Blu-ray Review – BLOODY MOON (1981)

Severin Films has been quite generous to fans of early 80s “Video Nasties” lately. In addition to finally giving a Stateside release to the amazing “Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide” DVD set, they teamed up with Intervision to release two notorious Nazisploitation films on DVD (GESTAPO’S LAST ORGY and DEPORTED WOMEN OF THE SS SPECIAL SECTION). Now, they’ve put the cherry on top with a new Blu-ray release of Jess Franco’s BLOODY MOON, a great upgrade from their previous DVD release. This is particularly exciting for anyone looking for a good introduction to Franco’s films, as BLOODY MOON is one of his most accessible and entertaining, while still keeping that trademark Franco weirdness.

Disfigured Miguel (Alexander Waechter) murders a young woman in a crime of passion and is sent away from his family for years. Miguel’s therapist recommends Manuela (Nadja Gerganoff), Miguel’s sister, that Miguel be returned to a low-stress environment and should not be reminded of the horrible incident again. So Manuela and Miguel naturally return to their home, a manor somehow connected to a Spanish language school owned by the siblings’ aunt, who hates Manuela and has disinherited her. Miguel hangs out around the school and peeps on the beautiful young women who have come to… learn Spanish?

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The specifics of the plot aren’t entirely clear, or really even necessary. Suffice to say loads of beautiful young blonde women arrive at the school and soon begin disappearing, but only Angela (Olivia Pascal) seems to notice anything is wrong. Who could be killing all these young women? Is it Miguel, driven mad by returning to the scene of his crime? Antonio, the horny young gardener who the girls constantly bicker over? Alvaro, seemingly the only teacher at the school, who creepily hangs out with all the students? Or is it Bueno, the simple-minded handyman? Actually, you can count Bueno out the second you lay eyes on him. He can barely stand up straight and hold his pruning shears.

BLOODY MOON would be a straightforward slasher, but it becomes something much weirder than that thanks to Jess Franco’s bizarre style. In an interview on the Blu-ray (ported over from the previous DVD release), Franco explains that he was hired by the producers to deliver a horror movie, but that once he got the script he had to take everything but the basic setup out and start over again. The result is still undeniably Jess Franco, but a bit more accessible than his weirder films. None of the characters display anything remotely resembling human behavior, and at least one scene entirely depends on a character not understanding how shadows work. BLOODY MOON is packed with hilariously bad dialogue and moments of inexplicable (/accidental?) humor, but it also delivers the gruesome goods. There’s a reason this film was on “Video Nasties” list, after all, and it has some surprisingly great makeup and gore effects for such a clearly slapdash production.

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Severin’s new Blu-ray looks fantastic. Severin has not stated what the source of the new transfer was, but it looks like it could well have been the original negative. There are a few sequences where the video quality drops drastically, likely scenes that were lost on film and transferred and cut back in from inferior video tape sources, but these shots are fleeting (mostly gore inserts running a few seconds), and honestly only add to the unsettling camp nature of the film itself. For anyone looking for a good entry point into Franco’s intimidating filmography, there might be no better place to start. And for anyone looking to upgrade their Video Nasties collection to Blu-ray, this one’s a no-brainer.

-Jason Coffman

Jon Abrams

Editor-In-Chief at Daily Grindhouse
Jon Abrams is a New York-based writer, cartoonist, and committed cinemaniac whose complete work and credits can be found at his site, Demon’s Resume. You can contact him on Twitter as @JonZilla___.
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