It would be fair to say that Jesús “Jess” Franco is not a filmmaker known for his subtlety. It would also be fair to say that this very definition of a cult director populates his films with enough exploitation beats to tick any hardcore fan’s boxes. An immense filmography is populated with accepted classics such as Vampyros Lesbos, but it is also a filmography that can appear daunting and initially unapproachable. What’s needed is a simpler way in; an easier-to-access film that, while filled with tantalising promise supplied by some of Franco’s greatest hits, contains recognisable genre familiarity and playfulness. Step forward then Bloody Moon, Franco’s giallo-inspired slasher-thriller!
Set at a language school in Spain, Bloody Moon follows a tried and tested formula of having a masked killer picking off sexy young students in a variety of different and ridiculously inventive ways. With a loose plot-thread of a whodunit thrown in (and if you don’t pick up the twist you’re just not paying attention) this is an entertaining romp of a film that will tickle your Franco funny bone while satisfying any deep-rooted genre sensibilities.
The issues stem mainly from the quality of the performances (there really isn’t any) and the plot that never really feels thought through. Only the regular distractions from one sex-crazed student after another being murdered cover over the many cracks, but Bloody Moon is not a film to be analysed too closely with a critical eye. It is what it is, what its filmmaker wanted it to be; accept that and it will reward the viewer. Look too closely and its flaws are all too apparent, and may leave you wondering just why you bothered in the first place.
What is interesting about Bloody Moon when set against Franco’s work as a whole is that it could be argued it comes at a time when the director was on a downward slide. That perhaps explains the multiple influences and historic nods that make the film both confusing in tone while being simplistically entertaining. Less edgy than many of his films, but still extreme enough with its subject, Bloody Moon is well worth seeking out; if only for the elaborate way Franco kills off his nubile young cast.
BLOODY MOON / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: JESÚS FRANCO / SCREENPLAY: ERICH TOMEK / STARRING: OLIVIA PASCAL, CHRISTOPH MOOSBRUGGER, NADJA GERGANOFF / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW