If you're horror fans like we are, who can think of nothing better to do with an evening than watch those old slasher movies from the early 80s - you know, the ones we grew up with - then you probably also share our fascination with the original DPP video nasties list. And like us you've probably, at one point or another, bought a few of them uncut on DVD, and then loving placed them on your shelf to gather dust.
Which was why it came as no surprise really that, flicking through my DVD collection one evening, I spied I had two such video nasties in their uncut state that I'd never got round to watching.
One is Bloody Moon, the Jess Franco slasher Halloween rip off from Spain in 1981, and I had the uncut Dutch print with that famous picture on the cover with the big scissors about to chop that girl's head off (check it out here). The other is Joe D'Amato's loose follow up to Anthropophagus The Beast known as Absurd, also from 1981, which I bought off some collector on DVDR because it was a copy from a UK VHS source released as Monster Hunter, which is also the most uncut copy you could get.
After that it was a no-brainer really, two movies from 1981 that were then banned in 1984 as part of the original DPP 74, which is perfect Zombie Club fodder. I wonder how many more Zombie Clubs are just sat there on my shelf waiting to be discovered.
This Zombie Club was bought to you by Jim in Association with all those DVDs that you buy, pop on your shelf with all the others and promptly forget about.
Bloody Moon (1981)
Plot A killer on the loose in a language school in Spain full of sexy semi-naked chicks.
Jim This one's always had Zombie Club written all over it. It starts at a Spanish language school for girls, it's late at night and there's some kind of fancy dress party going on. Some stud puts down his Mickey Mouse mask only for it to be picked up by a facially deformed guy called Miguel, who promptly starts dancing with a drunk hot chick ("She looks a bit drunk..." - Rawshark). He soon leads her back to her apartment - number 13 no less - where the masks come off, the screaming starts, the claret flows and Miguel is consequently locked away.
Cut to five years later and Miguel is getting released. His incestuous sister, Manuela, whom he's done nothing but think about for the last five years ("Should have read a book or something" - Rawshark), has come to pick him up and take him back to, yes - you've guessed it, that school from the intro, because we soon gather that their crazy Aunt Contessa owns the place.
What follows is essentially a part giallo, part slasher, whodunnit flick with girls at the school getting gorily killed off every quarter hour or so and all the fingers are pointing at Miguel. But is it Miguel or one of the other cast members so conspicuously paraded in front of us as soon as the action gets back to that school?
Manuela - Miguel's dirty sister.
Paco - the school handyman simpleton ("Paco's going to be extremely good value for money." - Zomblee).
Alvaro - school head teacher, who wears short cropped double-breasted jackets with confidence.
Contessa - Miguel / Manuela’s rich school owning witch of an Aunt who dies quite early.
Miguel - facially deformed killer from the intro who might not be the killer this time around ("I like it when facially deformed characters turn out to be heroes." - Rawshark)
Anyway, all will be revealed, with a few plot twists and a few decent stabs at gore along the way. It's also the kind of film where the girls tend to get their clothes off before getting murdered, which is cool because they'd all pass the pencil test (I had to explain that one to Zomblee), except Inga, I think it was, who, as Zomblee observed "She'd only pass half the pencil test!" I think we'll be hearing that one again soon.
"You can't take out the knife, it'll spray everywhere!"
Rawshark Although Bloody Moon is one of Jess Franco’s better efforts, it’s still not really all that, and best watched, like us, in the company of like-minded friends so that you can take the mickey (mouse mask) out of it as you watch it. Poorly shot and with an awfully over-complicated script, the film does at least have a bounty of bobbing breasts and some cool kills to save it from complete disaster. Oh, and the repetitive 4-note score is pretty cool too.
After the initial ”death by scissors” opening, Bloody Moon sits back to introduce us to the main suspects of the film (Antonio coming across as a super-strong chick magnet), plus the group of young girls who are now attending the language school (”Is this like an early victim meet-up?” - Jim). Luckily we don’t have to wait too long for the next death, a sublime killing that had all three of us simultaneously shout out ”Woah!” as a knife emerges right through the nipple of the topless girl victim. However, this is probably the last good gore moment as the other killings are pretty shoddy, although Jim did enjoy the circular saw decapitation – ” It’s quite good in a crap way. A little spurt at the end always gets a good cheer” - and Zomblee enjoyed Laura’s death by ”neck-grabbing device”.
Coming across like a bad mixture of Black Christmas and Halloween, Bloody Moon is a plot well-trod with the added ‘bonus’ of a million twists and climaxes coming in the last 10 minutes. For the record, Manuela drugs Angela, Angela stabs Miguel, the Countess is killed, Alvaro grabs Angela, Manuela kills Alvaro, Miguel kills Manuela, then Miguel dies. The end – or is it? We never did find out what happened to Paco…
”The best way to learn a foreign language is in bed”
Zomblee Paco is alive and well and working in Waitrose. Obviously, I made that up, but it could just as easily be true – that’s the kind of crazy world we live in. Bloody Moon had been waiting in the ZC queue for a long time and it was great to finally see this ‘classic’ DPP fare, complete with numerous breasts, some of which were slightly bigger than others, only half passing the pencil test. And yes, it’s true – I hadn’t heard of the pencil test before tonight. Which is odd, because I’m very fond of breasts.
And so is Miguel. Miguel is a bad boy at the start of the movie - seems the only way he can pull the ladies is to wear a mask due to the fact that he’s got a manky face (”Do you think it was burned by his mum on the stove like in Don’t Go in the House?” - Rawshark), but he pays his dues for five years and subsequently appears to still have the hots for his dirty sister Manuela (”Manuella’s got dodgy lob-sided boobs” - Jim), despite the fact that there’s numerous alternative tottie locally – that’s because Bloody Moon is set in a secluded girl’s language college. Cashback.
For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, Bloody Moon is indeed a combination of those films both Rawshark and Jim have mentioned, but probably not as good. Having said that, it really is more than worth a look if you’re a fan of slasher/giallo fare. Jim thought this was a “typical Spanish giallo” (”A Spiallo?” - Rawshark), but even typical ‘spallios’ contain the right amount of mayhem to warrant a viewing. In this case it’s the aforementioned gratuitous female nudity combined with impressively nasty deaths, one of which includes a “surprise hedge trimmer attack” (Jim). I kind of like this Jess Franco fellah.
“Miguel’s repulsive face just makes me sick.”
Director Jesus Franco
Cast Olivia Pascal
Runtime 90 mins
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Plot 'Big Ape' is loose
Zomblee Ah... Joe D'amato makes another appearance at Zombie Club. A sort of unofficial sequel to his most often cited flick (yes, that'll be Anthropophogus), it again features our old pal George Eastman, although here, he is more of a victim. Well, a victim who kills loads of people. The poor guy is being hunted down by a crazed priest / Brian Cox look-a-like (Edmund Purdom from 2019 and Endgame) and manages to impale himself on a gate ("Did he just get gored on the gate? - Rawshark), but when he is rushed to hospital, the doctors are baffled by how impossibly quickly his blood coagulates (Doctor: "It's Absurd! Completely Absurd!') Big George, absurd as it may be, can't be stopped too easily due to the speed at which he regenerates his cells, which is unfortunate, given that he is a crazy murdering swine, which he duly demonstrates by drilling a nurse through the head with great style ("and through on the other side - great drill!" - Rawshark)
For the first 20 minutes of the film, the priest guy who's been in loads of great movies keeps his hand permanently attached to his chest in an effort to conceal his priesthood, until a copper makes him move it, thus revealing his holiness in a 'So, you're a priest then?' kind of way. Then he explains that "I serve God with biochemistry more than rites", which I think means that he created the 'monster'. Whatever, he seems to know the score, and makes us feel all warm and glowing inside when he states that George's "cerebral mass" must be destroyed. Sound familiar?
D'Amato likes to keep George on the move here - he is forever running about in the dark, from victim to victim, always in pursuit, and most of the second half sees him stalking in a large house full of people wearing ridiculous clothes, a bit like in the last film ("No-one has commented on the high-waisted red trousers" - Jim). This is where we first ran into problems with the slightly grubby dvd-r, a problem which Jim had to deal with several times despite his claim that "the t-shirt rub works wonders".
I must say this effort took me a little by surprise. Not being any kind of D'Amato expert, this was slightly better fun what I've seen from him in the past, and superior to its unofficial prequel. The pace is fairly good, the atmosphere works, and a soundtrack that fuses John Carpenter and Goblin is always going to press the right buttons. Moreover, there is no shortage of D'amato ketchup shlock on show here. The death-by-oven scene is pretty shocking stuff ("That has to be one of the worst deaths we've seen at Zombie Club" - Jim). Quite an achievement.
"Is it true that the only way of shooting him is to shoot him in the head?"
Rawshark Although not quite a sequel to Anthopophagus The Beast (which has still to make an appearance at Zombie Club – sort it out Jim!), Absurd is the story of an immortal from Greece called Mikos, played by the Big Ape himself, George Eastman. And what great fun it is too, easily one of D’Amato’s best efforts. As Zomblee said, ”On the D’Amato scale, it’s probably way above average”, although it has to be said, Jim immediately countered with the comment that ”well, that’s no great rating”. Fair point Jim.
Actually, Absurd is pretty darn good in a nasty, trashy b-movie way. It contains all the relevant ‘Nasty’ ingredients; bad dialogue, dodgy dubbing and lots of excessive gore (pretty much every 10 minutes). Gore highlights include the afore-mentioned drill scene (”Oh, hello!” - Zomblee), a particularly uncomfortable oven scene and death by scissors to the neck, and a terrific eye-gouge that almost rivals Zombie Flesh Eaters for sheer gore-dacity (”Coagulate that you fucker!” - Zomblee).
George Eastman is as entertaining as ever, but it’s Brit actor Edmund Purdom (born in Welwyn Garden City) who really steals the show as the Father who Jim described as coming across like ”Brian Cox playing Bela Lugosi’s Dracula”. Zomblee took a liking to him also, stating that ”it’s always good when you have a Priest on the hunt and he’s warning everyone”. Add in the ”Halloween on speed score” (Zomblee) and the fact that there’s lots of extended NFL footage of the Steelers playing the Rams in a Superbowl game (I’m a Steelers fan), and Absurd emerges in the top ten of the original British Video Nasties, almost alongside such films as The Burning, House on the Edge of the Park and Cannibal Apocalypse. Yeah, I know, complimenting a Joe D’Amato film – it’s absurd!
”I’m afraid he was murdered by the man we were operating on.”
Jim Yes, it was Rawshark's eagle eyes spotting the great gate gore, as Zombie Club's favourite ever Big Ape - George Eastman himself - survives his first of many certain deaths in a film that, despite its notoriety, actually turned out to be a lot better than any of us expected. It started at a hospital, as I remember, where George is a patient because, um, err... No wait, am I thinking of Erotic Nights of the Living Dead? Didn't that start in a hospital?
Or did this film start with Big George being chased by a priest? Is that how he got gored on that gate? Or was he escaping over the hospital wall? I dunno, as usual I can't really remember and I'm shamefully trying to piece together the second half of the evening from badly scrawled notes. Notes that say things like 'It seems the only way to kill him is to hit him in the cerebral mass!' and 'You're not to leave until Emily gets here!', with Emily I believe being the girl that looks a bit like Tisa Farrow ("You're right, she is a bit like Tisa Farrow only even less attractive." - Zomblee)
Anyway, I do remember the flick being a lot of fun and enjoying the whole thing, what with it's combination of good gore and some comically bad ("I say his guts fell out, he was holding some meat to his belly." - Rawshark). But at the end of the day it's just great to see George Eastman in his prime running around like a madman, with other actors spurting lines like 'Torn to shreds - that's no man, that's a monster!' And, of course, we always like it when killers get chased by priests ("Brilliant, back to the priest chase!" - Zomblee)
”The Big Ape’s loose!”
Director Joe D'Amato
Cast George Eastman
Runtime 85 mins
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So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen and goodbye then to George Eastman, Jess Franco, Joe D’Amato and plenty of other European filmy people trying to sound American. They came, they saw, they gave us bad gore, and everyone went home feeling very happy indeed.
Tune in next time when we get back to basics with some good old fashioned Italian Cannibal gut munching. Nice.