This week I took a trip into space with Robert Dyke's eighties sci-fi actioner Moontrap starring Walter “Chekov” Keonig and Bruce Campbell.
A pair of astronauts (Koenig & Campbell) embark on a desperate mission when it is discovered there may be hostile alien life on the moon.
I had seen every one of the B-movies Bruce Campbell made in between Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness except this one. I guess I had unconsciously been saving it for a rainy day, or in this case, snowy. Anyhoo, Moontrap was a lot better than I was expecting. I keep having to remind myself that this movie was made in 1989 because it feels fundamentally like the stuff that was being cranked out in the early nineties by Full Moon and the like.
When the movie started up, it basically seemed like a cross between Alien & Lifeforce, except instead of finding a hot naked space vampire chick, Keonig & Campbell bring back a fourteen-thousand-year-old corpse and a weird leathery egg-shaped thing. Naturally, I thought they lost out on the deal, but then the egg cracked open and fashioned itself a body out of parts - both metal and human! Okay, I'm in. Sure, it might not do much more than shoot electricity, but hey still better than Alien: Covenant.
Getting back to Campbell for a second, can I just acknowledge that he played an ex-fighter pilot nicknamed The Penetrator? Despite that, Campbell was not the star of this film, as this was before Evil Dead became the iconic franchise it is today. No, based on the cache of Star Trek, the leading man is fifty-odd Walter Koenig and he's giving it one-hundred per cent. He even does push-ups in one scene to prove he's got the goods. In MoonTrap, Koenig's the hero, saves the day and even gets the girl. And yet, still more plausible than Alien: Covenant.
|Bruce Campbell & Walter Koenig in Moontrap|
Moontrap does wear its budget on its sleeve, but it's rather endearing in the way of lot of the sci-fi flicks of this period (i.e. Empire & Full Moon's giant robot flicks) were. Moontrap may belong to an alternate universe where the nineties saw many impossible technological advances, but hey, again, still more plausible than Alien: Covenant.
I had to appreciate the ample practical effects here. When Koenig & Campbell return to the moon later, they spend a lot of time cruising around their little miniature moon buggy – and it is adorable. Director Dyke worked on the miniatures used on Evil Dead II, so I would assume the genesis of this project - and Campbell's involvement - started there. Also, when they find a lost city on the dark side of the moon they soon discover... hey whaddaya know, a frozen space babe! Now it's way better than Alien: Covenant.
Moontrap was a nice surprise. Keonig & Campbell played off each other well and though it felt like a lot of it was made out of spare parts – much like its antagonists – it was still an entertaining yarn that didn't overreach. Unlike well, you know...