Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Die Säge des Todes (1981)

... aka: Bloody Moon
... aka: Bloody Moon Murders, The
... aka: Bloody Moon - Säge des Todes
... aka: Profonde tenebre

Directed by:
Jesus Franco

As many horror fans already know, slasher movies were big business in the late 70s and early 80s thanks to the box office success of such films as HALLOWEEN (1978) and FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980). Dozens upon dozens of films were cheaply produced in the United States, Canada and various other countries to cash in on the craze. Some were good, some were awful, but most were just average and nothing to get worked up over. This one unfortunately falls into the latter category. While not completely terrible, it's still a mixed bag. Bloody Moon was filmed in Spain around some nice-looking coastal locations by prolific (to put it mildly) Spanish director Jesus Franco, who also appears in a one-scene cameo as a doctor. The backers were West German and a cast of mostly unknown actors and actresses were drafted from Spain, Germany and Austria to fill the roles. There's enough gore and T&A to please fans of the genre, but typically poor English-language dubbing makes much of it is pretty laughable.

Thing begin at a party during the Spanish Festival of the Moon, where a facially-scarred, voyeuristic madman named Miguel (Alexander Waechter) dons a Mickey Mouse mask (!?) to lure a girl into bed and then proceeds to stab her death with a pair of scissors. Just five years later, Miguel is released from an asylum and goes to live with his wealthy, wheelchair-bound aunt Maria (María Rubio) and his loving sister Manuela (Nadja Gerganoff). And when I say "loving sister" I mean loving sister. The two apparently were incestuously hot and heavy before Miguel was committed, but Manuela is no longer interested. Conveniently, the aunt (who for some reason prefers her nephew to her niece) happens to own an exclusive all-girls school catering to giggly, slutty, full-bodied tootsies who seem more interested in disco dancing and trying to screw campus hunk/tennis instructor/gardener Antonio (Peter Exacoustos) than they are on their studies.

Typical slasher movie stupidity soon sets in when a student named Angela (Olivia Pascal) witnesses one of the murders. Naturally, no one believes her and everyone gives her the "you're tired" or "it was all a bad dream" routine. Meanwhile, more girls disappear. Not only do the girls disappear, but so do their bodies. Miguel lurks around in the bushes and peeks in windows. You know the routine. You've seen this all before. In addition to being a slasher flick, the movie also tries to function as a murder-mystery, so don't expect the obvious resolution. What the movie really delivers is a gory murder followed by twenty minutes of tedium followed by another gory murder followed by twenty more minutes of tedium, repeated for about an hour and a half. The murder scenes are adequate. One girl is stabbed through the back, with the blade popping out of her nipple. The best bit involves a girl getting decapitated by a huge saw blade. It's actually a very good effect and well done. The rest of the movie is so-so. Worth checking out if you're a slasher fan and non-fans may get a few laughs out of it, especially the disco scenes.

In many ways, it's an atypical project for the director. The film follows a standard, by-the-numbers storyline instead of a dreamier, abstract narrative. There's little in the way of visual style and few creative liberties taken here. Though there is some nudity, there's no actual sex and the nudity is relegated mainly to brief T&A shots or see-through clothing. One thing remains constant; Franco gives the zoom lens a workout. It zips up to a moon... and zips up to a mouth as it drools blood... and keeps zipping along as it usually does in a Franco picture. Score and cinematography are both decent enough.


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