• Burning Moon, The (Intervision Picture Corp.)

    Released by:
    Intervision Picture Corp.
    Released on: February 14, 2012.

    Director: Olaf Ittenbach

    Cast: Olaf Ittenbach, Andrea Arbter, Ellen Fischer, Ronald Fuhrmann

    Year: 1992

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    The Movie:

    There was a time in the late eighties nineties when Germany was churning out low budget splatter films at a pretty impressive rate thanks to the efforts of some low budget gore fiends like Andreas Schnaas, Jorge Buttgereit, Andreas Bethman and Olaf Ittenbach. These guys didn’t have a whole lot of money to work with but they wound up making some impressively creative camcorder epics before moving on to various other marginally more upscale projects. While Ittenbach has found success as an effects guy working not only on his own projects but bigger scale productions like Bloodrayne, his early films remain pretty popular simply because they show that raw creativity at work and have a certain unrestrained insanity to them that makes them a whole lot of fun to watch.

    Burning Moon, his second feature as a director after Black Past, is an anthology film of sorts that begins when a trouble teenager named Peter (played by the director himself) returns home after a gang fight only to have his parents tell him he’s got to stay home for the night and watch over his younger sister. As she gets ready for bed, he injects himself with some heroin and then heads into her room to tell her some bedtime stories.

    The first story is called Julia’s Love and it begins when a serial killer makes his escape from an insane asylum and heads out into the city in search of a woman. He meets Julia, who later tells her friends how great he is and how she can’t wait to meet him for dinner later on. When she finds out that he’s an escaped murderer thanks to a conveniently timed newscast on the radio, she takes off but he’s got her wallet and knows where she lives. Of course, he heads to her house to kill her off before she can squeal to the authorities, and happens to find the rest of her family make pretty awesome victims too.

    The second story is called The Purity and it’s considerably more deranged than the first one is. It tells the tale of a priest who seems normal enough at first but who is actually slowly but surely killing off everyone in his town who he deems impure. Of course, the people in the town are not so cool with this and they figure that it has to be the slightly off kilter farm worker who is up to all the chaos and carnage, not the local priest. When the townsfolk hire someone to kill the farmhand and the priest finds out, he kills himself – but it’s not over then. The farm hand comes back from the dead and shows the man who killed him just how horrible things can be in what is quite literally one of the most impressive gore highlight reels you’re ever likely to see.

    Ittenbach’s inexperience as a director early on in his career doesn’t seem to hold him back from ‘going for the gore’ in the least, at least not in this picture. Ambitious doesn’t quite do the effects justice, as they’re just so insane that it doesn’t seem to be the right term. Without wanting to spoil the movie by railing off a play by play, let it suffice to say that you’ve rarely seen someone torn in half with as much visceral energy as you will in this movie and you’ve never seen someone get their teeth drilled as literally as you will in this movie.

    While the gore comes first and foremost in this production (let’s face it, the acting is amateurish at best and the story really only seems to exist to get us from one gore set piece to the next), the film also offers some creativity in terms of staging, camera work and design. There was at least more thought put into this than simply putting the camera on a tripod, pointing it at the nastiness and hitting record. A good example is a scene in which a character makes another character eat their own eyeball, which we see happen from inside his throat. The bookend segments are pretty goofy but they do at least put a context forward for the two main storylines and wind up making the whole thing a bit more cohesive than it would be otherwise. It may be cheap and it may be poorly acted but it’s ambitious, zany, gory as Hell and, in its last ten minutes, actually a little bit unsettling.


    The transfer here is about on par with the transfer from the
    AWE release that came out some time ago – there might be some differences but they’re subtle. In short, the image quality here looks about as good as the VHS source material probably allows it to. Definition is soft and sometimes lacking, colors a little funny at times – but you can’t really fault for considering how it was made. This is a perfectly acceptable and perfectly watchable transfer.

    The German language Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track is fine, despite some hiss here and there. Optional English subtitles translate the dialogue and are easy to read, while the mix handles all the gooey and gory sound effects nicely enough.

    As far as the extras go, the main supplement is a forty-seven minute long Making Of Burning Moon featurette. Though it’s fairly clip heavy, it features some interesting behind the scenes footage, some gore effects test footage, a lot of bits and pieces of the cast and crew goofing around and some decent interview segments with Olaf Ittenbach. For a movie as obscure as this, it’s nice to see a decent featurette provided that actually gives us a pretty good look at what it was like on set and which lets us into the director’s head a little bit. This featurette was not included on the AWE release.

    Aside from that, there’s a trailer for the feature and trailers for a few other Intervision properties, menus and chapter stops. The cover art for this release is also reversible, with the new collage art on one site and some more traditional art on the flipside.

    The Final Word:

    While the low budget and amateur performances in Burning Moon prevent us from taking it as seriously as Ittenbach probably wanted us to, you’ve got to give the director and his movie credit for dolling out some amazing gore sequences and ramping things up to one of the most insane endings ever shot. Intervision’s DVD is on par with the PAL release in terms of quality but ups the ante with the inclusion of a very cool featurette. Gorehounds should consider this one a must-own.