Killer's Moon (1978)
June 23, 2015 6:28 AM - Subscribe

TALES FROM THE WHEEL OF SCHLOCK... In this instalment, we find a truly deplorable exploitation film that figures on two outdoor enthusiasts, a busload of British schoolgirls waylaid on a trip to a singing competition, and four Kubrick inspired escaped mental patients who of course have been dosed with LSD and told that they're in a waking dream. I mean, why not. (Warning: The film contains scenes of sexual violence)

Key Tags: No Budget, Very British, Exploitation

Key Quote: "Blood on the moon, one mangled dog, one missing axe, and a girl who's just found a body at the wrong end of the axe. How's that for the great British outdoors?"

About the film: This falls firmly into the exploitation genre, which typifies no-budget movies filmed quickly and poorly to cash in on some prurient public interest (e.g. sex and serial killers in this case). The director, Alan Birkshaw, made his career around this variety of schlock. Interestingly, considering the content of the film, Fay Weldon (Birkshaw's sister) penned the script, and is described by Wikipedia at least as a feminist novelist. Also, "She coined the slogan 'Vodka gets you drunker quicker,' saying in a Guardian interview, 'It just seemed ... to be obvious that people who wanted to get drunk fast needed to know this.' Her bosses disagreed and suppressed it."

About the genre: I like this article about Exploitation films, and their reappropriation from cheap, cynical cash-grab to nostalgia tinted resurgence. "The real spirit of exploitation is the desire to make a quick buck. Exploitation films are wonderful because they don’t pretend to be anything that they’re not. They’re created with awful scripts, b-rated actors, and low budgets. They’re grainy not because it is cool, but because the cameras are awful and the film stock is cheap. Exploitation films have long served as canaries in the coal mine. They’re the first to pick up on trends and the first to kill the trends and move on to the next big thing. They’re so quickly made that they capture moments in time like no other films can. Exploitation movies exploited trends, controversy and social movements long before memes existed."

A review from exclaims,
I have two theories about Killer's Moon - the first is that it really is the most tawdry piece of badly made, badly acted and badly misconceived cinema I've ever seen. The second is that it's actually a brilliant comedy, written with a subtle flair by intelligent women as an attempt to bring down exploitation cinema from within ... But as if that wasn't enough, she follows it up with: "Why would anyone want to kill a gamekeeper?" (pause) "With an axe?" Before we have time to wonder what it would have been preferable to kill the gamekeeper with, the topless girl from the opening scenes in the tent bursts back in ... And none of them ever worked in film again. I hope.
posted by codacorolla (8 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I missed the choosing of this, but I'll be back once I've watched it. I'm kind of surprised at myself for not having sat down with this one sooner, the era and subject matter sounds right up my alley, but so far I've managed to miss it on Netflix.
posted by doctornecessiter at 7:23 AM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

I am also surprised Netflix hasn't suggested to me, but I am excited to watch it and offer my thoughts on it soon.
posted by miss-lapin at 11:17 AM on June 24, 2015

I'm curious about the distinction that the British Horror review draws, "I have two theories about Killer's Moon - the first is that it really is the most tawdry piece of badly made, badly acted and badly misconceived cinema I've ever seen. The second is that it's actually a brilliant comedy, written with a subtle flair by intelligent women as an attempt to bring down exploitation cinema from within."

Finding out about its co-writer, Fay Weldon, was easily the most interesting part about watching this. At times it definitely does feel like a self aware parody (like the verbose, philosophical psychopaths), but there's still a lot of gratuitous skin and gross sexual content that's typical of the genre.

In terms of its merits as a film, I sometimes find that this brand of 70s sleaze can have very competent cinematography and direction, even despite lacking a budget or skilled actors. This was... eh, not very good to be honest. Its pacing feels off, the whole thing seems to be set at night (leading to a lot of boring, washed out blue shots), and there aren't many memorable scenes.
posted by codacorolla at 11:27 AM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Aww, I missed the showing! Goddammit. Hope it went well codacorolla! When's the next one?
posted by JHarris at 3:07 AM on June 25, 2015

Oh, I'm not streaming the movies (I don't know that Netflix would care, but it seems against site policy). We'll do the next selection on July 1st, and then I'll have the discussion thread for it up on the 6th.
posted by codacorolla at 12:02 PM on June 25, 2015

Although... if there was interest, we could assemble a list of schlock on YouTube and then use a co-watching site to do a community watching event.
posted by codacorolla at 12:03 PM on June 25, 2015

This is like they finished a location shoot for Benny Hill a day or two early, they didn't have to return the equipment right away so they decided to make a horror film.

I was right, this is exactly the sort of thing I tend to like, in spite of myself. Garth Marenghi is probably kicking himself for not having made it.
posted by doctornecessiter at 6:13 PM on June 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Fay Weldon is quoted on the IMDb trivia page: "In the original script, the girls were ciphers. I gave them characters, which had the unfortunate effect of turning the film into a cult movie. I should have left it as it was. Picture dialogue: A. Picture movie: D. A terrible mix."

Um...Should we be letting screenwriters grade themselves? Because I'm not sure that that line where the one girl advises the other that she should just forget about having been raped and one day she can still be a good wife and mother probably doesn't deserve an A. Unless Weldon was trying to be very darkly satirical?

I did like the idea that the killers' behavior is based around believing that they're in a dream, I wonder if she contributed that...That at least gave those characters something somewhat original to play with. Their interactions led to me being reminded of Alone in the Dark (the Jack Palance/Martin Landau one from just a couple of years after this) through much of the movie.
posted by doctornecessiter at 3:55 AM on June 29, 2015

Club: The Wheel of Schlock
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