Color, 1990, 101 mins. 14 secs. / 102 mins. 52 secs.
Directed by Alec Mills
Starring Leon Lissek, Christine Amor, Ian Williams, Helen Thomson, Craig Cronin, Hazel Howson
Severin Films (Blu-ray) (US RA HD) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9), Artisan (DVD) (US R1 NTSC)

Though the slasher Bloodmoonmovie had died a slow death in theaters in the latter half of the Bloodmoon'80s, that didn't stop a few intrepid souls from trying to goose it back to life again -- even if it meant a strong chance of going straight to VHS. Case in point: 1990's Bloodmoon, which played Australian screens with a Homicidal-inspired "Fright Break" but went direct to video everywhere else (including a U.S. VHS from Live Home Video and occasional appearances on USA Up All Night). A peculiar narrative structure sets this one apart from its peers, and while the bloodshed only comes in brief bursts here and there, it has enough ambition to merit a look for slasher fanatics curious about how other countries handled the cliches that were well in place by this point. This was hardly the first Aussie slasher (that honor probably goes to Nightmares followed by underrated ones like Innocent Prey and Coda) nor was it the last, but if you want to see where the subgenre was during its most drought-stricken decade, give it a look.

Something nasty is Bloodmoonhappening to the students at the oceanside St. Elizabeth's Girls School and the nearby Winchester Boys School, starting when a young couple sneaking out in the middle of the night get brutally Bloodmoonslain by someone wielding a nasty piece of barbed wire. Then another couple gets the same treatment the night of the big school dance, with the killer making a pattern of taking their eyeballs as souvenirs. After heavy doses of daily drama among the cool kids and the outcasts, the film unveils the identity of its killer halfway through and switches gears into a different perspective on the story entirely.

Bizarrely, Bloodmoon marked the first of only two directorial efforts for Alec Mills, a British cameraman and eventual cinematographer on numerous James Bond films; he made this back to back with another 1990 VHS perennial, Dead Sleep with Linda Blair. While the film doesn't really settle into a protagonist you can identify with in any meaningful way, it does have lots of beach atmosphere and Australian quirkiness including that great dance scene featuring local band Vice reminding you Bloodmoonthis was still shot at the Bloodmoontail end of the '80s. Also on hand are some entirely gratuitous doses of nudity, and since it's an Australian thriller, there just has to be a score by Brian May, a long way from The Road Warrior.

Available on video on and off over the years in pretty drab presentations, Bloodmoon got a nice boost with a slick new scan from the original negative presented in its global Blu-ray debut from Severin Films in 2024. Licensed from Studiocanal (go figure), it looks about as good as it could given the fact that the darker scenes are shot in a rather flat manner with weak blacks, and it's light years better than anything we've had before. The DTS-HD MA English 2.0 mono track is also in good shape and comes with optional SDH subtitles, and in a nice touch, you can watch this either with or without the 1-minute Fright Break. (Just take a guess which way is more fun.) The film can also be played with a second audio option, a 90-minute audio interview with actor Leon Missek (the closest thing this film has to a lead) conducted for Film Buffs Forecast in 2000 by Paul Harris and Not Quite Hollywood's Mark Hartley. It's a very thorough, career-spanning chat, covering his extensive domestic TV work and films like Marat/Sade, Countess Dracula, Time Bandits, and tons more as well as highlights from his life story. Also included is a short but very amusing interview with actress Christine Amor (4m44s) conducted during the Not Quite Hollywood production about the negotiations over a topless scene request. Finally the disc wraps up with the theatrical trailer and a 30-second Fright Break trailer.

Reviewed on April 11, 2024