Every fan has their guilty pleasure, the one film they enjoy whilst just about everyone else hates and loathes it. KILLER'S MOON is such a film for me, an infamously shoddy bad-taste production in which just about everything is god-awful: sub-par editing, atrocious acting, dialogue written as if by a drug-addicted loon. Director Alan Birkinshaw (a very minor personality in British exploitation stakes) goes out of his way to deliver helping upon helping of over-the-top nastiness which amazingly managed to get through the BBFC with an 'X' certificate back in the days of its first release. A video release followed in the very early '80s, but otherwise this crummy wannabe slasher-epic has rarely seen the light of day and is mostly forgotten by fans of mainstream horror. KILLER'S MOON transcends its many limitations to become a schlocky masterpiece of so-bad-it's-good entertainment; a laugh riot throughout and for all the wrong reasons.
Birkinshaw seems to be going out of his way to make an offensive movie right from the start, when a bleeding, three-legged dog limps into view - apparently the fourth limb has been severed, by persons unknown! The setting is an effectively barren Lake District, which is one of the film's finest points: the isolated atmosphere of the British landscape really comes across and gives the movie an ideal setting, as in much the same way as a film like THE LIVING DEAD AT THE MANCHESTER MORGUE for instance. Cold, gloomy, yet still attractively lush with greenery in places, the setting is ideal. Into this forbidding landscape comes a coach full of clichéd '70s schoolgirls, all into singing "Greensleeves" before their trip goes awry when the coach breaks down and they are forced to trek through the woods to the nearest place of salvation - a closed down hotel.
So far, so good, although you'll have already realised by now that this isn't the paciest of movies. The slow nature of the film may be off putting to those looking for faster, more serious scares, but let's face it, nobody here had a lot of budget to work with so things necessarily must be dragged out and laboured. And just as the film looks to become a bit boring, in come four of the most outrageous film characters to liven it up. Nevermind that they're all loonies from the local asylum - here the mentally ill are portrayed as evil, twisted psychopaths with no redeeming values, three ending up brutally killed as a result of their own crimes, the fourth finally resembling a pathetic child of a man. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE is the big influence here, both in the characters' attire and their choice of names ("Mr Smith, Mr Muldoon... Mr Trubshaw" - I mean, please!), and also in the way in which they casually go about raping and murdering all in their path. The idea that they believe they're living out all their worst desires in a safe dream-world is a clever one, giving the movie the one spark of minor originality and interest which it otherwise lacks.
What follows is a catalogue of atrocities, all played out in a commendably straight-faced manner. Cats have their tails cruelly lopped off; shrewish housewives are pinned to their own doors with kitchen knives; all manner of young and attractive schoolgirls are stripped and violated by the scheming mad men (watch those nightdresses, which seem to fall off suspiciously easily). Even the comedic coach driver (as played by the inimitable "Chubby" Oates - I wonder what became of him?) gets an axe in the head. It goes without saying that the minor gore effects here are pathetically done and very unconvincing, with the body-on-the-door gag being the only real "special effect" of the bunch. Of course, what goes around comes around, and eventually the bad guys are offed by dog-mauling, fire, and scythes to the back, in that order. The fourth guy (get this) dresses up the charred corpse of one of his former friends in a female wig and shirt and cries in its lap, apparently looking for comfort from his "mother"! The acting is unbelievably bad, all amateurish and no familiar faces to be seen. The actresses playing the schoolgirls have all obviously been picked for their lack of inhibitions rather than anything else, whilst the guys playing the killers go way over the top with some of the most outrageous, hammiest acting you're ever likely to see in a British horror production of the '70s. Even the American (?) hero, Mike, is played by a really wooden bloke. So why does this film work for me? For a start, the dialogue, which is positively ringing with classic gems of priceless ineptitude, including the legendarily bad summing-up of the situation the characters find themselves in: "Blood on the moon, one mangled dog, one missing axe, and one lost girl who just found a body at the wrong end of the axe. How's that for the great English outdoors?". Then there are the over-acting guys, who turn the wannabe figures of terror into laughable buffoons, the abundance of poor effects work, unpredictable events and cheesy heroes. Birkinshaw, I salute you, for making one of the last great stands in British exploitation cinema history!
Action / Crime / Horror
Action / Crime / Horror
Four mental patients - who, due to unauthorized experiments, believe they're living in a dream and have shed all moral imperatives - escape and find their way to the nearest bus-load of stranded schoolgirls.
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July 24, 2015 at 09:16 AM