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  Moon Zero Two They'll Crater Disturbance
Year: 1969
Director: Roy Ward Baker
Stars: James Olson, Catherine Schell, Warren Mitchell, Adrienne Corri, Ori Levy, Dudley Foster, Bernard Bresslaw, Neil McCallum, Joby Blanshard, Michael Ripper, Robert Tayman, Sam Kydd, Keith Bonnard, Leo Britt, Carol Cleveland, Roy Evans
Genre: Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: The year is 2021, and Planet Earth's moon has long been colonised. One inhabitant of the bases there is Captain William Kemp (James Olson), renowned as the first man on Mars though now he has seen better days and makes his money by salvaging space junk from around the moon's orbit. However, he is about to be plunged straight into another adventure when Clementine Taplin (Catherine Schell) arrives at the same base seeking her brother who has been prospecting on the surface and Kemp, however reluctantly, becomes mixed up in her search...

In 1969 there was one news story which represented something the whole world could support, away from the turmoil and strife of the other pressing stories of the year, and that was when mankind finally landed on the moon. Naturally there was an increased interest in science fiction, but that didn't always translate into big box office as the British Hammer studio discovered when their much-anticipated movie Moon Zero Two appeared and turned out to have been not as anticipated as they might have liked. Some said it was overshadowed by the actual events, and this idea of what life on the moon would be like was rather silly when everyone was seeing the real thing.

Yet if comparisons to Neil Armstrong's exploits left this lacking, in its occasional re-appearances down the years Moon Zero Two did pick up a small following who enjoyed its kitschy, self-proclaimed position as "the first moon 'western'" which in effect translated into occasional plot points about bar room brawls and shootouts with pistols. If they hadn't mentioned the Western allusions in the publicity then they might have passed you by, save for the bar on the base decked out like the type of saloon Roy Rogers might have wandered into, with dancing girls too: those dancers represented a now-rare chance to see Top of the Pops troupe The GoJos, since the BBC wiped most of the sixties episodes of the show.

You can safely say you got the measure of their stylings from this, but there was also a comparison to be made with another British television institution in the work of Gerry Anderson. Not only were there extensive miniature models in the special effects, but Anderson went on to create Space: 1999 which was set on the moon and featured Catherine Schell in its second series, though she was playing an alien there and there were no aliens to be seen in this little item. Nevertheless, in its very British way of looking to the United States for its cue for science fiction that Anderson's efforts often did, Moon Zero Two had that aspirational quality not quite matched by its realisation of those ambitions.

Naturally, this carries a whole heap of retro-futuristic charm, as Kemp laconically makes his way through a plot revolving around millionaire Warren Mitchell (of course putting on an accent) trying to get his hands on an asteroid composed mostly of precious sapphires which happens to be passing close by the moon and Kemp, with his spacefaring know-how, is the man he wishes to recruit to ensure he secures it. This does marry up to the plot about Clementine looking for her brother eventually, and justice is finally done, but the main storyline was less interesting than watching what the Hammer chaps thought the future would be like as gazed at through the lens of the past. With the actresses wearing blue, green and purple wigs (a lot like Anderson's UFO series), alcohol that's green because it's been distilled from cabbage juice, and that old fright favourite image preferred by many a sci-fi paperback cover of the day, the skeleton inside a spacesuit, it was the look of the movie which made it fun. Check out that madcap title sequence, too. Music by Don Ellis.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Roy Ward Baker  (1916 - 2010)

Reliable British director who worked his way up from teaboy to assistant to Alfred Hitchcock to overseeing his own hit projects from the 1940s to the 1970s. Making his debut with The October Man, he continued with Morning Departure, Don't Bother To Knock, Inferno, The One That Got Away and what is considered by many to be the best Titanic film, A Night To Remember.

After the failure of The Singer Not the Song in the sixties he turned to television, including episodes of The Avengers, The Saint and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), then to Hammer, where he directed many of the later favourites associated with the studio: Quatermass and the Pit, The Anniversary, The Vampire Lovers, Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires. He also made Asylum, Vault of Horror and The Monster Club for Hammer's rivals, then returned for the remainder of his career to TV with episodes of Minder and Fairly Secret Army, among others.

 
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