It was a very good week.
In December, 1985, the British government released the DPP 39 Video Nasties list. 39 controversial trash-horror films ranging from Unhinged to Night Of The Bloody Apes to Nightmares In A Damaged Brain were banned, illegal-ized, and instantly elevated to near urban legend status. Jesus “Jess” Franco, being no stranger to European perversion with films such as The Erotic Rites Of Frankenstein, was naturally on board. Hang on to your incest.
Brewster, Fenton, and Morris’s “Shock! Horror!” tells us that Franco’s Bloody Moon, which was made explicitly to cash in on the American slasher volcano, made the DPP 39 due to “shots of blood-on-breasts and an unforgettable scene involving decapitation by circular saw.” That’s all good and well, but this is Jess Franco we’re talking about. Bloody Moon is not Final Exam or Silent Madness. Bloody Moon is foreplay but no sex, sis-bro incest, a soundtrack inspired by ELO, Herb Alpert, Bill Haley And The Comets, and Sparks (often at the same time), and a little kid who gets run over by a Rolls Royce. Plus, there’s all of that aforementioned gore, which punches you in the face much harder than it did via the old Trans World VHS, thanks to Severin’s gorgeous, uncut print. If any of these signals seem jumbled, consider yourself astute — when it comes to Bloody Moon, the Franco confidence is in full bloom.
At “The International Youth Club Boarding School Of Languages”, a group of girls learn Spanish, hang out by the topless pool, attend the “Disco Club”, and lust after Antonio, the gardener/tennis instructor/casanova. The headmistress, who sits in a wheelchair and yells a lot, will be leaving a large fortune to her children after passing. Her children, the incest couple (she: purple-spandexed priss, he: meatloaf-faced killer), obviously have a few issues. But what of the sinister teacher? The retarded handyman? The girl who pretends to make love by herself in the name of social equality? The Grace Jones sweatshirt? You’ve met the players. Now, reap the rewards.
“As they say, suffering is good for pleasure!”
The backdrop may be fresh, but disguising the truth is impossible. Bloody Moon has “Property Of J. Franco” written all over it. That’s why it’s so appealing. But, there’s no Dracula humping; no Frankenstein whipping. Just a bunch of ambient hula-hoop synth noises, stylish photographic urgency, bizarre sexual touches, insanely poor dubbing, and yes, even a little comforting monotony, all wrapped up within the periphery of a cheap American slasher. Bloody Moon wields the familiarity of our beloved trash-slashers, but thanks to Mr. Franco’s entertaining personal and filmic obsessions, the end result is always exotic and rarely conventional. It’s a great taste.
On the tenth day, Jesus Franco rested. But only for a moment.
Joseph A. Ziemba is one of the proprietors, writers, and designers of Bleeding Skull, based in Los Angeles, CA.