Moonchild (1974)

Shot in 1971 as a student film under the title FULL MOON and given a brief theatrical release as THE MOON CHILD by Filmakers Limited in 1974, Alan Gadney’s sole directorial effort tells the story of a student (Mark Travis) whose pursuit of artistic perfection leads him to a desert mission-cum-hotel where a wandering `keeper of words’ (John Carradine) introduces him to a small society of odd personalities – the pious Maitre D’ (Victor Buono), the granite-faced Manager (BULLET’s Pat Renella), a kindly old man (William Challee, from BILLY THE KID MEETS DRACULA) and his beautiful daughter (THE SWIMMER’s Janet Landgard). Before the youth has passed his first night under their roof, his wildly combative hosts set themselves in fervid competition for receipt of his immortal soul.

As far as overeager allegories go, THE MOON CHILD isn’t bad and predates Stanley Kubrick’s somewhat similar THE SHINING by nearly a decade (it also can be said to anticipate other full circle thrillers as ANGEL HEART and THE SIXTH SENSE, albeit taking a less horrific tack in favor of New Age notions of circularity and karma filtered through the visions of Jean Genet, Samuel Beckett and Luis Bunuel). Long neglected, and too often written off as a bad horror movie (a classification it does not deserve), THE MOON CHILD is, if not entirely persuasive, at least a refreshing reminder of a time when film students sought to use the medium for a purpose higher than attention-getting.