1 February 2013 | t_atzmueller
An odd, yet strangely intriguing little film, sadly forgotten
"Moonchild" ran on German TV under the title "Im Jenseits ist die Hölle los" (roughly translated as All Hell breaks loose in the hereafter"), which led many viewers to expect a horror-comedy, since a zillion comedies ran under the moniker 'All Hell breaks loose
' (you just need to fill the blanks). Having recorded it on video tape and watching it many month later, I was surprised to find that this was neither a horror film nor a comedy – in fact, at the time I couldn't have put it under any genre apart from, say, experimental film.
I don't want to say much about the story; this is one of those cases, where the viewer is best left to his own conclusions.
The movie shouldn't be based so much on the story (which should really be left to the interpretations of the viewers) but rather on the excellent atmosphere: despite taking place in the seemingly endless, sun-showered desert, the atmosphere throughout is gloomy, claustrophobic, even suffocating. Although it is obvious that the director is young and inexperienced, there are traces of Bunuel, Kenneth Anger and even the "weirdness" of Salvatore Dali.
While Carradine seems frail and sickly, bent by age. Victor Buono, as he does in most performances, hams it up to 11, swinging easily from gentle, benevolent giant to steely eyed and threatening menace. Over-acting isn't for everybody, but it has always worked for Buono. A similar thing could be said for Pat Renella with piercing eyes and sharp, chiselled features, there is an air of violence about his character throughout, until revealing a strange gentleness at the end of the film; evidence of a very distinct, versatile actor, making one sad that Renella hasn't gotten many bigger roles in his career.
On the other hand, Mark Travis isn't altogether convincing as protagonist and it's no surprise that he only appeared in a handful of TV-shows after "Moonchild" – let's just say that acting isn't for everybody. Same goes for Janet Landgard and Frank Corsentino, whose performance as Homunculus is plain embarrassing. So, it doesn't come as much of a surprise that Buono and Renella easily steal the show.
Compared to many contemporary, over-ambitious and self-important student- and experimental-films, this film is a little, albeit almost forgotten gem, even though it's probably not everybody's cup of tea. Highly recommendable if you're into "weird movies".