Cyborgs! Ancient moon civilizations! Bruce Campbell! Oh my! Robert Dyke’s straight-to-VHS Moontrap (1989) is exactly what you would expect from a straight-to-VHS science fiction film. It’s filled with references to virtually every quality science fiction film ever made, cheesy dialogue, and a mediocre script. However, it benefits from its strong cast and professional-grade production.
The opening of Moontrap starts off very strong. The Eagle has just landed on the surface of the moon and Neil Armstrong has made his famous speech. The events follow exactly how history books have taught us for years. Well…almost exactly. When the Apollo 11 Lunar Module takes off from the surface of the moon, a mysterious, mechanical eye is seen emerging from the lunar dust. Extraterrestrial conspiracy theorists – this movie is for you. A few decades later, a derelict spaceship is found orbiting the earth. Sent to investigate, Colonel Jason Grant, played by the great Walter Koenig who you know as Chekov from Star Trek, finds a weird, organic pod and a mummified human body onboard. Completely ignoring all of the lessons learned from Alien, the colonel takes the pod and the human corpse back to Earth. A few studies reveal that both the pod and the corpse are from the moon circa 14,000 years ago! This ain’t no friendly pod either. After a few seconds of being left alone, the pod comes to life and turns itself into a real nasty cyborg using body parts from the mummified human.
The rest of the movie has a lot of moon fights between cyborgs called the “Kaalium”, humans, and a strange woman named Mera (Leigh Lombardi) who belonged to a 14,000 year old moon-based human civilization but was kept alive in a suspended animation chamber. If you are a fan of Ancient Aliens this is your film.
The whole movie is very well made from a production standpoint considering its low budget. Walter Koenig and Bruce Campbell are exceptional leads. Leigh Lombardi’s character is a bit confusing. Being an expert alien killer, an obvious nod to Sigourney Weaver’s character Ripley from Alien, she does surprisingly little in terms of alien fighting except for take her shirt off. No comment. Any fan of science fiction films like Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey, or Star Trek, will be able to identify the abundant references in Moontrap. Overall, the film does not compare to any of the films that it references. However, it is still a decent little sci-fi flick which any fan of the genre will be able to enjoy on some level. Also, seeing Bruce Campbell in his pre-Evil Dead phase will be delighted!
Review by: Alex Schultz