top of page
  • Writer's pictureGabe Powers

Bloodmoon Blu-ray Review


Severin Films

Blu-ray Release: February 1, 2024

Video: 1.85:1/1080p/Color

Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono

Subtitles: English SDH

Run Time: 101:14 (102:52 with Fright Break)

Director: Alec Mills


Someone is using a ring of barbed wire to butcher promiscuous students at St. Elizabeth's School for Girls and Winchester, a nearby boy’s academy. Meanwhile, romance and rivalry bloom around town, sparking suspicion and exposing the corrupt underbelly of the God-fearing community.


Thanks in large part to the popularity of Mark Hartley’s documentary Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation (2008), ‘70s and ‘80s Australian horror has enjoyed a major reappraisal over the last decade-plus, developing and strengthening cult followings across the world. Within this larger collection of Ozploitation films was a fair number of slasher movies. Several of these were unique twists on the genre conventions and some fully embraced their Australian heritage, including Tony Williams’ Next of Kin (1982) and Richard Franklin’s Roadgames (1981), while others, such as Terry Bourke’s Lady Stay Dead (1981), John D. Lamond’s Nightmares (1980), and Simon Wincer’s Snapshot (aka: The Day After Halloween, 1979), directly reflected popular American slasher films from the period.



Alec Mills’ Bloodmoon (1990) – not to be confused with Jess Franco’s schlocky giallo/slasher Bloody Moon (1981) – was released late in the cycle, well after the heyday of Halloween (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980), but before the genre’s post-Scream (1996) researgence. As a raunchy, T&A-heavy, body-count picture, it’s by no means a unique take on slasher conventions, but it also doesn’t at any point try to disguise its country of origin, giving it some extra flavoring alongside its shades of oppressive Catholicism, convoluted plot, and massive ensemble of possible victims and perpetrators (that said, the killer’s identity is plainly obvious). In fact, the entire film has an era-spanning quality that harkens back not only to peak-period slashers, but to various exploitation movements in an often awkward, but ultimately charming tonal mash-up.


Outside of the borderline Gothic trappings and underlining religious fervor, the isolated girls school setting recalls Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977) and Phenomena (aka: Creepers, 1985), both of which the opening scenes pay homage to, as well as the high school melodrama of Brian De Palma’s Carrie (1976). At the same time, there are extensive subplots devoted to a class-based clash between groups of juvenile delinquents and students trying to steal the answers to an upcoming exam – the kind of things that fit After School Specials and Revenge of the Nerds sequels. It’s messy and, again, lacks originality and isn’t a great slasher film on the merits of that particular genre, but, if you’re willing to follow its wavelength of salaciousness, soapy romance, genuine melodrama, and youth culture pandering, it can be an unexpectedly entertaining experience. I only wish the violence were more over-the-top. It seems like Mills and his producers didn’t want to alienate a wider audience with too much gore, but the final effect is a bit anemic, especially considering the gnarliness of the murderer's weapon of choice.



One of the film’s more charming prochronisms actually predates slashers, going back to the days of William Castle hullabaloo. Assuming you’re watching the original release cut, Bloodmoon includes a ‘Fright Break,’ where the film pauses to give the audience a chance to leave the theater if they think the climax will be too scary. This was first seen on Castle’s 1961 film Homicidal (1961), which goosed the gimmick by offering a full refund and forcing anyone who took Castle up on the offer to wait in something called a ‘coward’s corner,’ referred to in this case as ‘chicken’s corner’ (who knows if any theater chains followed the protocol?). Bloodmoon’s Fright Break was clearly added after the fact and doesn’t even remotely match the rest of the film’s style, which only makes it all the more amusing. It also, funnily enough, comes at the point that the killer’s (very obvious) identity is revealed, leaving almost 40 minutes of runtime remaining. It would’ve made more sense to set it at the beginning of the relatively bloody climax.



Video

Bloodmoon hit US VHS from Live Entertainment in 1991 with an R-rating, then sat on the shelf until 2004, when Lionsgate (who bought Live) put it out on full-frame, barebones DVD. Severin has rescued it from relative obscurity once again for its HD and Blu-ray debut. Severin’s advertising and box claims that the 1.85:1, 1080p transfer was culled from a 4K scan of original negatives done by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. Cinematographer John Stokes’ clean photography is an important part of the film’s success (noting that Mills himself was a famous cinematographer at the time), specifically the way it contrasts colorful late-’80s fashion and decor alongside cool and moody horror scenes. The scary stuff can be extremely dark and some brighter sequences have a bit of stylistic haze, but important details are rarely lost in the gloom and diffusion. Grain levels are minor, consistent, and appear natural without excessive clumping or machine noise issues. The sharper moments don’t feature notable haloes, colors are consistent throughout, and there is only minor warm or cold bleeding into black levels. It’s not the flashiest transfer, but it really serves the film well.


Audio

Bloodmoon is presented in uncompressed DTS-HD Master Audio and its original mono sound. This is a very clean and neatly-layered track that sometimes sounds a bit sharp, but it doesn’t exhibit any major crackle or hiss. Of course, it wouldn’t be an Aussie genre film without some music by Brian May (not the Queen guitarist). May’s chamber symphony meets daytime soap score is arguably all wrong for the film, which would be more obviously served by a grotty synth score, but, again, it is the weird mash-up of eras and styles that sets Bloodmoon apart, so it kind of works. The music is a steady presence and sometimes a little too loud, overwhelming dialogue. This doesn’t include a couple of diegetic songs from rock band Vice that are obviously meant to drown out what characters are saying.



Extras

  • Audio interview with actor Leon Lissek – In place of a standard commentary, this disc’s alternate audio track is an interview with the actor conducted by Film Buff Forecast critic Paul Harris and Not Quite Hollywood director Mark Hartley (sometimes credited as Harris & Hartley) in 2000. It runs over the first 90:51 minutes of the film and covers Lissek’s full body of stage, film, and television work. It’s light on Bloodmoon factoids, but still a very pleasant discussion.

  • 2008 Not Quite Hollywood interview with actress Christine Amor (4:44, HD) – I haven’t seen the film in a while, but believe this is an extended version of Amor’s on-screen interview. She mostly talks about the production demanding she go topless, taking the role strictly for the money, and a producer’s failed attempt at creating a Queensland version of Hollywood.

  • Theatrical trailer and special Fright Break trailer



The images on this page are taken from the BD and sized for the page. Larger versions can be viewed by clicking the images. Note that there will be some JPG compression.ersions can be viewed by clicking the images. Note that there will be some JPG compression.

0 comments

Comments


bottom of page