Severin Films releases the infamous Video Nasty-era movie “Bloody Moon” from Jess Franco, but don’t expect this 80s slasher to live up to its notoriety.
In 1985, I was a teenager watching with fascination as Tipper Gore, the wife of then U.S. Senator Al Gore, formed the Parent Music Resource Center (PMRC) to try and censor musicians for explicit content. During the fight about freedom of artists to express themselves, artists such as Dee Snider, Frank Zappa, and John Denver testified in front of Congress about the dangers of censorship.
Eventually, the music industry came to an agreement with the PMRC to stamp albums with an explicit content warning sticker for music that used foul language and/or had songs with explicit content but no curse words (i.e. Bruce Springsteen’s “Devils and Dust” album).
This wasn’t the first time a government attempted to censor artistic expression under the guise of protecting vulnerable members of society from seeing or hearing something objectionable.
In 1984, the U.K. went after movies released to video that contained violent content they deemed objectionable.
Because some movies went straight to video, they exploited a loophole in the film classification laws allowing videos to bypass review by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). Like Tipper Gore in the United States, Mary Whitehouse founded the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association (NVLA) to campaign against the BBC. But the NVLA eventually found an additional target in the unregulated video releases in the U.K.
Passed in 1984, the Video Recordings Act lead to the certification of video releases by the BBFC, and the creation of the list we now called the Video Nasty List. That list contained 72 films that were deemed obscene and refused certification by the BBFC.
On that original list of 72 films, was Jess Franco’s 1981 slasher film “Bloody Moon”. In 2014, Severin Films brought this infamous Video Nasty to Blu-ray uncut and uncensored, including the complete ‘stone mill power saw’ sequence for the first time on Blu-ray.
A strange man stalks a woman at a party, waiting for her to be alone. Picking up a mask discarded by the woman’s date, he eventually tricks the woman into having sex with him. Before things get too far in bed, the woman unmasks the strange man revealing a scarred face. Frightened and angered by her reaction, the man stabs her to death.
The scar-faced man, Miguel (Alexander Waechter), is institutionalized in a mental asylum for five years before being turned over to the care of his sister, Manuela (Nadja Gerganoff). Manuela runs a boarding school of languages for young women in Spain. Manuela is also the caretaker of their aunt, the Countess Maria Gonzales (Maria Rubio).
Not long after a group of women, led by Angela (Olivia Pascal), arrive at the school. Angela has the unfortunate luck of staying in the room where Miguel had killed the young woman years earlier. Soon after the arrival of the woman, strange disappearances and deaths begin to befall the women with the obvious suspect being the scarred and odd Miguel.
I had high expectations of Bloody Moon. Not only is it an infamous Video Nasty movie, but it was directed by the legendary Jess Franco.
The movie held the promise of the nudity and softcore erotica Franco is known for, and bloody mayhem.
Bloody Moon runs just over 80 minutes, but after the opening scene until the final 20 minutes, it’s a bit of a slog to get through. Once Angela is introduced into the movie and Miguel is stalking her, several scenes tease that something sinister is about to happen, but then nothing does. The movie is filled with longing glances and menacing looks that lead nowhere until the end.
Franco stages some inventive murder scenes including the ‘stone mill power saw’ scene, which includes a very impressive looking beheading. Even that scene, however, goes on and on before the victim’s head is separated from her body.
It’s clear that the murderer isn’t who the movie wants the audience to believe it is (Miguel). It’s also clear who the murderer actually is. When the finale comes, and the entire plan is revealed, and we learn why the women were murdered and by who, it’s a head scratcher. Not because it doesn’t make sense but because the murderer’s “plan” was so overly complicated as to be cliché. The only thing missing was the murderer doing a maniacal laugh while twisting a moustache.
“Bloody Moon” is a curiosity because of its placement on the Video Nasty list, and a film for Jess Franco completists. The movie is made with the expected Franco style, a kind of otherworldly, dream-like erotic horror house. Once the movie gets to the killing, gore hounds will be more than satisfied by the results of Franco’s imaginative scenes of violence.