Blood Moon 1990 Review
Directed by: Alec Mills
Starring: Leon Lissek, Christine Amor and Ian Williams
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Not to be confused with Bloody Moon, Jesus Franco’s gore feast of 1980; this Australian lensed slasher utilises the popular ‘killer on campus’ plot line that’s so frequently used by its US counterparts. It’s fairly amusing how much Alec Mills tries his hardest to Americanise the setting, but thankfully he refrains from asking the cast to perform unconvincing accents. Strangely, the characters that are actually supposed to be from the States still speak in flawless Australian twangs – go figure…
In the small town of Coopers Bay, there are two Hi-schools situated right next to each other. There’s Winchester, an all boys comprehensive and St Elizabeth’s, a girl’s only Catholic faculty. They are separated by woodland where pupils from both can meet and engage in the things that attract the attention of maniac killers. It’s not surprising then that an unseen one begins murdering the youngsters as they indulge, choosing to strangle them with a length of barbed wire before removing their eyes and burying them under the soil. Mary, the daughter of a Hollywood movie actress, becomes involved when the killer targets her and Kevin, her boyfriend. But who is this twisted psychopath and why does he want to kill all the kids?
Blood Moon opens with a terrific score courtesy of Brian May and some superb cinematography. The dense woodland in which the kids are pursued is brilliantly conveyed and I was immediately impressed by the general production values on display. After a couple of murders, we’re introduced to a predictable troupe of troublesome teens and our obvious final girl. There’s an interesting subplot that sprouts as one of the local poor kids falls for Mary, the daughter of an actress. The rich Winchester boys hate the local working class, so it’s almost like a homage to Romeo and Juliet or West Side Story but without the decent soundtrack (Instead we get ‘reach for the earplugs’ Heavy Metal). Shakespeare and the slasher genre, what a combination. I bet the poor author would turn in his grave.
There’s one really gruesome – if not graphic – murder, involving a desk, a young girl’s head and a deranged killer; but aside from that, there’s hardly any gore and most of the slaughters are left to the devices of an active imagination. There’s a tad of nudity and one of the girls is a real hottie. She brought to mind a young Angelina Jolie, but she was taken out pretty early, which was a shame. The performances are fairly poor throughout, with only Leon Lissek standing out as the troubled teacher. Although the plot mostly keeps things directly by the slasher rulebook, there are a few twists that you probably won’t guess and we also get some background on the reasons for the murderer’s insanity. His modus operandi was suspiciously similar to that of real life serial killer Andrei Chikatilo, especially the ‘sexual’ motive and removal of his victim’s eyes. Whether this was coincidental or not is purely sceptical, but an interesting slice of trivia all the same.
British born Alec Mills’ lackadaisical direction left a lot to be desired and he failed to generate any true suspense. He’s a much better camera man and his CV boasts Return of the Jedi and various James Bond movies through the seventies and eighties. It’s a fairly slow-moving story, but when the killer is revealed things begin to perk up right up until it ends rather suddenly leaving one or two unanswered questions. Like what happened to Kevin? Did he survive?
Even though the bodies start piling up toward the finale, the movie certainly could have benefited from a few more excursions into the well-lighted woodland with the killer and his length of barbed-wire. It was a decent choice of weapon that was literally begging for some creative special effects to make the most of its possibilities, but as previously mentioned, Bloodmoon is bone dry. As it stands, there was too little horror, no gore and an excessive amount of frolics that didn’t really do create any type of mood. It feels like a poor teen comedy with the odd slaying chucked in as a cheeky bonus, which is definitely not a good thing. Imagine an hour and a half long Neighbours episode, but with an unseen killer chucked in and you will be a lot closer than you actually think.
The storyline also feels half-hearted and un-finished. There are some good ideas that could add to the skeleton-thin characterisations, but they are never thoroughly developed and the whole thing feels thrown together. I felt sympathy for Helen Thomson’s plight and the rejection from her parents, but the script didn’t really take it anywhere
You can ignore most of the reviews that completely slate Blood Moon; it really isn’t all worthy of such criticism. It’s just that it’s best described as the sort of film that you’ll watch once and forget about immediately after. As far as Australian slashers go, it manages not to feel as cack-handed as Houseboat Horror or To Become One but then that’s still not much of a worthy compliment. I would call it an ideal hang-over movie. You know, one you watch in bed whilst nursing a sore head and your expectations are completely lowered.
Oh and I mentioned earlier the rubbish ‘Heavy Metal’. Well make sure to place those earplugs back in as soon as you see the end credit because the last song is a killer: ‘Blood moon is rising, stay home tonight’ and ‘Blood Moon arising over building and over hill, take care if you will!’ You get the picture…
Final Girl √√