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blu-ray Review …. Moontrap (1989)

The jokes are obvious here when it comes to pointing out that Walter Koenig has graduated from sitting to the left of Captain James T. Kirk to piloting his own shuttle craft for NASA and claiming top billing in this fun low budget sci-fi flick from the straight to video era. And who better to join in the fun then the man better known as “Ash”, Bruce Campbell.

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The duo begin our ninety minute adventure in outer space. They’re heading home when they encounter what appears to be an ancient ship floating in space. Koenig goes out to have a look with his thruster suit and finds a shriveled up corpse and one of those damn pods that are usually best left alone. Gathering their evidence and storing it aboard their shuttle craft, they return to Earth to allow the NASA scientists to study their finds.

Things get a little out of control when the pod opens at the lab and turns into some kind of robotic machine using spare parts of both human bodies and any computers or metals available. This gives Bruce and Walter a chance to participate in a good old 1980’s buddy-buddy styled shoot out with the robotic creature. Walter proves he’s up to the task and blows it sky high.

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The end result is Walter convinces NASA to let him pilot a ship to the moon and find the remains of the derelict ship and look for more pods or evidence that proves the existence of another race. He’ll have to pick up Bruce first. Our fun over the top co-star can be found hamming it up in a local strip bar. But then that’s the fun in many of Bruce’s performances. The ham is sliced rather thick at times.

With the use of left over models right out of  the Eiji Tsuburaya school of effects the boys travel around the moon’s surface on a land rover in search of a ship but end up finding more than they bargained for including a tall sexy woman played by Leigh Lombardi. To say their both smitten is an understatement and Walter may get to use his Chekov charm before the final reel plays out.

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Aside from some brief nudity, this plays like a fun Sunday afternoon television event from director/producer Robert Dyke and screenwriter Tex Ragsdale. With no where near the budget splashed on the big screen sci-fi flicks of the day, Moontrap has more in common with the many flicks from New World Pictures that Roger Corman was pushing into the video market around the same time.

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This proved to be totally watchable. Mainly due to the two leading actors and their built in fan base that has evolved around each of them thanks to their association with pop culture roles.

If you’re looking to pick up a copy of Moontrap, you no longer have to look in the VHS discard bins as Olive Films put it out on blu ray not too long ago. Thankfully, they added two key extras this time around which is not the case on many of the cool titles they have licensed for release previously. Included are a 21 minute interview with Bruce and a 33 minute interview with Walter. Plenty of information and stories from both, just overlook the off camera quiz master who is obviously an overly excited fanboy at times.

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Bruce has fun recollections of the film and working with director Dyke who had handled miniatures on Evil Dead 2. Campbell always seems to me to be accessible and has a genuine liking for his position in fandom. Still he’s a fan himself and has some good pointers on what to say when meeting stars like Walter and by extension the other cast members of Star Trek. His meeting with William Shatner is a great example. Why seek out Moontrap? As he points out, it’s fun to look for and watch obscure movies. Something I am in agreement with.

For Walter he talks of getting away from his Chekov voice and character and makes fun of getting a chance to be “The Star.” It turns out that Walter wrote a screenplay turned into a movie by his director here, Robert Dyke called Inalienable. Something I wasn’t familiar with. He speaks highly of the integrity of Science Fiction and that fans are smart and shouldn’t be fooled before going on to thank fans in Germany where apparently Moontrap has a bit of a cult following as does sci-fi in general.

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The disc also gives you a chance to listen in on a commentary track from the writer, Ragsdale and director Dyke. The first thing that struck me was these two come across like a couple of good old boys having a beer down at the legion reminiscing about past glories. Plenty of stories within and if you’re main interest is the stars, they have plenty to say about how they were recruited for the production and then some.

Easy to watch and with the interviews on board, a nice selection from the movie shelf.

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