Moon Zero Two (1969, Roy Ward Baker) (Yes, Moon Zero Two)

(Squonkamatic) #1

Interesting little genre bender from Hammer Studios of all places mixing the story conventions from a western with the trappings of a space opera, no doubt inspired by 2001 but certainly with a life of it’s own. They have six shooters and saloon girls and Moon Fargo buggy rides, fast draw duels, claim jumpers and bar room brawls and hired goons, a fetching sister searching for her lost miner brother, a dastardly villain and a laconic hero with a heroic reputation who said to hell with it all and took up collecting bounty on wayward satellites. The moon colony train shows what looks like 1960s cheapo western as entertainment (haven’t identified the location yet but the night is young) and there is a lady sheriff with double pistols holstered on the top of her thigh-high boots.

It’s as close to a western as Hammer got, at least as far as I know, though Terence Hill and I think Michael Carreras were involved in a couple of westerns on the side. It’s easy to laugh at the kitschy production design with all that shiny rubber and the absurd hairstyles, but the idea of adapting a western to science fiction had precedent already in “Star Trek” (sold as ‘a wagon train to the stars’) and later finding fine form in Peter Hyams’ OUTLAND, which is essentially HIGH NOON but on one of Jupiter’s moons. MOON ZERO TWO is more for fun at any rate, though surprisingly there’s some believable if low-budget rendered science at work … I like the little radio controlled model moon buggies especially, somewhat reminiscent of Gerry Anderson’s “Thunderbird” miniatures. And there’s a great shootout at the lost mine where one of the color coordinated space suited guys gets pegged and just sort of evaporates as his atmosphere leaks into space. Cool!!

It was made in England at any rate – not too many British made westerns which is a shame since I’d imagine they’d have a pretty interesting take on it. At any rate it’s worth a look if you want something offbeat and Warner Brothers just released it on a DVD along with Hammer’s WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH with Magda Konopka in a fur bikini, which could never be a bad thing. While MST3K poked fun at it the production is pretty sound, and I’d even say that a lot of MOON ZERO TWO’s ideas ended up recycled into TOTAL RECALL once you think about it: A train ride through a lunar/Martian surface, having to go through customs when arriving on-planet, a fight scene with people flying through the air, space saloons with odd looking space bar girls, a guy being chased by a menacing mining contraption, and some rich bastard behind all of the conflict in the plot.