Not for nothing does its cover brazenly warn, “Uncut. Uncensored. Unconscionable.” Chances are you’d agree with all three, but the average person isn’t likely even to complete its trailer.
Shot on video, “The Burning Moon” is not only a gorehound’s delight, but a German gorehound’s delight. To put it another way: those with framed covers of Fangoria magazine on the wall, go for it. All others need not submit, because the movie’s utter grotesqueness got it banned in its homeland for nearly two decades. And if Germany finds something objectionable, imagine what this conservative, knee-jerk nation would think!
Writer/director/SFX guru Olaf Ittenbach casts himself as the quasi host of the anthology film, fronting the framing device as Peter, a jerk junkie who attends a job interview in ripped jeans and asks for a beer. Shockingly not hired, he then has a gang fight, gets slapped by his mama, shoots up and goes outside to look up at the moon. It’s burning! Why? Never you mind; at least the enigmatic title has been justified.
Then, after much arguing (“Bullshit! I’m not going to look after that bitch!”), Peter tells his little sister two bedtime stories while their parents go out for the night. Being quite the storyteller, he even has readymade titles for them: “Julia’s Love” and “The Purity.”
In “Julia’s Love,” young, big-haired Julia goes on a blind date with a guy who’s escaped the local psych clinic. He has quite a temper; honk your horn and he’ll throw a dead hooker’s head at you. But that’s beside the point, which is that this would-be Casanova goes on a spree of car-stealing and people-killing, with Julia and her family as his ultimate targets. O chivalry, where art thou?
After a quick break during which Peter asks his sister, “Anyways, don’t you think these are the best bedtime stories ever?,” it’s on to “The Purity,” in which a nerdy priest seeks to “purify” the people, which he does as he rapes, shoots, tortures and kills them, but a simple-minded farmer shoulders the blame. For his crimes, the priest goes to Hell, in a lengthy sequence that likely infuriated a sensitive Germany. While admittedly sick, this scene is so over-the-top and fake-looking — not to mention slathered with wall-to-wall moaning on the soundtrack — it’s hard to imagine anyone taking it so seriously.
Peter sure doesn’t. “Sleep now, little one,” he tells his sister. (Spoiler alert: While we were too busy watching nonconsensual dental work, eyeball nailing and taint tearing, he stabbed her to death.)
It’s not these ridiculous effects that put me off, but that Ittenbach has no point beyond giving his bloodletting skills an unflinching showcase. All but absent of plot, the proceedings — the back half especially — stand as nihilism for entertainment’s sake. While I love horror movies, including those from the so-called and misleadingly titled subgenre of “torture porn,” I also demand that they suck me into a story first. I can overlook obvious, in-your-face amateurism if a piece is well-written.
Still, I’m smart enough to know not everyone asks for the same. There’s an audience out there for “The Burning Moon,” and its members will lap it up, which is why movies like this are the very definition of “to each his own.” —Rod Lott