Tuesday, May 15, 2018

MOON CHILD (1989) (Cult Epics Blu-ray Review)

MOON CHILD (1989) 
El Niño de la Luna
Label: Cult Epics
Region Code: Region-FREE
Duration: 120 Minutes
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.66:1)
Audio: Spanish DTS-HD MA Stereo 2.0, Dolby Digital Surround 5.1, Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles
Director: Agusti Villaronga
Cast: Maribel Martin, Lisa Gerrard, Lucia Bose, Enrique Saldana, David Sust

Directed by Agustí Villaronga (In A Glass Cage) comes Moon Child (1989), a strange fantasy film that begins with a 12 year-old orphan boy named David (Enrique Saldana) being recognized for what appears to be telekinetic powers, he's able to move objects with his mind. One day a mysterious woman named Victoria (Maribel Martin, The House That Screamed) arrives at the orphanage and examines the boy, after witnessing the boy's special gift decides that he is to be sent of to a special school for gifted youngsters. No, it's not Professor's Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, he won't be a New Mutant, but it's actually a cult lead by directress (Lucia Bosé, Fellini Satyricon) who are collecting kids from around the world, honing their special skills, and forcing them into a breeding program designed to bring about a supernatural being called the "moon child", a being that draws power from the lunar rays and will change the world. 

There he meets a young woman named Georgina (Lisa Gerard of band Dead Can Dance) and an older boy named Edgar (David Sust, In A Glass Cage) who have been chosen as the cult's breeding pair, but David is a precocious kid and snoops around, discovering the truth behind the breeding program, that all the participants are disposable and marked for death after their usefulness has run it's course. The young couple are made to have sex on an alter in a chamber as the rays of the full moon bathe down upon them, as soon as conception occurs Edgar is unceremoniously removed while a medical team rushes in to attend to the needs of Georgina, who seems rightfully frightened by the whole experience.  

Soon after, with the help of the seemingly sympathetic Victoria, David escapes the facility along with Georgina and Edgar, making their way from Spain to Africa where David believes his destiny as the "moon child" awaits him, but Victoria and some agents from the cult follow them, looking to regain the unborn child and to dispose of everyone else.

The movie is a visually alluring fantasy film, told from the point of view of young David who always seems to be viewing things he shouldn't be from hidden places, giving us a nice peek at the goings on we shouldn't be privy to. As it plays out I was struck by the wonderful visuals conjured up by director Agust Villarona and cinematographer Jaume Peracaula, giving the film a surreal dreamlike quality, mixed with the ethereal score from Dead Can Dance. 

The cast is solid, young Enrique Saldana is quite good as the main character, a wide-eyed and freckled kid who apparently never made another movie, but he's strong here, pulling you right into the story. Dead Can Dance's Lisa Gerrard (also her sold acting role) is also good here, giving a nicely desperate performance as the impregnated lab rat of the cult, in way over her head, not too sure what the heck is happening to her. Lucia Bosé and Maribel Martin are also good as the directress of the cult and one of the conflicted agents who develops a close bond with the young boy, impairing her ability to carry-outs the cult's wishes, there's a nice duality to the role.

Audio/Video: Moon Child (1989) arrives on Blu-ray from Cult Epics presented in 1080p HD, framed in 1.66:1 widescreen. The source for this new HD transfer looks great, grain is healthy looking and well-managed, fine details are abundant in close-ups, and the colors and black levels look solid. Audio comes by way of an uncompressed Spanish DTS-HD MA Stereo 2,0 or a lossy Spanish Dolby Digital surround track, the stereo is more powerful and robust than the Dolby surround option, though the surround does offer a fuller sound field, but not as strong dynamically. Optional English subtitles are provided. 

Digging into the extras, we get a new 15-min interview with director Agustí Villaronga who speaks about his inspirations for the film including the writings of Aliester Crowley,  his collaborations with cinematographer Jaume Peracaula (In A Glass Cage), the Dead Can Dance's score, his film 99.9 (1997) and his latest film, Born a King (2018), plus meeting Guillermo Del Toro who he says told him he was a fan of his films. He covers a lot of ground for fifteen minutes, the interview is conducted by Nico B,. from Cult Epics.  

There's also the option to view the film with an isolated music score from Dead Can Dance, as the original elements for the score have seemingly been lost to time it is sourced from the print and does contain some non-score audio sound effects, there are 32-tracks presented in uncompressed PCM 2.0 stereo, with the option to chapter through the tracks. Extras are finished up with a section of lobby cards and HD trailers for In A Glass Cage and Moon Child. This is a dual-format release offering  both a DVD and Blu-ray presentation of the film, the same feature and extras are mirrored on the DVD in standard definition.

Special Features:
- New HD Transfer from original 35mm film.
- Interview with Agusti Villaronga (2018). (15 min) HD 

- Moon Child Theatrical Trailer (3 min) HD 
- In A Glass Cage Theatrical Trailer (3 min) HD 
- Lobby Cards photo gallery.
- Isolated Score tracks by Dead Can Dance

Villaronga's Moon Child (1989) was a nice discovery for me, it looks and sounds great on Blu-ray from Cult Epics, if you're looking for something mystical and strange along the lines of a Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo) film but maybe not so far out there that you can't make heads or tails of it this atmospheric cult thriller should make for a compelling watch, recommended to lover's of arthouse world-cinema, another strong release from Cult Epics.  

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