• Moontrap

    Released by: Olive Films
    Released on: November 18th, 2014.
    Director: Robert Dyke
    Cast: Walter Koenig, Bruce Campbell
    Year: 1989
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    The Movie:

    Moontrap never made it to DVD, which is odd when you consider how many obscure cult and horror titles were coming out. Given the fact that it’s got both Bruce Campbell of the Evil Dead films and Walter Koenig of Star Trek fame in leading roles you’d probably figure this was a shoe in for one of the many cult labels that appeared during that format’s boom years to tackle, but for whatever reason it never happened. When a Blu-ray was announced first in Germany and then later domestically by catalogue title specialists Olive Films, there was much rejoicing.

    Directed by Robert Dyke in 1989 (and a mainstay on cable movie pay channels and on VHS), the story follows two astronauts: Jason Grant (Walter Koenig) and Ray Tanner (Bruce Campbell). While out in the middle of a space mission they discover an abandoned space craft that appears to have been vacant for decades if not centuries. When they explore it, they find the corpse of what would seem to be a long dead human being. They also find a weird orb, possibly alien in nature. Being science guys as well as astronauts they bring the body and the orb back to Earth in hopes of putting together the pieces of this puzzle and it is deduced that this body is actually far older than any of them had imagined – it’s not tens or hundreds of years old but thousands.

    Soon after, the orb lights up and using that mysterious body somehow manages to morph into a giant killer robot that kills anyone and everyone it comes into contact with, but it’s taken out in time to save the day. Our two astronauts are then sent back to where they found the body and the orb to reinvestigate and soon discover that there’s more to this than they thought, a plot involving an alien plan to take over Earth that not even UZI’s can stop!

    Moontrap is goofy, Moontrap is kind of full of a lot of clichés and Moontrap was made on a low budget but you know what? It’s fun. It’s an entertaining movie that goes at a good pace and manages to hit all the right notes. Koenig and Campbell are both in fine form here, with the later of the two leading men really delivering a fun performance without going as over the top as he has in other films. The effects were all done without enough money to really pull them off the way they should have been and the sets look a little rough in spots, as do some of the costumes, but there’s enough enthusiasm in front of and behind the camera to keep this moving quick enough that most of the time that doesn’t really matter.

    It’s not a particularly scary film but it has a nice sort of retro feel to it, intentionally or not, that definitely will hold a nostalgic appeal for those of us who loved it, warts and all, in our younger days.


    Moontrap never made it to DVD but it’s hit Blu-ray earlier this year in an edition that was completely slathered in noise reduction in an attempt to eliminate film grain. In the process, this pretty much obliterated all of that detail. While the Olive Films version appears to have had some grain digitally reinserted (meaning a faux-grain filter of some sort has been applied to it) that hasn’t resulted in an improvement in detail, texture or anything else for that matter. The screen caps below basically tell the story but despite the fact that this disc has a healthy bit rate and that it’s been framed at 1.78.1 (compared to the 4x3 presentation seen the old VHS release) this is a flat, waxy mess of a picture, enough to silence the aforementioned rejoicing.

    The DTS-HD 2.0 audio mix, in the film’s native English, is flat and fairly lacking in the range department. Dialogue is easy enough to understand and the levels are balanced but both the score and the effects lack any real punch. This is serviceable but leaves plenty of room for improvement. No alternate language or subtitle options are provided.

    Most of Olive Film’s releases are devoid of extras but surprisingly enough Moontrap does include a few supplements, the first of which is a pretty enjoyable commentary track with director Robert Dyke and writer Tex Ragsdale. There are some interesting stories here that cover not just the casting and the locations but also the effects work, where some of the ideas for the movie came from, technical issues that they ran into during the shoot, the movie’s distribution and the logistics of using automatic weapons on the moon!

    From there, check out the first of the two interviews on the disc. Bruce Campbell pops up on screen for twenty-one minutes to share his memories of working with Koenig and the rest on the film. No stranger to low budget films at this point in his career he looks back on it fairly fondly and, as is typical with Campbell, makes for an interesting and amusing interviewee. His co-star Walter Koenig is also interviewed here in a segment that runs for just shy of thirty-three minutes in length. Here he talks about one working on a notably non-Star Trek related project, his love scene in the film, working with Campbell and the other cast members, and a fair bit more. Both interviews make for an interesting watch.

    Static menus and chapter selection are included.

    The Final Word:

    Moontrap is a fun mix of sci-fi and horror, a quality B-movie with a few enjoyable performances, some memorable effects set pieces and just a really entertaining way to kill ninety minutes with a movie. It’s great to have the movie on Blu-ray as it never made it to DVD, but this transfer…. ouch.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Wow. Those caps look HORRIBLE.
    1. C.D. Workman's Avatar
      C.D. Workman -
      I have to agree with Mark. Wow. This sounds (and looks) like a complete disaster!