Bloodmoon [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Severin Films
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (19th March 2024).
The Film

The girls of the Brisbane Catholic private school St. Elizabeth's think they can get away with a lot, what with sexpot administrator Virginia Sheffield (Snapshot's Christine Amor) busy seducing the student body of the neighboring Winchester boys' private school the latest being blonde bully ringleader Scott (Tunnel Vision's Christophe Broadway) and her headmaster husband Myles (The Unbearable Lightness of Being's Leon Lissek) seemingly oblivious. Sister Mary-Ellen (Hazel Howson), who remained after the convent was disbanded, sees all and knows all. She may be elderly, but she is "strong as an ox" and is increasingly having trouble restraining herself from getting Old Testament with the girls who sneak out to meet the boys at the school's woodsy lover's lane. Facing expulsion by the school, and worse by her parents, pregnant Jackie (Jo Munro) plans to run away with boyfriend Rich (Gregory Pamment). They do not get far, however, thanks to an eyeball collecting killer with a barbed wire garrote.

Virginia seems unfazed about one missing girl, characterizing her charges as "bitches on heat jumping over the kennel fence." Winchester's headmaster Gordion (Stork's Brian Moll), however, makes a more compelling case for local cop Desmond (Craig Cronin) when student Chip (Christopher Uhlman) disappears with his girlfriend Gretchen (Samantha Rittson) but not his insulin. As Desmond tries to convince Cooper's Bay mayor (Mad Max's Jonathan Hardy) that there is a killer on the loose in his touristy town, good girl Mary (Kangaroo Jack's Helen Thomson) discovering first love with townie Kevin (Ian Williams) proves too tempting for the killer, and classmates Jennifer (Anya Molina) and Michelle (Suzie MacKenzie) are about to make a grisly discovery when they sneak into the biology lab to steal exam notes.

In the United States, the theatrical slasher had all but died out in the early eighties while regional slashers occasionally hit the screens but mostly went straight to video. There were a few overseas attempts, and Bloodmoon is a perfect example of just why the slasher genre needed a shot in the arm for better or worse with the hipper-than-thou Scream. One of only two directorial efforts of James Bond series cinematographer Alec Mills the other being Dead Sleep which shared a number of supporting cast members the film boasts handsome production values and a playful if not particularly memorable orchestral/synth score by Ozploitation regular Brian May (Patrick), but it is played so straight that nothing is remotely surprising about the plot turns or the identity of the killer. The film is just spinning its wheels throughout the first half with a rivalry between the Winchester snobs and the local townies, and nothing is really made of the repressive Catholic school setting other than some occasionally effective imagery.

The "Frightbreak" gimmick of the theatrical release precedes the most explicit sequence of violence, but that sequence seems more unintentionally comical than grueling (so much so that I first mistook the sequence when shown in the drive-in sequence of Jocelyn Moorhouse 's moving comedy Proof to have been a bad slasher parody created just for that film). Performances are mostly earnest but characterization is minimal apart from Moll who provides in a single sequence some much-needed camp missing from the rest of the film ("Teenagers, Desmond.
Teenagers. I mean, you can take my word for it that sooner or later they're going to discover sex. Well, that's all right. That's life. The problem comes when they think they've invented it"). The finale actually does offer some excitement, an unexpected killing, and some surprise acid-flinging but the end result is no more memorable than some of its cheaper direct-to-video counterparts even if it may possess some retrospective charms. Australia would do better with the post-Scream film-within-a-film slasher Cut.
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Video

Bloodmoon was released direct-to-video stateside in 1991 by Live Home Video with a reasonably eye-catching cover and then on barebones, fullscreen DVD in 2004 from Artisan Entertainment while European rights owner Studio Canal provided an anamorphic widescreen transfer in the U.K. twice from Momentum Pictures and Optimum Entertainment and Germany through Kinowelt (all companies Studio Canal would subsequently acquire). Although licensed from Village Roadshow Pictures and opening with the Studio Canal logo, Severin's 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 widescreen Blu-ray is derived from a 4K restoration of the original camera negative by The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia and includes the option of playing the film with the "Frightbreak" included (102:52) or without (101:14). The spotless presentation definitely lends the film a slickness lacking in the dull-looking, fullscreen nineties tape master. The daytime exteriors are bright and colorful while the previously flat-looking day and night interior sequences gain a bit of moodiness with more considered lighting choices apparent. There is a warm bias to the skintones which looks healthy on some characters but sickly on the fairer-skinned characters, including the dull blonde leads. The night exteriors in the woods also look quite nice owing to the production's decision to light them rather than resort to day-for-night shooting and tinting, with the reveals of a few eyeless corpses with gaping throat wounds actually making more of an impression than just the music stings during their quick views. The credits opticals sport thicker grain but the coarser-looking "Frightbreak" suggest either it was sourced from lesser materials or the animation optical work was just cheaper.
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Audio

The sole audio option is the original mono mix in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 the Artisan DVD cover erroneously cited the audio as "stereo surround" as they had with a couple other nineties mono titles like Light Sleeper and dialogue is always clear along with the aggressive May score and the usual stalk-and-slash foley atmospherics and whispering voices. Optional English SDH subtitles are also included.
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Extras

A "Film Buff Forecast" audio interview with actor Leon Lissek by Paul Harris and Mark Hartley is playable on a second audio track over the first 90:51 of the film with the actor discussing his beginnings as a child actor in Yiddish theater, becoming part of the Royal Shakespearee Company-adjacent "Theatre of Cruelty" and appearing in the U.K., Broadway, and feature film iterations of Peter Brooks' "Marat/Sade" along with his appearances in Hammer's Countess Dracula and the horror anthology Tales That Witness Madness, and friendships with other prolific character actors like Vernon Dobtcheff, Vladek Sheybal, and Per Oscarsson. Of Bloodmoon, he recalls getting out of a play when producer Stanley O'Toole (The Boys from Brazil) called upon him to replace an American actor who could not get an equity card in Australia. He spent eighteen days on the film and recalls the shoot but admits to never having seen the finished film.

The disc also includes a 2008 interview with actress Christine Amor (4:44) extracted from the Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! outtakes in which she recalls being asked to take her top off upon meeting with director Mills and has little positive to say about the "appalling" script.
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The disc closes with the theatrical trailer (1:19) and the "Frightbreak" trailer (0:34).

Overall

The last gasp of the pre-Scream theatrical slasher haled from Australia with Bloodmoon which is still flawed but somewhat endearing in retrospect.
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