Someone's in the house. He's watching. He's creeping round, only you can't see him. He's watching you from the walls. He's right behind you now. Looking over your shoulder. He wants the remote control. He's a bad boy. He wants to watch bad movies. Bad bad Ronald...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

PEEPHOLE REVIEW: Killer's Moon (1978)

Redemption! Redemption Films has been pretty quiet for awhile, as they reorganized.  But now they're back to releasing some of the strangest, most bizarre little artifacts from horror film past. 
coolest poster ever
 To keep up with the movie-going crowd, as they moved from the 60s to the 70s, British film producers recognized that the audience was growing younger.  Teens and twentysomethings were looking to identify with the people on the screen, so the movie world reacted, skewing their popular brands towards the kids. Horror films were growing increasingly popular, and were easier to adapt to the young generation than, say, the comedies (which still had a strong hold with adult viewers). The results of this major switch seemed to have shaken up the status quo.  The grown ups in the press were not always so kind in their reviews, and the British Board of Film... well, they were stunned, and reacted harshly (they would later form the list of "video nasties," videotapes of films deemed unfit for regular consumption).

Producer/Director Alan Birkinshaw wanted to ride this so-called "New Wave" of British Horror, after having grown restless in the television industry.  Hammer Horror, with the help of a new set of producers, had broken the mold of using mature and established named actors, and started gearing their films towards the younger generation with films like Vampire Circus. Birkinshaw wanted in on that crowd.  The result: Killer's Moon.  A movie so notorious it was once said, by the British press, to be "the most tasteless movie in the history of the British Cinema."  Now, if that's not a proper invitation, I don't know what is! 
Oh, the games girls play

What makes Killer's Moon stand out so much is not the reputation it got from the censors, but killer script. On the surface, this bloody thriller sounds like any other of a long list of horror scenarios: a bus load of nubile schoolgirls are stranded after their coach breaks down, finding refuge in a remote hotel, where they are stalked by a trio of escaped inmates, all tweaked on experimental drugs (read LSD).  However, Birkinshaw enlisted the assistance of his sister, the noted feminist writer Fay Weldon, to turn this standard issue horror flick into a smart, subtle satire.  Together Birkinshaw and Weldon weaved together elements of A Clockwork Orange with bits from the popular sex comedies of the day, to take a visceral punch at some of the social hypocrisy and outdated morays of the day.

Of course, like any good horror movie, these bits of satire are well groomed nuances peppered throughout a tightly wound, and brutal thriller.  The "droog" like thugs are vicious as they are properly British, doling out sadistic punishment just as easily as they can.  The mayhem is bloody, the girls are sexy, and the dialogue from Weldon is killer. 
Goodness!  This will just ruin my social standing!
 In an interview, Weldon (who was uncredited in the movie) had this to say about her Killer's Moon script work:  "In the original script, the girls were ciphers. I gave them characters, which had the unfortunate effect of turning the film into a cult movie. I should have left it as it was."  Oh, how wrong she is!  It's true -- her dialogue catapults this movie from being just another horror flick, but that's good fortune, not bad.  Not sure why she's bitter -- maybe it's because she later wrote the Rosanne Barr disaster She Devil. 
Now, where did I leave my wife?
 A taste of some of the fantastic dialogue:

  • After an assault, one girl consoles the victim, "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'll pretend I never saw it and if we get out of this alive, well, maybe we'll both live to be wives and mothers" 
  • The police chief retorts, after hearing about the effects of the drugs on the lunatics, "You mean this criminal lunatic is walking around believing he is in a dream? In my dreams, I murder freely, pillage, loot and rape!"
  • "Mr. Jones: Mr psychiatrist, are you there?
    Pete: Go to hell you bastard you're mad!
    Mr. Jones: What sort of reply is that from a National Health psychiatrist? I should have gone private."

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