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Killer's Moon (1978)
22nd Jun 11
Carry on A Clockwork Orange as four escaped mental patients take a break in the Lake District.
Review Killer’s Moon was part of what was later to be referred to as ‘New Wave’ British horror a collective of flicks made in the Seventies that were seen as a reaction to the strict censorship of the time relocating the horror to a more contemporary setting rather than the Hammer Films of old.
With murders, rape and other such violations Killer’s Moon certainly pushed against the breed of horror it superseded however in its framing and generally trashy aesthetic and unintentional laughs it’s casual portrayal of events gets under the skin and disturbs.
It is such a mix that has given Killer’s Moon a substantial cult following and life beyond its low budget origins. It’s tasteless, vulgar and irresponsible in its portrayal of rape – even more so given that the victims here are young schoolgirls – and yet somehow it manages to engage if occasionally enrage. Its eclectic casting and aimless direction makes it seem like everyone is acting in a different movie to everyone else.
A bunch of young girls, along with their two teachers, are on their way to perform at a musical event in Edinburgh when their bus decides to conk out en route in the Lake District. Fortunately they find accommodation at a guest house however unfortunately for them said guest house happens to be in the path of four escaped mental patients, dosed up on LSD, who, as part of their radical therapy, believe that they are within a dream so meaning that everything they do whether rape or murder is not actually real when unfortunately for others it very much is.
On Killer’s Moon’s promotional blurb it states that it is Britain’s answer to I Spit on Your Grave. Whereas the original I Spit on Your Grave has a prolonged, grubby and unsettling rape sequence Killer’s Moon manages somehow to trivialise such a gross act. Rape is flippantly dismissed with a shrug of the shoulders and a firm word. Take young Agatha (Georgina Kean)’s response to a violated female friend getting too clingy following the horrific act having been inflicted upon her – ‘Look, you were only raped; as long as you don’t tell anyone about it you’ll be alright. You pretend it never happened, I pretend I never saw it and if we ever get out of this alive, well, maybe we’ll both live to be wives and mothers.’
Writer/director Alan Birkinshaw has always stated that Killer’s Moon shouldn’t be taken seriously although surely one could argue that any film that has young girls being raped is no laughing matter either. It’s difficult to believe too that Birkinshaw’s sister – noted novelist Fay Weldon – provided additional dialogue for the young girls especially when such as the aforementioned quote from Agatha demeans and insults her demographic.
Outside of our four escaped mental patients - Mr. Smith, Mr. Trubshaw, Mr. Muldoon and Mr. Jones – and a bus full of schoolgirls Birkinshaw has also chucked two young guys – one American one British – camping nearby into the mix. Sex with the British guy is a bit limp by his own admission and the American guy takes to dressing as a woman to entice the mental patients away. That leaves us with the mental patients who can turn on their sexual urges at the drop of a white nightdress. What sort of picture is Birkinshaw painting when the ‘normal’ guys appear to be sexual lacking/ambiguous but a deranged drugged up lunatic has no issue performing even when it’s not wanted.
As is often the case with trashier releases the DVD extras are actually rather good and in the case of Killer’s Moon adds another star to the overall movie rating. There’s two exclusive interviews one with writer/director Alan Birkinshaw and another with star JoAnne Good both moderated by James Blackford that are well worth watching for little bits and bobs about the production and how the film was received and its subsequent cult following.
There’s also a commentary with both Birkinshaw and Good, two theatrical trailers and a stills gallery. It’s all good stuff but if you already have the 2008 Redemption Films DVD release you’ll already have them.
Dangerous, misguided and a mess Killer’s Moon is only worth checking out if you want to see the bottom rungs that trashy British horror/exploitation can reach to. It amuses when it shouldn’t, appals for all the wrong reasons and never truly appals when it should. Alan Birkinshaw is in talks to write and direct Killer’s Moon 2 one can only hope that he takes on board the criticisms that have been levelled at this slab of Seventies slash trash and improve on his game or just pray that it doesn’t happen at all.
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