Cult Cinema: The Burning Moon

Tell me, Joey. Do you like disgustingly bloody horror movies?

"Yeah. Keep going......"
There's just something about horror films that are shot on video that gets to me. They have this gritty home movie feel and it’s as if you are not just a voyeur but an active participant in the grotesqueries unfolding before you. Films shot this way are usually over lit and garish; blood and viscera seem more red and slimy and everyone’s faces are distorted by harsh shadows. While it can often look cheap, it also tends to be very effective at creating a scary atmosphere. The Burning Moon is an interesting Euro horror offering from Germany that will intrigue gore hounds and “video nasty” lovers alike.

The Burning Moon is an anthology of sorts: a drug addled young man is left in charge of his little sister for the evening and he decides to tell her some bedtime stories to help her go to sleep. Unfortunately, his idea of tales includes horrible dismemberments, rape and general mayhem. The wrap-around story is pretty weak and serves only to introduce the two different vignettes for the audience. The latter story is the stronger of the two and the one with the best special effects. Since this is a German film, there is plenty of dark humor and nihilism available; there are no happy endings here.

"Damn mousetrap got me again!"
This movie was made in 1992, but due to the video style it looks like a VHS tape from the 1980s.  While I am sure some videophiles will disagree, I feel as if the compromised video quality adds to the disconcerting feel of the film. If you remember the days of VHS, often films like these would get copied and passed around and the video would degrade with each copy. There was nothing scarier than being in your teens and watching a crappy copy of a scary film as your imagination filled in the little details. The Burning Moon doesn’t look that bad but it still retains that feeling of watching something taboo and forbidden.

The story and acting are barely passable but the gore (what everyone came for) is outstanding. There are eyeballs being scooped out, disembowelments, stabbings, fingers being chopped off and even more terrible scenes. The second half of the film has an extended scene in Hell that is just amazing to behold.  It’s very exaggerated and messy; it didn’t gross me out as much as amuse me, but your gore tolerance will have to be high to get the full enjoyment out of it. It does have a nasty overall tone but it’s to be expected in an exploitation film. Because it was shot on video, the dialogue is dubbed over, and not very well. The words don’t match up to the lips quite right but it’s in German so I was able to ignore it after a while. The musical score is actually quite catchy with some really cool synth cues and a great ending theme.

"All I wanted was a toothpick."
If you can make it through the first slow twenty minutes of this film you will be rewarded with some quality horror and piles of blood and guts. They just don’t make horror films like this anymore and I had a bit of trouble tracking down an uncut DVD release of this film as it is quite rare. If you see it out and about definitely snag it as it is an interesting addition to any exploitation film collection.

-Michelle Kisner