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Review: Moonstalker (1989)

Writer: Thomas Ellison


Watching Moon Stalker is like beating your head against a wall. You feel dizzy and think "Why did I just do that" when it's finally over. Bernie, a crazy mountain man, kills campers with an ax. He's a little slow and often mistakes campers for firewood. And Bernie loves chopping firewood.

Michael O'Rourke, the writer/director of this paint-by-numbers slasher throws in one or two twists on the old formula. First, the killer takes off his straightjacket and potato sack mask early in the film. Bernie looks much less threatening wearing a cowboy hat and sunglasses. Actually, he looks like an extra from one of the Smokey and the Bandit movies. Secondly, the heroine isn't introduced until the midway point. O'Rourke is still introducing characters and victims 10 minutes before the end, which really kills any momentum and leaves little room for character development.

Moon Stalker is more no-budget than low budget. Gore costs money, so most of the kills occur off screen. The kills that are shown are really lame. One girl gets sprayed with hot water in a shower and falls down dead. The big camp is nothing more than raggedy army surplus tents. The camp sign is magic marker on poster board. We are told Bernie likes to chop up his victims and stack them like firewood, yet that spectacle is never shown because they only had one rubber arm and a couple of rubber legs.

The cast is truly a train wreck to behold. Blake Gibbons as Bernie might have been menacing if didn't have that damn mullet and bowlegged, shambling walk. Everybody else is waaaay over the top. A guy telling the legend of Bernie around a campfire mimics Woody Allen for no apparent reason. All of the little nuances in the performances are more irritating than entertaining.

Moon Stalker is for bad movie fans only. Maybe some will get a few laughs out of the funky dialogue and actors freezing in brutal weather. It's hard not to crack a smile when one slob shouts "Bernie's come back to kill." Bernie has to be the worst name for a killer in all of slasherdom. Those that manage to stay awake will find it hard to keep their finger off the fast-forward button.



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