as the smug psychiatrist, DIE SAGE DES TODES [onscreen title] does have some incidental interest, particularly in the sexual tension developed in the relationship between the manipulative Manuela and the predator/victim Miguel.

Franco includes a series of rhyming telezoom shots from the craters of the moon to the voluptuous Manuela bathing her nude torso in the nimbus of the celestial body. The victims are skewered, garroted, beheaded by circular saw in the most infamous scene, the mutilated bodies hung from coat hangers, light fixtures and under the bedding of the endlessly terror-stricken heroine. This is all intercut with much juvenile horsing around by the students as they flirt with the male staff and lounge around the swimming pool in bikinis. You get the picture.

Directing the by-the-numbers action with detached professionalism, the director points out in the amusing accompanying interview he had little regard for production manager Erich Tomek's script (credited to a nonexistent "Rayo Casablanca") and the "easy listening" disco style score of Gerhard Heinz (he was promised a Pink Floyd composed score), both of which were imposed on him by the German production company.

As a 1980s-era body count movie BLOODY MOON is more stylish and has more going for it than most FRIDAY, THE 13TH sequels. Franco had a fairly healthy budget and it appears that the director's usual ironic touches were held in strict check. The director makes some interesting points about the banality, cliches and limitations of the slasher film genre in the featurette interview, FRANCO MOON. He notes that although BLOODY MOON had twice the budget of another 1980 Lisa Film German-Spanish production, LINDA aka Orgia de Ninfomanas, that film is much richer in terms of his personal touches and that he had more creative freedom. The focus in LINDA is on eroticism rather than gore and suspense as in BLOODY MOON. Eroticism is a Jess Franco specialty whereas gore effects and conventional plotting are obviously not.


Franco also recounts how he was asked to provide a film with fifty shock moments, many more than the baker's dozen in BAY OF BLOOD. He delivered them but without the panache of a Mario Bava or a Dario Argento. A knife through the breast is a knife through the breast here and it may be shocking to see someone suddenly get chainsawed in half but the shock is gone within two seconds. The lingering on the girl riding the slab toward the buzz saw is effective but as soon as her [obviously prosthetic) head is sheared off and a jet of blood shoots from her torso the mind clicks into suspension of disbelief mode.

For BLOODY MOON's R1 DVD debut Severin has come up with richly colorful (Juan Cozar's cinematography comes off much better here than in past VHS/DVD incarnations with some particularly gorgeous shades of blue on display), nearly pristine elements and provide this admittedly lower tier effort with a razor sharp, eyeopening 1.85:1/16:9 widescreen anamorphic transfer which is far superior to the previous German R2 DVD. The film is presented with its familiar, vintage English language track, but the credits indicate a German source print. BLOODY MOON has never looked this good on any home video presentation and I don't doubt that this will be the definitive version. Whatever its shortcomings this High Definition transfer certainly greatly enhances its entertainment value.

An English language trailer is also included.




10 comments:

Douglas A. Waltz said...

Yeah, I only caught a couple of scenes that were less than stellar with some scratches on the print itself. And the featurette with Jess is worth the price of the DVD alone.

Tom Mather said...

Does he have anything to say about cutting off the snake's head?

Ugh. I'm a Franco fan, but I draw the limit at animal cruelty.

scott said...

I've not seen this new version of BLOODY MOON because the old versions always seemed to have cut the scenes of Manuela and Miguel down a lot. I too liked their tension and was one of the few things it had going for it... are these really longer scenes than that old US VHS edition? Hmm...

Mirko di Wallenberg said...

Olivia Pascal is still a star in Germany on film, tv and theatre! She is one of the few who made it from soft sex starlet into horror into main stream work! Not bad for a learned dentist assistent!

www.marisa-mell.blogspot.com

Mirko di Wallenberg said...

Olivia Pascal is still a star in Germany on film, tv and theatre! She is one of the few who made it from soft sex starlet into horror into main stream work! Not bad for a learned dentist assistent!

www.marisa-mell.blogspot.com

Robert Monell said...

on the print itself. And the featurette with Jess is worth the price of the DVD alone

Didn't notice any significant print damage on my first viewing but I was impressed with the clean, luminous, colorful elements. I agree about the interview, Jess is a highly entertaining story teller.

Robert Monell said...

Tom, Franco also did in a snake in 99 WOMEN. I'm not fond of animal cruely myself. And this certainly could have been faked. It's a rather stupid scene in any case.

Scott, this seems pretty much the same content as the previous versions I have seen. But the focus in on gore rather than sex. I think it's more effective that he doesn't get more explicit with the brother and sister act.

Robert Monell said...

Mirko: She's certainly beautiful and does some convincing scream queening. Franco praises her in the interview.

ThatQuebecGuy said...

No German language? I thought that all Severin DVDs had the original track on them. Ok, I know that's nitpicking.

Robert Monell said...

HI, Quebec Guy, yeah it would have been interesting to hear the German track. But the English track has better voice casting than usual for Franco films, the character's sound reasonable than ridiculous. This was later post dubbed into German, Spanish and English but since the main actors are German one would think German was spoken on the set.