The Lunatics Are In The Hall… KILLER’S MOON Reviewed

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DVD. Region Free. Redemption. 18.

Never an official “video nasty”, Alan Birkinshaw’s 1978 effort Killer’s Moon (more specifically its lurid cover art, as concocted by the boffins at Inter-Ocean) would frequently crop up during those lurid News At Ten reports on busted “snuff movie” rings. Many seasoned readers of this blog would consider the “nasties” witch hunt of the early ‘80s to be the supreme folly perpetrated upon us by tub thumping media barons and crassly opportunistic politicians. Governments have dropped plenty bigger bollocks than that, though… consider how The Iron Lady was blunted by her preposterous Poll Tax plans… the price we’re all having to pay for the hopelessly miscalculated assault on Iraq… and the relentless promotion of greed as good that has inevitably brought the whole financial system crashing down around our ears.

A more mental governmental fuck up than any of these though, in my humble estimation, has to be the green light given by The Home Office during the 1970s (according to Mr Birkinshaw, anyhow) for a bizarre scheme to “cure” violent sex offenders by reducing them to a walking fugue state with the relentless overprescription of heavy duty psychotropic drugs, then encouraging them to kill whoever popped up in their ongoing “dream.” Apparently this would all be very “cathartic”… and what could possibly go wrong, eh?

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Well, for one thing a bunch of the brain frazzled guinea pigs in said experiment could escape from the institution in which they are banged up and break into a remote Lake District hotel packed with virginal schoolgirls… such is basic premise of Killer’s Moon, a film touted at various  times as a homegrown low budget answer to Last House On The Left, I Spit On Your Grave and A Clockwork Orange. Of course it’s not in the same league as any of those, though it has pinched the desperate absconding dudes and imperilled girls from the first two and the notion of trying to rehabilitate offenders via pharmaceutical experimentation from Kubrick’s classic… the bad guys are even duded up like droogs!

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Birkinshaw’s direction testifies eloquently to his pedigree in UK soft core sexploitation (he had made his debut with Confessions Of A Sex Maniac, four years earlier). Performances range from corny to hammy (special mention, predictably enough, to the loonies, Messrs Smith, Jones, Muldoon and Trubshaw, essayed by a bunch of character actors who you might have subsequently spotted on various kids’ TV shows…. menaced school girl in chief, JoAnne Good, later “acted” in Crossroads and has more recently popped up as a DJ on Radio London.) The main problem with this film has to be the script, which is sufficiently loose for one schoolgirl to disappear with no apparent reason, halfway through the proceedings, only to turn up dead in the film’s closing moments. Dialogue oscillates between sheer schlock, courtesy of Mr Birkinshaw (when a psychiatrist tells one  patient: “Go to hell you bastard, you’re mad!”, his disturbed charge muses aloud over whether he should have gone private) and florid Shakespearian pastiche penned by his sister – Fay “Life And Loves Of A She Devil” Weldon, no less – during a transatlantic plane flight.

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Yep, we’re talking a ripe load of old cobblers here, which doesn’t necessarily mean that Killers Moon isn’t a whole lot of fun… hey, I haven’t even touched on the part played in these proceedings by a three-legged Doberman! The film has a significant cult following and somebody (I’m not quite sure who was running the Redemption show in 2008, when this came out) clearly thought highly enough of it to compile an edition that puts contemporary releases of many more “worthy” titles to shame… the main feature looks surprisingly good, enhanced as it is for 16X9. The sound track is resolutely mono, though you get the option to play an audio track by Birkinshaw and Good, who also pop up in interview featurettes. Theatrical trailers and a stills gallery comprise the balance of the extras.

A worthy addition to any self-respecting trash film collection.

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