The Burning Moon (1997)
WRITER: Olaf Ittenbach
DIRECTOR: Olaf Ittenbach
STARRING: Beate Neumeyer as Julia Sanders
Bernd Muggenthaler as Cliff Parker
Rudolf Hob as Father Ralf
Andre Stryi as Justus
Kurt Nauder as Frank
Olaf Ittenbach as Peter
QUICK CUT: A young, troubled youth is given the task of watching over his sister after he gets the shit kicked out of him, and decides to send her off to sleep with two utterly horrifying bedtime stories that would make Merlin say that's just too far.
Peter - Our main character, arguably, although he's more of our main storyteller. But he's your typical lazy, disaffected young man. Has no job, has no aspirations, just wants to hang out, get high, and scare the bejeezus out of his sister. He doesn't care about anything, is an ass to everyone, and is just an all around unpleasant human being.
Julia - The lead character in Peter's first story. She's an average young woman who is looking for love, and finds it in all the wrong places.
Cliff - The man Julia finds and falls for, but she's unaware he's a crazed killer. He reveals himself soon enough.
Father Ralf - The main character from Peter's second story. He seems like a nice, kindly priest by day, but by night he seeks out those he deems to be sinners, and has them killed, condemning their souls to Hell. The Redeemer would be best buds with this guy.
THE GUTS: By the unholy trinity of Corman, Kaufman, and Band, I have done 100 movies for Trisk. What does number 100 hold for me? Well, this time out, we celebrate with something really special; Burning Moon. A gory German flick that has a bit of a reputation and was pretty hard to find, until InterVision put out the recent DVD. And it's all in German with English subtitles, so this should be interesting. So yes, the people who brought me Things and Sledge Hammer have given me...this.
The movie starts off by introducing us to a German slacker, yes they have them there too, complaining about his parents wanting him to get a job, and being dropped off at an interview to appease them. He's a bit of a snarky douchebag at the interview, not really giving a crap about being there, and trying to roll a joint and get a beer rather than try and get a job.
It doesn't look good for our loser, but the interviewer says with a little effort, he could become just what they're looking for. But rather than actually try a little to improve his life, our hero just tells the guy to kiss his ass and walks out. Well, that went well! I'm sure he'll get the job!
You know, for a movie with the reputation this one has, this is pretty mundane stuff. But it's early yet, and establishing character.
Fortunately, things start to look up immediately after that amazing interview. Peter and his friend meet up with others, and wait in the middle of foggy streets, until another group shows up. Aww yeah, we're gonna rumble!
What ensues is...one of the worst choreographed fight scenes I've seen in a very long time, to be honest. I doubt there was much planning at all. There are a few moments that must have been though. I would wager any of the ones using props, and even though it's just a mash of fists and people being thrown around, when the fight shows brutality, it FEELS brutal. Almost every punch, every stick, every face being curb stomped, makes you wince.
Peter heads home so he can get yelled at by his parents, and then told he will be watching over his sister, Annette. I'm sure he'd rather take the yelling than the babysitting. Unsurprisingly, he's just as much a little shit to his parents as he is to everyone else.
Once his parents are gone, Peter goes to his room and sulks and shoots up, like any normal pissed off teenager. Meanwhile, the kid he's supposed to be watching gets ready for bed without his help. But at least his drug use leads to him staring into the sky and seeing our title.
But now that he's good and high, Peter decides to get the movie underway and tell his sister some bedtime stories. Because he is in the perfect frame of mind for that, right?
I love that he goes to tell Annette these stories, looking all strung out and telling her she can't get to sleep, when she looked perfectly restful to me.
And much like any good anthology movie, we are actually going to watch the bedtime stories. That's a pretty classic formula, really. The first one up is a tale called Julia's Love. Aww, how sweet! What could possibly go wrong??
We start off with two doctors discussing a patient, Parker, who has killed 21 people, and they're trying to decide his treatment. One of the doctors is ready to just toss him in a padded room and be done with it, but the other sees some glimmer of hope. And has stopped his meds. Oh, I'm sure that will go well.
And of course a crazed man off his meds leads us to our first dead body. It happens off screen, but they at least gives us the doctor's bashed in face in a puddle of blood, so that's good enough for me.
The two doctors don't last much longer as Parker bashes the one that so nicely took him off his meds against the wall, and he rushes up behind the other and snaps his neck.
We finally get to meet this Julia person, who has also been left home by her parents. I am sensing a theme here. Anyways, she answers the phone, and it pretty much consists of her asking why they're calling.
Julia gets ready for a date as some guy pulls up and WHOA gets run over by a car! And not a bad running down, either. Head goes squish. Okay, it's clearly a mannequin, but again pretty brutal, and this is a no budget flick.
After meeting her friends for a bit, Julia goes off on her date, and that goes pretty well, but gets weird when the guy blurts out he lost his family. Dude, you save that until at LEAST the third date, maybe the fourth!
Now, Brian says he works at a clinic, and is trying to become a doctor. And his car looks suspiscously like the one Parker stole. Gee.
And then cue random kiss-induced flashbacks to Brian watching his grandfather going all Lizzie Borden on his mom. Being a brief flashback and the body was dead before we got here, I'm not counting it, but at least the walls are nicely splattered.
Park...Brian goes to get some cigarettes, and while he's gone, Julia tunes in the radio, and gets some news reports about Parker's escape, including the car he's stolen. She confirms its the same car she's sitting in, and runs off.
When he comes back, Bri...Parker is pissed off that his girlfriend ran away, but at least she stupidly left her wallet behind. He takes out his aggression on a hooker that randomly comes by and gets in the car and receives a knife in the neck. And that is not innuendo for anything. Her head then gets tossed out and lands on the car behind Parker. He handles rejection well!
Julia heads home and watches the news, getting more confirmation, and she has the best reaction ever. "Oh no, another nut." I am pretty sure a serial killer and schizophrenic is a whole separate level of nut, dearie. Alternately, if this is the normal kinda guy you end up with, seek help!
The movie pulls a classic shot when Julia's mom goes to put stuff away in a cabinet, and when she closes it, hey! Surprise Parker waiting for her! He quickly slices off her fingers over a brick of butter...which I don't know why they included the butter, but at least its different! And slashes her throat for good measure.
Her husband has THE most bland reaction ever. He hears her screaming bloody murder, literally! and all he does is look up from tv and call out, what are you doing in there? Dude, she is not making the screams of someone who burnt dinner.
But Julia is even more oblivious, as upstairs her and her sister are gossiping in the bathroom. Somehow, Julia has seen the car she was in was stolen by Parker. She has heard the news both on radio and television, seen Parker's face matches Brian's, and isn't doing squat but saying, "Oh, I decided to come home early."
CALL THE COPS, DAMNIT. See something, say something!
And downstairs, her dad pays for his own obliviousness when Parker comes in and brutally slices off his hand, and rams the machete through his face. This is why you don't just shrug off things, people. Are you listening, Julia?? Probably not...
Continuing to kill everyone in this house, Parker finds Julia's sister still in the bathroom and uses her like a pin cushion for his kife. Deafness must run through the family what with all the screaming no one cares about.
And now, NOW after all this, Julia decides she has to tell someone about what happened that night. I'm not sure if she means her family, or the cops, but the first thing she finds is her father's severed head doing an amazing impression of a shishkebab.
She stumbles around finding the phone is of COURSE disconnected, and finds blood-covered Parker standing there with her mom's severed head. And bonus points to using that to throw at Julia.
Parker herds her into the bathroom so she can see the OTHER dead body she was oblvious to, and gets the bonus of seeing her sister is dead, stabbed, AND on fire!
The sister's boyfriend shows up, and Julia tries to do double duty of warning him off and calling for help, but he just comes in anyways. Well, he gets about one foot in the door before Parker slices his head clean off and it rolls down the walk like a fleshy soccer ball.
At least the guy has a signature move.
Julia grabs some scissors and tries to attack Parker, but only manages a feeble stab at him before trying to run away. And wouldn't you know it? She trips down the stairs on her heels and goes into a brief impressionistic dream sequence before Parker wakes her back up.
Parker tries to say he wants to start over, wants to live like everyone else and be accepted like everyone else. Hey, dude? You ARE accpeted like everyone else. You are treated like everyone else is treated when they go around slicing heads off all willy nilly. It's not OUR fault you want to be treated special and NOT like the killer you are. Don't cut off heads, we won't treat you like someone who does. This is simple.
Aww, all our killer wants is to have a family, marry Julia, and have kids with her! I'm sure she'll say yes to his lovely proposal! Maybe she'll see all he needs is a good woman to make him change his ways!
Julia calls him on his bullshit, and since he's being treated like a killer and not all special, this angers him and he feeds Julia one of his mom's eyeballs so she can see just how dirty and false her daughter is from the inside. Again, reaching a new level of crazy.
She grabs a nearby bottle, smashes it over Parker's head, stabs him with the remains, and runs for the garage door, which moves upwards as slowly as possible. Parker helps her outside by defenestrating her long before the door can raise.
Before he can finish Julia off, some guy appears out of nowhere and shoots Parker in the head. Well, not completely out of nowhere, he's the guy that Parker tossed the hooker's head at earlier in the story. Oh, and he's a cop. But still, pretty random, and only barely meeting any sort of rules from Chekov.
And so ends our first bedtime story, and we pause briefly as Annette tells Peter his stories are crap, and to stop telling them. But Harry Pothead remains undaunted and forges ahead with his next story, THE PURITY!
This second foray into madness starts off in 1957 with a young woman biking home, and suddenly being knocked to the ground, raped, and shot in the head. Bedtime stories, everyone!
On top of that, we fade to her funeral, and see the priest presiding over the event is her rapist slash murderer. Hooo boy.
After the service, Justus gets threatened by some of the others, for no apparent reason, and he seeks counsel with the priest. Justus feels like he's at the end of his rope, worthless, and needs to die, and the priest tries to talk him off the ledge. He gets a rousing pep talk and heads home to work on the farm.
Later, some guy gets sent outside to see why his dog is barking, and after shutting up the animal, he sits back for a drink. Which is when the priest shows up and kills him, saying he needs the guy's wife for heavenly bliss. At least his wife actually wakes up and hears the gunshot and her husband's cries. Someone's hearing in this movie works.
Quick, check this guy's thumbs, I think he might be an early incarnation of the Redeemer!
After shooting the husband nearly a dozen times, he sets about finding his bliss by tying up the wife to have his way with her. In a shocking twist, he only slits this one's throat, at least that we see. And drinks her blood. But doesn'r rape her!
The next day, we find Justus working on the farm, when he gets jumped by the guys and pummeled on because they blame him for the deaths. Might be nice to see why they think that, but I expect a few plot holes in a bedtime story told by a stoner.
Fortunately the priest shows up and scares them off, because beating people up is wrong. Killing is fine, but even he has his standards!!
Which leads us into a dream/flashback of how Ralf decided to become a priest. Which consists of one day, his father came up to him and said, son! I want you to become a priest! Well, that was easy.
But as young Ralf prays, a strange woman appears straight from hell, as she says, and hands the boy what I am going to call a Satanic bible until I'm told otherwise.
Ralf wakes up and pulls out his little Black Book and does some light reading about the evils of God, and in a nice twist, the book actually asks Ralf for help by name. Creepy.
He does as the book commands, and uh...takes his own life. Okay, did not see that one coming. Huh. I'd imagine that would make it hard to complete his dark lord's works, I suppose, and you would think that would end this bedtime story, but no...
All this really does is drive the guys in town to go seek Justus. Yes, I went there. He gets warned though, and after spending all this time actually accepting the blame, finally says he's done nothing. Make up your mind!
But he doesn't really follow that warning, even though the extent of the advice was, stay inside. I don't really see how that would help, since he could only hide inside for so long, and he's still at home, where he'd be easily found, but whatever.
So it's not long before a guy shows up and Justus receives a pretty brutal beating. I will say this, the movie sure does know how to deliver a good curb stomping. Geeze.
The poor guy's killer heads home for a good night's rest after a job well done, and Justus hears Father Ralf's voice commanding him to rise and seek Justus...okay, I'll stop.
Zombie Justus scrawls 666 on the wall, and his murderer wakes up screaming in pain. Now that is a hell of a wake up call. He sees the light at the end of the tunnel, and appears in what I can only assume as low budget hell. Or a rave gone wrong. Or just a terrible night in a warehouse. One of those.
The only reason I can assume this is hell is because it kinda fits the description Ralf gave earlier of people being torn apart. Being set in a concrete hole in the wall, with people just kinda wandering around doesn't really fit any OTHER description of hell. And finally this movie's reputation for gore is well earned, with lots of body parts, severed heads, entrails, eviscerated bodies, and enough blood to make a vampire moist. It is nearly six straight minutes of nothing but solid gore porn.
After all that, the movie remembers it had a loose attempt at a plot somewhere, and Justus's murderer gets nailed down to a table before a corkscrew is taken to his eyeballs.
I will say this, Burning Moon presents what may be the best representation of Hell. This is the first time I've ever cringed and been like, nope. Do not want to go there! It pulls no punches and shows true, disturbing shit to scare you right down to your soul.
And I will spare you all the horrors that our killer goes through, except to say if you have issues with drills and teeth? Yeah, then you might want to steer clear of this movie. If I haven't already convinced you of that already.
I can handle all the gore, for the most part. But the nearly ten minutes of screaming by the denizens of Hell is what really does me in. And not in a horrific way, more in an 'oh god, this is annoying, I get it lets move on!' kind of way.
But after all that, after the killer gets torn in half from crotch to nose...and this is the first time I have ever seen that in such detail, so uh...kudos on that, movie? But after that, he wakes up back in his home screaming. Consider that a warning, pal!
And we get one last shot of Justus being told his pain is over, and he will be accepted...somewhere? We don't see where, but I guess Hell from the scream? What kind of message is this sending?
Which is how Peter finishes up his lovely, happy story to his sister! I'm sure she'll sleep just fine tonight! And just to make sure she stays down, Peter stabbed a knife into her stomach.
So Peter heads outside, all sad his sister is dead because of someone...oh wait, it's YOUR OWN damned fault. Suck it up, crackhead.
Anyways, he heads outside and slits his wrists, leaving us with a nice, happy ending, a giant pile of bodies, and terrible morals. Well, this is depressing.
Video: It's not great, since it's shot on video (I think) with zero budget, but...with that in mind, it looks decent for that sort of thing. Could use a little more lighting in the dark, but this looks good enough for a videotape movie. The colours are bright, and boy does that red pop.
Audio: Uhhh, I kinda zoned out of the audio, since I don't speak German, and it all kinda washed over me. But I don't really have any complaints besides a little too much screaming in Hell.
Sound Bite: "I want you to absorb all my love juice." I snorted my coffee when Parker said this.
1 - 15:30 into the movie, and into our first substory, and we finally are given a dead body that I will reluctantly count as our first, even though it was made off screen. The aftermath is at least shown, and it didn't happen THAT long ago.
2 - One doctor gets her head bashed against a wall by Parker.
3 - Parker takes out the other doctor with a handy neck snap.
4 - Completely random dude run over by Parker.
5 - Brian/Parker stabs a hooker in the neck and removes her head.
6 - Julia's mom gets her throat slashed by Parker.
7 - And her dad joins the dead pool when Parker shoves a machete through his face.
8 - Julia's sister is the next to meet Parker's knife, and a little fire.
9 - Gary lasts all of five seconds in the film when Parker slices his head off.
10 - Brian's head explodes when the cop shows up and shoots him.
11 - Poor girl gets raped and shot.
12 - Farmer Erwin shot by the priest.
13 - Erwin's wife gets her throat slashed in the name of heavenly bliss.
14 - Father Ralf takes his own life at the end of a gun for no particular reason.
15 - Justus receives a hell of a beating and a pitchfork to the chest.
16 - Annette lies dead with a knife in her stomach thanks to Peter.
17 - Peter takes his own life because he's sad his sister is dead. Well...
HOLY CRAP is that a lot of bodies!!
Best Corpse: I gotta love Julia's dad being killed. That was a pretty great effect of the knife through his face. Now, the one I *want* to nominate didn't actually die, but I so want to talk about him...
Blood Type - A+: Hohohooooly potatoes. I don't know if this is really THAT gory or disturbing of a movie for much of it, but once the movie literally descends into Hell, it hits the fan. Wow. There is some really creative effects here, sooo much blood, and those ten minutes make up for a long stretch of, "I thought this was gory?" Justus's killer and his hellish punishment would've been my best corpse pick if he'd actually died and not just given a warning, because that was amazing to see him taken apart like that.
Sex Appeal: A little nudity here and there. But this movie is more about the blood than the boobs.
Movie Review: This is not terrible. The stories aren't bad, have beginnings, middles, and ends, although they are ultimately terrible stories with either bad resolutions, or just shcok for shock's sake. But it tries, it's got some ideas and does them, although they are clearly not pros doing this. Things could be better, but I also know they could be a lot worse. Three out of five eyeballs down the throat.
Entertainment Value: I'm not a gore fiend. I can take it. But I like some plot with my gore. And there's at least some story here, even if it's a bland one. The movie takes awhile to get going, establishing Peter's character a bit too much before getting the show on the road, but once we get into the bedtime stories? Wow, the bodies just start dropping like angels on Supernatural. This movie has one of the highest body counts since I've been keeping track, outside of stuff like Robot Jox's mass murder which only counts technically. This movie is pretty weird, and you just kinda stare at it, especially during Purity. Julia's story is almost normal, and only marked out by its gore and effects. Which are pretty amazing for this level of budget. If you can take the gore, this is definitely worth watching just to see what they get away with. This easily ranks right next to Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders for 'terrible bedtime stories you should never tell children' for it's WTFery. High levels of blood, a hefty body count, and while not the most messed up movie I've reviewed, nor the most coherent, it was pretty enjoyable in that Trisky way, and makes for an appropriate 100th review Four out of five bedtime stories for the kiddies, if you don't mind entrails in your face.