It seems like it’s been a while since I saw a truly trashy horror movie, but that little streak ended this weekend when I got to see The Burning Moon, a German anthology film from 1997. Shot on video (with all the mediocrity that medium implies) and looking more like something from the 1980s than ’90s, this movie eventually does prove to have some merit.
The framing story involves a teen who forty years earlier would be called a juvenile delinquent. Now, he’s just a punk who loves causing trouble, never more so than when he is forced by his parents to babysit his young sister. He shoots up some heroin (at which point, he hallucinates the title image) and then decides to tell his sister some bedtime stories. Of course, the fare he has in mind is not suitable for a ten-year-old, except for the fact that only a really young kid would not notice the glaring plot problems that are about to occur.
The first story, “Julia’s Love”, has a college-age girl going out with a man she just met, unaware that he is a serial killer who just broke out of a mental hospital. As a viewer, you might think there’d be a plot twist where it turns out he’s not actually the killer (we never see his face during the escape scene), but writer-director Olaf Ittenbach is not interested in any cleverness, merely excuses to show gory murders.
We do get a few of those. After Julia realizes who her date is, she runs away, but he follows her home and proceeds to kill off all her family with effects that are more cheesy than disturbing. The only really bit of cleverness is when he forces her to eat an eyeball and we get the viewpoint from within the mouth. There are some weird dream sequences which don’t really seem to fit in to the story but would be (I guess) a chance for Ittenbach to show off.
Don’t worry, the killer gets it when a throwaway character returns to save the day. Julia survives though she might be insane. That’s how the story ends, and the punk’s sister is not very happy with the tale. He doesn’t care, however, and proceeds with the second tale, “The Purity”.
This story takes place in the 1950s in a small farming community. A young woman is bicycling home at night when she’s attacked by a middle-aged man who proceeds to rape and kill her. The next scene is her funeral, presided over by the killer, who’s also the local priest (and a secret devil-worshipper).
The locals suspect the neighborhood loner, and eventually, after more murders (and the priest’s suicide), they hire a killer of their own to do him in. Things get supernatural at this point as the loner rises from the dead and literally sends the assassin to Hell.
Now it is like a firework show; after you ooh and aah for a while, all the real big bangs are saved for the end. Hell, or at least this bargain-basement version which probably was shot in someone’s basement, is a complete gorefest, where all sorts of mangled creatures maim each other while meanwhile the assassin gets his own special torture, including disembowelment and a drill to the teeth and culminating in being torn in half by the legs (an effect seen previously in Lucio Fulci’s Demonia).
Thus the second story ends, as does the life of the little sister, who big brother, sometime during “The Purity”, has stabbed in the chest. In a sudden burst of guilt, he decides to kill himself as well. The end.
If you want to watch The Burning Moon, don’t feel I’ve spoiled that much. The stories in this movie are purely incidental; it’s all about the gore.