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  Moontrap Lunar, See?
Year: 1989
Director: Robert Dyke
Stars: Walter Koenig, Bruce Campbell, Leigh Lombardi, Robert Kurcz, John J. Saunders, Reavis Graham, Tom Case, Judy Levitt, Reuben Yabuku, Doug Childs, Mariafae Mytnyk, James A. Courtney, Tony Abruzzo, Tom Whalen, Pat Carozzo
Genre: Horror, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: In 1969 man landed on our moon and made history, yet as Neil Armstrong spoke his famous line there was something else out there watching, not the millions of people around planet Earth but something far closer to him, a robot built by an ancient civilisation which had beaten us to our satellite and was waiting patiently for a way off it. Decades later, we returned, and the two-man shuttle crew of Colonel Jason Grant (Walter Koenig) and his second-in-command Ray Tanner (Bruce Campbell) were anticipating just another space mission until the radar picked up a strange signal. A large mass was moving out there in the vacuum, which on closer inspection turned out to be some craft or other. Jason investigated - but he would wish he had not.

The careers of the stars of Star Trek did not all go to William Shatner-style kitsch admiration, or even Leonard Nimoy-style nude photography, as just about all the main actors from that beloved science fiction show, the original series at any rate, struggled to establish themselves away from the long shadow of Gene Roddenberry's creation, and Walter Koenig, very much the Davy Jones of the Starship Enterprise (he had a "funny" accent too, remember), was among those who had to wait till the nineties until his pal Harlan Ellison got him a decent gig away from under Captain Kirk and onto Babylon 5 where he was given the chance to play the bad guy, something he evidently enjoyed.

But before that job, he did headline his own movie, fine, it was a low budget effort and yet more science fiction, but his name is the first in the opening titles and that has to count for something. Excitingly, his co-star was Bruce Campbell, drafted in since the director Robert Dyke had taken care of special effects on Evil Dead II so presumably he was there as a favour, so we had the opportunity to hear Walter and Bruce exchange manly banter as if screenwriter Tex Ragsdale was yearning to pen a Western rather than a sci-fi flick. Assuming your ears didn't disengage over the abundance of macho dialogue and awkwardly goodnatured, masculine joshing, then what you had was a low budget affair which nevertheless had enough at its disposal for some decent effects and sets.

What Jason finds in space is the craft is to all intents and purposes dead to the universe, though that does not prevent him from taking a souvenir in the form of what looks like a large rugby ball and a corpse. Most would have left the corpse behind, but it's necessary to the plot, so when they get back to the lab at mission control and examine their findings they cannot make head nor tail of what was happening on the ancient spaceship. They do get a better idea when the rugby ball opens up and a little robot peeks out, then proceeds to trash the room in the process of meshing the body with whatever technology and metal parts it can find, thereby demonstrating the alien's modus operandi, building cyborgs around the folks they've bumped off.

Cue token bleeding heart who wants to show this metal and bone abomination that we come in peace, only to get injured by the monster and leave it to Jason to blow away its noggin with a well-placed shotgun blast. Obviously the next thing to do is head off straight back to space where they can investigate further (leaving well alone doesn't appear to have crossed their inquisitive minds) and before you can say pre-CGI puppet effects Jason and Ray are back on the moon and stumbling across a great big building heretofore unnoticed by NASA. Inside there's another body, and also a living woman, Mera (Leigh Lombardi) who has been in hibernation for centuries but now woken Sleeping Beauty-style by Jason. His reward for this is the world's most out of place sex scene, apparently reasoning the best course of action when alien cyborgs are trying to execute you is a spot of rumpy pumpy - but it was Walter who got to do the deed. He was the star, one supposed. Around twenty-five years later there was a sequel, but Moontrap pretty much said all it needed to. Music by Joseph LoDuca.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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