Killer's Moon: Remastered EditionOverview -
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.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
Why is it that so many movies use stupidity as a character trait? Or better yet, why do the people on screen make utterly foolish decisions which only get them into deeper trouble? I know we're talking about fictional characters here, but still. We accept these attributes as part of the entertainment and keep coming back for more of the same idiotic behavior. This attraction to the reckless abandonment of rationality and good judgment occurs, especially, within the horror genre, more so in the low-budget independent flicks than anything else. Alan Birkinshaw's 'Killer's Moon' is a good example of idiocy run amok, which weirdly serves as its most memorable aspect, garnering it a respectable cult following.
If there were a list of the dumbest things ever done in a horror movie, I'm pretty sure the one committed by Mike (Tom Marshall) and his American friend Pete (Anthony Forrest) would rank at the very top. Their decision to forego a double-barrel shotgun in lieu of dressing like a schoolgirl so as to fool three escaped mental patients is not only laughably stupid, but also truly bizarre. We'll ignore for the moment the fact that it's the American who appears to make the inexplicable suggestion. The bigger question is why the filmmakers would waste a big chunk of narrative time in search of a gun, or any weapon for that matter, to fight the insane criminals, only to dispose of it for no good reason.
Sadly, this seems to be the extent of the logic applied throughout Birkinshaw's film, whose work prior to this was a peculiarly bad sex comedy about the search for the perfect pair of breasts, aptly titled 'Confessions of a Sex Maniac.' And like that movie, 'Killer's Moon' was never meant for much else than to test the limits of the ratings board, an attempt to push the boundaries of decency and the amount of violence audiences were willing to tolerate. Unfortunately, he decided to gauge the reaction of moviegoers with a story of four, scarily demented fugitives terrorizing and raping little schoolgirls who happen to be spending the night in a remote hotel. Even scarier is seen the two aforementioned numbskulls be their only hope of salvation.
Although the levels of violence and gore are not as shocking as that seen in other features released during the same period, seeing the young girls in such distress is. More surprising, however, is that the horror film's small degree of entertainment doesn't come from Birkinshaw's deliberate venture to shock. Instead, it comes from his unintentional effort to be taken seriously and the ultra-cheap production value, classifying the movie in the "so bad its good" category. Along with Mike and Pete, the four convicts, convinced they're only acting out a shared dream, are hilariously weird. Dialogue is not only awful, but reaches a tasteless low point when one girl's rape is quickly dismissed as something that can be easily forgotten. And nighttime scenes at a campsite are hysterical because they were obviously filmed in a soundstage with a wrinkled painting of a lake in the background, and the voices of actors noticeably echo.
Besides lacking a decent, perhaps a bit more sensitive script and a stronger cast of actors, 'Killer's Moon' also lacks a great deal of originality, seeming like a strange hodgepodge of other, sometimes better exploitation movies. The most obvious being the droogs of Stanley Kubrick's 'A Clockwork Orange' likely inspiring the dress of the escaped mental patients. But if this low-rent 1978 British horror film has anything to at least warrant its recent revival, it's frankly lost on me. The closest we can come to any reasonable praise is that it was made during an interesting period of British independent filmmaking. That, or you can find a small pocket of enjoyment in its unintentional hilarity as I did.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Redemption Films with Kino Lorber bring 'Killer's Moon' to Blu-ray on a Region Free, BD50 disc. Housed inside a standard blue case, the disc goes straight to the main menu with photo still and music.
This high-def transfer of 'Killer's Moon' may come from a new master of the original camera negatives, but it's not much of a looker. The 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode is riddled with white specks throughout and much of the picture quality falls on the softer side. However, overall definition and clarity resolution is reasonable good for its age with nicely detailed moments during daylight scenes. Presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the image also displays strong contrast levels and clean whites while blacks appear accurate with solid shadow delineation. Colors are boldly rendered without ever bleeding. The video comes with stable and thin grain structure, giving it an attractive film-like appearance. In the end, it's an average presentation.
Redemption provides the movie with an equally ordinary uncompressed PCM mono soundtrack, and like the video, it too shows its age. Dialogue is intelligible and well-prioritized, but segments of ADR work are made more prominent. Although the lossless mix has a decent sense of presence in the center of the screen, dynamic range is noticeably limited and mostly falls flat during the movie's high points. Many times, the track sounds canned and narrow with many unintentional echoes from room reverberation. There is also no bass to speak of whatsoever — not in the voices of the men, nor the blast of a shotgun, or anything. At its worst, the high-rez track comes with lots of hissing and low-level noise in the background, making the audio passable but average overall.
Supplements are carried over from the previous DVD release.
- Audio Commentary — More like a panel discussion with Redemption's James Blackford as host and moderator, the commentary features director Alan Birkinshaw and actress JoAnne Good. While Good understandably reminisces on her experiences and working with the cast, Birkinshaw offers some very interesting insight and history of British filmmaking as well as the challenges of this particular production.
- Interviews (1080i/60) — Two separate conversations with the director (15 min) and Good (12 min) much convers similar ground as the commentary.
- Photo Gallery (HD) — A small assortment of production stills of the cast and the performances.
- Trailers (HD) — The collection includes two theatrical previews for the movie and a separate set for the films of Jean Rollin.
With bad acting, low production value, and awful dialogue, 'Killer's Moon' will be best remembered as the unintentionally funny mess that endeavored to push the tolerance of decency. Sadly, Alan Birkinshaw's horror film hasn't aged well, but it has its laughable moments of over-the-top silliness. The Blu-ray features the best audio and video presentation possible from the original 35mm elements, but the results remain average at best. Supplements are the same as the DVD, but fans might be happy with the purchase nonetheless.
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