KILLER’S MOON (1978)
Article 3919 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-27-2012
Posting Date: 5-7-2012
Directed by Alan Birkinshaw
Featuring Anthony Forrest, David Jackson, Tom Marshall
What it is: Horror movie… at least, I think it’s trying to be
A busload of schoolgirls is stranded at an isolated hotel… and find themselves at the mercy of four mental patients who have been the subject of drug experiments that have left them believing that they’re dreaming.
The first half of this movie is actually rather effective; there’s an offhand, slightly comic air to the proceedings that has the effect of leaving us with the feeling that everyone involved has no real sense of the pending horrific ordeal. I also like the central idea that the escaped inmates are under the sense that they’re dreaming, which is established before we meet them. Yet I found myself thinking that it would be extraordinarily difficult for the various members of the creative team to render that idea effectively and convincingly. As a result, I’m not totally surprised that the movie ends up stumbling at this point; once we meet the inmates and they start talking, it stops feeling like a horror movie and feels like we’ve wandered into a rather self-referential and pretentious absurdist play, with the inmates endlessly speculating on how they can be sharing the same dream, and how they don’t have to worry about what they do because it’s all a dream, etc… in short, they’re not acting like they’re actually in a dream, they act like they know they’re in a dream, and that’s not the same thing. It’s at this point that the movie stops feeling real and starts feeling mannered, and despite the rape and carnage that ensue, any suspense has gone out the window and given way to detached mental speculation. In the end, the movie ends up feeling like a dream, though not a nightmare; the latter seem a lot more real when you’re having them. I don’t know if that makes the movie “bad”, per se; a lot depends on what the filmmakers were trying to do. But the end result is more of a surreal mental exercise than a horror movie.