For far too long, North American Eurosleaze fans have had to watch with green-eyed envy as our friends across the pond were showered with releases from the indisputable authority on all things exploitative, the one and only Redemption Films. From their massive library of cult-erotic classics and salacious slashers to little-seen British gems, Redemption releases have long been something of a holy grail for genre enthusiasts without region free capability, but, thanks to Kino Lorber, our wait is now over as many of Redemption’s finest offerings finally come to America in glorious HD! This is exciting stuff for a trash connoisseur such as myself, and, thanks to Kino and Redemption’s new alliance I’ve finally got my mitts on a copy of a film that’s eluded me for ages; Alan Birkinshaw’s ultra-sleazy slasher, Killer’s Moon!
A group of young schoolgirls are en route to a choral performance when their bus breaks down in England’s rural Lake District. Led by their headmistress, the students are forced to go forward on foot, blissfully unaware that these wild wetlands are teeming with four white-pajama-clad nutters who’ve recently absconded from a facility where they’d been undergoing an experimental treatment involving heavy duty doses of L.S.D.! The girls search for a place to bed down for the night, and happen upon a surly game warden who informs them that this is the off-season, and, while he does know of a nearby hotel, he’s not sure whether or not they’ll be able to accommodate them. The equally surly headmistress insists he lead them there anyway, and they soon arrive at the secluded lodging house, where the kind owner decides to take them in.
It’s not long before the quartet of crazies arrive at the hotel, and, convinced they’re in some sort of therapeutic dream, rape and murder just about everything that comes across their path. It doesn’t help matters that the girls collectively possess the intelligence of a pet rock, and do next-to-nothing to help themselves, thus leaving their respective fates up to of a pair of swingin’ hikers, a three-legged Doberman, and the maniacs’ own gross incompetence.
Killer’s Moon is rude, lewd, and crude; chockfull of blood, nubile young flesh, and an oh-so-British sense of cheekiness (listen for the variations on of classic kid’s musical rounds littered throughout the action) that compliments the unintentionally hilarious bits quite nicely. Originally saddled with an X certificate, the film’s positively tame by today’s standards, although some of the era-appropriate misogynistic dialogue is just as offensive as ever (One student tells another who was violated that she was “only raped. It’ll be fine so long as you don’t tell anyone”), and some may still be put off by the fact that the sexually charged violence is committed against “schoolgirls”, although it’s quite obvious that the bulk of the young starlets are well beyond university age and none too shy about doffing their clothes.
While made for peanuts, Birkinshaw’s film benefits from smart use of light and shadow, as well as the good old “day for night” shooting style that lends the film a dreamlike, Rollin-esque aesthete most apparent in its many scenes of the young ladies prancing about in the forest in their flowing white nighties as if lit by an ethereal moon. Cinematographer Arthur Lavis makes good use of his Lake District locale (the lush and lovely rural area in which Jorge Grau filmed The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue), which lends the film a classier vibe than it probably deserves, and makes it a damned pleasure to look at.
While Killer’s Moon is something of a visual treat, it’s a bit slow to get going, and, even once it does, it occasionally gets bogged down again, whether it be the killer’s insufferable back-and-forth prattle or the seemingly endless scenes of people running through the woods for no apparent reason (inevitably being caught up to by the winded, very out-of-shape lunatics). These pacing issues, along with gaping lapses in logic and laughably wooden performances, put Killer’s Moon in the limbo between “satisfyingly sleazy” and “so bad it’s good” territory, either of which is fine by me, as that’s precisely the sort of movie I gravitate to. Those looking for anything more than that, however, will be most likely be sorely disappointed.
Redemption’s Blu-ray presentation of Killer’s Moon won’t win over hardcore videophiles, but those of us who grew up watching these sorts of flicks on third generation VHS tapes will be more than pleased by the quality of the transfer. Presented in 1.78:1, the image is riddled with artifacts, occasional flicker, and a general softness that precludes anything resembling fine detail from shining through, but it’s more than serviceable, and, to be honest, better than what I expected considering the film’s budget and vintage. The transfer is paired with what has to be the loudest LPCM 2.0 track I’ve ever heard. Even at what I usually consider to be a low volume, the screams and musical stabs were loud enough to repeatedly wake up my wife who’d long before settled into one of her patented ‘70s movie comas. There’s a hint of distortion in the track, as well as the expected crackles and pops one hears in films of its age, but, like the video, this audio track is perfectly serviceable so long as you keep it on the low side.
Killer’s Moon gets a smattering of cool extras, including an interview with actress Joanna Good (SD), who offers an entertaining look back at the production of the film, her camaraderie with her fellow actresses, and fond recollections of director, Birkinshaw. Speaking of Birkinshaw, we also get a rather hilarious interview segment with him (SD), in which he discusses his early works, the origins of Killer’s Moon, and the fallout from the film. Rounding out the extras are a collection of trailers (HD) and a stills gallery (HD).
While Killer’s Moon is far from a classic, it’s an entertainingly goofy little obscurity that should please fans of exploitation cinema as well as those who harbor a soft spot for the less-than-savory side British horror. If you like your scares with heaping helpings of silliness and sleaze, Killer’s Moon is just what the mad doctor ordered.