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David Jackson as one of a gang of escaped psychopaths who attack a group of schoolgirls in KILLER’S MOON.


KILLER’S MOON


1978, Kino Lorber/Redemption, 92m 39s, $14.95 DVD-1, $19.95 BD-A By Lloyd Haynes


This release is an example of the more aggressive approach to low-budget horror filmmaking that emerged in Britain during the 1970s, articulated most persua- sively by the bleak, violent work of Pete Walker and Norman J. Warren.


When a coach carrying a group of schoolgirls and their teachers breaks down on a coun- try road in the chilly Lake District, sanctuary is sought at a nearby out-of-season hotel. Roaming the picturesque countryside—dressed in white, with one sporting a bowler hat like a Droog from A CLOCKWORK ORANGE—are four dangerous psychopaths, on the run after escaping from a hospital where they have under- gone experimental, LSD-induced “dream therapy.” Slaughtering whoever crosses their path, the


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gang eventually invade the hotel and proceed to systematically rape and terrorize the girls until a pair of campers (Anthony Forrest and Tom Marshall) come to their rescue.


Alan Birkinshaw’s second feature (it followed the 1974 sex- ploitation offering CONFES- SIONS OF A SEX MANIAC), KILLER’S MOON comes no- where near to matching the in- tensity of Pete Walker’s best efforts (FRIGHTMARE, for ex- ample) and the murders—which include death by axe, kitchen knife, shotgun, strangulation, fire and sickle—are not particu- larly graphic or gory, with one or two even taking place off- screen. However, the escaped psychos are distinctively offbeat: they go about their business in a dream-like state, still believing that they are dreaming it all as part of their treatment, and this adds an element of unpredictability (not to mention humor) to their increas- ingly unhinged behavior. As a prelude to launching their raid on


the hotel they gather outside for a sing-song.


Birkinshaw and his camera- man Arthur Lavis make good use of the Lake District locations (al- though the day-for-night shots are rather poorly done) and the largely inexperienced female cast—de- spite being several years too old for their parts—acquit themselves well, especially with the amount of gratuitous nudity that is re- quired. Sadly, Birkinshaw fails to generate much atmosphere or ten- sion, and several outdoor scenes (particularly those set around the campers’ tent) have been hurriedly filmed in a studio due to time and budgetary constraints. Interest- ingly, the script features uncred- ited contributions from the director’s sister, the author Fay Weldon, which no doubt explains some priceless dialogue. When informed of the unorthodox meth- ods used to treat the criminals, a government minister responds “In my dreams, I murder freely, pil- lage, loot and rape.” “You do?” replies a shocked psychiatrist.


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