Saleh is a down-on-his-luck newspaper reporter. Or, should I say, a former reporter, having been fired for turning in stories too sensational to be believed. Well, things for Saleh are about to get even more sensational. Driving through a remote part of the country, he blows a tire, which is not really strange, but the tire has blown out not because of wear and tear, nor the rough road, but because he drove over a dagger clutched in the hand of a skeleton embedded in the roadside. Sensing a story waiting to be written, Saleh checks into the only hotel in the neighboring town – a hotel that doubles as a brothel – to investigate the matter. What he finds is a town populated with diminutive gangsters, beautiful but dangerous cabaret singers, a mysterious spy and locals who refuse to shed light on a string of mysterious disappearances. All Saleh can come up with are vague, whispered stories about a local phantom preying on men, warnings for him to leave before it is too late and amorous attention from a trio of seductive women.
Mamat Khalid’s When the Full Moon Rises is a loving throwback to Malaysia’s rich cinematic past, an everything-including-the-kitchen-sink – maybe even two of those – mash-up of cinematic styles that begins with hard-boiled noir before lobbing in musical numbers, slapstick comedy and an underground Nazi cult before finally veering into classic Roger Corman creature-feature territory. Shot in gorgeous black-and-white, it epitomizes everything that made Khalid fall in love with film in the first place, and we’re wagering it’ll do the same for you.
– Todd Brown