Thursday, March 15, 2012

#577. Killer's Moon (1978)

Directed By: Alan Birkinshaw

Starring: Anthony Forrest, David Jackson. Tom Marshall

Tag line: "One endless night of terror!"

Trivia:  Although this film takes place in the summer, it was actually shot during winter

Killer's Moon gets off to a pleasant enough start: a bus, loaded with schoolgirls on their way to a choir competition in Edinburgh, makes its way along the back roads of the picturesque English countryside. It's all so serene, so very tranquil. But you know it won't last...don't you? 

Sure enough, the bus breaks down, and the girls, under the supervision of their choirmaster, Mrs. Hargreaves (Jean Reeve), set out in search of lodgings for the night. As this is happening, Pete (Anthony Forrest) and Mike (Tom Marshall), a couple of camping buddies, are settling into their tent for the evening, looking forward to a little peace and quiet. Unfortunately, neither “peace” nor “quiet” are in the cards for any of them. That's because four psychotics, all of whom were locked away for committing sex crimes, have just escaped from a psychiatric research facility, where they were being used as guinea pigs to test a new experimental drug. Convinced they're dreaming, these four descend upon the village in search of a little “fun”, leading to a night of terror none will soon forget. 

Our first hint that all's not well is the sudden appearance of a three-legged dog, blood dripping from its side, which surprises Mike as he's sitting in the tent with Julie (Jane Hayden), a girl from the village. Then, people start dying, first the bus driver (Chubby Oates), then a kindly gamekeeper (Charles Stewart) and his wife (Edwina Wray). But the real terror is reserved for the schoolgirls, and this is where Killer's Moon gets downright nasty. Three of the escaped inmates break into the hotel where the girls are staying, surprising Ms. Lilac (Elizabeth Counsell), the assistant teacher, who faints almost immediately. One of the girls appears at the top of the staircase, and is coaxed by the inmate named Smith (Nigel Gregory) to come downstairs and help Ms. Lilac. When she tries to run away, she's grabbed by Smith, who throws her onto a sofa, tears off her nightgown, and rapes her. It's a very unsettling scene, to say the least, and sadly, she won't be the last of the girls to suffer such a fate. 

Some have compared Killer's Moon to Stanley Kubrick's 1971 classic, A Clockwork Orange, and to be sure, there are several similarities between the two, from their stories (psychopaths, experimental drugs, rape, etc.) right down to the way the inmates dress (like Alex and his “droogs”, all are wearing white). But where A Clockwork Orange had something to say about society tampering with free will to serve the “greater good”, Killer's Moon wants only to shock you with scenes of senseless brutality. Aside from some weak performances and a few holes in its story, I wouldn't call Killer's Moon a bad film. But be warned: it is an unpleasant one.

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