Take a bus load of nubile schoolgirls who get stranded in the Lake District, four violent prisoners who are being treated with a new drug that has them believing that they are living in a dream and a couple of decent chaps who fill the knights-in-shining-armour role and you have the basis for something of a cult British horror movie. I first saw this film in the early 1980s, in the good old days of pre-certificated videos. As far as I know, `Killer's Moon' was never reissued in the UK after the introduction of the Video Recordings Act until this DVD's release in 2008. It's one of those films that you felt could have succumbed to the vagaries of the censors' sensibilities, especially because of its depictions of sexual violence. The good news is that the film is uncut. The comparisons with I Spit On Your Grave (Millennium Edition) and A Clockwork Orange (Two-Disc Special Edition), though, are way off the mark.
Having been advised by their doctors that the new drugs they have been given will enable them, through dream therapy, to act out their most violent and debauched fantasies, our four psychopaths have escaped the confines of their hospital and are now traipsing through the countryside. These four men, complete with their white hospital gowns, are unfailingly polite to each other as they delight in acts of murder and rape, constantly reassuring themselves that they are only dreaming. These characters, played superbly by David Jacskon, Nigel Gregory, Paul Rattee and Peter Spraggon get the best dialogue, at times surreal, at others sinking to maudlin comedy. "Why can't I dream steak and chips? Why does it have to be bread and cheese?" asks one as they eat a meal fit for a pauper prepared by some of the terrified girls.
Given shelter in an out-of-season hotel after their bus has broken down, the girls settle in for the night, donning their fetching white nightgowns. "We all debated whether to wear underwear or not [under their nightgowns] and decided against it," explains Joanne Good (who plays Mary, one of the girls) on the accompanying audio commentary.
It's true that there's plenty wrong with this film. A small tent occupied by the heroic Pete and Mike (Anthony Forrest and Tom Marshall) takes on Tardis proportions once inside. There's plenty of room, for example, for some cavorting with local good time girl, Julie (Jane Hayden). These tent interior scenes were obviously filmed in a studio, a point explained in the audio commentary by director, Alan Birkinshaw. Additionally, many of the nighttime scenes were shot in broad daylight.
There's not much in the way of gore and the rape scenes are not graphic. However, if this film was being made in today's moral climate, it's difficult to imagine that any nastiness perpetrated on a group of schoolgirls (even if, as in this film, they are being played by actresses in their twenties) would be countenanced for the purposes of vulgar entertainment; not in a British film, anyway. Some of the dialogue would also be questioned. At one point, one of the girls unsympathetically suggests to her friend that she was "only raped" and that she should just "pretend it never happened."
That said, if you're willing to forgive it a lot, this is an enjoyable slice of British exploitation fare from 1978. Undeniably kitsch when viewed from today's perspective, it still boasts some solid performances, particularly from the psychopathic quartet who gleefully indulge themselves with the grand gestures and flowery dialogue dictated by their roles.
The DVD has an audio commentary, as well as separate interviews, with writer/director Alan Birkinshaw and actress Joanne Good. Birkinshaw talks about the role his sister, Fay Weldon, had in writing some of the girls' dialogue in the film. All fascinating stuff for this film that, for all its flaws, is still an entertaining piece of schlock horror.