Wednesday, May 23, 2012

DVD Review: THE BURNING MOON (1997)

THE BURNING MOON (1997)
Label: Intervision Picture Corp
Duration: 98 mins
Video: Fullscreen (1.33:1)
Audio: German Dolby Digital with English subtitles
Director: Olaf Ittenbach
Cast: Andrea Arbter, Ellen Fischer, Ronald Fuhrmann
Tagline: No Matter What You Have Seen... You Have NEVER Seen anything like...


 Synopsis: In 1992, writer/director/special effects master Olaf Ittenbach changed the face of video horror, force-fed its ripped-out eyeballs to screaming audiences, then used a drill, machete and shotgun on its still-twitching torso: Ittenbach himself stars as a degenerate junkie who babysits his young sister with two bedtime stories of the damned. First, an escaped serial killer turns date night into a graphic family massacre. Then a country priest on a rape and murder spree leads to a disturbingly explicit descent into Hell. It became the VHS that shocked America. It has been banned in its Motherland for nearly 20 years. And it remains perhaps the most violent and depraved shot-on-video saga in history. This is The Burning Moon.


Olaf Ittenbach’s shot-on-video gore-fest The Burning Moon (1997) makes its way from VHS dustbin obscurity to DVD from Intervision Picture Corp, a company who know a thing or two about obscure SOV films. They've brought us the Canadian VHS mindfuck Things (1989) and the slow-mo nightmare Sledgehammer (1983). If you know anything about either film you know they're not fucking around, these are some truly fucked-up films. Maybe not great films but really weird and wonderful in a you-just-gotta-see-this sorta way.


The Burning Moon is actually an anthology film of sorts featuring two tales with a neat framing device featuring a German thrasher dude named Peter (director Olaf Ittenbach) as he arrives for a job interview. He's really just one of the most-unhireable teens you'd ever want to come into an interview situation. After bombing the interview he takes off for a night of drinking and street fighting with his Hessian friends. The fight between two street gangs is loaded with carnage; chains, bottles being broken, head-bashing and lots of blood. In the aftermath Peter wanders home to tend to his wounds. The family dynamic at the house is nothing short of hostile with Peter verbally abusing his mother followed by a physical altercation with his father. In the midst of this he is told he must babysit his younger sister whom he clearly has no love for. Once mom and dad are gone Peter shoots a load of heroin into his arm, sweaty and disoriented he ventures outside and looks up  into the sky where he sees a vision of the moon on-fire, it's a very cool lo-fi effect. Strung out on dope he sits aside his sister's bed and spins the sibling two twisted bedtime stories.


First up an escaped mental patient escapes from a hospital for the criminally insane in a way that will seem pretty familiar to fans of John Carpenters Halloween. Having been away from the dating scene for some time he's anxious to get back into the swing of things and sets himself up on a blind date. The unfortunate young woman who winds up in his company only just narrowly escapes his clutches when she overhears a radio broadcast in regard to the escaped nutcase. But like any true psycho you just can't get away clean and he soon arrives on her doorstep leading to a pretty heinous slaughter. For a lo-fi shot-on-video slasher this film is heavy on the gore, it's not always realistic but just great stuff for the gore aficionados. The carnage is highlighted by a rather gruesome machete being shoved through a mouth and exiting the ear, it's fantastic gore. There are several decapitations, beatings and stabbings plus a wicked finger slicing scene with the killer leaving the severed digits in a butter dish. There's just tons of nastiness on display here.


The second story involves a countryside priest on a sadistic  murder-rape spree that begins with a woman being brutally raped and then shot in the head - it's pretty grim stuff. The priest continues his spree of rape and murders performing Satanic rituals to what end I am unsure. At the same time some hapless farmer  gets the blame for the violent rampage and a group of irate villagers hire one of the townies to stab, beat and pulverize his sorry ass to a bloody pulp. Apparently that Satanic ritual the priest performed had an effect because he then rises a zombie to wreak his awful revenge, sort off. He scrawls a bloody "666" onto the house and the perpetrator is then transported to Hell and then things get really strange. The finale is a glorious vision of Hell that's a lo-fi macabre masterpiece of gore, a cornucopia of the despicable and depraved. We've got ghouls tearing flesh, tons of gut-munching, a face peeled from a skull, flaming eye-sockets, vivisection and enough eye-trauma to appease even the most depraved fan of Lucio Fulci - it's fantastic stuff. Pretty elaborate effects highlighted by images of teeth being drilled which shattered my nerves, its horrendous stuff that culminates with someone being torn in half from the anus upwards, nauseating from start to finish.


Special Features:
- Making of Burning Moon (47mins)
- Trailer (0:39) 

- Intervision Trailers: ABC's of Love and Sex (2:42), Secret Life Jeffrey Dahmer (3:46)


Verdict: If The Burning Moon (1997) were a plate of nachos it wouldn't just be messy it would hands down be the gnarliest and nastiest plate o' nachos you've ever seen from the dirtiest dive-bar you've ever entered and you would scarf it down in a drunken hunger despite the imminent threat of food borne illness. This gets my vote for best shot-on-video feature I've ever seen, chock full o'  gore-tastic carnage and demented depravity. outta 5 

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