Written by: Christopher O’Neill on January 5th, 2009
Theatrical Release Dates: West Germany, March 1981
Director: Jesus Franco
Writer: ‘Rayo Casablanca’ aka Erich Tomek
Cast: Olivia Pascal, Christoph Moosbrugger, Nadja Gerganoff, Jasmin Losensky, Corinna Gillwald
DVD released: November 24, 2008
Approximate running time: 85 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1:85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Severin UK
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: £12.99
Written by the film’s production manager Erich Tomek (credited under the peculiar pseudonym ‘Rayo Casablanca’), the screenplay of BLOODY MOON is a collection of the usual “teens in peril” slasher clichés as well as the well-worn familial greed, hatred and money plotline recognizable from countless other films such as BAY OF BLOOD. With the exception of the wonderfully overheated climax worthy of an Andy Milligan melodrama, the script is only particularly inspired during the creative murder set pieces and is otherwise unimaginatively plodding. Obliged to stick rigidly to the screenplay, director Jess Franco is unable to indulge in his usual visceral style and instead delivers a strictly by-the-numbers affair that nonetheless simultaneously obeys as well as ridicules the necessary genre trappings, particularly with the extravagantly gory death scenes. Moments such as a knife piercing through a woman’s back until it protrudes from her breast, and a grizzly decapitation via buzzsaw are presented in such a ridiculously over-the-top fashion that they can only be seen as an example of Franco’s anachronistic sense of humor (which was obviously lost on the British authorities since in the United Kingdom BLOODY MOON was placed on the infamous Video Nasties list and was subsequently banned for several years).
BLOODY MOON benefits mightily from the restrained cinematography by Juan Soler, who shot several of Franco’s pictures in the early eighties such as THE DEVIL HUNTER and THE SEXUAL STORY OF O. As presented in the remastered edition found on this disc, his work alternatively captures the luscious Alicante locations during the sunny daylight scenes, while appearing suitably atmospheric for the blue-tinged evening sequences. Equally pleasing on the eye is the talented German actress Olivia Pascal in the lead role of Angela. As she had demonstrated in the EMMANUELLE-inspired VANESSA, Pascal has a sensuous quality shaded with a fresh-faced naivety that makes for a sympathetic and likable heroine. That said, the cheaply produced English dubbing does her no favors which, depending on the viewer, is either wincingly awful, or is an unintentionally amusing delight. This, along with the cringing eighties fashions, gives BLOODY MOON an enduring camp factor that only adds to Franco’s droll handling of the material.
Severin’s UK release of BLOODY MOON is identical to their American presentation of the film, and like the majority of their British discs, is mastered in NTSC without regional coding. Framed at the correct 1:85:1 letterboxed ratio, there is simply one word to describe the image quality: Fantastic. Sourced from the negative with German credits, the picture is crisp and with only a slightest speck of grain or damage. The quality only drops for a few inserts during the gorier sequences, since the negative was incomplete and the missing footage had to be taken from an inferior source. These shots are considerably softer and grainier than the remainder of the feature, but with the exception of one instance where two missing two frames results in the screen going black to match up the sound running over the absent footage, these inserts have been seamlessly added back into the film. The inclusion of this footage makes this edition of BLOODY MOON definitive and marks the first time the film has been uncensored in the UK since the original video release (an edited version was quickly issued in response to the video nasty frenzy, but this was also withdrawn, and the subsequent BBFC-approved video and DVD released by Vipco were also cut).
Free of hiss or pops, the English language soundtrack is presented in its original 2.0 mono dimensions and is preserved excellently. Despite Franco commenting that the repetitive music score is “the worst thing in the film,” it works well within the confines of the picture and sounds fine in this transfer. It is, however, unfortunate that the German language audio could not be included since the majority of the cast is German and therefore was presumably the language spoken on the set.
The most significant bonus feature on the disc is a 19-minute interview with Franco, which is conducted in English but due to the director’s thick accent is also accompanied with English subtitles. In this enjoyable featurette Franco reminisces about the making of BLOODY MOON, particularly about the unfulfilled promises made by the producers (most startlingly being their declaration that Pink Floyd were to score the film) and the difficulties of working from a poor screenplay when the scriptwriter also happens to be your production manager (“Each time I wanted to make a change he’d say: ‘NO!’”). Also included on the disc is the English-language theatrical trailer that is hugely beneficial since it represents how BLOODY MOON has appeared on video until now. Presented at a non-anemographic 1:66:1 ratio, the drab and overly dark image quality illustrates just how good Severin’s transfer of the film really is.
Severin’s DVD is the definitive presentation of BLOODY MOON and a must for Franco fans.