I usually like my sci-fi flicks to have good amounts of gore and to feature some creepy looking aliens or creatures. If it’s not taking place in an outerspace setting, then there has to be some sort of really neat looking machines or robots. Well, what about a movie that tries to combine the two ideas by presenting an ancient alien race of robots!? That’s exactly what we get with Robert Dyke’s 1989 science fiction outing, Moontrap.
Moontrap stars Bruce Campbell (The Evil Dead) and Walter Koenig (Star Trek) as two astronauts who are sent on a mission to Earth’s moon. With the help of Mera (Leigh Lombardi), a woman they rescue on the moon’s surface, the two must stop an ancient race of alien robots from invading Earth.
It must have been extremely difficult for director Bob Dyke and his team to come up with a way to execute the filming of Moontrap, considering how large of a task making an effective sci-fi flick usually is. Think about it…You need not only the right attire (space suits), but also a set that allows your target audience to feel like they are really watching a movie that takes place outside of Earth’s atmosphere. This was all done with a miniscule budget and none of the green-screen or computer magic we’ve seen in other sci-fi films like Alien or its subsequent sequels. With all that being said, Moontrap turned out to be a pretty fun crossover of 80’s sci-fi nerd culture and independent horror.
Both Bruce Campbell and Walter Koenig did great jobs as astronauts Ray Tanner and Jason Grant, respectively, fitting seemingly naturally into their roles as partners and as the hotshot young cadet and the veteran space traveler. It is their performances that really keep the audience interested in the story and allow us to forgive some of the scenes where action figures were used to simulate traveling on the moon’s surface. Ray Tanner’s (Campbell) witty and cocky attitude was a perfect contrast from his partner’s serious and professional demeanor, creating the perfect balance for the space duo.
Now, I mentioned this interesting amalgamation of robots and aliens. This is where Dyke’s film really gets its charm. Never before have I seen the type of alien species that we see here. The machines have the unique ability of building themselves much larger bodies to fight with, from pieces of other machines, junk, and human remains. These gnarly looking zombie-alien-robot hybrids will definitely impress most of you horror and sci-fi fans out there who are looking for something new.
With all of the information of the actual film out of the way, I want to talk about the specific release that I used to view the film. The reason being that there seems to be quite some controversy surrounding Olive Films’ newly remastered release. Now, I admit that I have no knowledge of how films are restored and remastered for all of these wonderful releases us genre fans have been getting recently. Perhaps it is this lack of knowledge that makes me ignorant to some of the more technical parts of the releases that I review on a fairly consistent basis. That being said, I really don’t see anything wrong with the picture quality of this Blu-ray release and quite frankly, I think the film came out looking really good. From the discussions I’ve read online, I was really expecting quite a mess, but instead was surprised with a rather impressive-looking piece of lost art in the form of an obscure and entertaining sci-fi movie. It is my personal opinion that, as fans, we should be grateful for being able to see these films remastered in high-definition, instead of nitpicking every little speck of grain we see flash across the screen.
If you like sci-fi films and/or are a fan of Bruce Campbell, giant robots, or killer aliens, you will definitely enjoy this film. You can pick up Moontrap on Blu-ray or DVD from Olive Films’ official webstore, available now!
I give this film 3.5 ancient space suits out of 5.