Killer’s Moon

Killer’s Moon (Alan Birkinshaw, 1978)

“Of course it’s a dream! And stuffed full of jailbait!”

High on a hillside road a coach rattles along carrying a small group of schoolgirls, all happily singing ‘Greensleeves’ and clutching their teddy bears. Turning a corner towards a small stone bridge, the coach lumbers to a halt, as black smoke pours from the radiator. There’s trouble ahead! The tubby driver (Chubby Oates, a big name comedian in the 70s, apparently) waddles around to the front of the conked out vehicle and takes off his hat and scratches his head. As luck would have it visiting camper Pete (Anthony Forrest) is out on a jog and is refreshing himself in the nearby stream, up he steps to lend a hand but apart from eyeing-up the girls, he can’t do much to help and so he jogs on, leaving the defenceless creatures to walk to a nearby hotel, in the dark. Cheers Pete!

Back at Pete’s tent, his chum Mike (Tom Marshall)— the world’s smuggest man– has just had a fondle with the hotel owners’ daughter, Julie (Jane Hayden, sister of Linda). Julie flashes her ample bosoms for all to see, whilst Mike reclines in the background, showing off his manly torso and asking whether his performance was up to scratch. Before being given the chance to answer, but chance enough to get her top on, a Rottweiler limps into the tent wearing what appears to be a bandana around its neck. Closer examination reveals that one of the dog’s legs is missing and blood is a-flowing. “That cut’s too clean for a trap!” mutters smug Mike, wondering where his axe has disappeared to…

Having arrived safely at the hotel, the girls are welcomed by the owner, Mrs May (Hilda Braid, Nana Moon from EASTENDERS) and it’s not long before the girls are in their ankle-long nighties and gathered around the hotel’s piano, singing harmoniously. But all is not well and the local gamekeeper senses that “things aren’t right!” and worriedly looks into the distance; you almost expect him to stare into the camera and proclaim “You’re all doomed! DOOMED, I tell you!” To be honest, the craggy faced merchant of doom is right, as four mental patients are on the loose out in the woods, dosed-up on LSD and assured by their Doctors that nothing is real, they’re experiences are just hallucinations and they are free to act out their fantasies. Not only that, but the supposedly secure facility these murderers were being experimented on was nothing more than a ‘cottage hospital’, whatever the hell that means; which leads us to believe that 1970s experimental psychiatry was carried out on dangerous mentalists in rural cottages that were run by LSD administering bumpkins. No wonder the NHS has been in such a state ever since.

Decked out in stolen doctors’ outfits and sweating like drug fuelled ravers at a warehouse all-nighter, the four loons approach the isolated hotel leaving a trail of bloodshed in their wake. With the gamekeeper, his wife and the coach driver all dead who will be the next participant in the dream world fantasies of these escaped nutbags?

Fans of trashy cinema have long since cherished this obscure and quite rare slice of British exploitation, much to the surprise of the film’s Director, who expresses his amazement at being accosted by fans with requests for signatures on prized pieces of KILLER’S MOON memorabilia—such as quad posters and VHS boxes–in an onscreen interview that is featured on Redemption’s new DVD release. Finally, after years of old VHS transfers, it hits DVD with a stellar presentation and afforded extras that include onscreen interviews with director Alan Birkinshaw and star Joanne Good, two theatrical trailers and best of all, a feature length audio commentary from both Birkinshaw and Good.

Refreshingly, both share an enthusiasm for the film and look back on the making of it with pleasure, giving us the impression that they really do enjoy the fact that this 30-year-old movie has garnered a great cult following. Both remain animated for the duration of the track, sharing many insightful snippets of trivia. Birkinshaw fills us in on the details of budgetary restrictions and the logistics of feeding and housing a cast and crew on location in the Lake District for an entire week. Joanne talks about the trials and tribulations of shooting her first feature film; the novelty of dressing as a schoolgirl–even though she and the rest of the girls were all in their mid-twenties–and almost with a little regret mentions how she was one of the only girls not to go topless; giving the impression that she feels a bit left out!

Redemption’s long anticipated DVD comes with an excellent, 16:9 enhanced widescreen transfer, presenting the film in a condition that is the best it has looked since its premiere in 1978. The original mono audio mix is the only track provided and is nice and clear, and free of any noise or distortion. With the only criticism being that some of the points covered in the commentary track are repeated again in the interviews, this DVD comes highly recommended and stands as an essential purchase for fans of trash cinema and British horror.

(Jonny Redman)