It's a shame that this film is not currently available on any video format because it is actually an enjoyable piece of '80's horror. The night winter forest locations look great and the cast appears to be having a fun time making the film. The females in the cast are all attractive and fine actresses, and some of the men (specifically detective Taylor and Harry, the father) are just plain hilarious. The gore effects are primitive but serviceable, and there are moments of genuine emotional connection between the characters that was rare for the genre at that post-"Halloween" time. Watching this film brings one back to a more innocent time when real effort was put into the exploitation genre.
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During the winter season, a family camping in the woods, and a group of camp counselors training in the same forest both find themselves being killed one by one by an unhinged psycho.
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A fun low-budget horror film
Put the bag back over your head, Bernie!
"Moonstalker" aptly illustrates how and why the teen slasher ingloriously died at the end of the 1980s. Although always watchable and sometimes even reasonably amusing, it's a thoroughly uninspired and derivative effort. It starts with the opening credits music being yet another blatant rip-off of John Carpenter's iconic score for "Halloween". By the time "Moonstalker" got released, "Halloween" was more than a decade old, and literally the entire world had seen it, so find something new already! The next 10-15 minutes are hilarious, but mainly because the plot is so cliched and the performances are so atrociously bad. A middle-aged father (and heavy beer can consumer) insists on spending a primitive "back-to-nature" vacation with his reluctant family in a rusty old camper, so they install themselves at the edge of a wide backwoods area. The bickering family runs into an ogre named Pop, and he's hiding his psychopathic and bloodthirsty son Bernie in a caravan, tied up with chains and wearing a bag over his head. Pop occasionally lets Bernie out, for example to feast on dim-witted camper families, but then Pop unexpectedly dies from a heart-attack and Bernie suddenly finds himself unchained with the world at his feet! From then onward "Moonstalker" plays on familiar slasher turf, as Bernie heads straight towards a nearby camping site where a bunch of young summer camp counselors are having their annual initiation weekend. Freed from his dominant father, Bernie makes the terrible (albeit understandable) mistake of switching his strait-jacket and potato bag mask for a lumberjack shirt, a cowboy hat and a shiny pair of sunglasses. I reckon it's a far more comfortable outfit for him, but he does instantly lose all the charisma and scary effect of a savage backwoods killer, especially because the mask made him somewhat a look-alike of Jason Voorhees in "Friday the 13th part 2". Luckily his appetite for nasty killings is still there. The first few murders are dull and bloodless, but "Moonstalker" eventually meets the 80s gore quota thanks to several amputations, axe-murders and even a knife in someone's forehead. The sadistic campfire moment near the finale (you'll know it when you see it) is a delightful little horror detail, but it sadly doesn't rescue the film from sheer mediocrity.
Weekend at Bernie's.
In a straight-jacket, hood, chains and brandishing an axe, Moonstalker's crazed killer Bernie makes for a memorably imposing maniac, which is why it's a shame when he swaps this distinctive garb for a cowboy hat, dark glasses and and a plaid shirt. But even though he loses a lot of his mystique with this change of outfit, the drooling psycho remains as mean as ever, killing off most of the film's cast before the closing credits. Along the way there's quite a bit of hokey gore (rubbery body parts and splashes of blood),just a little female nudity (one of the girls strips off to take a shower with a young man),and, with the film taking place at a wilderness counselor's camp on a snowy mountain, lots of sitting around camp fires (in the film's most macabre moment, even the dead enjoy a sing-song around a roaring fire).
It's certainly no classic, but as low-budget late '80s slashers go, you could definitely do a lot worse than Moonstalker: the film is never boring, the sub-zero setting is a nice change from the traditional summer camp, the characters are likeable (the girls are all very pretty, which helps),and no-one is safe, which makes it one of the less predictable examples of the genre. Only the score really disappoints: it's a third-rate rip-off of John Carpenter's iconic music for Halloween.