• Moontrap (88 Films DVD)

    Released by: 88 Films
    Released on: February 23rd, 2015.
    Director: Robert Dyke
    Cast: Walter Koenig, Bruce Campbell
    Year: 1985

    The Movie:

    Guns on the moon!

    1989 obscurity MOONTRAP has probably gotten more ink (or bytes in today's internet culture) in the last few months than it ever did before due to something quite strange. The film itself is a slight but fun proposition helped enormously by canny and fun casting. Walter Koenig (STAR TREK's Chekov) and cult horror legend Bruce Campbell (EVIL DEAD and too many other ferociously entertaining pulpy films to list), star as astronauts on a routine moon mission who discover guns, a strange abandoned spacecraft and a decomposed human corpse on the planet. After returning to earth with their grisly artifacts - including a football shaped alien "egg" - all hell breaks loose. The probe turns into a killer robot. This is bad enough, but it looks like metal monster is just the beginning of earth's problems. And our two space dudes are going to need to return to the moon to save planet earth.

    The plot of MOONTRAP could fit on the back of a napkin. Thin gruel at best, it cribs from Tobe Hooper's LIFEFORCE, the goofy SATURN 3, ALIEN and a whole butcher's plate of TV sci-fi from the 50's and 60's through to the polyester era. But a little star power goes a long way folks. And so does doing your best on a limited budget where it counts. Campbell and Koenig are a total hoot and have terrific chemistry. Bruce has always had impeccable comic timing and great line delivery and Koenig was always fun (if a bit broad) on Trek. Together it's a total win-win when the banter is on. And it's on a lot here. Whether they are hanging out in the cockpit, gabbing on the phone or pounding a few down at the local watering hole, these two have zingers aplenty. Part of the appeal is the whole "if Ash from EVIL DEAD and Chekov from Star Trek walked into a bar" setup but the boys make the most of it. The strip bar scene, where Koenig tries to stop Campbell from blabbing state secrets is a highlight. The other thing MOONTRAP gets right is the robotics and moon sets. The big bad killer alien robot MAY have been put together with the wayward contents of a car repair kit, but it looks just as good as the overpriced thingie in SATURN 3. And the moon sets look, gasp, authentic. And they are even well shot!

    Which leads us to...


    Why has MOONTRAP become a cause célèbre on the net amongst HD ninjas and lovers of the Blu? Why was I practically ready (yes, me personally, I'm a big MOONTRAP fan) to kickstarter a save the MOONTRAP drive? Sit tight, snag your beverage of choice and lets go through the sad story of MOONTRAP on home video and its tragic conclusion. Ok. Quasi tragic.

    1.78:1. That's the good news. UK company 88 Films PAL master is in widescreen for the first time. Previously on laserdisc (remember those?) and VHS in the USA, MOONTRAP was full frame when I first saw it on videotape in the early 90's. The laserdisc MAY have been widescreen but having never sighted that rare bird I cannot say. The VHS didn't look too hot though - but then nothing really did on VHS truth be told. We were just happy to have a visible and in focus picture in those dinosaur days. MOONTRAP then skipped the whole DVD era. As desire for the film and catalog titles in general bloomed at the dawn of the Blu revolution an infamous figure entered the MOONTRAP picture. German producer Oliver Krekel of DigiDreams announced he had the "trap" and was bringing it not just to DVD but to HD glory. Problem? Krekel is the HD antichrist in most quarters. Known for battling his critics (sometimes in hilariously broken English) on online forums, the one man German wax factory never met a DNR tool he didn't want to make sweet love to, thinks film grain is unnatural and should be stripped out like asbestos laden wall insulation, and prefers actors faces to look as devoid of pores as a marble table. Once he got his hands on MOONTRAP the poor space opera was doomed. Telecine wobble. Pale ass black levels. Film that looks like video. CHEAPJACK video. Even by DVD standards this is weak, weak sauce. And did I mention the occasional banding and haloing? The color flares? Is it watchable. Yeah. Barely but yeah. Audio? Weak stereo that sounds like mono with muffling and some dropouts. You can hear what's going on well enough but this isn't a great audio presentation. There are no extras except for some 88 trailers.

    88 Films - to their credit - refused to release MOONTRAP on Blu because the elements were not up to snuff while Olive in the USA put the German travesty on HD. At one point an esteemed cult label owner in the USA widely known for his dedication to impeccable AV wanted the MOONTRAP. Shame he didn't get it.

    The Final Word:

    Recommended. Why? It's a fun film. This is good as we are going to get it sadly due to the current film master available. 88's DVD may have no extras but it is reasonably priced and they should be rewarded for delivering truth in advertising about the quality.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Video/Audio/Extras section is the most entertaining thing I've read on here in awhile.