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Killer's Moon

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Alan Birkinshaw
Anthony Forrest
David Jackson
Tom Marshall
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 By 1978, I think we can safely say, the expiring British film industry was on the verge of croaking its very last breath. Alan Birkinshaw's "Killer's Moon" might just be that lingering death's final, gasping expectoration! Cheap, nasty and titillating as the film is, it nevertheless has a certain nostalgia appeal, encompassing as it does just about every prejudice and preconception one might have about 70s British cinema! Birkinshaw, a cameraman and commercial director-turned filmmaker and writer, whose only other movie before this was a dingy British sex comedy (with Roger Lloyd-Pack and Vicki Hodge - need I say more?), had contrived a wafer-thin "thriller" centred on a group of schoolgirls (played by a bevy of buxom glamour girls who are clearly at least ten years older, and considerably better developed, than schoolgirls usually are!) who get stranded in the lake district with their prim, twinset & pearls schoolmistresses (all clichéd primness and twitchy neuroticism) and end up becoming the target for a quartet of LSD tripping murderers and child killers who have escaped from a local hospital where they were being "treated" as part of a badly organised Government programme.
Clad for most of the film in flimsy transparent white night-dresses, the girls (or women pretending to be girls, in a twisted echo of classic St Trinian's perviness) are not given even a trace of fighting spirit and end up simply caught between the four hammy criminals dressed up in their Clockwork Orange-copying white smocks and bowler hats (led by "Mr. Trubshaw", "Blake's 7" actor David Jackson) who want to rape them; and their "saviours": a balding American jogger and his chubby, long-haired English sidekick, two local campers who concoct a bizarre plan that involves the jogger dressing up as a woman (I kid you not!), in order to divert the killers — although, the chubby bloke's only real contribution to all this involves bedding a perm-haired starlet with big pants, in his tent. Astonishingly, feminist writer (and sister of Birkinshaw) Fay Weldon was responsible for some of this (to her eternal shame, apparently), but presumably not for dialogue such as: "Don't worry — you were only raped, after all! If you don't tell anyone, I won't. Just forget about it!"
A list of minor character actors turn up, their only function being to provide fodder for the overacting killers — and all playing the usual stock characters in British B movies: a quipping bus driver (who gets an axe blade in the cranium) a phlegmatic gamekeeper in a duffel coat, and a homely housekeeper who gets pinned to the farmhouse door with a knife through the throat by a psycho with a Todd Slaughter cackle! All this, and the brazen and tasteless way the camera lingers over the bodies and torn night-dresses of the girls in the film's endless succession of rape scenes, would have been fair enough for this kind of end-of-the-line exploitation fluff; but the film goes from just being an engrossing social document of reactionary '70s values to just being plain bad, thanks to the weird Ed Wood style editing that sees daylight and day-for-night shots alternating from scene to scene with a bewildering lack of logic, and an endless succession of sequences involving people wandering around in the woods, or walking towards camera for ages while a strange jazz version of Three Blind Mice tootles in the background. Worse of all, an exterior Lake District location is replaced halfway through by a studio set consisting of a crudely painted backdrop of some fields, on the flat surface of which, one can clearly see studio lights shining!
The film is bad, but the DVD is clearly worth having - if you're a fan of British Horror - as an example of the nadir of the genre before its recent partial revival. Redemption have come up with an excellent transfer which is worn enough to retain the film's vintage feel (it even has the original red backdrop "X" certificate at the beginning) but clear and colourful enough to be easily watchable. The disc has been loaded with a host of extras: filmed interviews with the director and stars, and a commentary track as well! A strangely essential piece of warped "cult" viewing!

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