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October Watch: ‘The Burning Moon’ is Hardcore

The Burning Moon is grotesque. I’ve spoken a bit about shot-on-video before, so if you’re unfamiliar with the brief and utterly unique subgenre, check it out. While a lot of the most commonly referenced and released are American-made, it’s not limited to a solely state-side phenomenon. Europe, specifically France (Purveyors of classics like Sexandroide) and Germany, produced its fair output of DIY horror—and like their American counterparts, the focus was primarily on effects more-so than the storytelling itself.

Unlike 555, Cannibal Campout, Video Violence or any number of US analog classics, European SOV maintains something much different: instead of a campy collection of friends laughing off camera as they tear apart prosthetics a la Jon McBride, filmmakers like Olaf Ittenbach put effort into making something genuinely evil; thus we have The Burning Moon.

With only two stories, the movie spends about fifteen building up our crypt-keeper: a piercing-ridden punk named Peter (played by Ittenbach himself), who manages to fight with his parents, fight with a street-gang, and show his open disdain for the general concept of work. This walking Crass-patch is left with the task of babysitting his little sister. He gets high and watches the moon burst into flames.


Julia’s Love is the first story. At first detailing the recent escape of a sanitarium patient, coverage switches over teenage girl preparing for a blind date. Surely, you know the direction this is headed toward. Between useless dialogue among our teenage characters (everyone is obviously over the age of twenty-five), our attention is kept afloat by the escaped patient eluding any possibility of identification by killing people and stealing their cars; most notably the destruction of a trench-coat-clad dummy as the driver-side door is taken out with it.

Within the duration of the story we’re likened to moments like a woman’s head tossed out of a sunroof onto the car windshield of the car behind it and a corpse burning in a bath tub. Despite the shakiness of the storyline, and questionable entertainment value up to this point, The Burning Moon officially kicks into gear, revving up its engine of evisceration a little late but at no point lacking in imagination or it’s tone of downright evil.

Pushing along to the next story (which the movie is evidently eager to do itself as Julia’s Love caps with a Deus Ex Machina), The Purity is the reason The Burning Moon has its reputation. The Purity is in line with The Last House on Dead End Street; there is no upside, and in TBM’s case there’s barely a structure to the story, and by the end of it we’re going to desperately need something to counteract the grim experience it bears.

A catholic priest rapes and murders a succession of people (and if you want to skip the graphic opening, skip to 50 minutes and 4 seconds once the title-card appears). An autistic farmer is credited with the crimes leading to a vigilante group to take action. The plotline is all over the place with this one, but if you’ve lasted through TBM this long then you’re aware nobody is in this for the story alone. The star of the film is an extended sequence in hell, which beyond various images of demons tearing one another apart includes a grizzly torture scene where you’ll see: teeth drilled through, a corkscrew to the eyes, intestines slowly torn away, and more. If we’re talking about a satisfying crescendo to a movie that jumps around in tone and focus, the final third of The Purity provides a worthwhile crescendo.

The Burning Moon isn’t for everyone. Responses to the movie are often mixed when I try and introduce someone to it so approach with caution; but if you’re attracted to high ambition within the most sobering of horror, then this is your movie; it lives up to every description of extremity others often disappoint with, leaving you yearning for a cold shower and hard alcohol.

If you subscribe to Shudder you can find TBM streaming there, and if not Severin Films released it on DVD a little while back (which also includes a solid behind-the-scenes). Highly recommended.

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