(Note: this listing contains spoilers throughout).

The US VHS release went with “The last full moon you’ll ever see” on the front, while on the back of the pre-order trade release, it promoted the film as “From the producer of 'Quigly Down Under' and 'Enemy Mine', and put the film in the “Thriller” genre, presumably on the basis that as a horror show, it was a non-event.

The commercial US VHS release settled for a short synopsis on the back:

Something dreadful is happening in the small town of Cooper’s Bay … something more hideous than murder. The victims, usually students, are being strangled with a particularly grisly weapon while making love. They’re then buried … and small-town life goes on.

That is, until Kevin, an outsider, falls for Mary, the daughter of a Hollywood star. Both are on the campus killer’s hit list. They’re also on biology teacher Miles (sic) Sheffield’s hate list. Miles, you see, cannot tolerate his oversexed wife’s embarrassing affairs with the students. Finally, the rage building inside Miles and the insane butchering of young men and women explode in a nightmare of heart-pounding suspense … under a BLOOD MOON.

The later Madman DVD release settled for a graphic of a hand clutching the barbed-wire garrotte and inside it the text “At St. Elizabeth’s school for girls, getting good grades can be murder.”

The rear cover featured a quote “A gripping suspense thriller”, DVD Verdict, and a very short synopsis:

At St Elizabeth’s school for girls, Miles (sic) Sheffield, the excessively demanding biology professor, is frustrated that his students are more concerned with boys from the neighbouring all-boys school than his classes. Meanwhile, a bloodthirsty serial killer is on the loose, strangling his victims with a piece of barbed wire …

(For a more detailed synopsis, with cast, and many spoilers, see the bottom of this site’s ‘about the movie’ section).

Writers:
Exec producers:
DOPs:
Production Designers:
Art Directors:
Composers:
Editors:

Production Details

Production company: Village Roadshow Pictures presents in association with Michael Fisher Productions; tail credits copyright to Village Roadshow Pictures (Australia) Pty Ltd.

Budget: n/a, low

Locations: Gold Coast, including Village Roadshow studios. If a reference to the Carrick Wing is any guide, it would seem that at least some exteriors and interiors were shot at Marist College, Ashgrove (a northern suburb of Brisbane). The school has a website here. Other locations included Suttons Beach, Redcliffe (dressed for no explicable reason as Cooper’s Bay)

Filmed: The Cinema Papers' production survey reported the film as being in post-production in its January 1989 edition but judging by some of the deciduous trees in shot, it was a spring 1988 shoot (the hero also does a lot of shivering while doing a bush pool swim with the heroine). After the shoot, director Alec Mills went straight on to another horror show at the Gold Coast studio, Dead Sleep.

Australian distributor: Roadshow (the Cinema Papers' review of the film lists GU, but this was only in the sense that it screened in some GU theatres)

Theatrical release: the film opened in Melbourne on 22nd March 1990. It might well be that the film was launched in Queensland on the same day or earlier, to appeal to parochial audiences.

Video release: Applause (Roadshow brand). The film quickly hit the tape market in late November/early December 1990.

Rating: Murray’s Australian Film reported an R rating, but in publicity for the Sydney release, the rating is listed as M (the Village Roadshow poster was also M). However the VHS release was R-rated. 

The US VHS release was rated R (a softer category than the Australian R); the later Australian DVD release was rated M. The film’s borderline M in feel, with gratuitous but mild nudity (including a hint of oral sex), and a level of violence long since superseded by later horror shows.

35mm        colour

Running time: 100 mins (Cinema Papers, Murray’s Australian Film); 98 mins (Canberra Times' video review)

VHS time: 1’38”11 - this timing includes a short ‘Fright Break’ hosted by Frank Thring (for a description see this site’s ‘about the movie’s section). Thring isn’t credited for his work.

Madman DVD time: 1’37”17 (the 'Fright Break' was dropped for this release)

Box office:

The film was a critical disaster and a box office flop. It is remarkable to read that the film, listed in the Film Victoria report on Australian box office, made $419,769, equivalent to $684,223 in A$.

That's a better flop than many other Australian flops.

This likely didn’t come from the major Sydney and Melbourne markets, and suggests that Roadshow still knew how to make money in provincial grindhouses (by this time the drive-in circuit was effectively long past its glory days, though stragglers continued in states such as Queensland - see the wiki here).

The much mocked “fright break” gimmick, child of William Castle, must have helped generate a little business.

In rest of world, the film went straight to the horror exploitation aisle in video stores, though Turkey did put a succulent nude on its theatrical poster, and this has become a cult item.

 

Opinion

Awards

Brian May was nominated in the Best Original Soundtrack/Cast/ Show Album category of the 1991 ARIA Awards (other film nominations included Bruce Smeaton for Wendy Cracked A Walnut and Michael Askill and Nigel Westlake for the two FA docs, Road to Xanadu and The Genius That Was China). Jon English & David Mackay won for the rock musical Paris

Bloodmoon was also voted "Most Disappointing Australian Film" for 1990 by the editor of Cinema Papers, an award of sorts (Cinema Papers, March 1991).

Availability

For a long time this was a rarity, with VHS copies snapped up by cultists in search of their horror comedy fixes.

Somehow the film ended up in the Canal+ library and Madman released a DVD during the glory days of DVD, presumably trading on the Not Quite Hollywood mention of the film. 

It wasn’t a bad transfer - certainly much better than the VHS copies still doing the rounds - though it was soft in the standard def way, a little more obvious because of all the dark scenes (and there are a number of very dark scenes in the DVD transfer).

The release was correctly formatted, and the soundtrack highlighted Brian May’s richly synth parody of a horror movie score (camera cranes down? run down the scales!), though it has to be said that it was a bad mix, replete with much poorly delivered ADR.

Still that’s half the point for horror cultists - much panting, and screaming and writhing as pretty young things (of the Catholic persuasion) go off to meet their gory fate.

The Madman edition didn’t contain the notorious “fright break”, which was restored for some much later retro theatrical screenings of the film. It can however be seen in the now relatively rare Australian VHS release. Ozmovies has put a short clip showing it off up on YouTube here.

The show has also been released in other territories on DVD, but as this is a film not worth paying for even one copy, this site didn’t survey them. Besides, the Madman release was more than adequate.

The film itself is risible on pretty much every level, but at least it doesn’t take itself seriously and at least it has the excuse of coming in the late 1980s when the genre had been well and truly mined, and all that was left was the chance to do a derivative rip-off. About the only hint at reflexive comedy is the opening shot featuring an owl, a wallaby and a spider, followed by blood dripping off a crucifix (later Oz exercises in horror like Cut or Cubbyhouse had no excuse at all for being terrible and terribly unaware of the genre).

The teen acting is uniformly terrible, unless acting be judged by an ability to shed clothes, in which case several deliver great performances. There’s much kneading of breasts, reminding the world of the time before the internet that all was to hand were magazines (some with articles) and bad films.

Terrible score, ham-fisted direction, inexperienced young actors given no support, older actors required to wade through meretricious nonsense someone dared to call a screenplay, and a hot contender for one of the worst closing titles songs ever written… what’s not to like for grindhouse devotees? It probably explains why the film gets a mention in Not Quite Hollywood...

When Roadshow began its studio activities on the Gold Coast, it didn’t have a clue about what constituted a good movie. In rapid succession, the production arm made shows such as The Delinquents and Blood Oath, and genre pics like Hurricane Smith, Bloodmoon and Dead Sleep.

All were misfires in one way or another, but none were as spectacularly bad as this one, which offers such cinematic treats as a girl in open mouth scream as the killer necks her boyfriend with a barbed wire noose, followed by a cut to an open mouth Catholic girl singing in a choir at Mass.

Even worse, the film advertised itself as a suspense thriller, but offers only two suspects, a weird nun and a hen-pecked biology teacher. The film could have done a wayout psycho "Ken Russell The Devils" tribute, but Roadshow was just too tame for this sort of cult film.

Instead, at just over half way through, the film gives the killer away with a look and other obvious clues.

No spoilers here (there are plenty elsewhere in this listing), but as a result, the film doesn’t have the benefit of intrigue or suspense, just the bleeding obvious, and a fair bit of obvious bleeding.

Those who manage to hang into the end - no small achievement - will be rewarded by some of silliest scenes ever designed to finish off a horror movie. “This is nightmare night”, announces Virginia at one point, as Brian May's music does a Crawfords “Homicide” flourish, but the nightmare really begins when anyone clicks the ‘play’ button.

Perhaps most irritating of all are the Americanisms that still remain in the show (and which suggest it was originally written for an American setting).

These are most notable at the end, when it's revealed that the Sheffields came from California, though there’s no hint of an accent, just as heroine Mary has a famous movie star mum at work in LA, though Mary herself sounds like a good Queensland girl.

For some reason, a mayor turns up, acting as if he’s seen Jaws, and berates the cop for arranging a search warrant to check out the school grounds without consulting the mayor. Then the mayor agrees to help Desmond by calling in some police back up.

In Australian policing terms, it’s all meaningless nonsense, a scene in a show with too many distractions and which runs too long.

But then the entire screenplay is threadbare nonsense, just as the constant chatter about the 'woods' is also tiresome. Even in Queensland, they call it the bush.

There should be a rule for cultists with this sort of show. You can enjoy it privately or publicly, you can enjoy it for the retro mullets or the fun, you can enjoy it for its many awful elements, you can even take it straight as a horror slasher if you like, you can make a case for Brian May’s music, because Mad Max, you can relish Brisbane head-banger band Vice doing a sub-KISS routine at the school social, but please don’t try to say it’s good.

That would require a grotesque re-wording of any conventional definition of the word. Why not just be defiant, and say ‘sure, it’s bad, but I like bad, and the more really bad, the better.’

It seems reasonably safe to say that there aren't many of these perverse types around, and that Bloodmoon has drifted off into the dimmest recesses of history, with director Alec Mills preferring to recall in his memoir his time operating on Bond and Star Wars films ...

As evidence of this, and to add to the fun, the film’s wiki, here (at time of writing), had a completely erroneous plot summary (wrong character names, wrong plot, wrong everything).

Such was the lack of interest in the film that this stayed up for months, though actually the storyline invented by the prankster might have made a better movie:

One night, young couple Leigh and Cora reenter their Christian boarding school at night to steal things. They later end up making out. A person dressed in a hooded sweatshirt and a wolf mask stalks them through the school. When Cora goes to use the bathroom, the killer abducts Leigh and rakes his chest with pencils before beating him with a textbook. Cora searches for her boyfriend and eventually finds his dead body in her locker. The killer then chases Cora through the school and eventually throws her down a stairwell. Cora survives and tries to crawl to an emergency door, but falls into a Punji spike trap and dies.

When the police investigate the deaths, they find several traps hidden throughout the school. They then decide to let out the school for summer vacation early. Later, six friends (Beth, Chloe, Courtney, John, Marie and Sasha) break into the school to party during the summer. When Chloe decides to wander off, she is chased by the killer and hides in the janitor's closet. In the closet, she trips a button and a spike comes out of a hole in the wall, impaling and killing her. Marie becomes worried about Chloe and goes to look for her, but cannot find her. She becomes enraged when the others say that Chloe probably just left and decides to leave herself...

There's another two long paragraphs, but already the use of the punji spike trap as an alternative to a barbed-wire garrotte and the raking of the chest with pencils sounds particularly inventive, and as a pitch, it sounds like it could be a better show than Bloodmoon ...

No doubt it will be corrected in due course - it would be a job for Dutchy85, if only wiki hadn't been so useless in relation to his valuable contributions - but meantime, the wag should watch out, or Roadshow might option his story. They could certainly do a lot worse. Bloodmoon proves it ...

(Note: the illustrative stills on this site have had their contrast tweaked to make identifying actors and action easier; the images don't reflect any DVD release of the film).


1. Source:

The screenplay was by Robert Brennan, a writer who had done a number of episodes of the TV series Mission Impossible, the 1988-89 series which had been lured to Queensland to be shot at Warner/Village Roadshow's new Gold Coast studios.

Presumably that was when Brennan seized the moment to pitch his project to Village Roadshow. This is the only feature he wrote, or at least the only one completed and listed on databases; his other credits are for television.

Curiously the production company is listed as Michael Fisher Productions, but this is the only production for that company and Michael Fisher isn’t given a credit on the completed film. 

Village Roadshow receives the head presentation credit and takes the tail copyright credit, and it may be said that executive producers Graham Burke and Gregory Coote, can own this Village Roadshow dud.

Village Roadshow’s production arm started poorly, with a number of commercial misses, including The Delinquents (first into the studio), Blood Oath (second), Hurricane Smith, and the two exploitationers directed by Alec Mills (he went on immediately after Bloodmoon to do Dead Sleep, with Linda Blair, another exploitation misfire).

Quigley (often with “Down Under” added to the title) was perhaps the most successful of the early shows.

English producer Stanley O’Toole, then running the Gold Coast Village Roadshow studios and his son Daniel O’Toole are listed as producer and Village Roadshow Executive. (David Munro scored an associate producer credit).

Filming was at various nearby locations in Brisbane, as well as at the studio.

Stanley O’Toole has a reasonably detailed wiki here. 

2. Cast:

It no doubt came as a relief to the cast that it didn’t prevent the leads going on with their acting careers. Though born in Australia, Leon Lissek went on to work extensively in the UK and has a wiki here

Christine Amor went on to do Dead Sleep with director Alec Mills, and then after an extended break in the 1990s, returned to work in television. Often Queensland based, she has a wiki here

Helen Thomson and Ian Williams both scored “introducing” credits.

Helen Thomson went on to do work in film and television and on the stage, and had an eponymous website here, which at time of writing provided this update ofher work, along with showreel, photo ballery, biography etc.:

News: Helen has taken home the 2015 Helpmann Award for Best Supporting Actrss for Sydney Theatre Company’s production of After Dinner by Andrew Bovell.

She has been filming on Love Child and is currently at Belvoir in Chekhov’s Ivanov. She will follow this with playing Regan to Geoffrey Rush’s King Lear for STC, directed by Neil Armfield.

Helen was raised in country Queensland and is married with two children and lives in the Blue Mountains of NSW.

Thomson even scored an archival listing at the STC here.

Ian Williams had a more scattered career, mainly on television - at the time he was cast he had been appearing in TV soap Neighbours, and so his cast character can be found on wiki here.

The only other major titillation is whether juvenile actor Chris Uhlmann is the same as the would-be right wing Canberra politician who would later go on to work as a reporter for the ABC and marry a Labor MP. There is no evidence for this, but it is intriguing to speculate.

3. Alec Mills:

Alec Mills was primarily a camera operator/cinematographer, and ensured he would enter the hall of fame by becoming part of the Star Wars franchise.

This led to a listing in Wookieepedia here

Alec Mills (born May 10, 1932) is a retired British cinematographer and was the main unit camera operator on Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi.

He started in the film industry at Carlton Hill Studios in London at the age of fourteen, and went on to work extensively for Disney as a camera assistant throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s before getting his break as camera operator on The Saint television series (1966-68). In 1969, he was camera operator on his first James Bond film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and went on to operate on another four films in the series (The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy) before becoming director of photography on The Living Daylights and License to Kill.

Mills was the principal director of photography on some twenty-one films before retiring from active film-making in 2001, having also directed two films (Bloodmoon and Dead Sleep) in Australia. Following his retirement he became a tutor at the National Film & Television School in Beaconsfield, England, before writing his autobiography, Shooting 007 and other Celluloid Adventures, which was published by The History Press on 1st July 2014.

In relation to Shooting 007, the publisher lists the book here, together with this short summary:

In Shooting 007, beloved cameraman and director of photography Alec Mills, a veteran of seven James Bond movies, tells the inside story of his twenty years of filming cinema’s most famous secret agent. Among many humorous and touching anecdotes, Mills reveals how he became an integral part of the Bond family as a young camera operator on 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, how he bore the brunt of his old friend Roger Moore’s legendary on-set bantering, and how he rose to become the director of photography during Timothy Dalton’s tenure as 007. Mills also looks back on a career that took in Return of the Jedi on film and The Saint on television with wit and affection, and Shooting 007 contains many of his and Eon Productions’ unpublished behind-the-scenes photographs compiled over a lifetime of filmmaking. Featuring many of the film industry’s biggest names, this book will be a must-have for both the James Bond and British film history aficionado.

4. Release:

The film was a box office dud, and while Roadshow, which had a lot of clout in the marketplace, reportedly put a great deal of effort into attempting to recoup some of its investment in the show, it didn’t work.

The one remaining aspect of the release that stays in memory and Australian film folklore is the “fright break”, a gimmick stolen from William Castle. 

For anyone wanting to see how the gimmick played on the VHS domestic release, Ozmovies has put up a short clip on YouTube here.

In the 1950s, producer Castle devised a great set of gimmicks to market his low-rent products, for example, an insurance offer of $1000 in case of death by fright during the showing of the 1958 Macabre; a skeleton in the theatre for the 1959 House on Haunted Hill; a tingler chair for  the 1959 The Tingler (“Do you have the guts to sit in this chair? Can you take it when the Tingler breaks loose?”); red and blue cellophane for the “Illusion-O” 'ghost viewer/ghost' remover on hand for viewers to watch the 1960 Ghosts; and the “for cowards only, money back guarantee" for the 1961 Homicidal, which required terrified cowards to follow the yellow streak to the coward’s corner for their refund. (More on Castle’s gimmicks here).

By following in the footsteps of Castle, Roadshow effectively admitted that they had made a really bad film, but were hoping that movie goers might take it in the gimmicky spirit in which it was offered, and go along to heckle and to holler. 

The “fright break” moment was preserved in the domestic VHS release, and came just over an hour into the show, as the biology teacher is about to break into his science lab and do away with the two young things who had incompetently locked themselves in, while attempting to steal the questions to a biology test.

The animated words “Fright Break” come on to the screen, with each letter copping a bit of Brian May music, and then the immortal Frank Thring begins the pitch as a  CU shot of the moon rotates into shot:

“Welcome chickens to Fright Break. Ha ha ha ha ha hah …take a Bloodmoon challenge …if you’re not too chicken to stay for the suspense and terror ahead, you have thirty seconds to prepare yourself for the horrifying conclusion …Can you take the heat? Ha ha hah! If  you can, hold on to someone you love, … tight! … as we return to Bloodmoooon …Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ...”

(By then the moon is fully on view within the frame, and converts to a blood-red colour, as a countdown from 10 begins, with each number intercut with a previously seen moment from the film - the barbed wire garrott framing a young thing, the nun crossing herself, Christine Amor backing away on the verandah, the psycho picking up the killer knife, a blonde schoolgirl having her breasts mauled, a dash through the forest, a body tumbling into the grave, the barbed-wire garrot being applied to x’s neck, a blood-stained hand and arm quivering, and then the white ‘one’ expands to fill the screen, the title BLOODMOON in red appears, and then it’s back to the action as the mad biology teacher bursts through the door).

Jim Schembri, who panned the movie in a review for the May 1990 Cinema Papers, covered the audience response to this (it has to be said pathetic) gimmick this way:

...Advertisements and posters for the film dare people to survive an entire screening of the film. Half an hour before the end there is a “fright break” and those too scared to sit through the rest of it can follow the yellow streak road out of the cinema to “chicken’s corner” and get their money back.

It sounds like one of those goofy scare tactics they used to use in the 1950s, which would be fine, if these were the 1950s and not the 1990s - or if the film was good enough to warrant such a brazen display of bravado. As it is, the “fright break” gimmick is nothing more than a gimmick that reeks of panic. Obviously the film is a dud, the promoters knew it, and this was one way to help fill theatres.

Fortunately, Australian filmgoers are not as stupid as the promoters would like to believe. The response to the film in Melbourne and Sydney has generally been that the majority of people do leave during the “fright break”, not because they are scared, but because they are appalled. Certainly, the packed 7.30 p.m. screening of the film I attended in the 386-seat Cinema 4 at Melbourne’s Village Complex in Bourke Street on Saturday 24 March1990 was an unforgettable experience and hilarious cinema experience.

People obviously turned up expecting to see what was advertised: a horror movie. They were in high spirits, ready for a good fright. Ten minutes into the film, people started to groan. “I thought this was meant to be a scary movie” and “nothing’s the most disturbing was the guy who quipped to his girlfriend: “This is an Australian Movie! If I’d have known that I would’ve gone to see Tango and Cash.”

Many reams of dialogue in the film - the scene between the boy and the girl at the lake, the wife berating her sexually inadequate husband, the sex scenes, anything that required a modicum of skill or wordsense - were greeted with uproarious, hostile laughter.

The only character to get a friendly peal of laughter was the small girl at the beach picnic who disobeys her mother and pours lemonade into a cup, only to spill it. The mother scolds her. “I’m sorry” the little girl chirps cheerfully, flashing a gorgeous, natural, cheeky smile. The audience laughed loudly with her as if she and they knew something the rest of the people in the film didn’t. Her cameo was certainly the acting highlight of the film.

But apart from the derisory laughter, the cackles, the heckles, the fake screams, the big moment for the audience came during the “fright break” when the killer was about to total two budding exam cheats. At least 60 per cent of the packed cinema flew bodily out of their seats and rushed for the exit, laughing, yelling, celebrating their impending refund and their emancipation from the wretched film. It looked like a scene from an Irwin Allen movie as hundreds filled the aisles and filed out.

Those who remained continued to groan, and at film’s end people dashed out as the first production credit was supered onto the screen. On the way out one person was heard to quip to the ladies at the box office: “I know I stayed ‘till the end, but can I have my money back anyway?

5. Date:

The film was completed in 1989 and carries a copyright notice for that year. It wasn’t released until 1990 and so it sometimes is dated to that year, but this site dates according to year of production/copyright notice.

6. Music:

The band that plays at the school social dance is a Brisbane band, Vice, which at the time was performing in the style of KISS. The band also performed the song that runs over the end credits. Vice later did a come-back and at time of writing had an official site here.

To provide a certain incongruity, the choir featured in the film at assorted Catholic masses and services, came from Stuartholme school, a day and boarding Catholic school located in Birdwood Terrace, Toowong, an inner Brisbane suburb (listed here).

Lyrics for the end credits song:

Told long ago, soothsayers foresight

Blood moon arising, stay home on this night

Seal only the crimson, steals over th’ edge

The colour of sweet lips, mmm, by these enmeshed,

(Several voices) Blood moon arising, blood moon arising

Blood moon arising, over building and over hill

Yes, run with your heart girl, or dare

Dare if you will ….

It passes so quickly, this rust-coloured moon

For many a failure in ecstasy’s bloom

Fate gives you love, and takes it away

Blood moon’s the messenger, and death …

Death is its rayyyy …

(chorus) Blood moon … blood moon arising

Blood moon arising …blood moon arising

Over building and over hill

Yes, run with your heart girl, or dare

Dare if you will ...

For more about the music - Brian May’s score was released on CD - see this site’s pdf of music credits.

7. John Stokes DOP:

DOP John Stokes' agent provided this short CV here

John Stokes ACS is a highly experienced, award-winning cinematographer whose work across film, television, music videos and documentaries traverses genres as diverse as period romance, thriller, action, crime, drama, family, mystery, comedy, fantasy and horror.

Most recently, John has presided over the new ABC legal drama Newton’s Law starring Claudia Karvan, the first series of Matchbox Pictures Wanted with Rebecca Gibney and two series of Seven Network’s hit drama A Place To Call Home. Prior to that, he shot the NBC series Camp, starring Rachel Griffiths and Roger Corser. John’s television credits include a number of projects for the US including Stephen King’s Nightmares & Dreamscapes (TNT); the Peter Bogdanovich telemovie The Mystery of Natalie Wood (ABC); and second unit on In Pursuit of Honor (HBO) and Terra Nova(Fox) to name a few. He has worked extensively in Australian television; key credits include Packed to the Rafters (Seven), Sea Patrol and McLeod’s Daughters (Nine Network).

John’s film work includes Australia (dir. Baz Luhrmann – VFX Unit); Nim’s Islandstarring Jodi Foster, Gerard Butler and Abigail Breslin (additional photography); and Robo Warriors for Paramount/British Pictures. He began his career in the camera department as an assistant before moving to director of photography on Contagion.

In 2007, John was awarded Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in a Television Mini-Series from the American Society of Cinematographers, USA for the Nightmares and Dreamscapes episode, ‘Umney’s Last Case’. That same episode saw John’s work recognised with the Golden Tripod from the Australian Cinematographers Society and the Gold and Judges Awards from the Queensland ACS. In addition to these, John amassed a further eight Gold and three Silver Awards for work shot between 1990 and 2009.

8. Synopsis with cast details and spoilers:

Night. The camera cranes down over an owl and a feeding wallaby past a spider in a web, to discover a set of rosary beads, with crucifix, and blood slowly dripping from the cross in the moonlight … as heavenly school girl voices lead us to a choir (Stuartholme school choir, choir mistress Lindy-Jo Free) performing in a church as a nun, Sister Mary-Ellen (Hazel Howson) says her prayers.

It’s St. Elizabeth’s Catholic boarding school for girls.

The headmistress Virginia Sheffield (Christine Amor) whispers that all the other nuns have left or died …but the sister is as strong as an ox, and she’s a good influence. She likes having her around.

Cut to schoolgirls emerging from a shower, as Gretchen (Samantha Rittson) talks boyfriends with Michelle (Suzie MacKenzie) and warns her she’ll never get away with her plans … just as Linda (Michelle Doake) comes along and playfully tears off Michelle’s towel so we can see her breasts.

The girls arrive at their dorm and Michelle tells a studious Jennifer (Anya Molina) trying to swot for an exam that she’ll never make it. Her way is safer.

Lights out, and Mary Huston (Helen Thomson) stumbles on a sobbing Jackie (Jo Munro), who cries that it’s just not fair.

Mary tries to reassure her, as Jackie explains how she loves Rich.

Jackie heads off to lover’s lane, and as ominous music accompanies her, she discovers Rich (Gregory Pamment) dead. A whispering psychopathic figure pursues Jackie and takes her out with barbed wire, then dumps the teen bodies in a grave he’s dug in the dirt…

Back at the dorm, the girls sleep …as the Sister prays for forgiveness. Satan has tempted her and she’s judging the sinners around her. She knows she should feel pity, but her anger blinds her …

Day, and the girls play in the bush. The camera cranes down to see rocks on top of the newly dug grave, as a science class goes exploring.

The delighted Sister announces to the school’s biology teacher Myles Sheffield (Leon Lissek) that she’s found a worm.

Myles brings the class together, as Michelle complains to Jennifer about being made to study worms on a Saturday.

Myles jokes about going fishing, and Michelle tells Jennifer they can do it tomorrow, though Jennifer says she doesn’t want to get involved. “Wouldn’t you like to pass at least one exam in your life?” asks Michelle. “Not if it means cheating,” replies Jennifer.

Myles catches Jennifer out and tells her to pay attention to the worm.

Later, the girls are in a Morris Minor convertible which heads off to Cooper’s Bay, where the boys of Winchester school for young men are gathered, as Chip (Chris Uhlmann) tells Scott (Christopher Boardway) that in six weeks, he’ll be out of the school. No more detentions, no more fart-faced teachers …

Handsome Scott heads off to greet the fawning girls, but there’s no news about Rich or Jackie …

Then Scott spots some townies across the way, and decides to have a go at them, despite Zips (Justin Ractliffe), being reluctant. Scott wants to discourage any idea of the townies turning up to that night’s school dance.

Cut to little Billy (Warwick Brown), chatting with Mark (Stephen Bergin) and another, as they spot arseholes approaching at twelve o’clock.

When Billy suggests the Winchester fags play a game of drop the soap in the shower, the fight is on.

Luckily a cop, Matt Desmond (Craige Cronin, as spelt in the film's credits, Craig Cronin elsewhere) arrives to break up the fight.

Zits makes pig noises, and Scott jokingly pleads for mercy, and the cop tells him to get out and take his little rich friends with him.

Then Matt discovers Billy’s hurt his leg. He loads him in the car, just as Kevin Lynch (Ian Williams) emerges from the water with a wind surfer.

Kev notices Mark’s bruised eye, and Mark brings him up to speed on Billy's injury.

Kev’s unhappy. The Winchester boys will go on to be doctors and lawyers and others will take their place, while he and Mark will have to go off with one of the bimbos in their class - gesturing to Susan (Karen Miers), as she takes off her top and lathers her breasts in sun tan oil.

“Yeah, the curse of the lower class, I could handle that,” jokes Mark.

Kev admits she mightn’t be the best example, as he complains he’ll inherit his dad’s gas station in ten years time and Mark will go on to be Woolworth’s oldest box boy. And then the next generation of surfers can fight with the punks at Winchester.

Mark tells Kev Billy’s plan means he needs Kev’s truck, but Kev says Billy’s a dickhead. Then he agrees …

Meanwhile, the choir is singing “the Lord is my shepherd” in church to assembled schoolgirls, as Sister arrives and gestures for Mary to read a note.

Mary heads off to the headmistress’s office to meet Jackie’s loudly complaining parents, Mr Owens (Michael Adams) and Mrs Owens (Sue Lawson).

Mr Owens is agitated about his 16 year old daughter sneaking off and having sex …in a Catholic school! “What kind of goddamned Catholic school is this anyhow?”

As Mary leaves, Myles Sheffield races after her to explain that Mr Owens is just upset, he loved Jackie so. Then why did he send her to a boarding school? Mary snaps.

Cut to the school social, and Vice bashing out KISS-type tunes, as the girls mingle with the Winchester boys.

Myles congratulates Jennifer on a lovely dress as Kev and Mark sneak in.

Scott is attracting looks as he comes up to Jennifer, and saying the dance sucks, he starts loading up the punch with Dewar's.

Kev’s a little nervous, he doesn’t know what the little maniac Billy has in mind.

Kev and Mark split up, and Kev makes a play for Mary …lying that his father was in the oil business and pretending to be Chad Blakemore of the Melbourne Blakemores.

Then he admits he’s actually Kev from Cooper’s Bay and Mary introduces herself as Mary Houston from Texas.

Vice does a slow number as Kev and Mary dance and bond, though the song “standing in the line of fire, never give up your ground”, drowns out their dialogue.

When Scott and Chip spot Mark and tell him that the dance isn’t open to town arseholes, Mark explains he’s there to perform a public service … to discover if they’re carrying turds in their wallets.

Mark runs away, the Winchester boys chase him, Mark calls Kev away from Mary, and Billy’s plan swings into action.

He sprays Scott with water hoses, and then Mark applies a fire extinguisher …

The townies drive away, and Mary walks away … as ominous music begins to play.

The barbed-wire garrotte drops into shot as teen boy and girl make out in the woods.

As the boy mauls the blonde girl’s breasts and she fiddles with his zipper to reach his cock, we cut to Mary placing a collect call to the United States.

It’s to her mother, but her mother is outraged - she’s got an early call to set in the morning and it’s very late in LA. Mum tells her to work hard and be good, and hangs up on the teary, alienated Mary.

Then Mary opens the window to discover Kev is there, and he wants to come up. Mary offers to come down, and they resume their talk. He suggests they sail over to the Channel Islands, it being Sunday.

She has to go to Mass, and suggests 9.30. He says there was something they didn’t quite finish before, and leans in to give her a gentle kiss.

Then Kev says he’s not a Catholic, but would it be okay if he went to church with her …

Meanwhile, back in the bush, Chip is mauling Gretchen’s (Samantha Rittson) breasts … as a shadowy figure comes up from behind and garrottes him with the barbed-wire device…

Then Gretchen screams, as we cut to an open-mouthed girl singing in the choir at mass.

Mary and Kev sit together listening to the priest’s sermon, while Michelle and Jennifer worry about Gretchen staying out all night.

Later, as the Sister watches, Mary heads off with Kev, and they sail to the islands, while back in the lab, biology teacher Myles cuts up a lettuce and feeds his animals.

Michelle and Jennifer arrive, with Jennifer worrying about being caught.

They head into the lab, to be greeted by the knife-carrying Myles, and Michelle has to pretend they were looking for him. She wants to know what chapters they should study for the test, but he tells her the questions could come from anywhere in the book.

Lucky us, says Michelle, as she makes her excuses and they leave.

The psycho teacher takes a glass jar out of a cupboard and begins feeding his animals 'special treats', as we cut to headmistress Virginia.

She's sighing as she fucks Scott and tells him he’s good.

Virginia offers Scott a second lesson and slides down to begin oral sex, but then they’re disturbed, with Scott startled at the thought that Myles might have returned.

Virginia heads into the kitchen to confront the milk-sipping Myles, noting that she told him before not to disturb her and to knock.

When he says he lives there to, she mocks him for answering back to her.

Myles: “Who was it today?”

Virginia: “Mind your own business. I really don’t see it’s any concern of yours.”

Myles: “I … I remember when I used to be the one to make …”

Virginia (gritted teeth): “Myles! (girly voice) You know, you’re getting closer and closer … to you know what …”, but she’s interrupted by the sight of Scott sneaking past the kitchen window …

“Great! Oooh! Oooh! Uhh. You’ve just ruined my whole day! Get out of here Myles …(sighs, as he turns to get the milk) Do I have to tell you again? Go into your room! And no cats! Do you hear me?! …”

Myles heads into his room, to pet his cat and fill a saucer with milk, a look of pure evil on his face.

Cut to Kev and Mary having an idyllic swim in a bush pool in Kev’s secret place.

They chat and splash about and bond, as Kev explains that over there he could be anything he wanted to be, and Mary says he could …

Kev says he thinks she’s rather special, someone he could fall in love with …

They gently kiss in a lingering, soulful way and then Mary decides they should go back … as Myles glares at a school photo of Mary.

Back at the pool, Mary is agitated and Kev is worried.

Mary thinks he’s there because he knows who her mother is. Kev says it’s not her mother, it’s who she is that counts. “I’m only interested in you Mary.”

Mary softens and smiles and says he’s sort of special too …

He says he’s never been more confused in all his life, but it feels good.

They pack up and leave, as we cut back to the demonic Myles with a knife, carving up Mary’s photo, as the young lovers sail back to the beach.

Cop Matt Desmond is on the beach with his young baby Desmond (Sean Anderson), wife Sandy Desmond (Sueyan Cox) and daughter Desmond (Kate Riley).

A cop turns up and calls Matt away, to Sandy’s irritation. He has to go and see the headmaster of Winchester.

Cut to a rosary and crucifix in the bush, as the Sister arrives at a blood-stained scene.

The cop car drives up to Winchester school for young men and Desmond asks Mr Gordian (Brian Moll) what’s the problem.

The headmaster explains he’s worried about his boys. Sooner or later they're going to discover sex, but that’s alright, that’s life, that’s not the problem. “The problem comes when they think they’ve invented it! And that’s when you usually get the kids running away …they take off and work this wonderful new invention of theirs to death ..”

Desmond interrupts but Gordian talks of Rich and his fears, only to ramble again with a passing student Murphy (Matthew Smith) about his history results.

Desmond gets back to his fears, and Gordian takes him into the school, talking of something fearful and dangerous.

He shows Desmond the boy’s wardrobe, with a porn photo on the door, then shows him the boy’s insulin … he needs a shot morning and night, but the last time he was seen he was on his way to lover’s lane, the same lover’s lane Richard Hampton was seen heading for, to meet his girl two weeks ago  …

Gordian talked about it with Mrs Sheffield, but she wasn’t concerned and made a tasteless joke about bitches on heat jumping over the kennel fence…

Desmond agrees to investigate and takes the insulin just in case.

Cut to the girls’ school, and Michelle and Jennifer have returned to the lab, to break in …

Eerie music, as the pair begin to search for the exam questions.

Back with Virginia and Myles, and Virginia snapping that he should stay in his room, but he explains he has to go back to the classroom to prepare for the test.

“Yes, well I suppose you might as well, you’re not good for anything around here.”

She tells him they’re having dinner that night with the Cannons at 8.15, and notes he’s really upset, but it’s his own fault. He shouldn’t have come back for his milk and cookies. He knows how she likes to spend her Sunday afternoons …”he was good Myles (then over Myles emerging from the house) … God, he was better than you could ever hope to be…”

Myles heads to the lab, as the girls continue their search and Jennifer is feeling really creepy, Sheffield will kill them. Michelle points out her father will do worse than kill her, he’ll take away her car …

They get back to searching as Myles approaches.

Michelle pries open a cupboard and Myles opens the front door then locks it behind him.

Myles stalks up the stairs, as Michelle pulls out Myles’ special treats … human eyes and fingers stuffed in the jar.

The girls freak out and scream and run as Myles shakes the door then sees the barbed-wire garrotte (this is the fright night point in the theatrical release).

Myles grabs Michelle and pounds her to death on a lab table, as Jennifer watches helplessly.

Dropping the lifeless Michelle, Myles turns on Jennifer. She races to grab the knife and gets it before him, slashing his hand as he tries to grab it. She slashes him again on the shoulder, but he makes her drop the knife.

Jennifer knees him in the balls and races down the stairs. Myles picks up the knife and follows her.

Jennifer reaches the locked door and is trapped. As she pounds the door for help, a girl walks past, mindlessly listening to a ghetto blaster …Myles hacks at her with the knife, and Jennifer’s bloody hand stops twitching.

Myles is remorseful, and spots Kev arriving in his Ford with Mary.

Myles fixates on sweet Mary as the lovers make a new meet time and kiss.

Mary gets out of the Ford, as Kev jokes she never told him who her mother was. “She’s Mrs Houston,” jokes Mary in response.

“Mystery woman”, jokes Kev, as Mary scores a wolf whistle and says she’ll think about him all day.

Myles is in the shower and has a vision of Kev and Mary naked in the next shower, pashing on and making love.

The vision fades, but the crazed psycho returns to look at the dead Michelle.

Desmond arrives at the lab, but the door is locked.

Myles emerges from another door, hand bandaged, offering to help.

Desmond explains about the missing boy and Myles offers to get Virginia to help.

In the office, Desmond looks at photos on the wall, and Myles explains that they were taken a few years ago when they were teaching at Houston.

Myles calls Virginia and goes into an elaborate set of lies about her being too sick to teach and getting a replacement teacher, but Desmond notices in a reflection in the glass that he’s actually got his finger on the switch hook …

Myles hangs up and offers him coffee, but Desmond realises something’s fishy and leaves.

Night. Using binoculars, Myles peers in at nude girls and sweet Mary, then hits himself up with some vodka straight.

More perving on Mary, then he goes to the phone switchboard and cuts all the outgoing lines.

Thunder, as Mary studies and the phone rings. It’s Myles, and he’s pretending to pass on a message from Kevin. 

Myles claims Kevin wants to meet her at nine o’clock in the woods …just behind the school campus …

Then he tells her he said he’d call Kev back and she goes to get Kev’s number.

Desmond storms into his office and demands that they call California state police.

He tells another cop about pretend phone calls and license plates from the wrong states, and three missing kids, and while making a call to Sandy saying he won’t be home for dinner - it looks pretty ugly - explains to a young cop he’s on to the people who were called in to run St. Elizabeth’s. The young cop explains that the Sheffields came from Boston … he saw the jobs advertised. That’s where they had their last school …he saw it in his sister’s school magazine.

Then why have all the cars in the photos got California number plates, Desmond wants to know.

At the garage, Kev’s dad takes over pumping gas, as Kev takes a call from a very anxious Linda, in a public phone box in the rain. She’s saying she’s calling for Mary, she has to see him tonight, in the woods behind the school near the campus at nine o’clock.

Linda hangs up and we see she’s been doing it for Myles. She says she did what he asked but then he stabs her in the stomach and she slumps to the floor of the phone box.

Myles scurries away in the rain, as we cut to Desmond arguing with the mayor (Jonathan Hardy) and explaining that he’s only got six men and they’re spread all over the place.

Desmond’s telling the Mayor three girls have mysteriously disappeared, and they found out that in California three teenage couples went missing and were later found dead and buried in a lover’s lane by the school. And they know the state of California is still looking for a teaching couple that matches the Sheffields’ description.

The mayor, who’s clearly seen Jaws, suggests Desmond could be wrong. Desmond has arranged for a search warrant for the school grounds - the mayor’s outraged he did it without consulting him - but Desmond points out he has a wife and two kids, and if Myles is who he thinks he is, he’s likely to get a touch violent, so he’d appreciate a little back-up. The mayor agrees to make a phone call …

Cut to Virginia on the verandah of the school staff amenities block, and spotting Myles, reminding him that they’re due at the Cannons and demanding he get dressed.

“Why are you standing there like a moron?”

Myles walks out of the darkness.

“I’m sorry… I’m sorry … I’m sorry Virginia”

Virginia (aghast): “You’ve done it again.”

Myles: “I’m sorry.”

Virginia: “You promised… you promised me, never again!”

Myles: “Sorry.”

Virginia: “Covered up for you last time (muttered “I’m sorry”) … now you’ve wrecked everything…(“I’m sorry”) … you maniac! What’s wrong with you? (teary, firm) How many? Myles!! How many this time?”

Myles: “I don’t know.”

Virginia: “Oh you idiot! (exasperated, indignant) I had everything this time!! …”

She calls him a bastard several times and slaps him on the face, asking him how he could do it to her, saying she’s not helping him this time, she’s going as far away as possible.

She retreats back along the verandah and races into the night, as Myles says “it’s too late” and spots Mary walking into the bush.

Cut to the choir singing “all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small”, and then Myles heading back into the lab.

He starts looking for his garrotte in the cupboard, but Sister emerges from the darkness, holding it in her hand, and asking him in her Irish-accented way if it’s what he’s looking for.

A startled Myles looks at her as she denounces him as an evil, evil, man and asks why he’s doing this …

Myles tells her to put it down and go away from there, but she refuses …saying he needs help, he’s ill, he must go to the police.

Myles demands the garrotte and smashes the nun in the face. The garrotte and rosary beads drop to the floor. Myles picks up the garrotte.

Meanwhile Mary walks through the bush calling to Kevin, as Desmond drives through the city, party hats and siren blazing. He gets a call about a schoolgirl found in a phone booth, copped it in the guts. 

Kev drives up in his Ford, gets out and heads into the bush. It’s five to nine.

Meanwhile, Virginia is frantically packing a suitcase, as a hand opens the door then switches off the light.

Virginia thinks it’s Myles - haven’t you done enough? - but it’s Scott come looking for a fuck.

Virginia is outraged, wanting to know what he’s doing there. She turns the light back on and resumes packing. Scott says he ran way all the way over, but she tells him to run all the way back.

“Playtime is over sonny”, Virginia says, with an “oh shit” as the suitcase refuses to close. Scott grabs her by the shoulders, but Virginia’s not interested.

“Are you deaf? I told you the game’s over… don’t you understand? This is nightmare night …it’s a fucking wild night where the bugs and the bats and the goblins are coming out tonight and no one can stop them …”

She whirls away as Desmond drives up to the school …

He tries the door, locked, and we cut to Kev walking through the bush. He calls out to Mary and she calls back, and they meet up … as back in the school, the choir’s singing is interrupted by Desmond, who shouts that it’s very urgent he find the Sheffields …

Meanwhile, in the lab, a mysterious hand picks up a jar of acid …

Back in the bush, Myles is watching Kev and Mary.

Desmond bursts in on Virginia packing. She’s outraged - how dare he? - but he demands to know where Myles is, there’s a girl butchered in a phone booth not a half mile from there.

Desmond pulls out his gun and fires a shot - the next one will be for her if she doesn’t talk - but then realises Myles is likely to be in the woods, in lover’s lane. 

Virginia tells him where it is, and races off … leaving an agitated Virginia behind.

Meanwhile, Kev is telling Mary he loves her, but then the pair realise there’s crossed wires, as Kev mentions Linda calling him.

Myles rushes in to slip the barbed-wire garrotte around his neck.

The fight is on, and Mary helps out, then is knocked down by Myles.  She uses a piece of wood to hit Myles, but he knocks her down and begins to strangle her.

Desmond arrives on the scene, and tells Myles to freeze. Myles gets up and then stabs Desmond in the heart, as Desmond gets off a shot and wounds Myles in the chest, then dies …

Myles turns to Mary, saying “I said you would be the best … almost”, but before he can reach her a voice calls out his name.

Myles thinks it’s Virginia, but it’s the Sister, her crucifix glinting in the moonlight.

She tosses acid into his face, begging for the lord’s forgiveness.

An hysterical Myles stumbles into the bush, as Mary hugs the Sister and she tells Mary she shouldn’t be out there with the boy. She knows better than that, she should have more pride.

Myles bursts into the staff room, and a teacher (David Clendinning) who’s been reading flinches away from this vision of the acid-stained phantom of St. Elizabeths …

Myles smashes open a book case and pulls out a double-barrelled shottie (every school has one).

More thunder and lightning as Myles approaches his home with the shottie.

Inside Virginia is twitching and trying to smoke a cigarette. She sobs, as Myles summons the strength and heads inside with the shottie.

Virginia looks up and hears the footsteps as we close on her twitching face.

One shot rings out, then another, as it starts to pour rain.

Pull back from the house. Ominous chords, and then end titles and song begin...