The Plot: Burning Moon focuses on a young rock youth in Germany who is being oppressed by the “man”. Meaning anyone older than he is or looks for him to take any kind of responsibility in life. When forced, against his will, to look after his kid sister he intends to rebel as he always does. He does so in telling two horrific tales to his sister for her bedtime stories. The first focuses on a young woman who thinks she’s the luckiest girl on the block when she lands a date with this new stud in town. However, unknown to her a day before a psycho-killer escaped a local mental ward and killed several staff members along the way. As the night goes on, it soon comes out that this young woman’s date just so happens to be the same homicidal lunatic! Will she survive this night of terror? The second story is an even more brutal tale as it tells the story of a priest who has no real interest in his own faith as he sold his soul to satan long ago and uses the cloth as a front, while he hunts down women to rape and murder on a nightly basis. However, at the same time a young man who has never really fit in with the rest of the town is being blamed for these horrible murders. He swears his innocence but the only one who will listen is the priest himself, who swears that anyone who dares hurt the boy will spend their afterlife burning and being tortured in the howling pits of hell… and believe me, this guy knows!

The Review: For a split second in time, somewhere in the midst of the nineties, Germany became one of the foremost leaders in splatter cinema. With Italy no longer having the massive film industry that they once had, Germany and a league of young men with inexpensive film equipment decided to change the horror world forever. There are three big names that come to mind when I think of this “scene”. There’s Jorg Buttergeit who took the arthouse route into becoming a horror legend with films such as Nekromantic 1, 2 and Schraam. Then there was Andreas Schnaas who took the gore auteur title to ridiculous new lengths as he crafted the brainless Violent Shit series and has made his career out of making rather silly but extremely gory horrors. The least known of these three names (although horror afficianados should know him very well by now) that comes to mind however is also one of the best; Olaf Ittenbach. Ittenbach won’t win any academy awards, much like Schnaas his films may not feature the most dynamic of performances ever put to celluloid but he sure knows how to deliver the violence. Where Schnaas tends to leave his films in tongue-in-cheek territory at all times, Ittenbach has a surge of seriousness to his films that I like. It makes his films seem more earnest at times and actually implements some of the “horror” back into the genre. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still some humor to be found in films like The Burning Moon or Premutos, but Ittenbach’s primary intention is to horrify, and that he does, especially in the final sequences of The Burning Moon as he takes us on a tour of hell itself.

I’ve been sitting on Burning Moon for quite a while now, it has been sitting up there on my shelf for probably a year or so at this point – scooped up during my spree of German splatter. Right around the time I completed the majority of Andreas Schnaas’ work and a few of Ittenbach’s other films as well. For those who aren’t quite initiated into this subgenre of cinema, these films are all put together usually with the budget that a children’s production of Romeo & Juliet might share and more often than not visually you can tell this within the first five seconds. However, what sets these flicks apart from other no-budget horror you might find featuring a bunch of kids in their backyard pretending to be scared of their bro wearing a hockey mask – the gore in these films are completely off the charts. Some things look terribly disgusting, some things look ridiculously fake Still, I can’t help but find this primitive love for the genre within myself. I know a lot of people spit on these flicks with conviction and rightfully so as few times are they put together in any sort of decent manner; but they deliver the gore and dish out some of the most extreme violence of any film market known. Ittenbach’s Black Past, Burning Moon and Premutos made up a triple header of extreme gore like the world has never seen. Andreas has stuck more true to the genre but often lacks the vision that Ittenbach does and the ability to structure out his narratives to fit to his gory desires. When you watch an Ittenbach film, the gore may be extreme and excessive – but more often than not there’s a fairly strong story to solidify the content. When Schnaas is on top of his game, he can deliver a fairly decent slasher or zombie flick. When he isn’t… well, there’s still the gore! The Burning Moon, the film being reviewed today is one of Olaf Ittenbach’s ‘better’ works, meaning there’s some gore as well as a tremendous amount of violence (ie; stabbings and beatings). No one is spared, as women are butchered, kids are maimed and old ladies have their fingers lopped off and their throats slit. This is just that sort of flick I suppose, so know what you’re getting into before hand. The work of Ittenbach isn’t going to be for every viewer – not even most horror fans.

The Burning Moon is Ittenbach’s take on the compilation horror, such as in Tales From the Darkside The Movie, Trilogy of Terror or Twilight Zone: The Movie. Made popular in the eighties and with the tradition slowly dying out during the nineties, I suppose Ittenbach found himself as a fan wanting to try his hand at crafting his own version of this stories within a story concept. Only, you know, with about a thousand times more bodily disfigurement. The writing probably isn’t anything to write home about in this one, the story is crafted enough that we get to all of the bloody horrors that we could want to see and there’s actually some sentimental value that comes about at the very end of the film but the film works best as a display for just how vulgar and disturbing Ittenbach’s work can get. Although not as out-and-out gory as his later Premutos, the hell sequence within Burning Moon features some of the most disgusting and memorable gore FX of his entire career. Truly, it’s some of the sickest stuff of all time. It’s hard to go into it without spoiling the really “good” stuff, but you can expect the regular decapitations, eyeball gore, gut-munching and full bodily dismemberments – just to list the more pleasant things going on in this roughly ten minute experience. The sequences that tie the stories together, focusing on the youth rocker who doesn’t want to babysit his kid sister, tend to slow the film down more than anything. For inpatient audiences I suspect these bits are the ones that will give them the most trouble. However, if you are a “full picture” kind of viewer like me, you’ll be able to digest how Ittenbach takes his time in setting up all of the violence with at least some semblance of a meaning. This is what endears me to him more than someone like Schnaas, who’s films can sometimes be just a little too silly to really enjoy.

As crazy as it may be, and if you’ve seen the film and you’re a regular horror fan you may just agree that I have indeed went bonkers, I have to give the film a relatively high rating. For the following reasons: it is overall an entertaining piece of splatter cinema and you get more than what you pay for. It does have a story that actually works for the most part. Although it’s hard to do it, Ittenbach’s “look” for the film is better than his average for this period in his career (there was at least an attempt at keeping the lighting atmospheric). It’s entertaining! What can I say, I’m a cheap date. Throw me a few buckets of gory violence and I’m putty in your hands. I warn regular horror fans however, if you’re uninitiated you’ll probably walk into this with disgust and leave with the same opinion. It’s a cheaply made, cheap looking horror film made outside of any “industry” with the intention of showing off as many gory special FX as possible. Gorehounds need apply, everyone else – don’t go out of your way to spend a lot of money tracking it down.