Killer’s Moon, 1978.
Written and Directed by Alan Birkinshaw.
Starring Anthony Forrest, Tom Marshall, David Jackson, Georgina Kean, Nigel Gregory, Jane Hayden, Alison Elliot and JoAnne Good.
Four drugged-up mental patients escape from the local asylum and seek refuge in a remote Lake District hotel where a class of stranded school-girls are staying.
As with a number of his contemporaries, exploitation filmmaker Alan Birkinshaw (Confessions of a Sex Maniac) made the jump from the skin flick to horror for his second feature, Killer’s Moon. Inspired by the ultraviolence of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, Birkinshaw delivered what has since been referred to as “the most tasteless movie in British cinema history”, a description which probably isn’t too far from the truth. Killer’s Moon has been compared to I Spit on Your Grave but it kind of comes over more like St. Trinian’s meets Last House on the Left, mixing elements of the school-girl comedy, sexploitation, rape-revenge and slasher (before it even existed) into a low-rent, morally bankrupt and utterly incompetent piece of filmmaking.
The basic plot is a retreading of the US shocker Carnal Madness (a.k.a. The Sizzlers), with four psychotic sex-offenders escaping from a poorly-guarded nut house and wandering in the wilds of the Lake District, tripping out of their minds on LSD from an experimental treatment programme where they believe real-life to be a dream. Meanwhile a coach breaks down, forcing a class of boarding-school girls to spend the night in a hotel run by EastEnders’ Nana Moon. Sure enough the wackos soon arrive at the hotel to put them through hell, until the arrival of a couple of hikers who team up with girls to seek revenge.
Like a number of exploitation flicks, the film’s shoddy production values, laughable acting and weak script leave it verging on self-parody - only one that isn’t very funny. There isn’t really any other purpose for its existence than to offend, with unnecessary animal cruelty (thankfully simulated) and a flippant attitude towards rape; but it has to be said that apart from a few scenes the film’s shock-value has dissipated somewhat over the years. Instead we’re left with a poorly made piece of trash cinema that comes across as an X-rated episode of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace.
The dialogue in Killer’s Moon was supplied by Birkinshaw’s sister, the acclaimed author Fay Weldon, who once said that the film was “picture dialogue – A, picture movie – D”; I can only surmise that Weldon was undergoing the same treatment as the antagonists, because lines like an M.P. saying: “You mean this criminal lunatic is walking around believing he’s in a dream? In my dreams I murder freely, pillage, loot and rape!” and a school-girl telling her friend: “Look, you were only raped, as long as you don’t tell anyone about it you’ll be alright” are pretty far from A-grade stuff in my book (well, except perhaps the one from the M.P.).
While I couldn’t really recommend Killer’s Moon to anyone except die-hard genre-fiends and completionists, the DVD release from Redemption Films is actually a pretty good package. The film’s sound and picture quality are better than you’d expect and the special features come with an audio commentary and interviews with Birkinshaw and actress JoAnne Good, along with the obligatory stills and trailers. Sadly, that’s about all it has going for it, except for a three-legged dog who probably delivers the standout performance of the film and certainly has the best character arc.