Terror Tuesday Report: The Burning Moon (1997)

Posted by Noah Lee - March 2nd 2012 @ 3:28 pm

Editor’s Note: Usually we like to post Terror Tuesday Reports on the Tuesday following the screening, but the overwhelming and intense insanity of THE BURNING MOON actually put our intrepid writer, Noah, into a blood coma. When he awoke, this post had somehow found its own way onto the site. Enjoy.

The Film

Terror Tuesday is a celebration of horror movies on 35mm film, so when our host Zack Carlson announced he was showing The Burning Moon it was a bit of a shock. This German movie was shot on video so it really only exists in a digital format. I missed the previous week’s showing, but apparently when announcing he was showing The Burning Moon, Carlson told people specifically not to come see it. Not only is it shot on video but it’s also such an extreme gut punch that they would just hate it. He probably said it much more cleverly than I (and this is why we love Zack), but you get the idea. Regardless, expectations were that the audience would be thin and there would be walk outs, so the movie was shown in the much smaller Alamo Ritz theater that only holds 70 people.

Those who did show up were subjected to what can only be described as an assault. The Burning Moon is ostensibly an anthology film with a wrap-around story that features a punk who is forced by his parents to stay home one evening to babysit his younger sister. Unhappy with this position, he proceeds to do heroin and then spins two wildly inappropriate yarns that feature a serial killer, a psychotic priest, and endless amounts of gore, dismemberment, and torture. Like a piece of glass you can’t get clean when grease gets on it, your soul will most certainly be a darker shade of grey after experiencing Olaf Ittenbach’s opus to death. This is a movie that most certainly hates all its characters and, as a friend told me, “I can’t think of a movie that hates its audience as much as The Burning Moon”.

The Burning Moon can only be German and can only be shot on video. Beating within its chest is a dark, cold heart that spits on the screen like its lead punk character does on his parents. Akin to watching someone’s home movie unearthed from the bowels of hell, the first story centers on a young woman named Julia who is on the hunt for the right man. Dressing up for a night out with yet another blind date, she’s unaware of the murderous rampage her date has been on and yet when he shows up they spend a nice dinner together. Only later she discovers, as she’s about to head back to get her rumpus shaken, that her dream date is a sadistic killer who is wanted by the police. Thinking she has cleverly escape, in her rush she drops her wallet in the psycho’s stolen car. I’d love to say his revenge for being stood up was to go home and watch Mermaids for the dozenth time, but what unfolds is a fiesta of dismemberment and sickening gore.

Not content with disturbing his little sister with one story, punker decides to up the ante with a bedtime nightmare about a priest who, in an attempt to purify those he sees as evil, sets out on a rampage that makes Ed Gein look like Mister Rogers. Director Ittenbach also ramps up the evil meter by now throwing in an extended rape scene that left me as uncomfortable and unsettled as I had been in ages. While the priest gets away with murder, literally, the townspeople find a martyr on which to blame the increasing number of deaths in their little burg. As we near the end of the story, we venture straight into the bowels of hell and what should be the most shocking scene of The Burning Moon (hint: it’s not). There is a 10 minute montage of bodies being ripped apart, sliced and diced and tortured. Yes, the blood used is as equally red as the works of H.G. Lewis, which makes it less believable, but the length and, dare I say quality, of what transpires is nonetheless quite shocking.

It’s not until the final few minutes of The Burning Moon that you realize just how ugly Ittenbach can be. Rather than delve into spoiler territory, let’s just say that if you ever decide to watch this opus to hate, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll feel less happy about humanity once the final scene hits and credits roll.

The Reaction

Due to the small size of the theater, being a mostly unknown movie and having the showing on Fat Tuesday, the crowd was mostly the die hard Terror Tuesday goers. I never noticed any walk outs and I actually sat next to the girl who passed out during The Human Centipede 2 during Fantastic Fest, so I was expecting maybe another incident. Instead, the crowd seemed to actually be very much into The Burning Moon, and maybe a little too much. There were certainly rounds of laughter at times when it’s low budget and translated dialogue set itself up for comedic value, but also some laughter during the gore scenes. Whether it was from nervous laughter or from being overwhelmed by the extremity of it all, or a little of both, it seemed The Burning Moon was a hit.

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comments are closed
  1. March 2nd, 2012 | 6:19 pm | #1

    I am always against the idea of too much, and looking at all the pictures, I can say there is too much of everything in this film, too much gore, too much blood and violence.

  2. Noah Lee
    March 2nd, 2012 | 6:22 pm | #2

    Quite possibly. It’s certainly not a movie for everyone.

  3. Mike
    March 7th, 2012 | 11:31 am | #3

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