Laser Moon 1993 Review
Laser Moon 1993
Directed by: Douglas Grimm
Starring: Harrison Le Duke, Bruce Carter, Traci Lords
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Whilst everyone with even a passing interest in horror films would agree that the eighties was the most popular period of the slasher, perhaps it was wrong to state that the genre had completely died before the beginning of the next decade. Shifted maybe, but not died.
You see, watching as many of these films as I do allows you to spot the patterns that a part time viewer would miss out on. I’ve noticed that there were a lot of ‘thrillers’ released following the closure of the initial golden times that continued the slasher tone throughout the years that horror had given up on it. Titles like, The Babydoll Murders, Extramarital, Dead End, Out of the Dark, Whisper Kill et al took elements of the slasher genre, dunked them in a ‘cop on the case’ coating and then marketed them as suspense flicks. With lashings of nudity, a masked killer, lingering POV shots, stalking set pieces and a brazen final girl, many were not all that different from our favourite brand of horror that’s seen here on a SLASH above.
But where does the dividing line of separation come in to effect? When do we say that a film lacks the ingredients to join its siblings on this site? Let’s take for example the obscure ‘thriller’ from 1999, Resurrection. It was released obviously to cash in on the craze started by Se7en, but it includes a killer in a VERY cool mask, has a large amount of gore and a typical slasheresque revelation scene. You could maybe mention that it differentiates itself by focusing more on the Police and their hunt for the maniacal madman, but ladies and gents let’s not forget Night School from 1980, Pieces from ’82 and countless others that have included hardened detectives.
If you look up serial killer films on Wikipedia, you’ll find many stalk and slashers listed there, which proves that I’m not alone with this theory. Nevertheless, I would never call Se7en a slasher, or Silence of the Lambs, Citizen X, Zodiac, The Bone Collector, Just Cause etcetera etcetera. I guess that the crux of what I’m saying is that with such a huge similarity between the two styles, the structures can become blurred from time to time and leave interesting results.
Laser Moon has a masked killer stalking bunnies too, but instead of going all out for slasher classification, it’s tried to make itself into something of an engaging mystery. It tells the tale of a media personality whose ratings have dwindled excessively over a recent period. Add on top of that the fact that his marriage has crumbled and you could comfortably look at him as the perfect advert for anti-depressants. Things get worse when he is targeted by a loon who claims to be the elusive killer that has been offing young women around town. Can he pull himself together in time to help bring the madman to justice?
Cigarette smoke fills a dimly lighted room as a low key jazz song accompanies the opening credits. It was an intro that brought to mind those old cabaret places that you see in the movies of yesteryear. Places a downtrodden cop goes to drink a shot of bourbon and fill up his ashtray. In fact there’s a skit in one of the Naked Gun sequels that involves one of these bars and makes fun of the fact that they have become totally passé. Admittedly, these are great settings in filmland to develop a character’s feeling of depression or solitude. The problem here is that once the director sets that dreary tone, he forgets that it’s not a good idea to keep us there.
I’m no stranger to tedious movies, because maintaining a good momentum is a hard to come by skill. I couldn’t escape the bizarre feeling though that these filmmakers were well aware of the snooze-inducing pace and were actually quite comfortable to paddle within it. There’s a murder in the first five minutes that gives us the impression that we are going to see a few more, but to the best of my recollection the masked maniac only turns up once again before the showdown. Between that we get a mid-section filled with the development of flat characters and a couple of strange sub-plots that don’t go anywhere at all. It became more and more frustrating as the runtime rolled on and in the end I fast forwarded through to see how long I’d have to wait to see another killing. I obviously had to spin it back after to watch through for this review, but if I hadn’t seen the masked maniac again, I definitely would have just turned the TV off and gone to sleep.
The main issue here is that writer/director Douglas Grimm has filled the movie with dialogue that attempts to be moderately intellectual. There’s nothing wrong with that you may think, but it makes the film play more like a character study, which clashes with the concept of a thriller. We end up getting rapped up in the breakdown of the protagonist’s marriage and an obsessed fan called Maria, which makes us loose track of the nut job on the streets. I forgot to mention by the way that said nut job here is armed with a surgical laser and that is a new one on me. To be honest I assumed that such devices were used much in the same way as a scalpel and not a ray gun that can blast a hole in someone’s head instantaneously? Anyway, the majority of the slasher parts are weak and uninspired (kudos for the lovely LOVELY babes that play the victims though) and I was astounded by the low level of authenticity on display. Let’s see how many films you can name in five seconds that have a serial killer calling a radio station? I managed three (City in Panic, Open House, Play Misty for Me). And you…? Yawn.
So this film is undeserving of the amount of words that I’ve given it. I was actually eminently frustrated in places whilst I was waiting for some action. It all ends with an incredibly far-fetched twist that borders on the incomprehensible. (Without leaving a spoiler, I’d have to say that it would be impossible that no one would notice). It’s become a platitude to call a film a ‘cure for insomnia’, but Laser Moon would work perfectly in that way. Whilst it does generate a slight level of interest, it fails miserably by advertising itself to the slasher and thriller crowd, because we like our shocks fast and slick. Moon has the speed of a Easter Mass when you’ve had one too many red wines beforehand.
Co-star Traci Lords, who tries her hardest and looks great here, has spent years trying to erase her porn star past. I can imagine that this picture does not improve upon the worst of her memories from those times. It’s not that the film is lazy, it’s just that watching it does nothing to its viewer except make them feel that way.